Wednesday, 28 September 2016

For The Love Of A Good Night's Sleep



Three years of broken sleep can really take it's toll. There's been phases where it's been good and the boy child has slept through, gone to bed with no fuss, stayed there all night - these things didn't happen all at the same time but we always thought if we had one of them we were doing ok. 
We had made peace with the fact he wasn't the best sleeper and to be honest we just got on with things and did whatever worked for us all to get a decent night's sleep. 
We've co-slept, stayed in the room for up to an hour getting him off to sleep, bought a Gro-Clock, let him go to bed in our bed and then lift him over, later bedtime, earlier bedtime, I've lost count of the amount of bottles of lavender we've gone through...but again we just did what we had to.
It's not always been rough, as I said there's been phases but the majority of his short life so far has been spent fighting sleep. 

A couple of weeks ago we reached breaking point. We assumed as he got older that it would all settle down and he would figure out how great sleep is but nope, not our boy. Honestly it felt like we were back to the newborn days, he was waking up numerous times during the night, walking in and out to our room, climbing on us, this was after we would have had a meltdown at bed time. The final straw came when he decided to have a tantrum at 3am because we told he had to go to sleep, it was late. We both work full time, the OH studies full time, L goes to preschool 4 days a week and his days start early, it's so important we all get a decent nights sleep if we are to get through the busy week. We were shattered, all 3 of us. 

Cue my guardian angel, Niamh O'Reilly of The Nursery. I will credit this lady with saving our sanity. Niamh is a sleep coach and has over 15 years of experience in the childcare field, she is one of the many lovely people I've got to know through being a member of Irish Parenting Bloggers. She has a best selling book called No Fuss Baby & Toddler Sleep, she knows her stuff, sleep is her thing. 


I sent Niamh a brief outline of our daily routine, from morning to night, how we went about bed time, what the routine was, who was at home in the evenings, did he nap, what his language and comprehension skills were like etc. Niamh came back to me straight away with some comforting and reassuring words that I was doing good and to breathe and with a plan in place for the boy. She explained the way we did things in a way I would never have thought of and how Luke might interpret them. She tweaked our routine and suggested two things I never would have done because I thought it would have only made things worse - letting him back downstairs after bath time to read his book and then compromising with another book upstairs before putting him to bed awake without me having to stay in the room with him until he fell asleep. I'll admit I was super nervous doing this the first night, I was trying my best to stay positive but I was so anxious about Luke kicking off once he had to go to bed. Honestly though I think he got more of a shock that for a change I agreed to his request to go back downstairs. 
She recommended getting a "bag of tricks", an incentive to help go to bed without creating a fuss, something he could see during the day and want but he could only get if he went to bed with no fighting and stayed there until morning. The Gro-Clock came in handy here again, it's set to 7am and he had to stay there until then. 

The first night was the same putting him to bed, tantrum but the OH was on hand to help too (Luke never gives his Dad a hard time at bed time!)but he did stay there all night. I was emailing Niamh that night asking further advice and she responded straight away (on Saturday night like!) and reassured me. Sure enough he came looking for his treat from the bag the next morning but we said no seeing as he hadn't gone to bed without a fuss. This was a tough one because he kept apologising all day to me and asking can he have something from the bag but we stood firm. 

The next night was like a miracle, no crying, no shouting, we had a lovely cuddle on the couch while I read his book and he drank his milk and then upstairs without a fuss and into bed, we had a quick cuddle and off he went. I actually couldn't believe it. There he stayed until 7am the next day, you can sometimes hear him over the monitor shuffling around waiting for the sun to show up on his clock and he runs in straight away. 

I can't even begin to explain the difference in him after a proper night's sleep. He was happy, calm, much more able for the day and an absolute pleasure to be around. Niamh checked in regularly with me, to see how it was going and in turn I sent her back an essay in reply but it I felt so much more able to stick to the new routine knowing Niamh was only an email away should it all go belly up. 
A slightly earlier bedtime was suggested while we got used to a new routine and it seems to suit Luke much better, he's in bed by 7.15pm most nights and up again at 7am. 

I can't begin to express my appreciation for Niamh's expertise. I'm still not taking the new found sleep for granted but we stick to our new routine and it's working. We had a late night last weekend and I was sure that would throw us all off but I was able to adjust the routine a bit and still keep it structured and we had no problem. I even changed the Gro-Clock to 8am and he stayed in bed until then! (Sneaky eh?!) 

We had a slight blip last night but nothing we couldn't handle and Luke soon realised that I was not giving in and we were going to continue our bed time as normal. Niamh's advice has given me the confidence to to remain consistent, as hard as it can be in the beginning but it is so worth it, for all of us. I genuinely feel like I've got my little boy back. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Gnocchi with Spinach & Mushroom

The most disappointing thing is trying a new recipe and it turn out not to be nice at all. 
What I do love though is finding a new recipe, trying it out, adjusting it to my liking and then actually loving the finished product. Last night's dinner was one such recipe.

