Hi. My name is Emma and I’m a gym-a-holic.

I’m currently sitting in the café of David Lloyd Gym, Cambridge. The kids are playing in the mini play-barn after a busy morning in the crèche for the girls and a swimming lesson for Sam. Sam also had the pleasure of watching me do a Zumba class whilst also playing on my iPad – he had a lovely time. Half way through the class he whispered for me to come over and said in his most earnest voice, “good work mum.” Bless.

So what’s happened to me? Why this sudden burst of activity? Well, it all started at the school gates when I got chatting to a mum who was looking fantastic. She’d joined the gym and was getting visible results. To be honest, I’ve always hated going to the gym but was getting to the point where I was really fed up with being wobbly. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the past 7 years and after nearly 2 years of Izzy not sleeping properly I felt like it was time to start feeling alive again, not just existing through days of exhaustion. I also wanted to feel good about my body again, simple really. I’m not sure why this time the decision to get fit has stuck, but I’m feeling good and slowly losing inches.

For me the most rewarding thing has been the sense of well-being I feel. Excercise really is making me feel better. I’m fitter and stronger than I’ve been in years and even though I’ve still got lots of weight to lose, I feel in control because I know I’m actually doing something about it.

There are loads of classes here and my favorite class is Body Attack. Believe me, you really do feel like you’ve been attacked after it, but it’s high energy and great for fitness and weight loss. The best bit about this gym though is that there’s a crèche so I don’t have to go out in the evenings when I’m knackered but can go in the mornings instead when I have the most energy. I also got a 3 month membership for the kids over the summer so we can all come here loads during the holidays, to swim mostly, as they have an outside pool which has been fantastic with the good weather.

So, I’ve become a gym bunny, well perhaps that’s slightly over-ambitious, I’m probably more of a gym gerbil, but you get the idea. I’m doing something rather than feeling rubbish about myself and it feels great.

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Advice needed about Karvol Diffuser!

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A friend of mine has found out recently that Karvol have stopped making their diffusers and the only ones she can find on the market have night lights on them which keep her tiddlers wide awake.

Does anyone know of an alternative product that doesn’t have a night light attached?! Please let me know if you do, many thanks!
Emma

So…

…it’s 7.52pm and everything should be quite peaceful and quiet. HOWEVER, Izzy is screaming and Im trying to ignore the fact that she’s SCREAMING.

We are staying with our best friends in the midlands. Their house is in an idyllic farm house overlooking beautiful countryside. We have good company, good food and good booze. However, all I can think about is the fact that my baby girl is screaming. Not whimpering, not grizzling, just SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER TINY LUNGS!

I have to be honest, I’m very fed up. I want to relax with my bezzies. I do not want to be doing controlled crying before she’s even gone to sleep! Izzy, as fabulous as she is, just needs to get a grip, because I am actually on the verge of losing my mind. Go to sleep kid!! Right, time to shush, I’ll be back…

So, obv, she’s still screaming. My hub and I have been very consistent and persistent with the controlled crying over the past 2 Months and I know that we’ve done well, as she’s at last sleeping until 5.15am (God give me strength).

I find this whole thing thoroughly depressing if I’m honest. It’s not as if I don’t have anything else to do, I have 2 other children to look after, a husband to cook for and a house to clean. My God, did I ever dream of such heights?! I’m a modern woman for God’s sake!

Ok, deep breath. You know what? At this moment, when I’m here, struggling to cope with my baby screaming and crying, I want to say a big, well done, to all the mums out there who are holding on to their sanity by a thin thread. You are not alone! I’m standing on the precipice of sanity with you and we CAN get through this moment. This moment WILL pass and they WILL stop crying. We CAN cope. We LOVE our kids and life IS really good. Big deep breath lovely mums and dads out there, be calm and carry on. This time will pass, these years will pass and then they’ll be gone, without a backward glance. Blimey, I’m even more depressed than I was before.

Thoughts on yodelling, a healthy alternative to screaming.

My youngest daughter Isabelle, (the one who won’t sleep or be broken by controlled crying), has the mother and father of all screams. To look at her you’d expect perhaps a gentle gurgle or a cutesy little giggle, but NO, she’s a total yob. When we’re out in public and she starts screaming, I NEVER get a sympathetic shrug or tolerant smile from passers by, I get curled lips or grotesque snarls. On really bad days people have been known to simply run away from us, shrieking because their ears are bleeding.

