Monday, 31 December 2012

Dreams

To help Mini sleep I often 'give him a dream'; something nice to think about before he goes to sleep. And as bedtimes have become difficult recently, I've been giving him more and more dreams - about lands of lollipops, walks amongst the stars and playing with pixies!

Tonight as I lay in bed cuddling him to relax and soothe him, Mini asked for a dream. So he has drifted off to sleep thinking about the strangest zoo in the land with tiny pink elephants, yellow spotty tigers, bouncy monkeys with beach ball tummies and a giraffe with a head so tall it is in the clouds!

Are my own dreams so full of fantasy? I hope not.

I dream that 2013 is going to be different. I dream that we'll all learn more about each other. I dream that we'll talk more and shout less. I dream that we'll make progress. I dream that we'll be happier.

I hope my dreams come true. And I hope yours do too.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Calm Christmas

So we've had a pretty good Christmas. We had a lovely time with the NC's parents, sister and niece (the lovely baby Whizz) the weekend before Christmas, and then on Christmas Eve we embarked on the journey to the other side of the country to see my mum and step-dad.

It took us 6 hours to get from our house to Nanny and Grandad's, mostly because Dollop wanted to make sure that the toilets at every single service station were the same, and mummy was conducting quality control tests at each Starbucks on the way too ;-)
But despite this long drive both children remained calm, didn't complain of boredom, and both were dry on arrival (in fact we had no accidents at all during the 3 days we were away, or either 6 hour drive there or back).

Christmas Eve was a fairly calm affair with just us four, Nanny and Grandad. Bedtime went OK as Mini was keen to get to bed. Christmas Day morning was calm - Mini woke at 5, came in to our bed and just kept whispering "I'm so excited" but did fall asleep again til 7.30am! Pressie opening was calm, happy, but fairly quick, although to be fair we've been opening a couple of presents each Saturday and Sunday in December as the children have had so many and we knew we couldn't take them all with us, and didn't want to leave a pile under the tree whilst we were away. Dollop had her main present -a Peppa Pig scooter - in the Summer, and Mini opened his Scalextric a few days before Christmas.

Dollop and Mini were both thrilled with their presents. Her favourite was a Peppa Pig umbrella (who knew a brolly could cause so much excitement!) and his was his much coveted modelling balloons (and pump!) which is all he'd really wanted for Christmas.

Visitors were staggered a little with Uncle Smeg arriving first with gifts, then a little later Mini's aunties, their other halves and his little cousin. There were little wobbles, but all were prevented from descending into mayhem. Nanny noticed a few times too, and helped avoid meltdowns. Lunch was an issue as Mini refused to eat, and eventually I had to feed him (along with wetting, Mini's other regression and control point is food, or rather feeding, and we often revert back to feeding him when he's feeling nervous/anxious). Although I did notice he was quite happy to feed himself the chocolate pudding!



Boxing Day was similar with the same visitors, again staggered in arrival (pretty accidentally but it worked quite well!). Then after lunch it was time to leave. Mini started to turn a little and I could see him looking a little wobbly, he refused to go to the toilet when asked by nanny and grandad, crossed arms across chest and started to get the defiant glint in his eyes. I ended up carrying him to the bathroom without a fight, and then he calmly got in the car and we were able to leave.

Problems have come since we've been home but I shan't dwell on those for now as we're generally pretty pleased with how the lead up to Christmas has gone (fantastically except those horrible bedtimes), and how those few 'big' days went too.
And what's more, Mini has told me what a lovely time he had, and how much he loved seeing his nanny and grandad. He was a bit nervous about seeing his aunties and their families (my step-sisters) because he doesn't know them very well, in fact it's been about 3 years since he last saw Auntie A and her other half so it was understandable. We should have worked a bit harder on reassurances before we saw them, but we'll know for next time.

So Christmas complete. Now to focus on Mini's birthday in a weeks time. Can we keep the same calm...*cross both fingers really tightly*

Friday, 21 December 2012

I can't get no sleep!

