RSS Feed

On world hunger, two year olds and rice crispie cakes…

As I stirred from a bizarre dream this morning, reluctant to wake, especially with all of us snuggled so cosily under the duvet, I groaned; “Monday already? Mummy has to go to work…” Ramona replied, “No, Mummy, no work.” I realised with a jolt that I was bringing up a work-shy communist.* Just kidding, but I did have an insta-worry that I am in danger of devaluing my work, seeing it as something I just do to bring home the (soy-based) bacon, and not because I am passionate about the role of campaigning in bringing about a fairer world.

I tried to recover my position. “Well, it is sad that I have to leave you, but mummy gets to go to work in order to help people who are hungry…”  I realised I was addressing quite a big issue that I hadn’t really addressed with my just-two year old before.  And I was being quite colonial in my description.

Ramona was  chewing a chocolate rice crispie cake, getting it all in the bed (gah, don’t judge me, it was her birthday party yesterday and Tim gave her some leftovers for breakfast. Judge him.) I went on, “You see, some people don’t have rice crispie cakes. And mummy, er, tries to make sure everyone can have a rice crispie cake….”

Ramona is too young, but I do want this to be part of our life’s rhetoric. That life sometimes isn’t fair for everyone, but that we can all play a part in making it better.

We can do it through our jobs, by nurturing our children’s empathy and efficacy, we can do it through our hobbies and spare time.

Some of my favourite people, the Craftivist Collective, have launched #Imapiece – crafting jigsaw bits with messages on in collaboration with Save the Children-  to challenge the horrendous truth that every single hour children are dying from hunger. Their central message is that we are all a part of the big picture, we can all join a movement, to craft a more beautiful future together.

I stitched my first piece of jigsaw in a spare hour last weekend… I went for “Prepare a feast!” – I was feeling hopeful, visionary, and imagined a massive banquet table, bending under the weight of nutritious food, enough for every single belly to be full.

 

I would love Ramona to understand this. For my hope, rather than any festering cynicism, to seep into her life and the choices she makes and the very way she see the world. I would like to give her Spectacles of Hope  and Action .

This morning she responded to my sleepy, confused explanation with a slobbery, chocolaty kiss. It is clearly too early in her life for this to all make sense to her. And it was certainly too early in the morning for me give it a bash sensibly, without the rubbish use of rice crispie cake analogies!

I need to really work on this… any tips, anyone?

PS Why not use your own crafty skills to dabble in the #imapiece movement? Read all about it here. 

*This is a bit of an in joke with myself, because when I was a young youth worker and writing alot about Fair Trade in youth publications, I got my first bit of hate mail, an aggressive letter from an ancient capitalist, suggesting I was imploring today’s generation to be “work shy communists”.  Mwhaha. That letter only steeled me in this fight against greed 🙂

Advertisements

Peppa Pig Live Tickets Giveaway!

Ramona is in love with Peppa Pig. In LOVE.  When she broke her leg back in February, and I was seeking ways to comfort and distract her (apart from by covering her in porridge etc) we came across it on Youtube and giggled our way through episode after episode. And now, at least once an hour, for the last ten months, she has enquired “Peppa Pig? Me? Watch?” It is incredibly hard to get her to wear anything other than the two Peppa Pig shirts she has – to the point where I am currently working out how to stitch pig faces with scraps of fabric onto exisiting items… (Cor, I am a cheapskate mum.)

I don’t really mind, she isn’t emulating the grunty snorts and there ARE worse characters to love- at least Peppa is feisty and strong and independent, eh?  And I suspect she’ll grow out of this amore by the time it comes to choosing a life partner.

Ramona enjoying the Paralympics with Peppa

When Ramona saw the poster for Peppa Pig Live at the Criterion Theatre she was enthralled. It was pinned on the notice board at Tim’s rugby club and I couldn’t budge her. She stood in front of it, mouth open, gob smacked that Peppa Pig had followed her here! Of all places!

So, you can imagine how completely delighted I am to get to take her and a chum to the show in December. I just can not wait to see her face- I get a huge grin on my own just imagining it. (Although she is a bit frightened of Daddy Pig, she hides behind me whenever he comes on, so we’ll have to see how that goes down.)

And, you know what? I have tickets for YOU too. (Well, not all of you, I’m afraid.)