At the moment she seems to be a bit poorly. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, it may be teething, a virus, permanent emotional scarring from the failed controlled crying, no idea, but she’s very cross, very clingy and very hard work. So, anyway, today she decided that the only place she wanted to be was my hip. At this point, I feel it’s important to say that I’m excellent at doing most things with one hand whilst holding or even breast-feeding the baby. Opening tins, buttering toast, going to the toilet, all easy, but I draw the line at chopping onions. Needless to say, at dinnertime, Isabelle was furious when I dared to put her down to chop said onions and screamed as though I’d just thrown her in the bin, which I have to admit was incredibly tempting.

By the time bed-time finally arrived, I was a match short of fireworks. I don’t know about you, but I find changing a screaming child’s, nappy absolutely hideous. They squirm, they flail and when possible fling poop at areas of the body that have managed to avoid tomato sauce or beige mush. Tonight though, the final straw came in the form of baby-grow poppers. Poppers are IMPOSSIBLE to pop when a baby is kicking and screaming and tonight when none were popping I felt the need to scream. So I did. I wish I could say that Isabelle’s surprise at my vocal outburst stopped her own screams but as you’ve probably guessed it made her scream even louder but with a new element of terror mixed in for good measure. Poor little thing, there’s nothing worse than frightening a baby, so, in desperation, I started to yodel. Yes, yodel. Now that did surprise her and also brought the screams down to a confused whimper.

Now I’m no scientist, (although a double B in combined science is nothing to sniff at) but I do feel as though I’ve stumbled onto some sort of important discovery here. Who knew that yodelling could calm the nerves so dramatically? I’m not talking about the baby of course, yodelling won’t work on her twice in a row, but I found it rather wonderful. I’d even go as far as saying that for a moment it made my spirit soar.

So, if you ever find yourself on the edge of a popper-induced meltdown, just try a quick yodel. You never know, it might work for you too.

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Half-term. Heaven or hell?

I love the holidays. No school run, no packed-lunches and no rushing. Just pure, unadulterated, re-lax-ation. That is until 8.30am when the children start to go MENTAL. Day 1. 8.30am – painting, including sticking and glueing. I’ve never seen so much art and so much mess. 8.35am – get dressed to go somewhere, anywhere that isn’t the house, arghhhhhh nowhere opens until 9am. Ok, rethink Emma. Right, we shall do some very slow, imaginative dressing that somehow includes baddies. Ok 9am, out in the garden. Let’s pick some leaves for an autumnal collage. 9.01am. Leaves picked, more sticking and gluing. 9.18am – erm a jigsaw? 9.27am telly. You get the idea.

The funny thing is though that after the initial panic of Monday morning, half term is lovely. We seem to just exist and potter gently with the occasional shriek/fight/disaster mixed in for fun. We saw relatives, we went shopping, we went to the library and we just got on with hanging out. What I realised is that the kids just like being at home, they don’t require constant interaction, they just need a rest and a mooch with a bit of planned stuff thrown in. They mainly want to play and sometimes just need a little push in the right direction.

It always seems so complicated, but it’s not really.

Day 13 Controlled Crying, an improvement? Pah.

Well, she woke up at 5.30am which is good. According to my husband, she did a bit of whining in the night but I didn’t hear it and she must have got herself back to sleep, which is good. However, I refuse to think it’s good because tonight may well be terrible and I want to be prepared.

On a more positive note, little, naughty, sleepless, gorgeous Izzy has started walking this week! Wey hey! She looked sooooo pleased with herself and although she’s not walking constantly yet she’s doing it more and more each day. The day she did her best walk(about 12 steps), my Mum was with me and I thought how lovely it was that we shared that brilliant little moment. So often our kids do cool stuff and no one else sees it (or is interested), but this was precious and I got to share it with someone who really loves Izzy too. Yum.

Also, she’s 1 tomorrow! I can’t believe it, my little baby will no longer be 0. We won’t ever be able to do one of our favourite jokes about putting the baby on the naughty step for zero minutes cos she’s zero, because we won’t ever have another baby. That almost makes me sad but then I get over it pretty quickly and cheer heartily. Hooray!

So Isabelle is asleep, the kids are at school/pre-school and I’m going to have a cup of Tetleys blended tread, a mixture of builders and green tea, which is actually very tasty and also makes me feel like I’m being healthy. I shall also read my book. Heaven.

Day 12 controlled crying. Ho Hum.

