Mother Brown Guides
It’s time for me to share another one of my incredibly funny and factually incorrect “Knees Up Mother Brown Guides”. You’ve had my Guide to Baby Clothes and my Guide to life with a Baby and Toddler and now I give you my Guide to Cleaning
Step 1: Assess the need for cleaning! Cleaning costs money and is not good for the environment. All those chemicals used and electricity is not good! I’m also a strong believer in the theory that germs are good for you and if you live in too sterile an environment it ruins your immune system. Do you REALLY need to clean?? If yes then proceed to step 2, if no then pour yourself a large G&T and put your feet up!
Step 2: So the house needs cleaning? Right well you now have two options available. A) Considering entering for “How Clean Is Your House”. Yes you will be hugely embarrassed and the laughing stock of your neighbourhood for years to come but at least somebody else will do all the work for you! B) If you don’t fancy being a TV star then I’m afraid you’ll have to do it yourself and proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Remove all children from the house. It’s a well known fact that with children under your feet, cleaning takes three times as long so for your own sanity get them out of the house. How you do this is of course up to you. Arranging a playdate works well, send the little darlings round to trash someone else’s house whilst you clean yours
Step 4: If a machine can do the job for you then let it. If it can go in the dishwasher or washing machine then use them. No point breaking your back cleaning if there is an easy solution. Grill pans, rings from the hob, dish rack and pretty much anything not nailed down goes in our dishwasher and comes out sparkling.
Step 5: Start high, there is no point cleaning the floors before anything else. Always start at the ceiling level and work your way down. A feather duster is a great investment for removing cobwebs and dust.
Step 6: Have a quick dust and polish everywhere. To be honest nobody can really tell if you’ve polished but a quick spray of polish in the air gives the right impression. If like we do you have hardwood floors, be careful of spraying polish too liberally as it has the effect of turning your floor into an icerink.
Step 7: Kitchen and Bathrooms – liberal amounts of spray cleaner, rinsed and wiped clean will do the job. Chuck half a bottle of bleach down the toilets, it’s not very environmentally friendly but it looks nice and clean afterwards. The smell of bleach in the air also shows you have been cleaning! If you have pets or toddlers then remember to close the toilet lid once you’ve poured bleach in there to prevent them trying to drink it.
Step 8: Hoovering – I have a simple rule when it comes to hoovering, if it’s on the floor and it fits up the nozzle of the cleaner then that’s where it belongs! Take no prisoners!
Step 9: Mopping – I can’t live without my steam mop, it’s quick, easy and takes no effort. I find it essential for removing dried in food off the kitchen floor. It’s probably my favourite cleaning accessory, if you don’t know what I mean then it’s something like this one
>> Vax S2 Hard Floor Master Upright Steam Stick
Step 10: If you’ve done all the above then your house is now clean. At some point you should recover your children from wherever you sent them but make the most of the peace and have a nice G&T with your feet up before you do
Well I’m almost 5 months in to life with a baby and toddler, and seeing as I’m a sharing kind of person I thought I’d share with you my top 10 tips on coping with two under 18 months!
1. Always have toddler’s favourite book or an iphone within reach when feeding baby. It is guaranteed the minute you settle down to feed the baby, the toddler will want to sit with you and have cuddles. I found the best way to cope with this is for the toddler to snuggle up next to you and you soon learn how to feed baby with one arm, cuddle toddler with the other and read a book with them or show them photos/videos/toddler apps on the iphone. It is either this or toddler will just throw themselves on the floor and have a screaming fit for the entire duration of baby’s bottle. (PS If toddler asks to see doggy videos, don’t type doggy into youtube and it is an idea to have a few “safe” videos that you have seen first to play them!)
2. Carrying a baby though a stairgate is a pain in the arse, it’s blinking awkward to manage a sleeping baby and open the gate without waking the baby but do not get in the habit of leaving the stairgates open because it is guaranteed that your toddler will discover that you’ve left it open before you do! Yes, trying to run and stop toddler descending the stairs by themselves, whilst carrying and trying not to wake the sleeping baby is pretty tricky!