Gnocchi with Spinach & Mushroom


500g pack Gnocchi (I got mine in my local Super Valu)
1x Tinned Tomatoes with Herbs
100g Button mushrooms, chopped
1x Small Onion, I used dried onion bits as I am not a fan of onions
2tsps of Crushed Garlic
1/2 cup Water
Large bunch of baby spinach leaves, shredded
85g Semi Skimmed Mozzarella, sliced 
100g Grated Parmesan
Salt to taste

  • Start off by cooking the gnocchi in a tblsp of olive oil in a frying pan until it is golden brown, about 5 - 7 mins, once cooked put aside into a bowl
  • Heat a little more oil in the pan and throw in the onion and the water, then added the garlic and mushrooms, cook for a few minutes and then add in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer
  • Add back in the gnocchi and give a good stir
  • Stir in the parmesan and place the slices mozzarella on top, simmer until cheese is melted. I stirred the mozzarella in once it began to melt.
So tasty and I got 3 servings.

Not the best picture but I was in too much of a rush to eat it! 


*Original recipe seen first on eatingwell.com*




Thursday, 8 September 2016

His Little Hands

7.20pm
It's time for bed now Luke
But I don't want to go to bed 
You have too bud, you have school tomorrow and you'll only be tired
I read my book?
OK go and get one then and we'll read it
We read it on your bed 
Sure

The book has been read twice, 99% of the time it's The Hungry Caterpillar.

7.30pm
Come on so, all done time for bed
But I'm not tired!
I know but you still have to go to bed

Cue a serious effort form Luke at crying because of this awful situation he's in but we head off to his room and settle down into the chair for our usual cuddle and his milk. 

7.35pm
You cuddle me Mum? 
I will bud, we'll have a snuggle for a few minutes
I really missed you Mum
I missed you too
Why did you have to go to work today?
To get money to pay for all our things
But Dad can get money at his work
I know buddy but we still need some more so that's why Mum goes to work too
But I really miss you when you're gone, you're my best friend
Aww you're my best friend too
And my Dad is too

7.45pm
But I want to go to your bed, my bed is yock
Why is your bed yock?
Coz it is, it's messy. Your room is clean
Luke if you go into my bed you must go to sleep straight away, no more messing now it's getting late
Ok Mum, I walk in myself

Off he totters across the hall...

You close your curtains
All done, now hop up on to my side and snuggle down
But you cuddle me Mum, just for a little while
Remember what I said, you must go straight to sleep, I need to go downstairs and tidy up
Aw but Mum please, just cuddle me

I reluctantly lie down beside, thinking of all that needs to be done before I can even sit down myself that evening

7.50pm
Come on now Lukey, you must close those eyes and go to sleep
And I have sweetdreams?
Yes you'll have lots of lovely sweet dreams
Come closer Mum, cuddle me properly 

I wrap my arms tight around him and he rubs my hair and begins naming out my facial features like he always does 

7.55pm 
Come on now time to close your eyes

He pulls my face right up to his, our noses touching and his little hands wrapped firmly around the back of my neck, it's dark in the room but I can still see his gorgeous brown eyes as he looks into mine...

I really love you Mum, you're my best friend...and he nuzzles his face into my neck and lets out a sigh and in that moment in time, I want to stay forever, everything else can wait. 





Friday, 2 September 2016

Making The Most Of A Month - August

Ever feel like the days, weeks and months just whizz past? 

The last few months have gone by in a complete blur, as the Summer always does, but last month I decided to set myself some goals for the coming month, well not really goals but a few things I'd like to actually get done within the month and not just talk about it, forget and then kick myself when I realise another month has gone by and I've yet to do the things I needed or wanted to do. 

My head space is so limited at the moment, I feel like some days I don't know whether I'm coming or going and find it very hard to switch off at times. I found having my notebook with my monthly "to do" list in it very good at reminding me that there's other things I can concentrate on, things that don't zap my energy and things that I enjoy doing or will give me a much needed sense of accomplishment when they are done. 



I was given the notebook as a birthday gift and felt like it was the best one to use for my new idea. I keep it in my handbag so I always have itt with me and can whip it out when I think of something else to add or have a spare minute to read through what I have earmarked for the month. 



This quote has been the theme of this month. Behind the scenes here, it's been a bit of a stressful month during August, a good month on a lot of levels but harder than previous months too. I saw the above quote and it hit home with me about how I've been feeling lately and prompted me to take some time out when and where I can so I stuck it into my notebook as a reminder.


As you can see my plans for the month are quite simple: 
  • I'm delighted to say we did manage a date night to the cinema to watch Suicide Squad (killed to birds with the stone there!). 
  • I did start yoga, only did it once so far but it counts because I still started it, I will try to fit it in a bit more as I quite enjoyed it. 
  • My poor child finally got a haircut, he was only asking for it for about 2 weeks
  • Is there anything more annoying than playdoh being everywhere?! Don't get me started on the mixed colours but yes another ticked off my list, I got a big box to throw it all into so I don't have it all over the kitchen table.
  • Woohoo I managed 3 blog posts in August
  • Would you believe I didn't get a chance to get out for a walk during the whole month, work, life, clashing schedules with the OH meant there was no free time to get out and stretch my legs, it'll be re-added to Septembers list
  • No books were read here either, I was being a bit ambitious with that one seeing as it was such a busy month 
Overall I felt quite happy at the end of the month, I was ticking things off as I went which made it feel like I was very organised.
I'm looking forward to seeing what I can fit in September and hoping I have another successful round up at the end of the month and hopefully have a few more pictures to accompany my post.