12th Night and Christmas traditions


So today being 12th night and officially then end of Christmas I’ve been thinking about Christmas traditions. Mr Monster’s Daddy and I have started a few since we got married which we plan to continue but now that we have Mr Monster I want to start some that are our own.

Our current traditions are based around the Christmas tree; first of all we always buy a new decoration for the tree. We got married just after Christmas so for our first anniversary I brought Monster Daddy a heart decoration from Georg Jensen, we then discovered that they do different ones every year so we now have one for every year we’ve been married. The second is that we always have a real tree and since we have an open fire once we have taken the decorations down we cut up the tree and burn it, it makes the house smell of pine and I love it.

Mr Monster was only 19 months this year so wasn’t really aware of the build up or any of the meaning around Christmas, but next year he will be and I want to decide on some special traditions and events to really make it a special time. I also want to make sure that he has an understanding of the different meanings of Christmas. For us Christmas is about spending time with family and friends and being able to show the important people in your life how much they mean to you, but I also Mr Monster to know that this is not the only meaning and that it is important to respect all of these.

I loved Christmas growing up and still do and I want to make sure that Mr Monster feels the same way. We used to have our stockings first thing (usually about 4 or 5am when we were young) and open them all stat together on my parents bed. We’d then be sent back to our rooms until at least 8am, we never went back to sleep just played with the toys in our stocking (and ate our chocolate coins) I loved all being snuggled up together in the bed and can’t wait to share that with Mr Monster.

I would love to hear about your family traditions, I want to have lots of different special things during the day and it would save a lot of time and effort to shamelessly steal yours J

Sleeping like a Baby


sleeping like a baby

I have seen this quote on Facebook and in on other sites a number of times since I became Mr Monster’s Mummy it always makes me wonder. I know they are getting at the fact that babies often don’t sleep very well at all in the beginning; while most babies will settle into a routine by around 12 weeks, they will still be waking once or twice a night for a feed until around the 6 month mark and possibly later. In fact many babies and young children still wake in the night long after they have needed to for a feed. Some babies sleep very badly and will wake every hour or so during the night and then need to be settled back to sleep. Having said that I don’t think the original saying has anything to do with how well babies sleep or how long they sleep for. I think it has much more to do with the fact that babies always seem to sleep peacefully (even if it is only for a short period of time) where as adults who often have lots of things to worry about often don’t look peaceful even when they are asleep. One of the things I love most about being Mr Monster’s mummy is to watch him sleeping, watching him all cuddled up and looking so peaceful always makes me feel calm and happy.


Sleep is often a very loaded issue for parents, especially first time parents or new parents. Nearly every time me and Mr Monster went to baby groups in the first six months or so, someone would be talking about how their baby was sleeping. More often than not they were talking about how badly they were sleeping and basically venting to people who were either in the same boat or at least could understand. It was never a competition (or at least it didn’t feel like it to me) it was just people seeking support and advice. I always found it helpful to speak to other mums and dads who could relate and even if they couldn’t give any advice it just made me feel so much better knowing that I wasn’t alone.

In reality it myself and Mr Monster’s Daddy have been very lucky, although Mr Monster has been through phases where sleep has not been his favourite thing he actually sleeps well and thankfully even in the early days for fairly lengthy periods of time (I’m not sure how I would have managed if he had woken every hour or so even if he had gone back to sleep quickly) at his worst he would wake in the night and the refuse to go back to sleep for 2 to 3 hours, his record was actually 4 hours and fight every nap during the day. This was when he was around 4 months old, I had already heard lots of the other parents with slightly older little ones talking about 4 month sleep regression. So when Mr Monster started to be difficult to settle during the night and fight naps it wasn’t exactly a surprise, that didn’t make it easier to cope with however or any less frustrating. We did however eventually develop so coping mechanisms that made things bearable and meant we managed to get things back into a reasonable routine and us all sleeping well. There have been times since (including just now when Mr Monster is 18 months) where his sleeping has been less than perfect but the things we learnt during that first four week period of what can only be described as sleep deprived hell now make the difficult periods easier to deal with. If we ever have another Mr or Miss Monster there are some key things that I plan to remember so that we don’t beat ourselves up or stress over how we coped with these difficult periods.

