Do You Look After Yourself As Well As You Look After Your Children

However old our children are, we have to put a lot of time and energy into looking after them. From the day they are conceived, we have another human being who is reliant on us for their survival, growth and development. We don’t just have to provide food and warmth for them, but everyday we have to make decisions that will affect how they turn out as adults. We wake up with them in the night, if they are scared, ill or unhappy. We listen to them when they have things they need to talk about. We take them wherever they need to go. We are always there for them.

I used to think that life as a mother would become easier as my children grew older, but in a lot of ways, they are just as demanding now as they were as a babies. The difference is what they are demanding and what they need from me. I feel like I spend all my free time driving one or the other of them to different activities and appointments, buying them clothes or uniforms, opening my house up to their friends and then cleaning up/nagging them to clean up afterwards. The amount of washing doesn’t reduce either.

But what is important is that we, as parents, look after ourselves too. This week is “Self Awareness Week”, which is why I’m writing this. I meet so many parents who live for their children but are breaking, physically and emotionally, because they have no time or energy left for themselves. They get up with the kids, run around after them all day, or go to work and then run around after them, and then spend their weekends being Supermum. There is no time to recharge, and many mums are running on empty and falling apart.

Although I get a lot pleasure from spending time with my children and don’t feel the need to go on holiday without them, I still need to do things without them to keep me sane and healthy. I work out regularly throughout the week, I try to meditate daily and I see a counsellor once a month to dump all my emotional baggage. And every so often I meet up with friends and have a meal or a drink or two.

You see, it doesn’t take much to look after yourself, but YOU HAVE TO DO IT as nobody else will do it for you.

If you don’t like exercise, find another class that you could do in the evening, or when the children are at school, but make it something that you’re going to enjoy as opposed to something practical. If you do go out, try not to drink too much as it will just leave you feeling rough and make being a parent harder the next day. If you can’t get out of the house, shut yourself in the bathroom and have a long relaxing bath with a good book, or audiobook. Take a look at what you’re eating, because if you’re just picking at junk as you fly around, you’re not giving yourself the right fuel for your busy life. And if you’re feeling low, talk to someone, don’t let your troubles weigh you down. (I love going to see my counsellor because I am paying her to listen to me moan, so I don’t need to feel bad about boring her, and she’s doesn’t try to fix things, or judge me.)

Parenting Now Compared to 100 Years Ago

This week is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and I am looking at how being a parent is different to how it was 100 years ago. Although most parents think that being a parent is far more difficult than they thought it would be, in a lot of ways, we have it a lot easier now than we did 100 years ago, and in other ways, maybe it’s harder.


Whether you’re making an enormous contribution to landfill with disposables or hammering the water, gas and electricity supply with cloth nappies, we have it easier now than they did back then. Read More

What Makes Sleep Fairies Different to Other Sleep Consultants

Sleep Fairy Parent Rescue started in 2009 because overtired mums were asking Dee Booth for advice about how to get their babies to sleep. Dee had the solutions, because she had built up a wealth of knowledge and understanding through working as a nanny over the previous 14 years. At that time, there weren’t specific “Sleep Training” courses, but Dee already had the answers through reading, researching, observing and using her knowledge to develop techniques that she had been using with the children she had been working with for more than a decade. Her techniques grew naturally, as did her reputation for not only fixing babies’ sleep, but also helping parents to get on top of toddlers’ unruly behaviour and picky eating habits. Within a few years, she was rescuing parents all over the South of England, and more recently all over the world.

Nine years on and more and more families are turning to sleep consultants to get their babies and toddlers sleeping. It is totally acceptable to reach out for help in this area, and to get help with tantrums and difficult behaviour.

Along with this rise in demand, has come a rise in supply. There are now plenty of courses on offer to train to become a “certified sleep consultant”. So if you are a mum with a young baby who has struggled with sleep and used a sleep trainer, a career change may be appealing, especially when there are courses that teach you to become a certified sleep trainer in a few days or weeks. You can even do online courses that can be completed in a couple of hours! It’s not rocket science, so why not? Especially when it means that you can give up your regular nine-to-five and work around your children?