3. Do not attempt to start potty training the toddler when you are home alone with a baby and a toddler. You will find that the minute toddler is naked and sitting on potty, the baby will decide that it needs your immediate attention. The very act of taking your eyes off the toddler for 10 seconds guarantees that toddler will then stand up, run around naked and do that long awaited for wee wee, but all over the carefully chosen potty training book you bought!
4. Always have a bowl of grapes handy! I have lost track of the number of times the bowl of grapes has been a lifesaver in this house. It has the ability to keep toddler distracted and happy for at least 15 minutes which is a bonus when baby has just thrown up all over you, itself, the cat and the sofa. 15 minutes gives you plenty of time to change your outfit, the baby’s outfit, clean the sofa, put a load of washing on and check the cat hasn’t legged it through an open window.
5. Give up on the idea of sleeping for quite a long time. When people tell you to sleep when baby sleeps resist the urge to tell them to get stuffed, just smile sweetly and nod in agreement. They probably don’t realise that your toddler doesn’t sleep at the same time as the baby and that the only time they are both asleep at the same time are between the hours of 7pm – 8.30pm, 1am-3am and 6-7am. You will soon find the ability to function on 3 hours sleep in a 24 hour period. If not breastfeeding I highly recommend stocking up on strong coffee or red bull! You will also find that the baby and toddler have an uncanny knack of tag-teaming each other throughout the night and when you finally get the baby settled, you will climb wearily into bed only for the toddler to wake up with teething pains. You will finally get the toddler settled again and it will be time for baby to wake up again. It gets better eventually – at almost 5 months I do get a decent sleep most nights nowadays (when I say decent I mean about 6 hours!)
6. If you bath the baby and toddler together, don’t (as my husband did!) suggest to the toddler that it would be funny to tip a bucket of water over the baby’s head. The toddler will finally demonstrate their ability to understand instructions and for once will do as they are told and yes they will find it hysterical. The baby however will not be impressed, that’s if they’ve managed to survive having half the bath emptied over their face!
7. Don’t be surprised if your toddler suddenly starts learning lots of new words. This week MissB has started saying the words “share” and “mine”. Share is used when grabbing MasterB’s toys off him when he is happily playing with them. Mine is used for snatching her own toys back off MasterB when he is happily playing with them. The use of either word usually results in tears from one of them.
8. When the toddler is finally starting to take an interest and wanting to play with the baby, make sure you have the video camera ready because you are in for a lot of laughs. Though you will find many of your videos end up with the camera been thrown on the floor and the sounds of a panicking parent shouting “no no no noooo” – don’t believe me watch this (and note where MissB’s foot is heading)
9. Don’t ever tell the toddler off for showing an interest and wanting to play with the baby. Yes they will be a little rough, yes baby will get poked in the eye, sat on, have fingers shoved up it’s nose and in it’s eyes. But your toddler isn’t really intending to cause physical harm to the baby (I hope!) they are just showing a healthy interest and telling them off will achieve nothing (think water off a ducks back!). Just make sure you are always in a position to be able to step in before baby is dragged off the sofa or smothered by a cushion (I’m sure MissB was just wanting to play?)
10. Enjoy it! Trust me you will ask yourself a thousand times, who’s stupid idea was it to have two children so close together, you will cry with frustration, you will sometimes wonder how the hell you will cope and if you will ever sleep again. BUT you will also experience some of the cutest moments between them. When baby starts to laugh, your toddler will spend hours trying to make them laugh. When your toddler randomly just stops what they are doing and walks across and plants a kiss on baby for no apparent reason, your heart will melt and you will realise that as they grow up together it really could become something beautiful. (Either that or they will spend the next 18 years fighting like cat and dog – GOOD LUCK!)
After a twitter conversation at 3am this morning on the confusing world of baby clothes, I thought I’d put down a guide to dressing your baby. (warning: some of this post is tongue in cheek and opinions are all mine so please do not be offended if you like to dress your baby in frills )
So lets start with the basics
Otherwise known as a bodysuit in the US. This is the basic staple item in your babies wardrobe. They are worn as underwear under all other clothes and you will need about 12 in each size as your baby grows.
You can get long sleeved, short sleeved, sleeveless, patterned, ones with funny sayings, plain etc but I find the basic white sleeveless vest is best. It goes under everything, is easy to put on and take off and is unisex so when second baby arrives (as I am discovering) it doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or girl as you can just dig out all the old vests and recycle them.