An hour ago I started writing a blog post about bedtimes. I started to write about how well tonight had gone and how it had been the first bedtime since the start of the month where Mini had taken less than an hour to settle.

Since I started writing, I've been called back up three times to Mini by loud growling, a complaint of feeling sick and a request for water coupled with a complaint of non-tiredness. Each time I've gone up and held him tight, with gentle reassurances about where I am (downstairs) and what I'm doing (writing). Now, he might possibly be settled, but who knows? I've promised him I'll go and check on him in a few minutes.

December, for the most part has been really rather good. I've talked before about how we cope - our Elf on the Shelf, and it really does work. I will reiterate that we don't use this in the same way that many do. Those other common elves report back to Santa daily and aim to be an incentive for children to be good. That puts too much pressure on Mini, but we've found that the elf just helps dissipate the excitement and anxiety that builds up to that one big day. It doesn't stop it all completely but whilst the children are looking for the elf - Barnaby, and the mischief he gets up to, they're not focusing on Christmas Day so much.

Anyway, so day times are OK (brilliant in fact) except for the days where Mini has been over-tired. There have been a few of these because he has just been refusing to go to bed. If we manage to get him there, then we get refusal upon refusal to go to sleep. He had been getting upset when the NC had to go to his evening job which meant me putting him to bed; these difficult nights were limited to 'mummy-bedtime' nights, but now even on daddy nights, Mini has still refused to sleep. On one of those occasions Mini shared that he missed me now he was at school...I wrote about it here, but since then, there seems to be no rhyme or reason, and he has denied that he misses us.

We've heaped reassurance upon reassurance on him. We've lain beside him for an hour at a time. We've hugged and hugged and held and held him. We've talked and wondered. Nothing helps.
We don't know why he's started this but can only imagine that he's worrying about us leaving. Or worrying about us going away for Christmas. Perhaps he's worried that Santa won't come. Maybe some of his old nightmares are resurfacing (the wolves used to be quite common). Although he's undoubtedly improved our day times, perhaps the elf is causing these night time worries. We've wondered about all those things, but still...no sleep comes.

For now, mummy and daddy remain unrested and unrelaxed, constantly on edge during the evenings, awaiting the click of the upstairs stair gate that tells us Mini is up again, with another excuse to hide the real reason that sleep is eluding him...and Mini remains unrested and unrelaxed, with a vile temper on those tired days.

Do you think Santa could arrange just one nice, easy, restful bedtime?


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

We miss each other...


Although he's been pretty good in the daytime, Mini's been very hard work come bedtime.
So, there I was settling him in bed after he'd had a bit of a barney with daddy, and wondered a little bit about why he was so reluctant to go to bed.
I wondered this and that, and eventually Mini volunteered that he missed spending time with the NC and me. And he felt it was unfair that Dollop got more time with me while he was at school. So he thought if he played up he'd get that good old negative attention that is better than no attention at all.


Ahhh...so it came back to the same issue of Mini feeling that we love Dollop more than him.
Not so much of a surprise as this increasingly seems to be the cause of Mini's behaviour.

I realised that when I was expecting Dollop I did a good amount of preparation with Mini to get him used to the idea of a new baby. We looked at books, he chose a special toy for her, he even 'suprvised' the construction of the cot!
We also spent time together doing nice things like day trips out and craft activities, and I did everything recommended to prepare him.

But I never prepared myself for how I'd feel about having to spend less time with Mini. It's not just about school; generally I have less time with Mini because when he's home, so is Dollop. And at weekends we do things as a family, so I have less time with him 1:1.
Dollop was quite a demanding baby in that she wanted to be held a lot, and she was colicky so needed to be upright a lot. I probably didn't do myself many favours giving in to her and cuddling her as she came to expect it but to be honest, I'd spent so many years thinking I'd never have a baby, when she did finally come, I didn't want to ever let her go...and I still haven't left her with anyone other than the NC for more than a couple of hours.
But despite this, I tried hard to make sure Mini never felt left out. I would read to him whilst feeding her. We'd all snuggle together on the sofa when Dollop was napping. I'd do his favourite crafts at the table with him whilst holding her. I thought I'd done OK.


