Christmas in Suffolk

We are finally back in London, after almost a week away at my in-laws. They have a lovely house near the Suffolk coast, where Mr Techno grew up. Ever since we got married, Mr Techno and I have alternated which family we spend Christmas with. This year was his family’s turn.

We had a full house for the Christmas break, with the three of us, Mr Techno’s parents, his younger brother, and his older sister with her husband and daughter, who is just a few weeks younger than Tom. We were then joined for Christmas itself by his aunt and uncle, grandmother and two cousins.

One of the lovely things about a big family Christmas in the countryside is that there is always someone wanting to go for a walk, or to take the toddlers to the playground. With no work and no responsibility for the cooking, Mr Techno and I were able to make the most of the outdoors, especially as the weather was unseasonably mild.

We explored the Suffolk coast, taking Tom on his first ever trip to the sea.

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And his second trip too…

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We explored the garden.

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And the playground.

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Of course, we did spend most of Christmas day itself indoors. There were presents to be unwrapped.

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And too much food to eat.

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And family to bond with.

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Unfortunately, the break was slightly ruined by an onslaught of some kind of tummy virus, which ran through the whole family like wildfire. Fortunately, though both toddlers had it, neither were too sick. Several of the adults were laid low for several days.

Still, illness aside we had a lovely time. I hope you all did too!

 
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Family Visit to Winterville

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We were having a bit of a pants time last week. I had come down with a really, really bad cold and, since I normally provide the get up and go in our family, Tom and Mr Techno had been hanging out indoors with me whilst I wandered around being grumpy and sleeping a lot.

Fortunately I was feeling better by Wednesday, which is also a day off for me and usually for Mr Techno too. We were all getting a bit stir crazy, having not left the house at all on Tuesday, so we decided it was time for a family trip out. And where better to go for a family trip in December than Winterville in Victoria Park?

I somehow completely missed this event last year. Having a 3 month old who never slept might have had something to do with it. But I’m glad I heard about it in time for us to go this year. It’s an ‘alternative’ Christmas theme park – although what makes it alternative seems mostly to be the food on offer which was 1) amazing and 2) not at all Christmas themed. Apart from the mulled cider. Which was much appreciated!

Winterville opens at 3 pm, so we headed out after Tom’s afternoon nap, arriving just after 4 pm. It was already dark, which added to the atmosphere and made the sparkly lights all the sparklier. Since Tom was with us (and I am not a big fan of heights), we bypassed the rides – but there was a pretty good selection for those who are in to that kind of thing.

There was a pretty good Kids Shack, which included a soft play area, a face painting stand, a ‘meet Santa’ tent, and a coffee hut for the adults. Entry to the park had been free, but there was a charge for Santa and the face-painting, so we used the excuse of Tom being too young to save our pennies and headed for the pop-up shop instead. This, sadly, was a complete disappointment – not many stalls, nothing we really wanted to buy and stall holders who seemed uninterested in taking any notice of prospective shoppers. We escaped quickly and headed for the food tent instead.

If the pop-up shop was a disappointment, the food tent was the star of the show for us. There was a really good range of options – from Vietnamese, to pulled pork, to a crab shack. Lots of veggie options too. And a bar with a good range of ales, plus mulled wine and cider and probably a whole bunch of other things that I stopped noticing after someone said ‘mulled cider’.

We grabbed some chicken strips and chips for Tom, and some Vietnamese for us (it was a bit on the spicy side for a one year-old). I can’t speak for the chicken, as Tom very selfishly ate it all, but his chips were tasty and not too salty, so good for young toddlers. Our Vietnamese was amazing – full of flavour and a good large portion. We were pretty stuffed, but managed to fit in some churros on the way out.

Although we mostly focused on the food, the event was worth a visit. I’m hoping it will be back next year, when Tom might be old enough to appreciate a few more of the things on offer (there was a cinema and pantomime somewhere on site as well, but we didn’t even bother trying to find them). Anyway it got us out of the house and helped me over the last of my cold-related hibernation, so was definitely worthwhile.



My Husband Does Not Babysit

I was at the theatre a couple of weeks ago with my mum. As we were saying goodbye, she asked me to give my love to my husband. ‘Oh and thank him for babysitting of course’. It was really just a passing comment, so she was pretty surprised when I turned to her and said ‘he’s not babysitting. If I was the one at home with Tom, would you say I was babysitting?’

Now, my mum wasn’t meaning to be offensive to Mr Techno. And chances are, if he had heard her, he wouldn’t even have thought anything of it. But it drives me a bit nuts when I hear people describe fathers as babysitters when they are in sole charge of their kids.

I currently work three days a week. Tom goes to nursery two days a week, and Mr Techno is able to look after him the other day (he is a restaurant manager, so is more likely to have time off during the week than at weekends). Mr Techno also covers childcare on other days if I have to travel for work, which tends to happen at least once a month. I do more childcare because I work fewer days. But Mr Techno is Tom’s father. He plays a full and active role in bringing him up. The day they have alone together every week is not the equivalent of me leaving Tom with a babysitter.