To enter the giveaway for a family ticket (two adults, two children) to the 2:30pm showing on Friday 14th December simply:

  • Leave a comment below, telling me about why you fancy getting your hands on these tickets!For an EXTRA entry:
  • Like Lulastic on Facebook or share tweet this post on Twitter (mention @lulasticblog)

The winner will be picked by random selection on Friday 30th November, at 9pm. And if you don’t win you can buy tickets from www.peppapiglive.com for showings between 6 December and 6 January.

Thank you and good luck, my friends!

************* UPDATED 30th November*********************

And the winner is…. KAROLINA! I have emailed you 🙂 Congratulations!

So sorry to the non-winners, I wish you many hours of joyful Peppa Pig viewing on Youtube instead!!!

Birth Story of Ramona Lily

Two year ago this very day my darling, precious daughter was born. And now here is the story of her birth , for what other thing could I post today?!

I share it because I love to read birth stories. When I was pregnant, I would read story after story on HomebirthUk every lunchbreak, weeping hot, happy tears on my desk.

And I share it because it is a chance for me to reflect on it, and imagine what this coming baby’s entry to the world will be like.

So here it is. Be warned though, it is more mucous plug than modge podge recipe. So walk away now if you are in search of thrifty craft, walk away.

12th November 2010

It was my due date, hurrah! What better way to spend it then on a two hour bus journey  through south London to eat lunch at Ikea with my nephews (my sister had to pick up a Swedish trinket) and then with my best friends and their kids for a big party for a small two year old. At the party my mucus plug began falling out and I was able to share this gross but fabulous detail with my lovely chums.

On the way home I approached the train station just before mine, and one part of my brain said “Get off the train early and march home, EVERYONE says you need to get moving to get Wrigglewriggle (our nephew name the womb-baby) wriggling on down.” My heart, a deep down instinct, though, said “STOP! Stay on the train, and then catch the bus straight to your door, you need to relax.” It was a 3 second dilemma and I opted for what seemed most rational and hot stepped it 3 miles home.

In hindsight, I will always question if choosing logic over intuition in that moment led to me having the labour and birth that didn’t match up to my home waterbirth ideal.

That evening I was so excited that even 3 hours of googling “mucous plug fall out” and “signs of labour” and the information that mucous plugs could loosen weeks before birth, could not quell my surety that babe was on the way.

Early the next morning, at 6am, I went to the loo and felt very wet in my pyjamas, I knew this was my waters breaking but tried to tell myself that I just wet my pants a little bit (as you do). I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I woke up at 8, read the Guardian and had a cuppa then got up to, well, go to the loo again. As I stood up an almighty gush of water poured out and just kept pouring, I felt like Mary Poppin’s hanbag – how could this much water possibly fit inside of me???!!! I delved into Wrigglewriggle’s awaiting pile of washable nappies and stuffed the liners into my undies and awaited our midwife and friend, Nikki.

Nikki had a coffee with us, heard that my waters were clear and not pink (or another colour which would be bad) and left us to it.  She talked us through the NHS guidelines on waters breaking- you should go in to the hospital after 12 hours. However the “doubled risk” of infection only goes from 0.5% to 1% so we wanted to stay at home as long as possible. She was fully supportive. We were told to call when contractions begin.

The day passed by, cake with friends and a takeaway curry in the evening, delivered by a man who was the spitting image of Lionel Ritchie.  It was that evening that my twinges turned into surges (hypnospeak for contractions) we had turned our lounge into a love cave with saris hung all over it, candles and my American hypnobirthing lady on the ipod. “Totally loooose and totalllly limp”. I will never again be able to hear the words totally, loose or limp again without her voice bursting in to my mind! I rocked on the birth ball, did some yoga moves, and thought about welcoming a baby in to the world – we reckoned on being parents by dawn.

My surges grew in their intensity but didn’t get closer together for some time.  I was torn between doing a lot of physical activity to keep them coming and resting in order to conserve my energy for the real deal. It was probably the hardest part of labour- not knowing which to do. When I put the effort in the surges got faster and stronger, so much so that we even blew up the pool. However at 5am I went for a sleep at which point they slowed down from three every ten minutes to one every ten minutes.  They then didn’t pick up again for some time.

At 10:00am on Sunday Nikki popped over again and had a feel.  My waters were pink now, meaning my cervix was on the move a little but we were gutted to hear that I was only 1cm dilated. I was not even going to have vaginal examinations but curiosity just got the better of me. I thought the baby would be out in my arms by now, not still snuggled happily up there! Nikki was calm though and told us to keep doing what we were doing.

