How could I possibly be expected to handle bed on a night like this?

Sleeping and small children. It can be a real minefield. On the one side you have parents exhausted from the day’s working outside and inside the house facing off against tiny time dictators who will let you know exactly how they feel about any impending plans for sleep. I’ve written before about how Mini loves sleep.And how she started sleeping the night from about two months old. And how we were smug faced parents full of pity for the poor bastards other parents whose offspring were still (gasp!) waking during the night. Then we had her sister and that wiped the smugness from our faces fairly lively.

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Netflix-heart warming movies for the cold winter nights

It’s here again. One of the most confusing times of the year-the end to Daylight savings time, or the start. Fucked if I know. For weeks beforehand they warn us. In newspapers, on blogs, on the radio. Cos time is such a confusing concept. We can just about deal with the 24 hours of the day as is, but add a 25th one and we just can’t cope. And for parents, it’s even worse.

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Look who's cursing now

“Fuck-eeeee!!”

It comes out of nowhere. One minute I’m enjoying the peace and calm of a sneaky mid afternoon cuppa while you and your sister are paying homage to the porcine demi-goddess,the next I am scrambling off my kitchen stool and into the living room to find out if my ears have indeed deceived me.

You turn away from the brightly coloured images on the tv to face me, an enormous grin on your little face.

“Fuck-eeeee Mama!Fuck-eeee!”

There it is-confirmation of something I’ve dreaded since becoming a parent. You continue to grin,delighting in your new word and my fingers fly to my temples, moving them in frenzied circles in a vain effort to turn back time.

“Fuckeeee Peppa! Fuckeeee Dorge! Fuckeeeee Mama Pig! Fuckeeeee Daddy Pig!”

Every new word you learn is suffixed with a friendly -eee. Bag becomes bag-eeee, sock becomes sock-eee and now it seems fuck has become fuck-eeee. It’s tempting to blame the pig for this latest in naughty behaviours. Peppa may be teaching 21st century preschoolers that it’s ok to be rude, bossy and annoying, while constantly calling her loving father an idiot, but one thing she and her cohorts don’t do is teach swearwords. Unless that is, you count that one time when they were organising a party for Madame Gazelle and a character seemed to drop the f-bomb. Blame cannot be assigned to your Papa either, for he of course, prefers his own native tongue to swear in, and what lovely and exotic curse words they are.

But they’re not as satisfying as the f-word. There’s just something about it that renders it the perfect of curse words-it’s pithy, it sounds angry, but more to the point it’s versatile. It can be a noun, a verb, an adjective. In short, it’s the perfect mono-syllabic way to register your displeasure at a recent event (s).

So I guess by now you can see that the blame for the occurrence of this potty mouth from a not even potty trained youngster such as yourself lies firmly at Mammy’s feet. I curse all the time. I’m Irish, and more than that I’m from Limerick. Cursing is kind of what we do and we’re very good at it. A little too good it would seem. Your sister is still working on untangling the jumbled letters in her brain to form spoken words we all understand. We have some way to go before she can ever be accused of using bad language. Though there was that one time she seemingly shouted “SHIT!!” at the top of her lungs in a crowded doctor’s surgery. We managed to pass that one-off as ship though and not an inkling of a bold word from an under 5-year-old mouth since.

I’ve been desperate to keep it that way.

Because even though it sounds hilarious when kids curse, when you hear your own doing it, you can’t help but feel that once again you’ve failed another of life’s parenting classes. Your knee-jerk reaction would be to blame the teacher which is all well and good, except guess what? It’s a self-taught course ya bloody eejit so you’re well and truly fuck-eeeeed. 

So I’m just going to ignore this latest and (unwelcome!) milestone and go back to my cold tea. You, my darling second born, can go back to Peppa Pig and we will never speak of this again-deal? Deal! Now where’s my fuck-eeee magazine…

The expression here is the same one of delight you had showing off your new word.

The expression here is the same one of delight you had showing off your new word.

