Stop bursting my bubble!
Development

Stop bursting my bubble!

Getting to that mythical place in parenthood where it becomes easier can seem light years away. But it does happen. All Gwen Loughman wants is to enjoy it before the next stage begins.

“It doesn’t actually get any easier, you know.” “Wait till they’re teenagers.” “It gets harder/crazier/more expensive the older they get.”

Stop! No more! It’s too hard. Stop bursting my bubble. I am in a good place at the moment. There’s sleep. There’s wine. The odd night out or two. I’ve had a few hangovers recently. The words “lie-on” are once again part of my vocabulary.

I now eat dinner at the conventional time of in the middle of the day. Not like yesteryear when I was forced out of my bed at dawn and dined at 11am. There are whole cups of coffee made and finished these days.

It’s all coming together

Stop bursting my bubble. I am in a good place at the moment. They’ve all got teeth now. Bye bye horrendously painful teething.

They all eat proper food. Bye bye tediously messy and frustrating solid food stage.

Most of them can put on their own clothes. The odd pair of underpants goes on horribly wrong and shoes are often put on opposite feet but that’s okay. I am still brushing four sets of teeth but I’m grand with that too. It’s all in the name of reducing future dental bills.

Three quarters of them can do up their own seat belts in the car. They can all help themselves to snacks. It’s all coming good. So please. Stop bursting my bubble.

Three of them are in school. There’s sports. Swimming and football. Trips to the library. Three out of four of them are old enough to sit still at the cinema. The buggy is all but an accessory now. I am months away from being nappy-free. We might even be able to pack away the cot after our summer holiday where he will probably need to sleep in a bed. Telling them “no” is met with reasonable acceptance.

Let me enjoy what I have

So please. Stop bursting my bubble. Let me enjoy where I am at the moment. It’s still messy. Very definitely louder than I would like. Bath times drain any last drop of energy I may have in my reserve tank.

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen; the rest of it in the car. Their hobbies and interests are expensive and can be short-lived phases. I have accepted that the inside of my house will probably always look like the aftermath of a rave until they are of an age to move out. My grocery bill scares me. Driving a tank for a car is another financial drain.

But it’s good. It’s better. Dare I say I am enjoying it at long last? Sometimes. Maybe not often. But I realise I prefer the older age to the toddler one. And there are no more toddlers in our house. It’s all onwards and upwards from here on out and I am happy with that. I am very happy with that.

So please. At the risk of repeating myself. Stop bursting my bubble and let me enjoy being in this manageable stage. I will deal with whatever the pre-teen and the full-on, riddled with hormones teenage stage throws at me. I hope. But I know where to find you if I need some advice. You can even say I told you so. And I will try not to snap your head off. Much love.

This article first appeared in Easy Parenting magazine. We’re fairly sure that Gwen’s cots and nappies are gone by now!

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.