Bea at Two

Just over a month ago, Bea turned two. Gone are the days of measuring her age in months and gone is my baby. Theres now a true toddler in the house, and don’t we all know it!

It’s true what they say, that they just get more and more fun as they get older. I couldn’t understand when Pete used to say already at even 1 year old that she was so much more interesting now than a newborn (that with Bea we were endlessly fascinated by,) and another small one would be so, well, boring by comparison. Although I remember that new mum obsession well, I can finally see what he means. Bea is my little companion now, chats all day and has her own little ways and plans. God help me when they don’t align with mine.

Beautiful balmy evening for playing in the garden!

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

We still baby wear (the photo taken here was only a week ago), favouring it over a pram. In fact we used the pram for a wedding a couple of weekends ago, purely to put her in during the evening reception once she had fallen asleep in the wrap. The time I had used it previously was a few weeks before last Christmas for a big shopping trip – thats how seldom we do reach for it. I’m lucky I guess in that she is still pretty tiny for her age (she remains on the 9th gentile and currently weighs about 26lbs,) but she is also not wrapped for anywhere near as long as she used to be, having been keen to walk since about 22 months I’d say. Of course, little legs get tired and soon enough she reaches up with arms outstretched saying ‘carry,’ and now I can’t carry her as long in arms, she still has to go in the wrap. The difference is she often specifies if she goes on the front or back. In fact, beyond basic transportation, it has been a godsend for generally calming her as a toddler. When situations have been overwhelming, when she is tired, teething or unhappy for some reason, sometimes I still reach for the wrap just to reconnect and re-set and it has never failed us.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the ‘terrible two’s haven’t really hit here yet. Bea started to tantrum around the age of 1, when she couldn’t have a toy or some other item (usually something dangerous/unsuitable,) but was always easily distracted. Now I find her behaviour deteriorates when she is tired, (no change there then,) and also clearly when she is seeking attention. I have always said, Bea is 100% amazing when you give her 100% of your attention! Thats not to say she’s outwardly demanding it – she doesn’t dance around me saying ‘look at me’ just yet, but she does immediately start doing mischievous/naughty things when I’m not able to give her all of my attention and that’s when I really risk loosing it with her. No amount of ‘Just wait one minute while Mummy does this‘ will work and infact, she does progressively worse things which makes me more mad and I have to remind myself in these situations to just stop, sort her out and come back to whatever I was doing later.

Girl on the train. #toddlersofinstagram #biggirl #two #love

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

Speech has been the biggest change in Bea over recent months. She really didn’t start saying words until she was about 19months, then new words came thick and fast. At two she was starting sentences and now she tells me whole stories about something that has happened or she wants to do. I absolutely love that we can have little conversations about things. At the end of the day she can tell me what she has done and her little observations can be really funny!

Just around the age of two we had a really difficult phase with pushing. Bea has never pushed other kids despite being subjected to it a lot herself and we couldn’t decide if it was a learned behaviour or frustration. I eventually recognised after a lot of chatting to mum friends and a bit of reading that she was feeling really overwhelmed and frustrated in social situations, particularly when toys were involved. It is natural for parents I think to encourage sharing as a necessary social skill but it took me time to realise she (and kids her age) aren’t capable of it. She was previously good at ‘sharing’ but on reflection she was just ‘giving’ toys to other kids when we asked. I eventually read a really useful article about how you shouldn’t encourage sharing, but the child (be it yours or another child,) who has the toy gets to keep it for as long as they want. You have to empathise with your child that they don’t get to have it just yet but explain when the other child is done, they can play with it then. This is supposed to make them feel more secure that when they themselves have a toy they want they will get to keep it as long as they would like and not cause pushing to get/keep a toy. It solved the problem here within 2 weeks.

Fortunately Bea continues to be a great sleeper. We have had our blips, often unexplained, but we had a month long particularly memorable spell of her not letting me put her down just before she was 2. I was exhausted mentally by having to wrap her or hold her for an hour or more and the effect that was having on my ‘me time’ after her bedtime. We thought about letting her cry it out as she was definitely of an age that she knew if she cried I would come back but she has never done this unless she has needed me for one reason or another. Leaps, teething, illness, so I ploughed through and just like that she stopped again and went back to normal.

We have also finally finished breastfeeding. I think bea was about 2 and 2 months-ish, and finally stopped of her own accord which was what I wanted. I have a lot more to say about our whole BF journey so I’ll save that for another post.

One major change that has come at just the right time, is that Bea is becoming really happy to play alone now. It’s a developing skill, but she will pick up books and ‘read’ (recite) them to herself or me, toddle off to the playroom to play with her train set or play with a puzzle while I get ready. It doesn’t always work and it doesn’t last for long but I’m certainly looking forward to it improving!

I could write all day about where she is up to and more, partly because this was such an overdue post but something else has been keeping me from blogging and that’s a new baby! :) I’m half way through now and we are incredibly excited and happy to be growing our little family. Bea is (so far) very excited too – most entertainingly looking into my belly button to ‘see the baby!’ and giving my bump big pats and cuddles.

Please do let me know where you guys are all up to with your little ones?