  • Have a bedtime routine that is not too rigid but allows for there to always be something familiar to signal it’s bedtime. At home on a normal night Mr Monster has a bath and then we get him ready for bed, read him a story and then he has a bedtime song and a final story. Whatever we are doing and even if the rest of his bedtime routine goes by the way side he always has his song and story.
  • However you end up settling them to sleep start with your normal routine and then putting them down in their cot to sleep. They may get upset and cry at this, if you are happy to leave them for around 5 minutes or so to see if they settle then that is helpful but leaving them for long periods of time is most like just going to lead to the winding themselves up and making them more difficult to settle. This lets your baby know that you expect them to sleep in their cot and helpfully will help them to re-learn to settle in their cot.
  • We ended up, well actually Mr Monster’s Daddy, often ended up taking him out for a walk in his buggy and silly o’clock in order to get him back to sleep. On some occasions this didn’t even work and I ended up so sleeping with Mr Monster and Mr Monster’s Daddy was relegated to the spare bed. In the beginning this used to worry me and make me feel like we were failing in some way. Over time when he eventually settled back into going back to sleep on his own in his cot I came to realise that it didn’t matter if this was how we settled him it meant that we all got the sleep we need. You all need sleep to function, particularly if you have other children. So don’t get too hung up on how you settle them to sleep during these periods try and keep their routine as close as possible to normal and then do what you need to so that you can get some sleep.

The final two things to remember is that while babies sleep gets better as they get older, the improvement is not liner it is more like a spiral so the general trend is upwards but there will be time when it feels like they have taken a giant step backwards. The second thing is that by the time they get to being a teenager (or possibly only 9 or 10 if my young cousin is anything to go by) you will be trying to find ways to drag them out of bed rather than worrying about how to get them to sleep or what time they wake up.


Babies on a Budget


How many time have you heard someone make a comment to you about how expensive having children can be? When I was expecting Mr Monster it seemed to be one of the stock comments people would make ‘oh you’ll never have any spare cash again’ or something similar. That and ‘how many weeks are you?’ Closely followed by ‘gosh aren’t you big then!’

I think like many Mum’s to be (especially if it’s their first time) I was really excited about starting to get together all the things we would need for our new arrival. I didn’t want to fall too much into the trap of being really superstitious about things, but also didn’t want to get too carried away before we’d had both our 12 and 20 week scan, just in case there was anything wrong. We were lucky that our 20 week scan happened to be on the day after Boxing Day so the sales had just started. We went straight from the hospital to the shops to buy a cot and a push chair and got great deals on both. One of the things we did was buy our buggy from Boots online. They had a big selection (much bigger than in the store) and it meant we got boots points, because I was a member of their parents club I got 10 points per £1 spent we got enough points for me to buy our change bag on points alone and still have some left for a few treats.

When looking around before we brought anything it became clear that you could spend an obscene amount of money on even the most basic things, I mean £300 for a high chair (not that you need one of those to start with) and £900 for a cot and that’s before you’ve even brought a mattress seemed crazy to me and these were from a high street store, if you went to high end stores you could pay much, much more that that. These are things that you will need however so I can understand that people want to get it right and get something that they are really happy with making it easier to visit a range of stores where you will have a range of choices. There is however so many things people are enticed into buying that you may find you never use, special jugs that help to avoid getting water in your babies eyes for example. I think we were lucky in that respect the only thing we had that we didn’t really use was a top and tail bowl (we maybe used it once) but it came with the baby bath so it didn’t cost us any money.

Over the last 17 months I have picked up a few tips on how to keep costs down though. Some of them I would guess would not suit everyone, for example we’ve chosen to use washable nappies and wipes once they are wet or dirty they go into a bucket (any poo is emptied off and flushed down the loo) and once that is full they simply go in the washer (rinse first and then on a normal wash). They can be expensive to buy to start with, they range from £10 to £18 per nappy and you will need around 20 for 1 child you will save around £600 for one baby and more if you have more than one, some sites even put it higher than that. There are also lots of places where you can buy them second hand, for more information about using washable nappies and even hire a trial kit check out www.growupgreen.co.uk Along with the nappies I also choose to breastfeed, but that wasn’t a cost saving choice it was just something I wanted to do.

When it comes to buying things for your baby there are lots of places such as Ebay and Gumtree where you can buy second hand furniture and things for your new arrival, although it is always recommended that you have new mattresses for each child and that you shouldn’t buy car seat second hand (as it is impossible to guarantee that they haven’t been in an accident and they should always be discarded if they have) there are even sites such as freecycle where you can either search for things that people are wanting to pass on for free or if you are looking for something specific you can post a wanted add and people will respond if they have something to suit.