Look who’s cursing now

The expression here is the same one of delight you had showing off your new word.It comes out of nowhere. One minute I’m enjoying the peace and calm of a sneaky mid afternoon cuppa while you and your sister are paying homage to the porcine demi-goddess,the next I am scrambling off my kitchen stool and into the living room to find out if my ears have indeed deceived me.

You turn away from the brightly coloured images on the tv to face me, an enormous grin on your little face.

“Fuck-eeeee Mama!Fuck-eeee!”

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Vanish-it's the little things (Review)

As a parent, you are always on the look out for something to make your life that little bit easier. Even words get abbreviated-breast feeding becomes BF, attachment parent gets truncated to AP and so on until you become well versed in the land of acronyms, including ones that you’ve made up yourself. They may not exactly trip off the tongue but they are ones that you will remember forever. One such one we use at Mini HQ is AFAQL or Anything For A Quiet Life.

I use this phrase A LOT. I cringe when I hear myself say it as it feels like such a cop out but sometimes-ok, ok, a lot of the time!-I just can’t help myself. Like recently, when we had a long car journey with two crabby little misses. We stopped for petrol and the minis were looking for ice cream and because the sun was shining that day, we acquiesced to their request. Moments later I wish we hadn’t as this was what greeted me when I turned back to check how the girls were getting on with their chocolate-I know of all the flavours we could have chosen!- cones:

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12047511_10153669875304066_1937549072_nChocolate, chocolate, everywhere!! Even on Monsieur Lapin-the much maligned bunny that goes everywhere with Mini Mini.

So a chance to review some Vanish products came at just the right time! They have some great stain removing products including an innovative Vanish Gold Powergel. You simply rub the product in with the handy rolling head applicator. Leave it to soak for a few minutes and add to your wash as normal.

The Oxi-Action Gold stain remover is top class too. Add a scoop to your wash or for very stubborn stain, you can add some neat to the stain and leave it to work its magic et voila, it’s as good as new! Another tip I found was to use a toothbrush to get some extra elbow grease to lift those nasty stains.

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Mini Mini’s bib and best friend bunny were filthy after that particular car journey so I was delighted with how they came out of the wash like-as good as new!

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Check out Vanish for some great stain removal tips. There’s a wealth of information on their site. Now, if they could only come up with a stain solver for toddler wall art, they would make my life even easier!


Disclaimer-I was provided with some Vanish products to review, however, all opinions remain my own honest to God ones.

Minis and Mum Loves-Baboró

Here at Minis and Mum, we’re  big fans of the wonderful Baboró Children’s Festival. There’s something very special about the way it allows children a glimpse into the mysterious, often adults eyes only world of the Arts. Added to the magic the festival bring to the streets of Galway every October, it also makes sure that all children are catered for with their relaxed performances.

As part of our ongoing Minis and Mum Loves series,we caught up with Acting General Manager of the festival, Jennifer Ahern to find out more about these special performances.

 

The minis at the launch of this year's Baboró Festival. Photo:Andrew Downes, xposure.

The minis at the launch of this year’s Baboró Festival.
Photo:Andrew Downes, xposure.

Hi Jennifer,thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Can you tell us how long has Baboró had special quiet performances?
We began the relaxed programme in 2013.

It was something we wanted to try out and there were some productions that year that were a natural fit. It worked out really well, so we’ve continued the programme. Across the country, you can see that more and more performers and venues are incorporating relaxed shows into their programmes which is fantastic.

How many of these shows are on during the festival?
Typically, there are 4 relaxed performances, from different companies across different age ranges.

We consult with performers ahead of time and put the idea of them, to see if they are comfortable with it and if there are elements of their show they can alter without compromising the integrity of the show, for example making the sound quieter and bringing up the lighting. Luckily, performers in children’s theatre are very flexible and open to these things! They’re also well used to dealing with the unexpected during a performance, such as small children wandering onto the stage! This was the first year we also had one company approach us and ask if they could put on a relaxed performance, it’s a first for them and something they’re really keen to try out so we’re more than happy to accommodate and encourage this.

