At some stage, as parents we wonder whether our kids get enough of, or too much of sleep. Sleeping is so important for growing, development and keeps kids moods regulated. And for us parents gives us a chance to recover, rest or get other bits and pieces done.
There is no standard or normal when it comes to babies and children. They are all unique and some more energetic than others, so its best that you play it by ear and work with them to create a natural routine.
Etienne (2) is a morning person, he’s up at 7am, naps approx 1.5 hours during the day and is usually down by 930pm. Chance (3), however, is a bit of a night owl. We are in school holidays at the moment so he is up at 1030ish, sometimes doesn’t nap and goes down at 11pm on average — when we are unlucky he stays up till 2am… On school term though, this all changes.
Anyway, for those of you who are wondering how much their kids should be sleeping, check out this guide I found below. And remember that they will usually sleep more during growth spurts, after new experiences and when they are unwell.
It has taken me more than 2 years to write this post. I guess it’s because it was such a crazy time of my life, but before I write anything about what I experience with him on this blog, I’d like to introduce my youngest son Etienne.
After a traumatic experience giving birth to my son Chance (you can read about it here: https://creativemamaau.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/my-birth-story/ ) I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the whole process again. Especially not any time soon. But fate had decided that Chance would have a little brother. Just under a year after Chance was born I fell pregnant.
I have to say being pregnant the second time was easier, just because you knew what to expect and you aren’t freaking out at every body change, movement, cramp etc.. I was much more lax about it. Being pregnant and having a 1 year old proved to be a challenge however. My first child is and has always been active. He also is very affectionate and likes to climb all over me. Once I started to get bigger, I struggled to keep up with him and hold him in my arms. I continued to work normal hours (I’m a singer and vocal coach) and had this amazing plan that I would take all the work I could get till the end of March then I would take time off in April – when bubba was due. It was a great self organised maternity leave plan I had for myself.
Etienne came on the 22 February 2015. A whole 8 weeks premature. Right in the middle of my busiest work month. The night before, I had contractions, which I brushed off as the ‘fake’ ones cause it was way too early. But they intensified and at 5am I asked David to take me to the hospital. Yep my baby was coming. He was ready to be out it one easy go. It would have been a real short labour, had we not had to prolong it. You see, when a baby is born 8 weeks early, the lungs have not yet fully developed and so there was a massive risk that he would not be able to breathe on his own. To help move his development along, I was given steroids and told I would need to wait 12 hours for them to enter bubba’s blood stream. This would give him a boost and give the lungs a chance to further develop. I also was given something to try to stop my labour. 12 fucking hours of him wanting to come out and and me and the doctors holding him in. No pain relief drugs. My uterus hurts just thinking about it.
My mum flew to from Melbourne to Sydney to join me at the hospital. By now we were about 9 hours in and David’s eyes were falling out of his head from fatigue. I sent him home and called my best friend Veena. She was the angel that dropped whatever she was doing to help me through the last few hours and hardest contractions. Each time they came I buried my head on her shoulder and squeezed her hands – I was sure I would break them. At the 13th hour, I finally got my epidural. Gosh, as soon as the pain was gone, I told the doctor — all good, no rush now, we can just chill.
Because I had had a c-section with Chance, under 2 years before, I was originally recommended to have another c-section with baby number 2. The pressure of giving birth naturally after a c-section, having not fully repaired, could lead to the scar tearing open again. But things were progressing quite fast (bar the doctors slowing things down) and Etienne was going to be tiny, so the doctor didn’t think it would be too much of a risk to have him naturally. I took the natural birth route. I gave birth to Etienne just after 11pm that evening with mum, David and Veena present. My Epidural had worn off just in time to feel the push and Etienne was so small he popped out of me relatively easily.
But as soon as he did he was taken away. The prodded and poked him and stuck wires into him and put him on machines and into a box. He was born 1.6 kg. My palm was the size of his whole torso. My heart sunk when they told me he would have to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks.
