Early Rising – The Secret Sauce

Early RisingSo, early rising used to be the bane of my life! Really, it did. My children, particularly my 2 boys would wake up anytime between 4 and 5 am. Now, because I had suffered sleep deprivation with them, I actually don’t think I tried that had to sort it out. In fact, I think I felt ‘eternally’ grateful that they were actually sleeping through the night at that particular point. Have to chuckle, but it’s the truth.

Anyhow, now I’m older and wiser I know that there are a few things I should have tried before admitting defeat and starting my day #upwiththelarks

So, lets go….

Firstly, you do need to check in on your expectations. What I mean by that is, children do naturally wake up early, so if you used to love that sleep in until 8am, well I’m sorry, it’s very likely not going to happen until they get to those teenage years. Then you’ll have the other problem of not being able to get them out of their pit.

So what is a realistic expectation for morning wake up? Well, it’s about 6am, at a push 7am (if you’re lucky). But, the questions you need to be asking yourself are these:

  1. Does my little one wake up bright and bushy tailed or morkey and miserable?
    If the answer is ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’ then I’m sorry but they’ve had their sleep out.
  2. The other thing to consider is how much sleep your little one is getting in 24 hours. Once you have realistic expectations about how much sleep they’re getting you can then work out if they need more sleep or are getting enough. Depending on the outcome of you answer start looking at naps and bedtimes. Do nap times need adjusting, are they too close to bedtime? Or is your little one overtired and needs an earlier bedtime, perhaps because they have dropped a nap?
  3. Is there something disturbing them? Noise from the street outside? Or some sneaky bit of sunlight coming in through the window, do you have a blackout blind? Could they be cold? Body temperature drops early morning.
  4. How are you behaving when your little one wakes? Are you getting cross, upsetting them unwittingly? I know you’re tired, at your witts end, just want 30 minutes more sleep BUT loosing it won’t help them to stay calm and settle back to sleep. Check in on your re-actions.
  5. What messages are you’re sending? Are you acting as though it’s still the middle of the night? Don’t put the light on when you go into you little one. Always respond to their needs, but be calm, keep verbal communication to a minimum, talk quietly and softly.
  6. When it is time to get up, send clear messages by putting the light on, opening the curtains, expressing more communication cues – “Good Morning, rise and shine, how are you?” Different tone of voice. These are clear messages that it is now time to wake up and start the day.
  7. If your little one is a toddler you can work with clocks, timers and reward charts too.
  8. If all else fails, would you be happy to let your little one play with their toys in the cot or their room to by you some extra time? Could you leave a sippy cup and perhaps a snack for them to eat and drink until you are ready to get up?

Help! Baby HATES Tummy Time

My Baby Hates Tummy Time

What to do when your baby HATES Tummy Time

So unless you’ve been living in a deep dark hole, as a new mummy you know that tummy time is important for your baby’s physical development and reducing the risks of ‘Flat Head syndrome.’

BUT, here’s the thing. Your baby HATES TUMMY TIME. Whenever you try to put your baby down on the floor she screams. You can’t stand it. It takes you ages to calm her down and you feel like such a bad mummy. But you worry because of the constant reminders about how important it is.

Well, here are a few hacks that you can try to introduce more tummy time into your daily schedule:

  1. Firstly, remember that you don’t have to do tummy time all in one go. Just try short bursts of time. Every little bit helps and adds up.

  1. Holding your baby over your shoulder whilst burping or carrying will also help promote strength in the neck, shoulder and back muscles, although it’s not to be used instead of tummy time.

  1. Lay with your baby tummy to your tummy. This can be done on the floor or settee. Use a pillow for your own comfort if you lay on the floor.

  1. Use a nursing pillow, laying your baby down on his tummy with his arms over the pillow.

  1. Lay baby over your knee. Sing to him, show him pictures or rock him to keep him entertained.

  1. Lay on the floor face to face with your baby and play.

If you have any more tips I’d love to know.

Shellie x

Mummy Guilt – Kick it’s ASS GOODBYE

Mummy Guilt

Mummy Guilt.

‘Mummy Guilt‘ – I’m sure we’ve all been there with this one. It’s rife for many of us.

But what’s this Mummy Guilt all about? Why do we inflict this horrible feeling on ourselves.

Well, I can tell you I used to ‘rack myself with guilt’ for everything I did….
Most of it was completely and utterly unnecessary.

You see, guilt is merely a perception of our expectations most of the time and of course it very much depends on our expectations. Meaning that some of the time we feel guilty about things that are totally irrelevant and inappropriate. It’s often not the reality.