The relaxed performances are aimed at the public primarily, to reduce any discomfort or anxiety families may have in attending the theatre. For schools and groups, we have our Recommended performances. We send special needs schools and groups a pack which gives additional information on shows we think would suit them, for example shows that maybe have more humour or music, are less dialogue based and are more gentle. Basically anything we can do to help make our audience’s experience a positive one, we’re happy to do!

What kind of feedback have Baboró received from parents/carers/kids themselves about the performances?

We find that the relaxed shows sell very quickly so obviously there is a demand out there for them, which is great! We haven’t had much feedback directly – I think the parents are too busy to get back to us! But what we have noticed is a lot of smiles – smiles during the performance and smiles coming out! There’s always a really lovely atmosphere, almost as though everyone there knows each other – a sense of community maybe in a way, and a sense of understanding. There’s an ease to it, and as far as we can tell, it’s a positive experience for the families.

Minis & Mums
Baboró Festival for Children runs in various venues around Galway from October 12th-18th.  Check out this year’s fabulous programme packed full of wonderful shows here.

Minis and Mum is currently in the running for Best Parenting Blog at this year’s Irish Blog Awards but we need you help to make it to the final round of judging. If you like what you read, please vote for us here. It’s super quick and you don’t need to sign up for anything! Merci buckets!x

Down the rabbit hole and into the bin-a review of "The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep"

Regular readers of the blog will know the battles we have with the littlest mini every night trying to get her to sleep. She’s something of a night owl and will often still be wandering the corridors ever hopeful of some party to crash with her three amigos-Bunny, Bottle and Blankey. Then when she has finally as my mum says , “gone to the Gods”-seriously, how creepy is that saying?It’s like she’s dead or something-it’s only a matter of a few hours before she’s awake again and raring to go. As she gets older, things are inevitably getting better but I still remain on the look out for ways to help her (and the rest of us!) get better sleep.

During the holidays after a few glasses of vino,I went online to see the Irish Parenting Bloggers were discussing the new miracle sleep cure-A book entitled “The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep”. It seemed like the answer to our prayers. Written by a psychologist and featuring Mini-Mini’s favourite animal, a rabbit called Roger. It couldn’t fail!! I hastily pressed ‘purchase’ and then spat half my wine out all over the keyboard when the cost of said purchase flashed up on-screen.

Now bear in mind that I’m normally the kind of person who baulks at paying over €12 for a book. You know those 2 for 20 offers at Easons? Them’s my kinda book purchases! Only this book wasn’t available in Easons. Nor was it to be had at my other trusted literary superstore-the Book Depository. There was only one place left to turn to-Amazon. Now, don’t get me wrong Amazon is a perfectly acceptable online market place. It’s just that I’ve found delivery to be a little slower than other companies. And if something goes wrong, they’re not the quickest to resolve it. There’s also the issue of having to order through Amazon.co.uk and deal with the currently abysmal euro to pound exchange rate.

So how much had I spent on this children’s book? An eye watering €27. Of course the good thing with Amazon is that you can easily cancel orders after you’ve made them. By that stage I was afraid of my drunken state and where it would lead me and my Visa card online, so I closed the laptop and resolved to sort out my mess first thing in the morning. That night, Mini-Mini’s sleep was appalling. She tossed, turned, cried out, cried, came to our bed and repeated the whole night-time fumblings there. Suddenly €27 for a good night’s sleep didn’t seem like such a bad trade-off.

And so the book was waiting for us when we came back from our holidays.

“This is it”, I told the Frenchman, tearing open the package. “This is the end of the sleepless nights!”

He didn’t look at all convinced and I must admit that I was less so when I saw the so-called miracle book.

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Flimsy, thin and not very well designed, it doesn’t really get any better inside the cover. Our hero, Roger, looks more like an epic stoner. I know there’s a fine line between looking sleepy and being baked but I can’t shake the drugs association from my head especially with illustrations like these:

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“Whoa, that snail has a face like an old dude!”

“Duuuude!!”

The book itself is a mere 27 pages long. The story goes thusly- Roger can’t sleep. Or more likely, he’s been on a 3 day coke binge and is looking for a way to come down. That probably wouldn’t be the safest route for a children’s book to go down so we’ll stick with the assumption that what he’s searching for is actually sleep. His mother tells him about Uncle Yawn a dealer powerful wizard who CAN MAKE ANYONE FALL ASLEEP with his spells and magic dust. Riiiiight.