All of  Sunday  I had the Black Eyed Peas song going through my mind “tonight’s gonna be a good night!” We were once again certain that we’d be parents by dawn. We walked, slept, rocked, ate ice cream, wrote a letter to Wrigglewriggle inviting her out, and one to each other- to make sure there was no hidden anxiety keeping me all closed up. Those were special, if frustrating moments. We had chance to reflect on life and each other, but we were impatient to meet our new family member!

At about 1am on Monday morning I went to bed to try and rest. I was missing a whole night of sleep. But I couldn’t sleep- the surges were strong enough for me to have to leap out of bed and spiral my hips (!) – a brilliant move that we nicknamed the Circle of Life.  At about 3am I got out of bed on all fours, these surges were serious now. About an hour later I woke Tim up- I needed some light touch massage, thank you darling.  I was really using my hypno breathing techniques now, I had to preempt each surge, prepare for it. They got closer and closer,  every two minutes, eeep!  We called Nikki at about 6am.

Nikki arrived and had an exploration- 4cms dilated: woopie!  Nikki reckoned babe’d be here by lunchtime. Tim filled the pool. I got shouty. I was so in the zone. Making growly OOHs really helped my focus and breathing. The love cave we had set up downstairs was neglected, it was here in the bedroom, leaning on the end of the bed, that I wanted to be. I was finished with the American too, her and her rainbow relaxation. I was working with something innate now.

At 10 am I jumped in the pool, so delicious. Sadly it was so relaxing that my surges really settled down, from one a minute to one every 2-3. I got out and Nikki had a check. I was only 5 cm dilated and what was more she could feel Wriggles head and it was at a funny angle. Nikki wondered if my babe was a bit back to back, and my surges not strong enough to push head through my cervix. The word “Hospital” came up for the first time. We thought we’d give it a couple more hours.

However the next three monitors of the babes heart rate showed it was rising. With me being three days past my broken waters, Nikki felt this was a worrying sign of infection. Nikki called the ambulance, I put on a ridiculous purple beret – it was a freezing, snowy day and it was all Tim could find. We flung together a hospital bag (so certain of my homebirth were we that we flouted the advice to prepare one just in case) and we left. Tim was feeling sad at this stage, I was just still so focused on the job.

It was 1pm when we arrived. They immediately hooked me up to a monitor for the surges and the baby’s heart rate. They felt that I should get some antibiotics and also some fake oxytocin to give my surges that extra boost.  It was 4pm when this started coming through the drip.  Because my surges had been so strong before there wasn’t a clear change, I was still able to totally get on top of them still and breath through each one.  I was really drawing on visualisation at this stage, with every breath in I imagined my cervix opening up like a flower and with every breath out I imagined Wrigglewriggle moving down and turning into the right position.  I was very purpose filled so the pain wasn’t overwhelming at all but at one stage I did have to ask for paracetamol.

In between contractions I tried to take control of the environment a bit more, the hospital responded with strange looks perhaps at requests of lights being dimmed and staff coming in small numbers and with low voices.  It was as if it was preposterous that I might try an establish a cosy, intimate environment at a hospital. I had to really assert myself at times, but I was like a bold, purposeful lioness at this stage and felt confident making sure my voice was heard.

I refused to wear their hospital gown, but the midwife responded with “Well, you may need a C section so we need you in the gown”. Manipulated, I gave in. But then my next emboldening surge came and with it I cast off the gown and did the whole thing Butt Naked. HA!

Someone came into discuss epidurals. I tried to be clear that I would like to avoid one, that I’d use the gas and air if I needed pain relief. As she left the room she rolled her eyes at my midwife and said “If it gets too much she is going for the big guns.”

I was leaning on the side of the bed on my knees.  At 6pm they checked me and Hurrah! The baby had changed into the right position and I was 7cm dilated.

By now the growly oooh’s I was making before had turned into full blown primal roars.  They came from the depths and really helped me feel in touch with my body.  I didn’t feel any urge to scream or swear out of pain, these vocals were something else altogether, as natural as a cat purring!

At about 7pm my body flipped a switch, the ejection button, and my contractions were suddenly pushing this baby out.  It was incredible. Shortly after this an obstetrician came in and told me that they would check me again at 10pm, and I exclaimed “Not on your nelly, this baby is going to be out well before then.”