Rebecca x

If the shoe fits…

We bought Bea her first pair of shoes at 11 months… I wouldn’t have bothered but it was summery weather (now a distant memory!) and she was walking a lot holding our hands around the garden, so I wanted her feet protected. It was a tough decision though, as you may know babies feet are still developing, so they should be out of shoes as much as possible. We figured it would just be brief spells so decided to go ahead. She then started walking around her first birthday and shortly after started nursery, where they have to wear shoes to go outside and often inside too. That first pretty pair, from Clarks naturally, are quickly getting worn out so I’m starting to think about autumn/winter footwear for walks in the park, puddle jumping (wellies I think!) and playing outside.

The problem is, its really hard to find nice children’s shoes. I like her to look half presentable so something that goes with everything is ideal, but I’m not compromising on fit for fashion. Bea’s feet are a tiny size 2F so shopping in the likes of the high street stores like M&S isn’t an option as they don’t seem to go below size 4. Added to all of that, a neighbour of ours who used to work for NIKE happened to tell us that NIKE spend more on research in a year into children’s foot development than Clarks turn over as a company in the same year. Which makes me think we’ll be adding some cute trainers to the collection.

I’d love to hear if you guys have discovered any ‘proper’ shoes that are safe and stylish around the internet or high street, suitable for first steps and tiny feet. Please do share!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! Feeling a bit rubbish today? This will cheer you up ;)

Family lifestyle: family-friendly eating out

Hello readers!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to blog. To be perfectly honest, this ‘family lifestyle’ blogger is feeling like her lifestyle is work, run around after a toddler, cook, housework, crash in front of the TV, sleep, more work… And repeat. Daily. That’s not to say I don’t LOVE being a mum to a busy, energetic, happy toddler – I really, really do – it just doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like painting my nails, or catching-up with friends, or blogging. But I’ve missed it, so here I am, avoiding housework and writing!

One subject that I’ve been wanting to write about for an age is options for eating out with a little one in tow. It’s something we don’t do that often, and so when we do take Freddie out we like to know it’s going to be a success. Here are some of our favourite family-friendly restaurants and cafés.

Wagamama

We took Freddie to our local Wagamama on his first birthday after hearing good things about their kids menu, and we were not disappointed. Six months later, I’m yet to be as impressed by children’s menu offerings as I was at Wagamama – not only are the options a bit different from the normal sausages and pasta, it’s great value (all the main courses are less than £5) and it’s all healthy. I really liked that the elements of the dish were separated, with the sauce on the side, and Freddie had 3 vegetables to pick at – something I’ve never seen in any other restaurant. A huge plus also came from the way the waiter didn’t even bat an eyelid when he saw the pile of sweetcorn and rice on the floor. We’ll be back.

The Volunteer Tavern, Bristol

The best Sunday lunch we’ve had since Freddie was born was at the Volunteer Tavern in Bristol, which we visited with my best friend and her husband a few months ago. Despite being a pretty ‘hip’ place, the young staff instantly took a shining to our son who was bopping away to the reggae they had on and happily produced a toddler-sized portion of their chicken roast for about £4. Highly recommended. 

M&S café

In our town we are blessed with a multitude of excellent independent cafés, serving delicious coffee and homemade cake (our favourite will always be Corleone, if you’re visiting), but they are often too busy to find a space for us all or even get the pushchair in – never mind nab a highchair. If I’m meeting fellow mums for a drink and snack, both of us with little ones in tow, I always suggest the Marks and Spencer café. My husband always mocks me for this brand loyalty, but sometimes you just need to know that there will be highchairs in abundance, clean toilets with changing facilities nearby, toddler-friendly snack options (Freddie particularly likes the cheese scones) and space for two pushchairs. Plus there are usually a few friendly pensioners ready to coo over your well-behaved child (excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing…). I save the tiny, cute cafes with the free newspapers and coffee in easy-for-little-hands-to-grab cups for solo trips.

See also, John Lewis cafés.

Woody’s, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Walking around Kingston with friends on a particularly hot day this summer, we realised we’d forgotten to bring anything for Freddie and so grabbed a table outside Woody’s at about 11.45. After a quick look at the menu we realised we’d discovered a gem. A box of lego, a healthy carrot and dip starter, delicious main course and refreshing fresh melon for desert (all for around £6) later, we were hooked. The staff were busy, but friendly and welcoming and brought the bill instantly when Freddie decided he’d rather chase dogs than stick around.

My tips for a successful family meal out

  • Do your homework. Book ahead for the best tables at the busiest places and always have a back-up plan if you haven’t. Make sure the place has a toilet and a highchair available.
  • Go early and order the kids’ food straight away. I liked this line from this article: “the child prepared to patiently wait half an hour for a plate of chips hasn’t been born yet.” Very true.
  • Be confident and go with it, but be prepared to leave quickly if you need to. The few times we’ve gone out for lunch or an early dinner with a larger group and Freddie I’ll admit I’ve been anxious that he’ll ruin it for everyone and we’d have to leave not having eaten anything. But when I’ve given into him wanting to sit under the table and zoom his cars over the chairs we’ve all had a better time.
  • If all else fails, order a jacket potato with beans. Never fails.
I’d love to hear your favourite independent family eateries. As for chains, I’ve heard good things about Pizza Express and Giraffe for toddlers – anyone taken their little one?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or on Twitter @Real_Married