Thursday, November 25, 2010

The babysitter

A few weeks back my boss asked me if I could work one extra day a week until Christmas. From home, if I so wished.

Being the dutiful and enthusiastic employee that I am I told him, "not on your nelly mister. I'm a full-time mother when I'm not at work." Which makes me wonder whether I'm a part-time mother when I am at work. How does that work? Full-time stay-at-home mums are full-time mums. But mothers who work part-time are still full-time mums. No wonder we feel so stressed and busy all the time. And what about those women who work full-time and are full-time mums? I'm not saying one situation is better than the other, or that one lot have it easier than the others. All I'm saying is how can you be a part-time mother? You're either a mum or you're not. Unless you only get the kids on the weekend, which is kind of part-time. Either way, I'm happy with my lot. I don't think I could be a full-time anything (stay-at-home mother, employee) whilst also being a full-time mum.

But back to my story. Of course I didn't say that to my boss. I was just checking you were paying attention. No, I told him I'd love to help out. After thinking long and hard all weekend about how I was going to fit it in, of course.

Well, therein lies the challenge. There are a lot of other things going on in my life right now, not least Christmas and lounge room renovations and some other exciting things that I will no doubt blog about very soon. I was just about fitting all my chores into Phoebe's sleep time. How now to also add an extra 8 hours of work a week?

Firstly, I employed my cleaner for an extra hour a week to do various jobs, like any laundry or ironing that I haven't got to, wiping down the leather lounge suite, emptying the bins, putting the groceries away, cleaning the kitchen and putting Phoebe's clothes away. She only ever stays for an extra half hour (and charges me accordingly) so this has been a massive help.

So that got rid of a lot of boring domestic chores that she can do whilst I take Phoebe to swimming. Then I pondered whether I should get someone else to look after Phoebe for a while. I didn't want to pack her off to daycare for an extra day. I think 3 days is quite enough and I really enjoy our morning activities. Grandparents were out as Grandpa was embedded in his work and Nan was committed to picking Phoebe's cousins up from school at the times I would want her looked after.

So I asked around for a babysitter and a friend recommended a rather lovely lady by the name of Louisa. She came to see us the very next day and we both thought she was very nice. She then went on holiday for a while and finally came to do her first babysitting job for us this week.

I was a bit worried about how it was all going to go. Phoebe had been acting most peculiarly for the last couple of days. She was a bit whingy and clingy and I wasn't at all sure what was going on with her. At swimming that morning she'd refused to do a lot of the activities and whinged whenever her head went under the water. And then having coffee afterwards she sat on the floor next to the toys staring at some other customers with a glazed expression on her face before lying face down on the cold ground. And she wasn't eating much either.

But I decided to get Louisa along anyway and to play it by ear so that Phoebe could get used to the new, if temporary, routine. Well what a surprise. Once we were all settled in I got a full 1 1/2 hours of work done WITH NO INTERRUPTIONS! I was amazed. I wasn't sure how it would go with us all being in the house. I thought Phoebe would pester me and whinge but she had a great time playing with Louisa and showing her all her toys. I popped my head in now and then to give her bits of food and they went out to the shops for a while. But all in all it was a resounding success. We shall see what next week brings.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bums, teeth, jelly fish and pigtails

The other day I was on the toilet when Phoebe barged into the bathroom - not an uncommon occurrence.

"Toilet!" she exclaimed, pointing at me.
"Yes, Mammy's on the toilet," I replied. I do look forward to the day when I can go to the loo in peace without my spouse or offspring barging in for one reason or another.
"Paper!" she exclaimed again. Then she commenced pulling off a ream of toilet paper.
"Ok! That's enough," I told her, hastily placing my hand on the roll so the paper tore off as she pulled.

Then she scrunched it up into a little ball and handed it to me to use. Ah! So helpful.

Phoebe's starting to get the hang of the toilet. She started showing interest in it a while back but never seemed entirely comfortable perched on top of her travel toilet seat, her little legs dangling as she clung to me. So a couple of months back I bought her a little toilet seat complete with a step and handles. Now she's pretty good at getting to the toilet when she needs to go, which is quite impressive for a 21 month old. When we're home we let her go nappy free and she'll sometimes do a little wee on the carpet, then hold it in and run off to do the rest in the toilet. She's not so controlled when it comes to poo or wearing knickers. But we'll get there. If she's watching telly and needs a wee she'll sit on her potty in front of the telly.

