Wearing a Toddler

There’s been a slight shortage of outdoor adventures on this blog just lately. Tom and I have been full of cold and Mr Techno is missing without a trace – buried in the opening of the new restaurant (seriously. We’ve seen each other for about a total of 5 hours in the last two weeks – half an hour each morning as we both run out the door).

But this weekend was a chance to remedy that. Some lingering germs meant we couldn’t go to the playground, so Tom and I had a long walk out onto the Marshes on Saturday, meeting up with one of his friends from nursery on the way. And we went for another long walk with a friend of mine on Sunday.

Both times, we left the buggy at home, as we tend to do on non-nursery days. Tom walks really confidently now, but isn’t yet up to more than about a mile at a time. So when we go out, we tend to use the sling. And I love it. Never thought I’d still be wearing Tom at this age – he’s just turned 18 months – but I much prefer it to using the buggy. Here’s why:

Access – nowhere is off limits. Stairs, steep hills, muddy paths – none of these are an issue when you have no buggy to get stuck.

Bonding – now that I work 4 days a week, it’s really important that I find opportunities to renew my bond with Tom when we’re together. Carrying him close in the sling helps us to bond.

Exercise – I don’t really do much exercise. Definitely not a gym bunny. But I love walking and doing it with the 2 stone weight of my boy on my back turns it into almost a real life workout.

Sick Days – being at nursery means Tom gets cold after cold. And when he’s sick, the sling lets us snuggle whilst also getting some fresh air.

Joy – Tom is insanely happy to be out and about. Being carried closer to my face means he can share his joy at the world more easily. Usually whilst shouting “hiya!” at the top of his lungs. World – meet Tom.

Massage – not what you were expecting? Me neither. But Tom likes to carry a toy train or car with him in the sling and uses my back as the road, meaning I get a nice, if slightly patchy, massage as I walk.

Sling selfies – who doesn’t love a cute sling selfie shot?

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I can’t deny there are some downsides – he’s bloody heavy these days, so I can only manage about 90 minutes or so without a break. And it can be tricky to get him onto my back when I’m wearing a big winter coat. But otherwise, I’m loving wearing my toddler still and hope to enjoy it for at least a year more.

Life Unexpected

Walking Home at Dusk

Typical isn’t it? No sooner do I post about the first signs of spring appearing than we get a proper cold snap. It’s been, quite literally, freezing here the past few days, especially in the mornings. All the puddles were iced over when Tom and I walked into nursery yesterday and we were both wishing I had remembered our gloves.

Nonetheless, I can still see hopeful signs of the seasons changing. Green buds are appearing on all the hawthorn bushes, there are daffodils growing outside the Parcelforce depot, and the park rangers have cleared the undergrowth in our local wood ready for the year’s new growth. Even better, the days have been getting longer. Just a week ago we were starting the walk back from nursery in the pitch black, whereas now we arrive home as the sun goes down.

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We’ve been taking advantage of the lighter evenings to resume our old habit of cutting through the woods on our way back from nursery, rather than going on the road. It got a bit scary when it was properly dark – there is no lighting along the path and I didn’t like not being able to see what was ahead of us, especially when I’m alone with Tom. But yesterday was the first time it had been light enough to see properly, so we headed through the trees to the park.

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We were rewarded with an encounter with a cheeky urban fox, who stood and stared at us for a long while before disappearing into the undergrowth. I didn’t get my camera out in time, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Usually I get slightly irate seeing foxes so bravely wandering around the city, but seeing this one in the more natural surroundings of our local woods just seemed right.

Lent and the Year’s Intentions

 

Today is the first day of Lent and I have been considering whether I should give up or take up anything. My mum and sister always give up chocolate, and I have joined in a couple of times. But I always feel that giving up something like that kind of misses the religious connotations of the period. Instead, I am going to take up being thankful. It is something I try to do anyway – recognise the blessings in my life (which are many) – but focusing on it specifically for a set period will hopefully help me appreciate what I have even more.