I stayed in the hospital for 10 days and then every 4 hours I needed to return to the hospital nursery to breast feed my baby. He always fought to stay off the machines. My boy was a fighter. He wanted to breathe on his own and on the 3rd day, they took him off the oxygen machine. He still had to have a tube into his mouth and nose, which went down to his tummy because he had not yet learnt to suck, so he was fed milk through this tube with a syringe. There was a nurse with him 24 hours a day. Thank god for those nurses. It was hard. I had a one year old who was needy and not allowed to see his brother yet, I had a full schedule of work and my partner and I were exhausted. To top it off, we were also moving house. FML!
Choosing the natural birth option was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was literally able to dance the next day. I did however wait a week before my first gig (straight out of hospital and on stage as diana ross and the supremes lol). By the 3rd week the intensive care nurses thought I was superwoman (or had lost my mind). Every 4-6 hours into the hospital, breast feeding or express pumping in between gigs and teaching. I remember feeding, then of to the hair dresser for a massive 60s do and eyelashes, then coming back for 2nd feeding, then off to a “Starlettes gig” and then back to the hospital at midnight for a feed still in my gold sequins maxi dress. Then the next day I was Tina Turner. ‘What a glamorous life I had’ they said, But I was delirious 🙂
Starlettes show about a week after giving birth
Tina Turner show (That’s me – in the middle)
Pumping milk out of my breasts in between sets wasn’t fun either but I didn’t want to explode whilst on stage (it happens), so it had to be done. Anyway, my little man was doing well in hospital. We had a lot of skin to skin time and he slowly learned how to breathe and suck. I will never forget holding him in the baby ICU and watching the red light flash on the machine that monitored him with his heart rate counter falling rapidly because he was tired and just momentarily forgot to breathe. It happened twice in my arms. His heart may have not stopped fully, but mine surely did.
It was a hazy 6 weeks and when it was time to leave we moved into our new place. Bringing Etienne home from the hospital felt so awesome, even though he wouldn’t have professional monitoring by nurses 24/7. I was excited to have him home with the rest of the family. My heart was full when in the car on the way home from hospital, Chance held Etienne’s hand. It was the perfect start to our new journey with our 2 boys. Having 2 children under 2 is hard work but I’m glad I had them when I did, because they are close in age and they interact really well with each other now. Also for us parents, we are still familiar with the development stages when the second one goes through them.
Oh and they are not the same, they are like chalk and cheese with regards to personality. Etienne is no where near as social as Chance is much more sensitive (he is his father’s child for sure), he is fairer (like he actually might burn in the sun rather than tan) and he has straight hair. He sure did catch up on his weight too. The little tank is almost the size of his brother now and has been wearing the same size as him for a year.
I wasn’t sure I had enough love in my heart to share between 2 children but the moment I lay my eyes on him, I had found another very special place to hold Etienne forever in my heart. He is 2 now, fussy as hell, loud, sometimes grumpy, but my is he beautiful. I still can’t believe he’s mine. He will forever be my little miracle.
I’m still grateful for the nurses at RPA in Sydney, I’ve never seen a team so caring and hardworking. They literally saved my child’s life and continue to save lives everyday. My best friend Veena, I mean, you watched me pop a baby out of my vagina, we homies for life! I’m so blessed to have you as Etienne’s godmother. To David, I never told you how fucking awesome you handled both births and pregnancies. I love watching you parent and become a better dad each day. To mum, who taught me to be a mum and who left her life to choose us and be a part of our little family. Thank you for always showing up for me. And to uncle Scott, whom we could not have coped without through the early months of both our sons. We can’t wait to have you here with us again soon.
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read my story. It has been quite therapeutic to write and remember. Till the next one (blog post, not baby). :p
I’ll leave you with some recent photos of my Etienne.
Ok so I’ve spent the last 10 months on this tiny island of Mauritius with my family, after spending the last 30 years in Australia. I think that Sydney is massively over-regulated and do like that there are far more freedoms offered to us here on the island, but one thing I think is a massive issue is that people do not seem to risk assess very well. It particularly annoys me when it affects the safety and well being of children.
The ridiculous risk taking that I have seen here in the last few months is beyond me. Especially on the road: Carrying full gas bottles or a plastic tub of kerosene on a motorbike, massive rice sacs flopped over a pushbike – riding in traffic, people who choose not to use a blinker, or a seat belt or shoes and a bunch of workers riding unsecured (standing) in the back of an open truck.