So off Mammy Rabbit and Roger go on a long, boring quest to find Uncle Yawn. The book is filled with bold and italicised bits. Words and sentences in bold means you need to emphasise those bits, while italicised text means you should read with a slow and calm voice. You  insert the child’s name into the story whenever you see the following [name] You are also told to yawn at various times. All of these effects should result in the desired effect of your little one drifting off to slumber early on.

There’s a rather creepy disclaimer at the start which states

Even if this book is harmless to use, the author and the publisher takes no responsibility for the outcome.

What exactly they’re alluding to is unclear. Perhaps this is to prevent them getting sued from all the parents who invest so much time, money and effort into the reading of this absolute psycho babble. I really disliked this book. First of all, it is incredibly poorly translated from the original Swedish. There are instructions at the front which state that sometimes the sentences you read may not make sense but that is because the book contains specially constructed sentences and choice of words. Well psychological purpose be damned, the following sentences just make for crappy English

” Roger could play all day long until he fell asleep on the swings. Now. It allows him to swing back and forward, back and forward, slowly and relaxing.”

Or

“Roger got more tired and the more he relaxed and calmed down, the more tired he and you became now, and the more tired and the more he relaxed, the more tired he and you became, now. That’s right.”

I get a pain in my brain just having to relive those sentences again and the book is full of them. But hey, I’m not a psychology major like the writer so in the interests of science, I ploughed ahead and tried out the book on an unwitting toddler. Here’s how we got on.

1st Night:

She battered the book with her hand and didn’t seem at all interested in the story. I channelled my university drama soc workshops and put everything I had into those bold and italicised bits. Mini Mini was less than convinced. I persisted and thought it was going well-she looked to be falling asleep. At the utterance of the words “The End”,however,  she was still wide awake. I started again and it took two more excruciatingly long tries before her eyes finally closed. I’m not sure if she was bored to sleep. Whatever, if it works it works is what I was thinking at the end of the first night.

2nd Night:

The Frenchman took over bedtime duties for Mini Mini. He had been gone for ages so I went upstairs to check on them. Hearing loud snores from the other side of the bedroom door, I took it that both had fallen asleep during the story. Except that when I opened the door to see, only Papa sound asleep with the book across his chest, but Mini Mini was still wide-eyed and full of devilment and in no mood to hear the story again!FFS.

3rd Night:

Disaster. It was the Frenchman’s first day back at work in over two weeks. Multiple forlorn requests for Papa, Papa!! were made. The book was flung across the floor numerous times. I eventually abandoned it and fell back on the old bad (and back-breakingly awkward) habit of contorting my spine to fit into the toddler bed with her and soothe her to sleep.

4th Night:

No joy. We start to read the book in bed, but she continually grabs it off me and throws it on the floor. I’m sensing she maybe doesn’t like it.

5th Night:

Any mention of the book is met with a howling “Noooooo!” She flings it across the room a few times and I eventually give up.
Conclusion:Mini Mini 1,Roger the Rabbit 0 and the war wages on. This book simply isn’t worth nearly 30 euros. Hell, it isn’t even worth 10. My advice to exhausted parents of insomniac little ones? Keep doing what you’re doing. Eventually they WILL sleep. Keep the money you would spend on this book and hire a babysitter for a few hours-let them deal with putting your little angel to bed while you enjoy some quality kid free time down the local.

Disclaimer:I paid full whack (and then some!) for this book. Nobody asked me to review it, I just did in an effort to warn people not to part with their hard-earned cash for it.