I don’t especially intend to share moments of thankfulness on this blog – there’s enough people out there keeping thankfulness diaries already. But you may get an update a few weeks down the line.

Lent also feels like an appropriate moment to re-visit my intentions for this year:

Be Mindful of Food Choices

Avoiding meat for most meals and making more considered food choices is going ok, but is probably the one I have been doing worst on. I have slipped up a couple of times and ordered things with fish in at restaurants, because I forgot I wasn’t supposed to. And Mr Techno always provides a meat-based meal when he cooks on Tuesday evenings. And there was a pack of bacon open in the fridge that needed eating, so I did add that to my pea and goats cheese salad. But I’ve still managed to cut way down on meat consumption, going from eating it almost everyday to just once or sometimes twice a week.

We’ve also made the switch to getting milk and juice from our local milkman. Along with the veg box we have had for years, this is helping us reduce our reliance on big supermarkets and cut down on packaging waste. Hurray!

Buy Only Secondhand Clothes

Tom is beginning to grow out of his 12-18 month wardrobe, so I’ve been having to buy him a whole bunch of clothes. So far we’ve scored everything we need secondhand, though I may need to get him some vests new, as I’ve been struggling to find enough in the right size. He needs more pjs too, but is otherwise set for the next few months and I’m pretty confident I can find him some secondhand (it is lack of money, rather than availability, that is holding me back currently).

I did get a new pair of walking boots at the very beginning of the year, but have allowed myself this as a) it was Mr Techno’s Christmas present to me and b) I really needed a good quality, good fitting pair which is difficult to achieve secondhand. With luck these will last me at least 10 years, where as a secondhand pair would be unlikely to have so much life left in them.

I’ve also developed a minor obsession with wearing men’s vests over leggings, but have kept to my promise and bought a few on ebay rather than getting them new. I tried to take a selfie to show you my favourite, but my selfie skills are sadly pants, so you will have to do without. I know this will be a great disappointment!

 

Get Outdoors Everyday

And, of course, we are still getting outside everyday. I don’t think we have had a single day this year when we haven’t got out, even if it is just the walk to nursery, or a potter round the garden (sometimes in the dark with a torch just before bath and bed). My new job and our lack of family time recently has meant we haven’t explored as many new places as I had hoped, but we have discovered a new park and gone on a trip to Epping Forest, so some progress has been made. We also have a camping trip in Wales planned for this summer (I have to go anyway to run a course on repairing old floors and the site we are using is right on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, so was far too good to pass up!)

 

Anyone else giving something up for Lent? Or taking on a new challenge?

Toddlers and Trains

Tom is obsessed with trains at the moment. And cars too. But mostly trains. He has a little set of the brio ones that he was given for his birthday and he loves to push the trains around any available surface, whilst saying ‘beep beep’ softly to himself (he hasn’t learnt ‘choo choo’ yet although he has got ‘nee naw’ for ambulances).

His obsession is quite a useful one, as it means we have a new source of entertainment when out on the Marshes. There’s a train track which runs along the top of our favourite bit, and a bridge that goes over the track and road. Anytime I let Tom choose our direction he heads straight for that bridge, which can be awkward if we have the buggy with us instead of a sling.

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He also loves to stand by the track and watch the trains go past. I’m trying to teach him to wave, but so far he prefers just staring in amazement.

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I don’t know that trainspotting really counts as engaging with nature, as such. But as long as it means he’s happy to come for a walk on the Marshes with me, this is a love of his I can get behind. Choo choo!



Guest Post at Mumbalance: Fighting the Winter Blues

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At the invitation of the lovely Joanna, I’m guest posting over at Mumbalance today with details on how becoming a mum has helped me fight off the winter blues and enjoy this time of year. Do pop over for a look and check out Joanna’s other posts while you are there – she’s expecting her second child in a matter of days and has loads of great posts on pregnancy, green living and raising a bilingual family.

Meanwhile, in real life we are enjoying a weekend in Suffolk, so expect lots more images of country walks to come next week. Hope you are all enjoying a lovely weekend outdoors too!