After the initial outlay of things like cot, buggy, changing table etc the biggest on going cost for me is clothes, we don’t know anyone who has older boys (all Mr Monster’s Cousins are girls as are the children of my close friends) when buying things new I have found the children’s clothes sold in supermarkets are great, inexpensive and good quality, plus Sainsbury in particular often have a 25% off sale (usually around bank holidays and one in late September) which make them even better value. They probably wouldn’t be everyones first thought when it come to baby stuff but the discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl are also a great place for a bargin especially once you start weaning. Aldi in particular have new things come on offer every Thursday and Sunday, the big items they do can be an excellent deal but sell out quickly so it is worth keeping a check on there website to see what is coming up, one week we picked up a light weight buggy for £22 in Aldi, Mr Monster’s Daddy was there at 8:00 just as they opened that day and there was already a queue. Still even with these things the cost add up, for even better bargains nearly new sales are great. There are more and more companies and charities now that are doing them; nationally there are groups like the NCT or The Baby and Children’s Market around me there is also an excellent charity the Tiny Lives Trust that hold regular sales.

The final and probably the favorite money saving tip that I have found is local pass it on groups on Facebook. They may take a bit of searching for I found the one local on to me though someone I met at a baby group. They are often closed groups so you have to ask to join, but they offer a place where people can post about things they are looking for or things that the have to give away. My local one has a meet once a month as well where you can bring along anything you have to swop or simply just take away what you need.

Babies are expensive or at least they can be, but they don’t need to be as expensive as you might think. There are lots of other people out there who have been through it before and are more than happy to help other parents out and keep the cost down.

The Joy of Small Things


This is my first ever blog post and I have to say that this doesn’t come naturally to me and I’m and not sure yet what direction this blog is going to take me in. My main motivation for writing it is to give myself the opportunity to put down in writing the things I love about being Mr Monster’s Mummy and a BabyNatal teacher. It has taken me a while to think about what I wanted to have as the topic for my first post and as is often the way it kind of snuck up on me.

On Wednesday this week my Mum and my Cousin were up visiting so as the weather was nice we thought we’d head up to Alnwick Gardens and see what Mr Monster made of Splash Alnwick. He has been walking for a couple of months so I thought it would be ok buy him his first wellies for the visit. We made a stop off on the way to get some, there were three or four to choose from but there was no question about the ones I chose once I’d seen them. What else would you buy a little monster but monster wellies? He now has a fantastic pair of Gruffalo wellies, it was my excitement at these wellies and how cute and funny Mr Monster was when he first started to walk in them (he was lifting his feet really high like he was stepping over something until he got the hang of them) that I realised that one of the things I enjoy most about being Mr Monster’s Mummy is all the little things that make small children smile and laugh and all the things that I used to enjoy as a child that I have forgotten about.

welliesOver the past few months I have rediscovered so many things, books that rhyme, the very hungry caterpillar and little wooden blocks that you can make towers out of (and how much fun a toddler finds it to knock them down) among other things. It is one of my favourite times of the day (actually some days it is almost continuously all day, but hey ho) when Mr Monster wants me to read a book to him. He has a range of books on a shelf low enough for him to reach in the living room and will pull them all off until he finds the one he wants and then come toddling over with it and a big grin on his face. He then almost shoves it in my face or bashes me with it until I take it off him. He then climbs up next to me to have it read. He defiantly has his favourites; he likes the touchy feely books with big bold colours but also the books that rhyme. I have to say that I much prefer the rhyming books, there are only so many times you can read ‘That is not my polar bear’ or a book that only has one or two words on a page before you go crazy. Even though I enjoy the rhyming books they do have a major flaw, they stick in your head like those annoying ear worm songs. When you wake up at 4 in the morning and find yourself running through ‘some dogs do’ by Jez Aldobrough or ‘Jack and the Flum Flum Tree’ by Julia Donaldson in your head it can be quite annoying.

It turned out that Mr Monster loved his new wellies (although not on his feet – he always takes his shoes and socks off) and Splash Alnwick. He was not so sure when the fountains started up and he was one side of the wall of water and I was on the other, but had a great time running around and splashing in the water. I now can’t wait for the autumn so that I can take him splashing in the puddles in the coolest wellies ever.

splash alnwick2