Minis and Mum is currently in the running for Best Parenting Blog at this year’s Irish Blog Awards but we need you help to make it to the final round of judging. If you like what you read, please vote for us here. It’s super quick and you don’t need to sign up for anything! Merci buckets!x

Mini Montessori Goer

It’s the last day of August 2015, which means one thing in our house-it’s Mini’s first day of Montessori. She should be starting primary school this week, but we have felt she isn’t quite ready. For the last few days I have watched as her peers progress to “big school”, my timeline flooded with boys and girls with beaming grins and uniforms that seem much too big for their tiny frames. I thought I would be feeling low about this, but in truth I’m not. Those thoughts come again-so far away from the hopeless despair I felt with her diagnosis, when all I could see was Down syndrome and so very little of the fantastic Mini-that she is exactly who she is supposed to be and exactly where she is supposed to be right now. Another year of preparation for school will be just what she needs.

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I watch her now as she zips up her jumper and pulls on her schoolbag. No pretences, no airs and graces, but a fearless, independent little lady who is full of fun and mischief. The language might not be wholly there but her sweet intentions are perfectly formed. She insists on a schoolbag for her baby sister, who she knows would love nothing more than to be heading off to school with her.  At the gate she slows down to make sure that Mini Mini and myself have caught up to her and Papa. We are all in this together and I feel lucky to be able to experience this day as a family.

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At the door of the preschool, it takes her no more than a fleeting second to release her grip on her Papa’s hand and pull up a chair. There are new friends to be made and new adventures to be had. We parents are relegated to the sidelines. It’s harsh but as it should be. There she goes, my girl. She’s gonna do just fine.

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How to Successfully Potty Train in 12 Easy Steps

Step 1. Buy all sorts and sizes of potties including ones that creepily congratulate your little one when they “go tinkey” and sing a celebratory song when they do a no.2. Although come to think of it, isn’t that something we’d all appreciate?

Step 2. Buy a gazillion rewards chart. Wonder where all the stickers have gotten to. Find them in the rather loaded nappies of smaller non toilet training child.

Step 3. Tear all your hair out as child refuses to leave her nappies behind her. Weep as you remember you were once a being filled with hopes and aspirations but now you spend your days celebrating the act of a smaller version of yourself crapping into a plastic toilet.

Step 4. Drink ALL the gin.

Step 5. Resolve to wait until the child is ready.

Steps 6-11. Repeat Step 5

Step 12. Toilet train your child with no gimmicks,no tacky songs, simply by imparting a complete understanding of the socially acceptable method of emptying one’s bowels and urethras only WHEN the child is ready.

Bask in the warm (non pee soaked) glory of attaining the that most desired of parenting milestones before starting all over again with Offspring No 2!

N to the O to the Nooooo!

Now that the words are coming thick and fast from both the minis,it seems we’ve entered the dreaded “Second No” phase. This is similar to the “First No phase” where the negatives spew forth from the cherub lips of your little darlings like in the following all too common exchange:

Small child”Mummy, drink!”

Me: “Would you like milk?”

Small child:”No!”

Me: “Would you like juice?”

Small child:”No!”

Me:”Would you like water?”

Small child: “Noooooo!!!”

Me:”Would you like a kick up the bum?”

That last one is said in my mind..sometimes. No, the “Second No Phase” refers to the refusing to acquiesce to the wills of a small child, which usually occurs once they have mastered a certain amount of vocabulary-usually all of their favourite things. It is most prevalent in tired and stressed out parents as they attempt to navigate the potentially loaded supermarket aisles while doing the weekly shop. 

“Mummy, ice cream?”

“No!”

“Cakes?”

“No!”

“Chips??”

“No!”

“Biscuits?”

“Noooooooo!!!”

It seems Mini has come up with her own novel way to get what she wants. Today, after refusing to give her ice cream at the umpteenth plea, she turned on her heel and fled to her happy place, or the outside to you and me. As I was sorting out laundry, the following words floated up through the open bedroom window to me:

Mini: “Ice cream?”

Mini: “Yes please!!”

Mini: “Ok!”

Say what you will about the little lady,she is nothing if not determined. I nearly gave in to her heart felt request but refrained due to it only being 9:45 in the morning. Thank God preschool is starting in a few weeks as it’s only a matter of time before she’d have chipped away at my remaining parental resolve not to have ice cream for breakfast. Plus it’s very hard to say no to this face!

I’m gonna get that icecream!