While it is true that society’s view of fathers is changing, there are still an awful lot of depictions of men as charming, but essentially useless when it comes to childcare. Watch any sitcom or film where a father is left in charge of his kids, and he will be making a hilarious mess of it, whilst his overly competent wife swings by occasionally to be quietly (or loudly) disappointed by his efforts.

It is very definitely still the case that women, overall, do more childcare than men. We are more likely to give up our jobs, or to go part-time. For some families, that is what works. Me being part-time and Mr Techno being full-time is what works best for our family and neither of us is in a hurry to change that. But there is also a theme in a lot of families’ conversations where the women complain about the men not stepping up enough to help with the kids (I have to admit, I am guilty of doing this myself).

If we want our men to help out more when they are home, regardless of who works more or who spends more time with the kids, we need to acknowledge that dads are as much parents as mums are. That means changing our language – talking about parents, rather than mums, for example. And definitely never referring to our partners as babysitters when what they are is fathers.

Is it just me who gets riled up about this? Have you been irritated by people making assumptions about parenting being the mother’s domain? Or do you think I am overreacting to an innocent remark? Let me know in the comment section.

Weekly Report: W/c 07/12/15

Tom was feeling a bit under the weather for most of this week, so we took it more gently than normal. He was very cuddly whenever we went out, wanting to sit with me or ride in the buggy, rather than run around all the time as he normally would.

Monday began with a trip to the park, where Tom wanted a nice long cuddle with me before he went off to play. It was a lovely moment of quiet connection that inspired me to write about the power of silence. We went back to the park in the afternoon, but this time we were on the hunt for more sycamore fruit to use in making Christmas decorations.

On Tuesday, Mr Techno took Tom to choose a Christmas tree and wreath whilst I went to work.

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Wednesday morning began with a short walk around our local woods, on the way back from the shops. We then spent the afternoon indoors – partly in deference to Tom’s cold and partly so we could make some Christmas decorations for the tree.

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On Thursday and Friday, we walked into nursery as usual. Tom had a bit of a meltdown when I came to pick him up on Thursday – he didn’t want to put down the car he was playing with. He was clearly tired, so didn’t really want to play for long when we stopped in the park on our way home. On Friday, Mr Techno came to meet us and we drove down to Kent, so we missed out on our normal walk home.

We spent the weekend at our friend’s house in Kent – you can read more about our adventures here. Staying on a farm more than made up for the slight lack of outdoor time during the week – we had a great time exploring, greeting the various animals, and getting extremely muddy.

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Tom’s cold is much better, but Mr Techno and I have been suffering this week! Hopefully we will all be better for Christmas and some outdoor adventures in Suffolk next week.

 

Natural Remedies for Nappy Rash

I posted recently about the nappy rash Tom developed due to being left too long in a dirty nappy at nursery. Whilst the easiest thing to do for nappy rash is to give babies plenty of nappy free time, this was so bad that I did want to help the healing along a little.

I prefer, where possible, to reach for homemade natural remedies over shop-bought ones. They do have to work, of course – I am not about to leave my child in pain just because I’ve decided that I am vaguely uneasy about using sudocrem (or whatever).

Fortunately, there are some quite effective natural remedies for nappy rash. And best of all, they are things that many households have lying around anyway. Because Tom very rarely gets nappy rash, we are more likely to have these options to hand than nappy cream. Here are a few things that we have found especially effective:

Bicarb of soda (also known as baking soda)

I’ve heard that some people use this as a paste at every nappy change, but we have other things we use at changes. Instead, we put 2 teaspoons of bicarb into Tom’s evening bath. Because it is an alkali, it neutralises any acid from the wee or poo (if, for example, the baby has been eating lots of fruit). It also discourages yeast and bacteria, which helps to combat infections underlying the rash.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. We use it to neutralise odours from the nappy bin, so always have some in the house. For nappy rash, we mix one drop with a tablespoon of sunflower oil and rub it (gently) into the skin under the nappy area. As well as fighting off any bacteria or yeast, the oil helps to prevent moisture from the urine reaching the skin, in much the same way a barrier cream does. You could use coconut oil instead of the sunflower oil. It is another anti-fungal, anti-bacterial ingredient and very good for moisturising dry skin.

Chamomile & Honey Tea with Lavender Oil

This is something we use all the time, not just for nappy rash. We use washable wipes on Tom, rather than wet wipes. About once a week, I make up a solution of chamomile and honey tea, sunflower oil, and a couple of drops of lavender oil. This goes in a spray bottle and is sprayed on the nappy area every nappy change. Lavender has anti-inflammatory properties and is sometimes used to treat burns, so is perfect for nappy rash. Honey is anti-bacterial, and chamomile is soothing. When Tom was little, his tummy button got a little bit infected after the umbilical cord stump fell off. Whilst we were waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I used this mix to wash the area and the infection cleaned up in under 24 hours – no need to go to our GP after all.

These are the remedies we’ve used ourselves at home. With these, Tom’s recent rash was significantly improved after 24 hours and gone within 72 hours. I’ve also seen Oatmeal baths recommended but we haven’t tried them ourselves yet.