Putting her life in their hands

In October 2016 we sent Florence off for her first day at playgroup. She had just turned 3 and up until that point all childcare duties had fallen to me, @mother_freckle, the in laws or my parents. Up until that point we had not felt comfortable putting her into nursery or playgroup for a number of reasons but mostly due to her allergies.
However it got to a point where we thought we needed to do it. We needed to let her go and play with kids her own age as opposed to a load of old farts who she tires out after 5 minutes. It was difficult because it meant trusting people outside our family who had at that time no emotional connection to our daughter. We were quite frankly putting her life in their hands.

We looked around the local area for the best place to send her. Lucky for us the local primary school has a little church building in the grounds where the local playgroup is. So we scoped it out and as soon as we walked through the doors we knew this was the place for her. It was family run and just had that homely comfortable feeling about it. We told them all about Florence’s allergies and they did not bat an eye lid. They took it all on board reassured us and told us they would book on all necessary training. They even told us they would change the butter they use to one we use to ensure Flo was safe.
On the first day I was a bag of nerves. She had seemed so big but sending her off made me realise how small she was. It was only a half day little taster but I couldn’t stop checking my phone hoping it was 12pm and we could go get her. When those to little hands ticked to 12 and the doors opened me and the Mrs ran in to find her. She was sat happily with the other kids with a big smile on her face. On the way home she couldn’t stop talking about Aunty Lisa and Eliza and how Eliza was her best friend but not Riley because Riley was silly. It melted my heart and I knew she would be fine.

Over the past 10 months she has grown so much and learnt so much. The playing, the painting, the glitter, the reading, the learning, the all round play that she has enjoyed has 100% made making that decision worthwhile. Its helped make her the wonderful, intelligent, confident, happy, sociable, assertive little lady she is today. She has made some little friends who will now go with her to school and we have made some little friends to, so our social circle has grown. It needed to we had no couple friends up until playgroup came along so we’ve gained so much from it as well.

And today brought the curtain down on this little adventure. I didn’t expect it to be as emotional as it was but it got me. Seeing all the playgroup staff in tears had me in tears. It also showed me how amazing and caring they are and how we were so right to trust them with Florence. They told us how much they will miss her and had nothing but wonderful things to say about Flo and it made me feel so proud. I felt proud of my wife and I for how we are raising our little girls. I felt proud at how well our families do in helping us raise them. But mostly I felt proud of Florence. No matter what comes her way she just seems to take it in her stride. I sometimes feel we ask to much of her, but she just seems to relish it and be unfazed by it all.

I imagine many of you are in a similar position today. I imagine you feel the same way as I do right now. An absolute bag of different emotions; sad because they are growing up and moving on; happy because they have had a wonderful adventure and grown so much; excited for the next adventure whilst also being anxious about what this may bring. I think it’s normal to be a bit all over the show at such milestones. We go through so many of these as parents it can be quite easy to forget them. And I think that’s why I wrote this. Its to help me process everything that has happened in this chapter of our lives, reflect on it and learn from it. I think sometimes I get caught up in a lot of things and maybe don’t spend enough time being present and appreciating what’s happening now in this moment. Before I’ve known it it’s gone. So I am making a promise to myself to be more mindful.

Anyways I wish you and your little ones all the best in your next adventures. And if any of the staff at Flo’s playgroup happen to read this… Thank you.

 

Let’s talk about sex

Now then. A nice juicy topic for discussion. Those 3 little letters that when combined form a word guaranteed to prick your ears up. So what about sex whilst pregnant or after baby has arrived. I thought I would lay down in writing my two pence worth.

So pre baby, you probably had a healthy appetite. You were young, vibrant, in love and child free. Eyes only for each other. Sleep was not a dream but an achievable reality. Your bed belonged to the two of you. A sanctuary you could retreat to when passion struck. You basked in freedom and be it morning, noon or night, you could ride that rainbow to satisfaction.

Somewhere along the way the decision was made to add to your household. This may have been through conception, adoption, surrogacy or any other way that led to the growth of your family.

If you went down the conception route you may have voyaged on a sexual journey that expanded your horizons. The female body does miraculous things through pregnancy and is a wonder to behold, and if you are anything like me you will enjoy this period. As the months go by, and the body shape changes, sex can become more creative, flexible and adventurous. Or you might not be feeling it at all and knock it on the head, literally. You might want that thing as far away from you as possible. If you are the male or spouse in this equation you may be feeling slightly frustrated. A situation that although you crave releasing from, will only be worsened by indulging in self-pity and outspoken disregarded for your partners feelings. (I suggest lots of foot massages and an exuberant use of ‘Yes’ responses when asked to do anything, to help improve relations).

Post baby and the time after birth that is recommend to pass before you engage in a little tomfoolery varies. I have read it is safe from anytime after baby has arrived to at least 6 weeks after. Not being a man of medicine, all I would add is that it is a decision to take together when you both feel comfortable enough to get frisky. Particular emphasis should be placed on the use of contraception during the early stages post-partum. The lady is very fertile and unless you fancy having two children mere months a part and possibly in the same school year, then put a coat on that fella.

Time together, just you and your spouse, may become limited once your new bundle of joy has arrived. Your bed, which was where ‘the’ action happened, is now a place where sleep is grabbed, tears of joy and desperation are shed, as you navigate the early stages of parenthood. You may still share your bed with your spouse but you may also be joined by your child whose head rests firmly on one parent, whilst the other parent has the joys of removing toes from the crevices of their ribs. If you have multiple children, of various ages, you may not actually see each other at night, except for a glancing high 5 as you move between rooms encouraging your sprogs to return to sleep.

This does create difficulties in securing relations of a sexual nature with each other. As such you may now embark on a ‘grab it whilst you can’ mentality, taking full advantage of that 2 minutes where they are a sleep or otherwise distracted. You may be lucky enough to get more and relive some of that youthful joy. You may on the other hand have to adopt positions that if spotted merely look like wrestling manoeuvres, with who ever is on top naturally being the victor, and as such avoiding a more difficult conversation.

Sex post baby may be frequent. Opportunities may be more abundant, confidence high, appetite undeterred. However, it may have dropped off.  I have had a few conversations with parents who draw on similar themes when it comes just reasons for a drop in fornication frequency.  For new mother’s these tend to be due to loss of confidence as a result of post baby body shape, tiredness, opportunity, practicalities of clean up afterwards, what happens if baby wakes and that they have been touched and mauled all day so space not sex is what is on the agenda. New fathers conundrums on this matter, and I can only really talk from this perspective with any really conviction, are that they feel that their spouse does not find them attractive any more, difficulties reading sexual cues (thinking their partner wants the whole package, when they only want a cuddle), not wanting to come across as a pest so they avoid making advances and of course tiredness, opportunity and cock blocks in the bed.

If faced by such difficulties and obstacles I can only suggest one thing. Talk! Talk about how you are feeling, give your side of the coin and listen to your partners. Come up with some things you can do to help get more quality time together. Phones down at 9, date nights, massages without the happy ending. Be present with each other and realise that the difficulties won’t last for ever. Eventually you will be able to get the kids to sleep in their own bed or ship them off to the grandparents for a night. And when you do spend that time doing something nice. Or just fall asleep on the couch like we do, but do it together.

Much Love