But for me ‘guilty’ is all about putting it into some sort of perspective, some sort of context. Listening to your self talk isn’t usually a good idea.

Let’s look at 2 types of Mummy Guilt.
1. Healthy Guilt

Guilt is know as a negative emotion really. But it does serve some sort of purpose?
I guess it’s there to prick our conscience now and again. Maybe when we act in a way that’s not true to our values and beliefs.

In this case it’s an emotion that has a purpose. One that’s trying to tell us that we’ve acted in a way that doesn’t fit with who we are. I guess it’s that ‘gut’ feeling that we really shouldn’t be or shouldn’t have acted or done something that we’ve done.

But hey…. we all make mistakes, life is one great big learning curve and parenting is NO exception.

2. Unhealthy Guilt

But what about the ‘unhealthy guilt’ the one that isn’t rational. Unhealthy guilt is more about expectations, our perceptions, unreasonable demands, stories we tell ourselves. In fact sometimes, utter BULL.

So what do you do?

Take time out to think about why you feel guilty.
Is there any substance to this feeling of guilt?
Is it truly your responsibility or someone else’s?

What’s your gut feeling based on your thoughts?
Sort all those thoughts and feelings in your head.
What can you do differently, try come up with an action plan?
Access what happened and why you did what you did.?
Think about what you can do to rectify or learn from it.

Acknowledge and move on.

And Drop the blame!

If you’re feeling guilty because someone is judging you for your child’s behaviour or your guilty has any sort of substance well so be it. None of us get parenting right all of the time. In fact, lets be honest here, no one really knows what they are doing, it’s a work in progress.

Parenting will always be full of judgements and politics. You wont ever change that. Someone always has an opinion about how you should handle things. The truth is, you don’t have to accept their judgements, you don’t have to take on that feeling of guilt. Those people who are judging don’t know the full story or the circumstances, they are seeing a small part of the event.

Remember you are doing your best, they are not you, they do not know your child, they are not walking in your shoes and will not understand or see the fuller picture. There will ALWAYS, always be somebody who thinks they have the answers or can do it better than you. There will probably never be anything that you will feel or be more judged about than your parenting. So what?!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “There is no right, one, perfect way to parent”
There is no rule book, no research, no instructions, no best way. JUST your way.

The ultimate truth is unhealthy guilty and blaming yourself serves no purpose. Reflect, assess, and move on. You did your best at the time, you might not have handled things as you would have hoped, liked or wanted, but you did what you did and you will look to handle things differently next time.

Parenting is a work in progress.

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Shellie x

Baby Led Weaning – 3 lessons you need to learn to succeed.

3 lessons baby led weaningOK, so there is traditional weaning or introducing solids which is actually the correct name. Weaning is actually weaning your baby off the breast and milk. Anyhow digressed there

Now before ‘Baby Led Weaning’ was given it’s official title, many mums would have probably been doing their own version of BLW. You see, all it means is that your baby will feed him or herself family foods. So if you were having spaghetti bolognaise then your baby would have a plate of the same and use hands to feed with. If you were having salad with boiled eggs, ham, chicken tomatoes and cucumber then that’s what your bambino would have.

Sounds ‘easy peasy’ in theory doesn’t it but here’s a few things you should know.

1. The 6 month rule 
I know It seems like I’m ‘BANGIN’ on about this BUT it’s actually really important when considering BLW. Why? because  to embark on the BLW style of feeding babies need to be able to chew and swallow food adequately. Research show’s that this development phase doesn’t happen in the majority of little ones until approximately 6 months of age.

Food can easily get lodged in their small airways and your little one may not have the ability to cough up the food to dislodge it.

Whilst we are touching on the risk of choking. Here are some high risk foods that could cause your little one to choke: Hot dogs, chunks of meat, cheese, grapes, raw vegetables and chunks of fruit, nuts, popcorn or sweets.

ALWAYS SUPERVISE and remain with your child if you are giving foods that could be potentially hazardous. Remind your little one to chew food really well and never let them run or walk around with food in their mouth.

2. The Baby Led Weaning Approach – is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Iron Rich Foods

Once your child reaches 6 months of age, milk alone doesn’t provide enough nutrients for growth particularly iron. Your little one needs Iron rich foods which are essentially got from meat (liver, beef) and fortified baby cereal.

However I’m about to ‘throw a spanner in the works’ here.
– Babies often struggle to chew meats such as beef which sometimes requires a lot of chewing even for us adults. Your baby might be trying to chew beef with only a few teeth. Which could mean it’s too difficult to eat and they refuse it and it’s potentially a choking hazard too.

