So the party came and went and we all survived.
Sunny weather helped, as seven boisterous boys bounced around on the sixteen foot trampoline.
The piñata took some bashing and the cake looked marvellous, if I do say so myself! I even made mini cakes with cake reject number two. Love my mini ninjas!
It’s just sinking in that I no longer have children under five. When reading my favourite blogs about the toddler years, I feel a mixture of nostalgia and relief.
Not that I’m under any illusions that it magically gets easier now my youngest is five, or now they’re both at school. But I sense a shift.
I can feel myself slowly re-emerging from the seven years of sleeplessness and doubt. The constant fear of losing one of them is so familiar now it’s like a cranky neighbour I can mostly ignore. I want to do things for the whole family, not just the children.
I am aware of other things. Increasing their independence: saying “no” more often, and “you can do it” rather than, “of course Mummy will help you.”
The two go usefully hand in hand. I have a sudden urge to reclaim the house, to have child-free/toy-free spaces, to erect some boundaries. I want to shift our attitude to food and eating. So I’m busy and preoccupied and pushing them to entertain themselves more after school.
It’s a work in progress. Particularly the food. After baking numerous cakes (each flatter than the last) and watching other children eat their party pizza while my son refused, things came to a head. I listened to advice from a friend, who specialises in getting kids to eat veggies, and it brought the self-doubt back. But, walking away, I knew her approach was not for me.
A little internet research revealed a “long game” approach that fits much better.
It’s based on a division of responsibility: As the parent, my responsibility is to provide balanced, nutritional meals. It is the child’s responsibility to eat or not eat. There are no threats or rewards. Pudding is not held back. There is no nagging or angst.
It’s hard, letting them have pudding without eating a scrap of dinner. But I agree that pudding shouldn’t be a reward for eating dinner. It gives sweet stuff too much weight.
That said, my son hasn’t eaten dinner in days. But he’s catching up at breakfast (three Weetabix and three yoghurts this morning!) and meal times are almost enjoyable. No nagging and pleading and ultimatums and tears. Lovely.
I’ll see how long it lasts!
So that’s it. A new era. Let’s hope it brings happy children, happy families, and a lovely book deal!