This was where it got hard- my body was totally pushing this baby but the midwife wanted me to restrain myself as she could see that I hadn’t fully “blossomed”.  My hypnobreathing came in so useful here as I just really kept in control of it and tried to imagine blossoming.  This stage is really compressed in my mind, it just feels like moments.  Before I knew it my midwife just said “Let go to the feeling now”.  It was brilliant just being able to let my body do its thing.

Within moments Tim was looking at the top of Wrigglewriggle’s head, a hairy little thing, and with 5 or 6 long pushes Ramona Lily unfurled out of me and gave a yell to rival her mothers.  I grabbed her through my legs and at the sound of my voice she stopped crying and nuzzled in for a bit of nipple.

Welcome, Ramona Lily!

She nestled into my arms, born to be right there.

Gosh. Birth eh? What an experience. There was some pain, and I was surprised by it so convinced was I by all the orgasmic births I had been reading about. But dished out in equal measure was purpose and exhilaration. It isn’t my perfect birth story-  I was gutted not to have a home waterbirth, gutted to have oxytocin and antibiotics, but throughout the time I was completely confident of my body’s ability to do this.  Of me being designed perfectly to give birth to Ramona.  It was a long and tiring three days, but I would do it 10 times over to have this beautiful little girl in our life.

At the end, as I held Ramona, my midwife called me a superwoman.  In 7 years of midwifery at Kings College Hospital I was the only woman she had seen have synthetic oxytocin without an epidural, let alone no gas or air or other pain relief. I don’t think that speaks of me being tough and brave, but more of us being quite out of touch, as a society, of how birth should be. Women are designed to have babies but we have got into a crippling cycle of fear, that is perpetuated constantly.

I can not WAIT to go through it all again for this little treasure inside me now. Despite Ramona’s pleas for it to “wake up! Come soon baby!”, I have 5 months to spend listening to the American and her limpy, loose Rainbows….

Happy 2nd BirthDay Ramona!


PS Read all about The Mule’s Positive Birth Movement…

18 ways to upcycle old jars

If you are like us and eat a lot of lemon curd and peanut butter you have a spare jar, or several hundred, in your home. I keep all mine in the little alley way alongside our kitchen, accessible only by our back garden, a place we try to pretend doesn’t exist. It’s covered with a tarpaulin and houses our Projects. I also, bizarrely, buy extra jars from car boot sales, but just if they are especially pretty or vintage – yep, my huthband doth dethpair.

You see, you can NEVER have enough jars. They provide endless opportunities for giving thrifty but appealing gifts, for beautiful, craftilicious decoration and of course, simple and lovely storage. And for Christmas jars come into their own. Un fact, Christmas was MADE for jars. (Love and family and hope, they get a little look in too.) Despite there being already one million ways to up cycle a jar, I am still not sure the human race has even reached the full realms of what is possible.

But to get us started, here are 18 of the best…

Gift ideas

Use chalk board paint and sweets inside With a bit of tile grout and some ordinary acrylic paint you can whip up small, colourful batches of chalkboard paint. It slicks straight onto any surface, including jars, meaning you can fill a jar with sweets and label it with a cool message.

Put a figure on top and homemade finger paints inside Once you have glued a figure on top of a jar, and painted it, there is no turning back. It looks so wicked. In this instance I filled the jars up with matching homemade finger paints, and gave it as a gift to a toddler.
Decorate the lid and put a home made body scrub inside
Just a bit of cool paper and a decoupage technique (homemade mod podge) can transform a rubbish old jar. I filled mine with the easiest homemade body scrub ever.

Layer cake ingredients inside and give with instructions to make No, you  cynics, this isn’t a lazy way of giving some baking, it’s CUTE, all right? I like it.

Put together a tiny sewing kit and make the lid a pin cushion. A lovely friend gave me a sewing kit in a jar once and I just loved it. Such a gorgeous gift to receive.

Photo credit and How To from must-read Momtastic

Fill with reshaped old crayons Melting and reshaping old crayons makes a gorgeous gift for children. Putting them in a handy jar so you can see the shapes and colours against the side make it that bit more special.