I wish we were having as much luck with tooth brushing. She never used to mind it and used to be really good but I think we let her have too much independence. The truth is she's not that good at it. She chews the brush until the toothpaste is gone and then loses interest. I figure one tooth is probably getting a clean whilst she's chewing but the rest are sadly forgotten. We've tried many different things. She has lovely strawberry (doorbree) flavoured toothpaste and we've tried various brushes, including an electric Dora one, which she gets excited about, shouting "Dorwa Dorwa" until you either a) switch it on or b) come near her with it, at which point she starts to cry.

Toby tries to get her to make "toothpaste milkshake" and I get her to brush my teeth whilst I brush hers. I tried making a game of chasing her around with a toothbrush, which she enjoys but manages to get herself into positions where I can't possibly get to her mouth, and frankly I find the whole thing exhausting anyway. We've tried bribes by letting her watch TV whilst she brushes but then switching it off when she stops. We've tried sending her to bed without a story, which just results in her getting really upset and worked up before bed. We've tried a book about how to brush your teeth. We've read advice online and in books and they all assume you have a willing child, as opposed to one that acts as though you're about to try and shove a newt down her throat and then sew her lips together.

So my latest tactic is to ban all sugary foods and drinks. No juice, sultanas, cake, chocolate or ice cream. When she asks for them I tell her that only people who brush their teeth are allowed to eat them. Then I'll give her the option of brushing her teeth first. We'll see how that goes then.

One milestone very satisfying to a mother has finally been reached. Phoebe now has enough hair for bunches, or pigtails as people seem to call them here in Australia. I can see why. They look like little piggy's tails. She's very cute with them. They really change her face and sometimes I can't stop looking at her thinking "oh, how cute." She's quite good at sitting still and letting me do her hair before she goes to daycare although it took me a while to find the right hair elastics as she has such a small amount of hair.

Another not so nice milestone was reached the other day when Phoebe encountered her first blue bottle. Now, unlike in England, a blue bottle is not an annoyingly buzzy insect, but a rather pretty sea jelly with a clear body about the size of your thumb, and beautiful long delicate blue tendrils. Unfortunately these tendrils pack a nasty sting and they tend to break off very easily in the surf. They can still sting after becoming detached from the body. I was stung a few years back and it bloody hurt. After washing the toxins off with a warm shower I sat with an ice pack on my leg for half an hour. It felt and looked like a burn.

On Tuesday I was on the beach with Phoebe. We were playing with some new sand toys and she kept running down to the shore to collect water in her bucket. A small wave bowled her over and she began to cry, which was strange because she would usually find that fun. I couldn't console her so I carried her back up to our things and started getting her ready to leave. I removed her nappy, tried to brush the sand off her, with her screaming and practically climbing up me. I asked her what hurt but she was so upset it was a while before I could make out her saying "foot". When I brushed the sand off her foot it was swollen and red with little white marks, just like a nettle sting.

I knew that fresh water was the best thing but we didn't have any with us on the beach. So now came the challenge: to get all of our stuff together, get off the beach, cross the road, through a small park with a steep hill, cross another road and back to the car, whilst carrying my screaming, clambering child and all of our things. I found a drinking fountain near the car but couldn't get her to keep her foot under it. Then I dumped our things in the back of the car, poured my water bottle over her foot and set off to the pharmacy, dunking her foot back under the fountain on the way. The pharmacist gave us some antiseptic cream containing a local anesthetic and some paracetamol for the pain and eventually she calmed down, though I suspect by then the sting was probably wearing off anyway. He told me hot water was the best thing so when I got her home I sat her in front of the telly with a bucket of warm water to put her foot in. Of course she thought this was great and fully climbed into the bucket saying "bath".

Newsflash: Phoebe just told Toby she wanted to do a poo and then did one on the toilet. Hurrah! This is doubly amazing as it's the third, that's 3rd! one today!
Also, Phoebe is now demanding ice cream (ee-heam) but refusing to brush her teeth and having a total meltdown because we won't let her have one without the other. That's going well then.