I drive Chance to school every morning and pick him up every afternoon. The amount of parents that let their kids ride in the car without a seat belt or an appropriate car seat is crazy. It is not law to have to wear a seat belt in the back seat here. But why the Fuck wouldn’t you? Why the fuck would you let your child stand on the passenger or back seat of your car whilst driving. I’ve seen this twice this month. Where are your fucking parenting skills? How do you not see the risk in this and why don’t you know better? As parents we have the responsibility to appropriately assess any situation and make sure our kids are safe before anything. But its like some people have the “It won’t happen to me” attitude and that is how they are navigating through life. Until that unfortunate day that your child flies through the window-screen. No one wants to see a child injured or worse. So parents, For Fucks Sake, take extra precautions to ensure their safety, even if the cost is a litte higher. You can always make more money, but you will never be able to replace a child you’ve lost.
I’m going to list a few points based on the things I’ve seen here in hopes to enlighten some people (maybe education is what is lacking):
On the road
If you have a baby, invest in a baby car-seat or capsule, and keep your kids in there until they can’t fit in it anymore (can be to 3 or 4 years old, and some boosters allow for children up to 8 years old).
Put a seatbelt on your children and tighten the strap to fit them properly.
Kids should never ride in the front passenger seat.
When you can, put your child in the back middle seat.
Babies do not belong on motor scooters.
Maximum 2 people on a scooter (i’ve see up to 5)
Children should not be allowed to pump petrol
Check and replace your tires when regularly.
Out and About
Don’t let your kid pet a stray dog, cat, human, whatever.
Pigeons are gross and carry disease, keep the kids away from them
It’s fucking hot here. Put sunscreen and a hat on them. Yes coloured people still can get skin cancer
It’s fucking hot here, keep your kids hydrated (with water).
Get them into the habit of washing their hands regularly
Hold their hands when you are walking through outdoor areas where there are cars or a crowd of people
In the Kitchen
If it has been left out overnight (without being refrigerated) throw it out
The microwave is not a place to store food,neither is the oven.
Baby bottles should be sanitised (using boiled water)
If you have a water fountain that dispenses hot water, put a child proof handle on it
Around the house
Wash new clothes before you give them to your kids to wear.
Do not leave plugged-in charger cables lying around.
Dust your fans regularly.
Medecines and cleaning products need to be put away so kids can’t get into them.
Don’t let them play on the stairs.
Put a fence around your fucking pool!
Rusty items are dangerous.
Don’t let little kids touch the hot and cold shower faucets.
Don’t leave them unattended in any kind of water.
This is just a start of a list. There is so much more I could add. Above all, Parents, teach your children how to be safe, play safe, and look after themselves and others. Teach them how to identify risk. And when you ask them not to do something, explain why. They are sponges to information and will learn quickly how to keep safe if we put in the effort into teaching them.
There are so many opinions circulating when it comes to potty training your kids. My mum told me that I was out of nappies at 9 months! 9 Fucking months!. At 9 months, I was just happy to have kept my baby alive and well fed (lets just say I wasn’t too good at looking after my plants). So I put my son Chance on the potty for the first time at 8 months old. A picture says a thousand words:
Yep, that right there is a mortified ‘What the fuck is happening?” face on my baby. They say potty training at a young age is more like training adults to look out for when your kid needs to go, rather than you training them to go to the potty. I’m sure there are a lot of parents (including mine) that are successful getting their kids out of nappies that young, however I wasn’t going to sit there all anxious and wait for a wee (which can happen every 15 mins in a baby) or a poo to arrive so I can catch it. I really do want more out of my life.
So after a few tries, I hung the potty up. I read somewhere that waiting for your child to be able to communicate with you can be more of an effective way to potty train. And also waiting for him to show signs of wanting to potty train would be a good idea. That sign might be baby doing a shit and then taking his nappy off himself and throwing it on the ground. Every. Time. (So much fun for mum and dad!!).