Last night during Isabelle’s one and a half hour crying session, Ferg and I had a great chat about our favourite American TV shows. I should probably point out that Ferg is my husband, not my bit of fluff. Ha ha ha ha ha, Sh. We are massive fans of shows like, The Sopranos, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, Breaking Bad and of course Homeland. We love telly. Some couples love adventure, theatre, chess(?), but we love a ruddy good sit down and some serious tellyvision. We obviously do other things too… but mainly we watch telly.

I haven’t said much about my hubby, but he’s super. Of course I love him but I also really like him. He also doesn’t expect me to do adventures or theatre or chess.

On the controlled crying front, we did the classic, 5 mins, 6 mins, 7 mins etc etc up to 14 mins with only a very brief shh in between. It was better than the night before by an hour, but who knows what tonight will bring?

So, that’s it really, see you tomorrow.

Day 9, 10 and 11 of totally, out of control crying.

Over the weekend, after my ridiculous declaration that we’d cracked it, my smallest daughter has decided she doesn’t do sleeping. Especially at night. Especially when I’m trying to get her to sleep at night. So I’m considering drastic measures. Here are the options; soundproofing, (expensive and inconvenient but probably worth it) hiring a wet nurse, (old school but creepy) or running away,(cheaper than soundproofing with no inconvenience to me and not creepy. Downside, no home, although that also means no housework. Mmmm sounds good.)

But REALLY what do I do? Last night she kept at it for 2 and a half hours after starting at 12pm, that’s a big chunk of deep sleep time. Even then she only stopped crying because I fed her. I’m making her sound like the enemy here, a very small, gorgeous enemy, but that’s not how I feel. I just feel… Over it.

I know this time will eventually pass but it’s hard, my Mum’s about to have a serious operation to treat bladder cancer and I want to be able to give her my all, to be peppy and positive, but at the moment I’m constantly half asleep and she must feel like she has a zombie for a daughter. Add to that 2 other children who need a loving, attentive mummy rather than a screeching harpy with wild eyes and you’ve got a recipe for tumultuous chaos.

What’s the solution, assuming she’s not going to start sleeping through consistently? I guess we just plug away at it and pray for strength, I think we’re going to need a miracle!

Day 8 controlled crying *whispers* “I think we’ve cracked it…”

It’s almost as if I’m a real human being again, 3 good nights sleep in the past week have made me feel like super-woman! My kids even ate real home cooked food for the past few days instead of something frozen. Yeh I know, pretty awesome. It just made me realise how hard it is to be a functioning and pleasant mum/person, when you’re completely knackered.

I remember when I got pregnant in February 2011, in the midst of morning sickness, constipation, indigestion and poor sleep, I thought to myself, “in a year and a half, the hardest bit will be over and I’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.” In the end, it’s taken longer than that, but at last I feel able to really enjoy my family instead of just about being able to cope with them. For me, having three kids has definately been harder than having two kids, and I don’t mind admitting that I found the newborn months extremely rough. I’ve never taken Izzy for granted or wished time away, but I did look forward to when things would be easier and at last they are. Hooray!

I’m sure Isabelle is far from sleeping through consistently but really going for the sleep training over the past 8 nights has clearly shown me that there are 2 things she really needs in order for her to get a good nights sleep. Firstly she needs to have at leat two hours of sleep during the day and secondly she needs to eat enough. For her the sleep training bit was about learning not to need a feed in the middle of the night. Sounds a bit obvious but that’s it!

If you’re in the middle of or embarking on your sleep training journey then hang on in there and listen to your instincts. No one else’s opinion really matters. It’ll mostly be you putting in the hard work, so you get to make up the rules. Good luck and God speed!

Day Seven controlled crying – earplugs rock!

Ok, so last night Izzy woke at about 2.15 and was whining but not crying, so as I knew she couldn’t be hungry, I popped in my trusty silicon earplugs and merrily ignored her. My husband had the pillow over his head but as he’s a light sleeper, I knew he’d wake up if she actually started crying. Next thing we know it’s 7am and she’s awake. I call that a result and feel pretty encouraged.

In the lead up to that, I gave her as much food as she could possibly handle and she goggbled it up heartily, which makes me wonder if Shes finally got her appitite back after being poorly. She also had a great 2 hour nap after lunch which seems to be what she needs to get through the night.

So I guess everything’s going to plan, next I’ll have to start thinking about getting my three year old out of night time nappies. Oh the joys of motherhood.