Decoration Ideas

Use paper on the outside to create a beautiful tea light Cutting shapes into pages from a book and popping it around a jar to create a candle holder has to be the most simple decoration ever… oh wait, but look:

Decoupage leaf candle holder  Maybe that honour goes to the sticking of leaves to the outside of a jar to make a candle holder. So lush, and can be seasonal, in whatever season. A bit of nature in your home.

Photo credit and beautiful How to found at From Panka With Love

Glow in the dark jars You can get glow-in-the-dark paint from most craft shops, and it is put to stunning use here. How perfect for a child’s room.

A beautiful jar chandelier This is an upcycle that needs a bit more dedication, and possibly an electrician. But, if you are looking for a light feature THIS IS IT!

Christmas Ideas

Christmas snow globes A jar, a bit of glitter, some objects and some glue. Amazing. I am definitely going to craft up some of these with Ramona, I am going to keep my eyes peeled at car boot sales for especially kitcsh Christmas decorations I could feature in them.

Photo credit and stunning How To from Elisa McLaughlin Designs

Christmas in a jar Love this, giving someone everything they need to fill their home with the Christmas pong, I mean, SPIRIT. You could really adapt this idea, with what you can find that smells awesomely Christmassy.

Edible Ideas

A jar of DIY peppermint hot chocolate I love the idea of giving someone a little treat they can give themselves when the time arises. A ready to go drink would be something my husband would love.

Rainbow Cake in a jar All the glories of a classic 1980’s rainbow cake with the added gimmick of eating it out of a jar. Immense.

Photo credit and How to at the brilliant Run with Glitter blog

Berry crumble in a jar If someone was to serve me a pie in a jar I think I’d be their BFF.

You kind of get the idea here, I guess… bake things, but in jars.

Storage Ideas

Glue lids to underside of shelf, screw jars on to itThis is an ace idea, possible with just a glue gun, a shelf an some jars. Really ideal if you don’t have much surface space.

Photo Credit and How To from Good Housekeeping

Use a hot glue to spell out the contents of the jar and paint over  Another simple idea, but SO effective. I need this so that when I finally reach my one life’s ambition of having a cleaner they’ll know where to pop my tiny trinkets…

Tadah! They are my faves. What are the best ways you have seen to reuse a jar?

PS See beautiful pictures of all the above ideas on my Upcycle your Jars Pinterest board. (Crumbs, you know you have made it when you have a Pinterest board about Jars…)

Easy Toddler Wings Craft

Posted on

When I was a wee tike I was selected as part of the Royal Ballet Help the Poor South London Kiddies Scheme. It meant being bustled off each week to a cold, scary big hall and leaping from corner to corner and getting told off for not leaping gracefully enough by older ballerinas. I didn’t really like it much (what an ungrateful Beneficiary of Good Will!) and didn’t last very long. But before I had my last tussle with Mum about whether I could give up this opportunity I did get to perform in the Royal Opera House dressed as a giant chicken.

Despite being a rubbish, ungrateful ballerina I can remember being so proud on that stage, and feeling so full of fancy, so unlike my clumsy self, I felt that even my leaping met the grade, as a flapped my way from stage left to stage right.  I think I was probably the last child out of my suit.

There is something about wings, even those wings of the inelegant chicken, that makes a child’s imagination soar.

After seeing some images of a child in wings on the internet a few times, I decided I had to give this craft a crack and discovered just how irresistibly easy it is and what delight they provoke in children!


It was such a simple craft, anyone could manage it with just some scraps of fabric and a sewing machine. It did take a while cutting out all those reams of looping feathers, and it is fairly monotonous sewing the lines – but I am sure you all have a much higher boredom threshold than me!   I used up some upholstery samples, so I had fantastic, bold colours but really just too heavy for tiny arms to happily flap for hours.

How to:

  • You need a base that reflect the arm length of the child. I did 30 cm x 30 cm (for a 1-2 year old, would fit up to 3)  and cut a loose curve between them.
  • I then cut lots of loopy strands, beginning at 36 cm and getting smaller as you sew up into the corner.
  • My strands were  around 5 cm wide, but these could be any width- wider if you are lazier than me and want less strands or much less wide if you would like lots and lots of feathery layers.
  • Best to leave a loop hanging off each end and then cut the loop smaller once you are all done.
  • I just sewed straight along the top of each strand from corner to corner, wriggling and doing tiny tucks as I went to accommodate the curve for the first one or two longer strands. For the short strands you can zip straight along.
  • I then laid them out to make a half circle and so I could easily imagine where the ribbon needed to go.
  • I then attached a long piece ribbon to the pointy corner of each wing, with a few centimetres between them, so that could go around the neck with a nice bow.
  • I left the bottom corner to just hang, and tied a smaller bit of ribbon on the far end corners to tie around the ribbon.
  • Hope that all makes sense!