So I actually ditched the potty altogether. My cousin said to just put him straight on the toilet (getting a smaller training seat to put on the toilet so he doesn’t fall in helps too). At 2 years old I put him on the toilet as much as possible. He wasn’t afraid of sitting on the toilet and it made clean up really easy. Nappies were out and Nappy pants were in. These are the 3 brands, that I recommend:
Mamia are Aldi brand, great if you are on a budget
Baby love is good quality and reasonably priced
I would only get huggies when they were on sale in bulk. They a super absorbent but could get expensive sometimes
Problem is my son was late to talk and so he was unable to let us know when he needed to go so we were still watching for the poo faces (which is like sweaty fear & shame expressions). Regardless, we had a good go at 2 years old where most of the time we took him for a wee he went, and poos, maybe 50%. We celebrated wee wee and poos with stickers and stamps. YES PEOPLE YOU MUST CELEBRATE/REWARD THAT WEE/POO IN THE TOILET. This makes your child want to go there again.
It’s may now and Chance is 3. He started at pre-primary and I’m really happy to say that he’s in his final stages of potty training. It was so much easier with the support of his school. He went to school with undies on (no nappy) and pretty much shit his pants everyday for a whole week. Poor teachers. But he was wee-ing consistently in the potty or toilet when we took him there. The one day, he just got up and did a wee in the potty on his own. This has been one of the highlights of motherhood so far!. Afterward, he came to me and said “wee wee in the potty”. Yes he did! VICTORY!! And since then he’s been good with the wees.
Thomas undies are popular.
Chance loves Cars
The poos were a little more difficult. It was like he didn’t really know when he wanted to go until he had already started, and then he would hide or say ‘poo’ with full undies – SO NASTY… But I messed up a little. And so I will tell you guys so you might learn from my mistakes. I got really stroppy with him a few times when he had a poo accident. “Why did you poo in your undies? I told you to poo in the toilet. NO MORE POOS IN YOUR UNDIES” I would snap. And then one day with tears in his eyes, he said to me “I’m sorry”. My 3 year old child was sorry that he let me down. I felt like the worst mum in the world. So now when those accidents happen I try not to show my frustration. I get down to his level and say ‘it’s ok’, clean him up and point out how poos are yucky and need to go in the toilet. I repeat ‘poos are for the toilet, not for your undies’ calmly. And when he goes to the toilet he still gets lots of praise from all of us adults at home.
And there it is peeps. It’s not rocket science to potty train your kid. Consistency is everything. My hot tips are:
Wait till he starts to show signs of not wanting to be in nappies.
Wait till he can communicate with you (even one or 2 word sentences).
Start using the words poo and wee, so that he knows what they are.
To begin with, put him on the toilet or potty when you take of his nappy before a shower.
Praise the fuck out of him when he actually goes (stickers, lollies, celebration dance).
Don’t lose your cool at accidents.
Invest in nappy-pants.
Get a small toilet seat to put over your toilet.
Let him spend time at home (all day) with undies and only wear nappies when going out.
Keep the potty & toilet accessible (within eyesight if possible).
With boys and wees, let dad show him how it’s done.
Buy undies that he actually likes (all of chances have his fave characters – batman, angry birds, pokemon).
And have faith, that it will get better.
Chance is out of nappies now, except for when he goes to bed. Even with nappy pants on, he gets up to go to the toilet. I’m so proud of his progress and I can’t wait till we can axe the nappies altogether.
If anyone else has any potty training tips to add, please comment below. I would love to hear your experiences.
I started this blog awhile ago in hopes of sharing some of my thoughts and opinions on being a new mum and creative parent. The truth is I’ve been so busy being a mum and a creative the time got away from me and the posts… well I just looked at the last on and gosh…3 years ago!!
Ok so. I’m sorry for going MIA and I’m really happy to say that I’m back on track with it all. So how have you been going?
Chance is 3 now and has a baby brother Etienne who is 2 years old (yes David and I have been busy) And we’ve made a pretty big change. We’ve taken our family out of Sydney and moved to the tiny and beautiful island of Mauritius to spend more time with them and pursuing our creative passions. You see, Sydney became all about working to survive and things got tough for us. I realised that my inspiration was suffering and that to keep us afloat I would have to work full time and miss out on time raising my boys.
The hardest decision of my life was to leave my home and friends and family in sydney for the islands. We’ve been here 8 months now and although sometimes I miss the big city and my friends (mostly my friends), I feel as though we made the right decisions.