Mini frequently complains about fairness, who got more satsuma segments, who got the biggest chocolate out of the calendar (their calendars are identical as are the contents!), who got to walk upstairs first etc. We know he thinks we love Dollop more than him, and we know he perceives that more stuff/food/toys etc = more love. But last night, when he actually shared that he was jealous of our time and wanted more of it with me, well it made me realise that I want more time just with him too. I realised just how much I miss him, and as much as I love Dollop to bits, I do sometimes miss just being me and my boy.

It's amazing. After just one therapy session Mini has started to open up just a little bit, enough for me to see that we might get somewhere. I think the next bit of this journey could well be hard going...even if Mini copes well, I suspect there might be quite a lot of reflection for the NC and I that might be hard for us to deal with. Hope I'm strong enough to cope...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

One down....but many more to go.

Well, it happened.
Mini met Dave-the-therapist.

We'd talked to Mini the night before and he seemed fine with the idea. Really fine. We told him that Dave helps us to be the best parents we can be, and he wanted to meet Mini so he could find out how we were doing, and to see what Mini thought. Once he's gotten used to Dave, I might also mention that he can help us find out about some of the things in our heads - something that Mini has asked about before.

So the next morning we discovered that Mini had wet the bed. No surprise there because we know how Mini reacts to stress and anxiety. What did surprise me was that he wet himself again before we'd even left for school.
We picked him up just before lunch, let him eat it at the cafe of the community centre where our therapy was, and then as we were walking in, we noticed that Mini was a little damp and had clearly wet himself again (but was drying out). Next time I'll make sure I have a change of clothes with me.

Therapy itself went quite well. Dave came and introduced himself whilst Mini was eating, which I think eased it for Mini and he wasn't thrown straight into it all. Then 5 minutes later we were in! Mini refused to sit on the sofa with us, instead playing with his squishy toy on the floor. He listened intently (even though he pretended not to).
Dave asked questions, gaining permission first. Mini answered, but didn't volunteer any information over and above his answers. He told Dave when he'd 'wondered' wrongly. We answered questions and told Dave how we felt.
There wasn't much that came out that we didn't know. We discovered that Mini knows we love him, even when we're cross and shouty (which means we're doing something right). And he loves us even when he's cross and shouty. We also discovered that Mini's favourite food is chocolate (we'd thought it was sweeties or sausages!). But I think some of Mini's answers surprised himself, and our answers surprised him too.

When Dave left the room briefly, Mini let us know he'd wet himself, which is why he wouldn't sit on the sofa. I shared this with Dave whilst Mini used the toilet with daddy, and he thinks that Mini is internalising things when he's anxious and doing new things, which then comes out as wetting. (Which we already kind of knew, but it's good that the therapist saw it too).

So in a low tone, I'm just to let Mini know that I've noticed that he wets in new and different situations and when he's worrying about things. That's it. No conversation, no big deal. Even if Mini disagrees, I won't get drawn in. If he doesn't know why he's doing it, it'll give him something to think about. After 10 times, maybe he'll believe me and realise it. Perhaps then we can do something more about it.

Generally I think it went well. We don't get any feedback yet, just go back in a couple of weeks for the next session. But I do feel that Mini showed some of what we see at home, and Dave got to see a glimpse of it all. Hopefully it was enough for him to go on. We could see where his questions were going and we'd known in advance what main areas he was going to cover. I know from the information that was drawn from Mini, Dave will be able to focus further sessions even more specifically.

So despite nerves all round before hand (although I really hope I managed to hide them from Mini), I'm pleased with how it went, and looking forward to the next session. We have homework now....not too challenging...I have to give Mini 5 hugs every day before school. The NC has to sneak in if he can and hug Mini in bed before he leaves for work AND they have to have 5 hugs in the 10minutes between him getting home and eating dinner.
Sounds easy? Try it, see how many you get, oh and they have to be proper big squishy hugs!