As you can see, I didn’t use the ideal fabric and my cuts are wonky but it still turned out okay! Such a forgiving craft, my absolute favourite kind.

I made two pairs to send to my two toddler nephews in New Zealand. It is hard finding crafty  present ideas for toddlers and children so I was REALLY happy when my sister-in-law sent a video of her darling boy having a major giggle, flapping about and dancing to Adele. These are now my present of choice for every child!!

Eight approaches for happier sleep

Posted on

Yesterday morning Ramona woke up at 4:30, full of beans. She planted some kisses on our faces, did a morning fart, followed by a belly full of giggles, and began climbing all over the bed. “Awake! Me! Pojo??” Pojo is her word for porridge, she was ready for breakfast and up for the day.

Grumpy is not the word. I was mad all day. Mentally flipping the bird at every stupid email I received, I stomped around the office, grizzled under my breath my whole cycle home. I was reminded what it is like to be deeply unhappy with a child’s sleep patterns.

I spent many of Ramona’s first months feeling this way. She’d take forever to go to sleep at the sensible time of 7 pm and then wake at the crack of dawn. I disliked spending an hour doing a night time routine and getting her to sleep, bobbing up and down the stairs to her throughout the evening, and then peering out of the bed covers at the clock and seeing 6 am shining back at me just a few hours after I rolled under them.

It was only when Ramona was a year old that I realised I wanted to take a more relaxed, less structured approach to her sleep, and since then we have all been much happier. Of course, we still have the odd terrible night, an evening with a wired tot who won’t sleep, or a crack of dawn morning. But on the whole my mind is free of sleep anguish, and that deserves a celebratory doughnut.

I’d say adopting eight different approaches helped me feel much happier about our sleep situation.

  • I got the “sensible bedtime” idea out of my head. The most sensible bedtime for a child is when they are tired. Sometimes, due to a late start or long nap this is ten pm. Mostly for us it is somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30. It took me a while to get this, even 8:30 pm seemed outrageous to me, so I’d try and try and try to get Ramona in bed at The World Will Approve O Clock. Once I let go of this, our evenings got a whole load more relaxed.
  • I decided that beds were overrated. For a year, Ramona took her naps on me in the sling or on the sofa, but always began her night time sleep in bed. Once I realised she was often much happier falling to sleep at night time on the sofa I began to see the benefits. We’ll cuddle up amongst the cushions, then after she has drifted off, while my husband and I read or chat, we can put a film on, or continue the get-together with our friends. Because she is right with us she’ll rarely stir much and then I just take her to bed when we go.
  • We abandoned the routine. Sometimes the bath, songs, story schedule worked. Mostly though, Ramona hated the idea of going upstairs and leaving behind her crate of toys, the lovely people in the lounge and a kitchen of food. She’d be upset about being carted off somewhere else, or we’d end up doing story after story until she was ready to snuggle down. Not making such a palava of bedtime made the transition to sleep so much more natural
  • I watch her cues and set the scene. Sometimes Ramona will ask for “bed”, sometimes she’ll just ask for “mummy milk” (as opposed to “Daddy milk” which is what she she calls dairy! Mahaha…) or sometimes she may yawn, get a bit angsty. At this stage I will put the lamp on, quieten down the house and settle on the sofa with her. This transition is much easier for her mind to cope with!