So here we are now, a completely different environment and a completely new life. I spend my time here gigging, writing music, online (skype) teaching and managine artists. And recently I’m back on the blogging. The Boys are doing great. They love the sun and the sea and get lots of attention here.
In another post I will formally introduce my son Etienne because, well let’s just say he needs a full blog for his special self. We’ve been through so many challengers and wins over the last few years and I can’t wait to share some experiences with you. I’m trying to work out where to start actually, so I will ask the question to the readers out there: What would you like to know?
Leave me a comment 🙂
Here we are (]left to right) Chance, Etienne, My tribe and our new island home.
So Chance turned 10 months old a couple days ago and i’ve noticed that for a few weeks now, he has developed “Stranger Anxiety”. This means that our usually smiley and social baby becomes a scared “sad sack” around people he doesn’t know or doesn’t see often. Sometimes even if someone he doesn’t know is in the same room with him,he all of a sudden wants mummy or daddy or uncle or grandma to hold and “protect” him. I wanted to understand why this happened so I started to watch his interactions with others and in doing so developed a set of rules that apply when interacting with my baby (and maybe yours…):
1. Calm the Fuck Down!! If you come in and are talking like you’re cheering at the footy – Bubba will not like you. Babies are sensitive to noise and sounds and most get scared at loud abrupt noises. Chance used to get scared every time we sneezed so we started laughing it off after each sneeze to show him that it was ok. Now he sneezes then bursts into laughter every time! Um yeah so – please use your “inside voice”.
2. Back the Fuck Up!! If you came into my house and got into my face and carried on some goo goo mumbo jumbo whilst pinching my cheeks and telling me how cute you thought I was, I would punch you. Most people would. Dont do it to my baby. He only likes mummy and daddy to get in his face so he can munch on our chins and noses, eyebrows etc… The personal space rule applies to babies also.
3. This Ain’t No Disco If you smell like a pub or an astray then you’d best be keeping your distance. Babies have a great sense of smell and mine tends to take offence to the smell of beer and cigarettes. Plus I don’t condone the presence of alcohol and cigarettes around any child. Clean it up or clear out.
4. Be Cool Ok this one is made up of a few sub-points: I really feel that babies pick up on peoples’ vibes a lot. Since Chance was born we have tried to keep a stress free and happy environment around him, and so when something’s off – he gets it. That means that if you are anxious and uncomfortable with holding him, he will be too. And if you have ‘decided’ that he doesn’t like you or ‘babies’ don’t like you, he probably won’t. Also if you are desperate for his attention and going out of your way extravagantly to make him like you, he won’t . Nobody likes try-hards. If you’re a man, then talk like a man. Don’t speak a couple of octaves higher or in a squeaky voice just cause you are talking to him. Its weird. And Scary. And very un-sexy. If you’re one of those ‘I hate kids but I’ll pretend to like this one’ kinda person, Bubba will see right through you. Always.
5. Remember who my parents are. This applies to most singers I know who are parents. If you are going to sing to a child who has singers/musicians as parents, You’d better bring it — In Key. There have been a number of times Chance has burst out into tears because his ears are ‘bleeding’ from bad singing or music. So if you don’t cut it on the singing front then don’t bother. There are other ways to entertain him.
Kids have their own personalities and oddities and at a very young age, are unable to communicate what they feel and think about people and situations, with the exception of crying. They are usually going on a vibe and maybe when they are older they will be able to tell you what they didn’t like about a certain stranger. But until then, try not to force them into situations that they are uncomfortable with.
‘Stranger Anxiety’ is a milestone in their normal development and it means they are learning the skills to trust and to bond with selective people around them. I would be more worried if they were just happy to be carried away by any old person. It shows that they recognise the people who care for them and are consistently around, and hold these individuals with a higher regard. It is not so dramatic down the line so the best thing to do is to roll with it for a few months. If you are really worried about bad reactions to certain ‘distant’ relatives and friends then keep showing them photos of these people so that there is familiarity when they are round.
Be happy and honoured that your baby likes you more than everyone else. You deserve that. Cause you made him – And therefore in his eyes, you are awesome.