The problem with this new growing industry is that anyone can become a sleep consultant if they do a quick course. You can move from an office based career in finance or IT, having only ever dealt with your own offspring, train in just a few hours, and then go out and offer help to struggling families. But are you really fully prepared for what you will encounter?

Dee is regularly approached by mums who would like to join The Sleep Fairy team rather than heading back to their pre-maternity leave job. Unfortunately it takes more than a course to become a good, competent sleep consultant. Some skills are transferable but you need several years of experience and understanding of children to be able to deal with what you are likely to come across in this job.

It takes more than just following the advice of a sleep consultant to realise that it is your vocation!

The ladies on the Sleep Fairy team all have years of experience working with babies and children. Their backgrounds have brought a wealth of additional relevant experience, making them both suitable and exceptional at this career that they have been drawn to.

Sarah Quick worked as a nanny for several years, has worked as a development trainer, and is a qualified life coach. These are all skills that Dee knew would make Sarah a brilliant Sleep Fairy which is why she invited her to join the team.

Nic Judd was a paediatric nurse for over 10 years, specialising in neonatal cardiac patients. Her role involved counselling parents as well as advising them on how to care for and raise their sick children. She also has a great understanding of reflux and other medical issues that could affect a child’s sleep and development.

Both Sarah and Nic spent several months studying with Dee and observing consultations before they were ready to perform supervised consultations. They later started to see clients alone but still received regular support and supervision from Dee.

Nic, Sarah and Dee would not be following this vocation without the previous careers, that have helped them to understand how the complicated little people that deal with on a daily basis work. And thankfully, working in a small team means they have each other to turn to if they get a particularly tricky little monster!!!

Toddlers and Technology

Today, we far too often see toddlers being entertained by iPads, tablets and mobile phones. They are totally captivated by the bright coloured screens, which we call technology. Some parents buy their toddler their own iPad, to save them having to fight with the toddler over their own, or an older sibling’s devices! Having met numerous families who have done this, I am still stunned every time I meet another – I can’t imagine giving my toddler free reign of a £600 bit of technology!

I can see why these parents do what they do, but this in no way makes it right! I know that it is easier to do the household chores when your child is sitting quietly and staying out of trouble. If you go out to a restaurant and you hand them an iPad, you can keep them sitting still in a situation where they would normally be running around creating havoc. It gives parents time to have a slow leisurely lunch. It gives them a chance to finish conversations. It all makes perfect sense to so many parents…  Read More

Potty Training! How to potty train. When to potty train. Why a potty…

The Sleep Fairy Guide to Potty Training (Toilet Training)

There is no correct time to start toilet/potty training, but most children will be between 2 and 3 years old when they make their first attempts. Of course, some will start earlier, and some won’t be ready until later. If you decide to start early (before two and a half), it is probably easier to use potties rather than going straight to the toilet.

There are several things that need to be developed for a child to be able to use the toilet. They need to be aware that they do wees and poos, they need to be able to hold them (briefly) once they know they need to go, they need to understand that the potty (or toilet) is the place to do their wees and poos, and they need to be able to pull down their pants!

But how do you know when your child has developed any of these skills and is ready, what do you need, and what do you do?

Is Your Child Ready?

The obvious signs are when your child tells you that they are “going”, or even if they have just been, but there are plenty of other signs to look out for too:

  • Watching themselves wee when they are in the bath and taking an interest in what they are doing.
  • Asking you to change their nappy when they are dirty or wet.
  • Just feeling that your child is ready and able to communicate enough with you.
  • When they are regularly taking their nappy off.
  • When they can pull down their trousers, leggings, pants or pull-ups.

If you have started training but then feel that your child isn’t quite ready (or you’re not quite ready), it is fine to stop and go back to nappies again for a few weeks or months. You have to be committed, patient and consistent!