  • I accepted that kids all have different sleep needs, and they are fairly good at meeting that need if we allow them. Ramona can rarely sleep more than 11 hours at night. If she goes to bed at 7 then that is a 6 am wake up call. ER, NO THANKS! Getting up at 8am makes us all happier but that does mean I have to accept that traditional bedtimes don’t suit us! She still naps for an hour, an hour and a half. But if she has a few short naps then she might go for a number 14 hour night sleep!! I just trust her in all of this and shrug off the concept of a 12 hour night.
  • I accepted our new normal. Once I got used to the idea that Ramona would continue to stir at night, and would continue to need me, my mind calmed down and my new state of contentment really helped! Instead of waking up and thinking “She woke 4 times and she is nearly two!!!” And being appalled at my poor parenting, I now simply recognise that she just has superior survival skills….because obviously, we are built to stir all night so we can respond to danger and stoke the cave fire! Also, perversely, the few times she has slept all night I’ve had a rubbish sleep due to a lack of lovely nursing hormones. Wrong, that is, I tell you!
  • I rejected the “creating good sleep habits” rhetoric. Mainstream parenting advice claims routines, sleeping through, self-soothing and sleeping in a separate space sets our children up for a lifetime of excellent sleep. Erm. There is an MAJOR flaw in this in that we have been repeating this record for decades and we are some of the worst sleepers in the world!!! Nearly 40% of us suffer from insomnia. Mainstream advice is clearly doing something wrong.
  • I embraced a “live intuitively” philosophy. I try as much as possible to let Ramona be self-directed, to eat when hungry, cuddle when she needs it, jump on the bed if she fancies it, and sleep when she is tired. I hope all of this stuff will allow her own gut to be the loudest voice when it comes to making important decisions, that she will be less reliant on the sways of peers and external evaluation. Learning to respond to her body and its need will surely give her a confidence and a wholeness that will give her a much needed resilience. Knowing that I may be suffering a little less undisturbed sleep than others for the big picture, the future well being of my daughter, makes it a tiny, insignificant suffering!

These ways aren’t for everyone, I know.  If you are content with the fixed way you do thing, please, don’t change a dot!!! But maybe some of you are like us, and do want to take a more abandoned approach to sleep and parenting, and I hope our story will encourage you to do that. For me, stumbling across other families that did this gave me the freedom I needed to parent this way boldly, and not secretly! I liked these two pages, especially…

This collection of quotes from homeschool families who just roll with it, sleepwise. 

Letting kids find their own sleep patterns

Finding a bit of freedom around this whole sleep situation has been a part of my attachment parenting journey. For me attachment parenting is all about choosing connection, over control.  I am down with boundaries- i.e, I wouldn’t give Ramona sweets before bedish time, or have a massively exciting game of tickles just as she began to yawn, but integral to my parenting is a relinquishment of my need for high control. Allowing Ramona a certain amount of autonomy is important to me, and these approaches to sleep extend that philosophy to her bedtime.

So… *asks timidly, trying to be brave* … what do you reckon?!

Editing my daughter’s life chances (er, or her Fairy Tales at least)

Posted on

I joked once about how we have changed the words to “This Little Piggy went to market” – creating a more liberal, less Capitalist version. We did that with vegetarian tongue firmly in hippy cheek but as Ramona grows older I find myself doing it with quite a few things and intentionally too. I’ll sometimes change the gender of the leading boy characters in books, and will improvise the fate of the girl in the fairy tale (“She went on to be the President of the Free World…”)

I am fairly committed to giving Ramona a sense that she can do or be anything, be it a poet, a plumber or a Prime Minister. I feel as if there could be a way of providing a foundation of opportunity for her, even though the stats are stacked against her.

Little minds start whirring young, eh? Interpreting the world, and people, and their roles.  The next door neighbour toddler lads throwing our ball back over in disgust because it dared to have poor pink Peppa Pig on it. The boys in the playground telling Ramona she can’t kick, as she is a girl.

As if those interactions aren’t shaping her enough, I then snuggle in bed and read her yet another book with some naff sacrificial role for the lady, while the men fight for justice, but because I am a bit sleepy I can’t be bothered to ad-lib it. Tonight it was a story about a daughter being sent to marry an evil giant and she didn’t want to go.  “No Go” Ramona kept repeating, jabbing her finger at the girl, as if she could see how unfair it was. Whoah. She is totally getting this storyline. “She went because she was brave!” I began adlibbing again.

And then when she drifted off I got the paper, pens and glue out and fixed the tale right up.

Some pages needed the odd word, and others whole paragraphs. The patriarchy won’t catch me snoozing again!

I know, I know. It’s only minor. But isn’t life mostly just a collection of small stuff, layered on top of each other, gently kneading who we are and what we think and what we do? Ramona’s not going to think women are just the weak bystanders, guileless love interests, not on my watch. Not on your nelly.

How do you make sure your kids grow up with a strong sense of gender equality and justice?

PS Some cool Tweet mates have created an awesome reading list- so if you are out to buy a feminist friendly story check here first!