– Mums who follow the traditional route of a pureed diet will more than likely be feeding their little ones a fortified baby breakfast cereal. However as BLW is about self feeding and family foods it’s unlikely that a BLW diet will include these cereals. That’s not to say you can’t give your baby this cereal if you follow BLW. It’s maybe more likely that mums may not link the iron-fortified baby cereal as as something that could be given as a way to boost iron in their baby’s diet if iron consumption was a problem.

3, Family Foods and the Baby Led Approach 

So lets run over the basics of Baby Led feeding again.
“It’s all about responsive feeding of family foods, that are served in graspable size pieces so your little one can feed him/herself. “

Smashing. Now on the surface this is a fab idea.

– No separate cooking and preparation of foods (Time saving)

– Encourages socialising with family at meal times

– Helps baby learn self-feeding

– May help baby learn and recognise when full

– Easier to feed baby when out and about

– Potentially familiarise and encourage liking of fruit and veg.

BUT here’s the thing. Do you as a family eat healthy? I mean really health? Do some soul searching here.
Do you buy any processed food?
Is your intake of sugar and salt, low, acceptable or a baby diet?

Now you might answer yes to this straight away. But lets scratch below the surface


  • Do you use sauces from a jar to make that spag bol?
  • – Nope? Maybe tinned tomatoes then? Are they free of salt and sugar?

– Do you use pre-packed sandwich meats?

– Gravy granules?

– Fruit in a can?

– What about yogurts, are they natural or loaded with sugar?

– Think about how you cook and prepare your foods. Do you add salt when cooking?

Maybe you might need to modify the family diet? Not a big deal really but you see when you really start to examine past the stage of giving your baby broccoli and carrot batons it starts to become a ‘tad’ more difficult.

Now, I’m certainly not advocating commercial baby food here or suggesting that you should be cooking from scratch and batch feeding all your baby’s food. Far from it, it’s time consuming and we don’t all have enough hours in the day as it is.

However, what I am saying is commercial baby food and home-prepared purées don’t typically include added salt or sugar but your normal family diet may have more than you realise?

Just throwing it all out there, something to think about isn’t it? I’m be now means suggesting any way is better than the other. That is not for me to do and certainly not what The Mummy School is all about.Shellie x

Fussy Eating – 4 things to REMEMBER when you’re ready to FLIP YOUR LID

Fussy Eating - 4 things to REMEMBER when you're ready to FLIP YOUR LIDIt’s Normal… Yep that’s right. Fussy Eating is completely NORMAL
It really is.FUSSY EATING is normal. I know that might not be helpful but it’s true, most children at some point will go through this stage (but I totally get how frustrating it can be) dealing with your toddler’s ‘fussing and picking at mealtime. Some would even suggest that it’s an inbuilt survival instinct that goes back to ‘dicks days’ to protect against eating food that’s potentially harmful for us to eat. Not so sure about that one myself but thought I’d put it out there, it might help some of you deal with the frustration ;-). AND just to make sure we have some old clichés in here too, your toddler really will ‘eat when he/she is hungry enough’. No child will ever choose to starve.

2. Check in on your own expectations
It’s also helpful to check out your own expectations. Are you out-facing and overpowering your little one by piling too much food on his/her plate. Remember a toddlers tummy is only the size of his fist. That means your toddler really does only need a very small amount of food at one sitting. To put things into perspective, did you realise that eating a whole banana to a toddler is like you eating a bunch of the big yellow things to you and I? No mean feat eh? And quite an off putting thought for me I might add.

3 Keep offering – again and again and again
Keep in mind that just because your child doesn’t like a particular food today, doesn’t mean that next week he/she wont try it and LOVE it.
Research shows that repeated exposure to foods helps with fussy eating. So keep offering different foods multiple times. You may have to give your little one the same foods 15 times or more before they begin to even attempt to eat and enjoy it. Don’t give up.

4.The world is a busy place
For your toddler the world is a busy and exciting place. There are so many interesting things to do other than eating. Meal time is probably very mundane and boring for your little one. I know!? Hard to believe anyone would find eating boring, particularly if you really enjoy sitting down to a lovely meal and view it as a social occasion or time well spent at the end of the day catching up.

Perhaps giving your little one notice that lunchtime/teatime is approaching might help. Keeping mealtime to 20/30 minutes is also a good idea. If they’ve not eaten in this time they probably aren’t going to, avoid a battle ground.

Shellie x

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