Cloth nappies seem to make it an easier process as they don’t wick the wee away from the skin and children feel wet when they have done a wee, which helps their awareness of what they are doing. If you’re not already using cloth nappies, it’s probably not worth investing in a full set of cloth nappies just before you start potty training, but if you can get hold of a dozen or so second hand ones, they are great to use when you go out, instead of putting disposables back on.

What do you need?

You can buy potties that play a tune when your child does a wee in it. You can buy ones that have an iPad holder (great if you want to encourage your child to sit on the throne long enough to produce piles!) and potties that are shaped like thrones or teddy bears! Do these help with potty training? I honestly couldn’t say – we bought our potties from the pound shop and they are plain blue simple potties! I usually suggest having several (cheap) potties dotted around the house so that your little one can always get to one quickly when the urge arises. A portable potty is also essential so that you can still leave the house!

Toilet seat toppers and steps are also helpful so that your toddler can go on the toilet if they are near it when they need to go.

Flushable wet wipes are useful because wiping a little bottom when the bum cheeks are squeezed together is really difficult with normal dry loo roll and you MUST NOT FLUSH REGULAR BABY WIPES!

Training pants are great as they usually have a waterproof lining and a couple of extra layers of cloth so that they feel like pants but are a little more absorbent than normal pants when you have a little accident, but they are quite expensive, costing £5-9 a pair.

Shopping List:-

  1. 4-6 cheap potties
  2. Flushable wipes
  3. Toilet seat
  4. Step
  5. Training pants – 4-6 pairs
  6. Pants – 10-20 pairs
  7. One portable potty
  8. Chocolate rewards!!!
How to Potty Train

For a child to understand what they need to do, it helps if they can see what they need to do, so don’t be shy – let your child into the bathroom when you use the loo and talk about what you’re doing in a positive way! Celebrate the poo!

Try catching a wee in a potty or cup when your little one wees in the bath, and then telling them how clever they are. Once you a have done this a few times, you can try putting them on a potty or toilet just before you put them in the bath. By doing these simple things, you are introducing your child to the idea that wees and poos can be done in a potty or toilet. The next step is to spread your potties around the house and ditch nappies while you’re at home. Let your child run naked and free around the house!!! It makes getting on the potty a lot easier, and cleaning up quicker too!

Explain to your toddler that if he/she does a wee or poo on the potty or toilet, they can have a little bit of chocolate. For the first few days, make sure that every time they get something in the potty, they get rewarded, but just brush over any misses and don’t make a fuss of them. This gives them a positive connection to the potty.

When you feel that your child has made the connection between potty and “going”, you can try taking them out in a pair of pants or training pants. Make sure you take a portable potty so that you have something to hand when they suddenly need to go, and several changes of pants and bottoms as it is easy to forget you need to go when you’re a toddler and having lots of fun!

Try not to stress and fret as this will rub off on your child and they will attach negative emotions to going to the toilet and this can make the process more difficult. Try not to have a deadline in your head, as this will put you under pressure and your child may pick up on this too. Don’t get cross when your child has accidents (or on purposes) on the floor, just clean up and get on with your day as you don’t want to give negative attention to this.

If you find that your child is wetting or dirtying several pairs of pants every day, go back to nappies when you are out and try again a week or so later. Follow your child’s lead – if they aren’t ready, you can’t force them to “get it”, by asking them if they want to go every 5 minutes, you won’t be teaching them to use the potty, you will just be annoying them and encouraging backlash and tantrums. Of course, it is fine to ask them if they need to go if they are pulling at the front of their trousers, doing the weewee dance or if they haven’t been for half an hour or so.

The Process:

  1. Catch some wees in the bath
  2. Sit on the loo before bathtime
  3. Put a potty in every room and let your child be naked but keep nappies on when out
  4. Try training pants when going out. Don’t forget the portable potty
  5. Try normal pants at home
  6. Pants all day!

This process could take a week or 2 months. It may take longer if you start when your child is younger (we started at 22 months and have been taking easy for 4 months, and it has been interesting to see our toddler moving through each of the developmental steps). Remember, it’s not a competition, but most healthy children are ready between 2 and 3 years old so really should be done before they start school.