Vests have the added advantage that you can dress baby in vest alone for feeding or if it’s warm in summer. Remember the basic rules of baby clothes, the less they wear the less washing you have to do and the less hassle it is when changing nappies!
OK so the second staple item is babies wardrobe is…
Otherwise know as a romper suit in the US. This item of clothing is pretty much all you need for baby until they are about 6 months old. They come in 1001 different colours and patterns and this is where you can show off your babies individuality whilst still letting your baby be comfortable.
“But sleepsuits are just nightwear” I hear some of you cry. Well seeing as babies do pretty much nothing except sleep and lie down for the first six months of their life it seems the most logical thing to dress them in. It’s all very well having fancy clothing but to be honest if you were spending all day lying down wouldn’t you prefer to be in your pyjamas? MissB was pretty much in sleepsuits all day everyday until she was crawling. They are comfortable, quick to change, practical and you can get some gorgeous ones. As a busy mum I don’t have time to take off trousers, dresses, tights, socks, shoes etc everytime I need to change baby so sleepsuits it is.
Don’t confuse the sleepsuit/romper suit thing with items you can buy in the UK called romper suits, these tend to be similar “all in one” items of clothing but tend to not have feet in them and be a bit more “dressy/daytime wear” than sleepsuits.
So that’s the basics covered, then we move onto what I call…
These are the clothes which tend to be given as gifts (usually by people who haven’t had children) and tend to be pretty impractical. You know the type, frilly dresses, tights, fiddly fastenings and anything which looks cute but is a faff to put on and take off. You will find that these items are usually worn once and once only, it is of course obligatory that you get a photo of baby wearing the clothes to send to the person who gave it you but after this they will more than likely be retired to the back of the wardrobe and maybe brought out for a special occasion if they are lucky.
Shoes and Socks
Again an item of baby clothing that I just don’t “get”. I wouldn’t wear shoes if I was lying down all day so why would I put them on my baby. To be honest baby will just keep kicking them off anyway and you will spend half of your busy day just putting shoes back on. Of course shoes also need pairing with socks which also never actually stay on for more than 5 minutes and are a washing nightmare, you will lose at least 3 in every wash cycle and you will build a lovely collection of odd socks. My advice, avoid buying shoes and socks for as long as possible, MissB got her first shoes when she was 11 months old and only then did she really start wearing socks. The bonus about sleepsuits is that they cover the feet and so shoes and socks are not needed!
Now this is my pet hate so I’m sorry if I offend anyone here but in my eyes jeans are a major no no for babies until they are able to at least crawl. Would you like to lie around in jeans all day, they can’t be comfy and I can’t think of any reason why a baby should wear jeans. Fair enough when they are starting to crawl and they need a bit more substantial clothing to cover knees but until then they just seem pointless to me.
Again another one of my pet hates, no offence to anyone who loves Disney or other character clothes for their baby but I don’t do “branding”. Why pay for more expensive character clothes when you can get gorgeous normal clothes? Again fair enough when baby is old enough to have favourite characters they want to wear but before that they are just overpriced in my opinion. They also date photographs and take away from the main focus (ie the child) so stick to funky patterns, stripes, spots, stars, flowers etc and steer away from Mickey and Minnie!
Hats, Scratch Mitts, Booties
I was gifted so many of these with MissB and I don’t really recall using any of them except maybe one hat if we were going out somewhere. If you need scratch mittens then try and buy sleepsuits with them built in as separate ones always come off and are a faff to wash. I don’t even know what use booties actually have?
I think that’s all the basics covered so if you stick to the following guidelines you can’t really go wrong:
1) Always remember the less baby wears, the less washing you will need to do and the easier it is to change nappies.
2) Avoid anything that you wouldn’t like to spend all day lying around in yourself.
3) Stock up on vests and sleepsuits, it’s all you really need for the first 6 months.
4) Don’t buy loads of clothes in 0-3, you will get loads of presents in this size when baby arrives. If possible ask people to buy 3-6 month sized clothes instead otherwise you will have more 0-3 clothes than baby can ever possibly wear in 3 months!