Tag Archives: bedtime routine

Baby’s First Bedtime

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

This week we decided it was time to start Baby Boo on a bedtime routine.  When I say “we” I really mean “I” but he gives me his full support when I make decisions like this so I’m lumping him in with me.

I decided we would start on March 1st.  When she was smaller she spent much of her evening feeding, but as she has grown she has been tending to either have a long feed and then fall asleep in my lap, or be wide away and full of baby rage.  I took these as signs to mean she needs to be asleep, and when she isn’t she’s not happy.

We waited until March 1st as with the Sirens Launch book party on Tuesday 28th, there seemed no point attempting to establish a routine right before she would be jerked out of it again for a night out, so March 1st was set and we prepared ourselves for it.

I started Miss Rose on a bedtime routine at about the same age, and it hasn’t changed much since.  We’ve dropped the evening bath, she now spends a lot longer in the bath in the mornings, and she doesn’t have a boob or a bottle anymore, but for the most part what we set up in babyhood has lasted until now, so it was really easy to start with Boo in the same way.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Dagon

After dinner, Boo now eats her dinner at the same time as the Bigs, we go upstairs for quiet time.  We read picture books, lift the flap books, rhyme books.  We sit quietly upstairs chatting about what we’re reading with no TV, no music.

Fortunately Boo adores this time, as does Miss Rose, and they sit together on Rose’s bed laughing away.  Rose points things out in the books for Boo, who dutifully attempts to eat the pages.  Rose sings the songs and Boo laughs until she falls over backwards.  It’s a really lovely and contented way to round off the day.

After stories, Rose gets undressed and does her last wee on the toilet and then we brush teeth. I’ve been brushing Boo’s teeth since she first got them so I do Rose’s teeth with her brush then I do Boo’s little gnashers and clean off her gums.

After teeth it’s back into the bedroom and into pyjamas and then it’s last cuddles and conversations before quiet time.  I turn out the lights and, using the torch from my phone, read a book.  All three of us lie in Rose’s little bed, Boo in the middle having a breastfeed, and I read.  Currently I’m reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis and it’s a real joy.

Once both girls are asleep I take Boo and move her into her crib next to our bed.  So far she’s always disturbed a little so I give her another quiet feed and then settle her with a blanket.  I breastfeed her to sleep.  I know people say you shouldn’t, rod for your own back and all that, but I say balls to them because it’s my rod, my back, and it makes my baby go to sleep.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The first time I did it was bizarre.  I walked downstairs feeling quite alone and peculiar.  I’m so used to her being with me that to be without her felt lonely.

She obviously heard my inner cries of despair and soon woke up, however, and so back up I went to do another breastfeed and another settle.

So far it is taking about an hour and a half from the first time she falls asleep to when she stays properly.  I’m going up and down, breastfeeding her quietly and then leaving again.

For the most part she’s not having a huge feed, she’s not crying because she’s hungry, she’s crying because she’s realising she’s alone and she doesn’t like it.  She’s never left alone.  I don’t feed her to fill her up, I feed her to reassure her, to comfort her.  To make sure she knows that if she needs me I’m there, she doesn’t need to be afraid, she’ll never be abandoned.  Over time she’ll start to take comfort in that fact and not wake up afraid that she’s alone because she’ll never fear that she’s alone.

Of course, I say that, but the big two still pile into our bed in the night because they don’t like being alone, but it usually takes a good few hours and really that’s all we need.

Some people don’t bother with a bedtime routine, indeed Jonathan didn’t with his ex wife for Z.  Z just stayed up until they went to bed.  Doing a bedtime routine isn’t something everyone subscribes to.  Then other’s do it earlier and more strictly.  My mother in law told me how from day one her boys were put to bed at bedtime and that’s how they learned.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

I couldn’t cope with never putting her to bed, I need my evenings.  I need my time away from children.   I need my time with Jonathan.  I need time to be quiet and wind down because children drain so much energy from me when I already have so little to give.

But I didn’t want to do a bedtime until I felt she was ready.  If she was feeding all evening then I’d rather have her with me so she could just be with the boobs she do desperately craved during those tiny months when all she wanted in the world was boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs.  And I do miss her.  She’s still so small I worry about her constantly when she’s not on me.  Of course, if I’m honest, I still worry about Miss Rose and have to repeatedly check that she’s surviving alone in bed throughout the evening too.  So I don’t suppose that will ever change.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Feminist Blog

Photo credit Iquaraishi

For now her bedtime routine is working.  It’s eating a good size chunk out of my evening with repeated return visits, especially when I don’t stay up late as it is, but I know it’s not forever.  It’s only until she adjusts to the change in her life and stops feeling so peculiar about being left alone.  The key is, and I definitely believe this, not give in.  When I did this with Rose it was my first baby and I didn’t know what to do so I just made it up, but I am certain this time around that giving in is how to derail the entire affair.  If I can stick it out and just do repeated boobs and repeated settles, she’ll soon be sleeping in her own crib in the evening just fine.

Of course, then we have to go through what happens when I stop breastfeeding.  Then what happens when she stops having a bottle.  But honestly, my rod, my back, my baby.  These are all bridges I’ll cross when I get to them.  For now this is what works and I’m sticking to it!

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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Morning Stories And Winding Down

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Recently I wrote about how I had failed my daughter.  I had tried to put her to bed when she hadn’t had an opportunity to wind down from the day, and taken out my frustration on her when she wouldn’t settle immediately.  I had shouted at her for not falling asleep because I was tired and needed a break.  But she was wide awake and cried her apologies to me whilst I felt like the most evil mother in the world.  I knew something had to change.

My step-son Z is, as we often find, polar opposite to Rose.  He can be running around screaming and dancing then go up to bed, lie down, and fall fast asleep two minutes later.  He doesn’t need to wind down, he doesn’t even really get tired. He just keeps going until he’s either told to go to sleep or naturally just falls to sleep on his own wherever he happens to be sitting.  Whereas I was keeping Rose downstairs with Z and all going up to bed together, expecting her to fall asleep despite her brain being so obviously different, we decided that Z would stay downstairs and I would go up with Miss Rose early.

The change has made a huge difference.

Photo credit ComFreak

Photo credit ComFreak

We go upstairs and we read what Miss Rose calls “morning stories” together.  Morning stories are the books we look at together during the day.  They’re picture books, counting books, lift the flap books.  Books she is an active part of, whereas bedtime books are the stories she lies down quietly in the dark listening to whilst I read them.

Giving her the wind down time sees her away from screens, away from noise and chaos, and simply sitting on her bed with me and looking at story books.  It calms her.  It gives her quiet and still and allows her brain to settle.  It also will quite often give her alone time with me, something special and rare these days, as if possible I will leave Baby Boo downstairs with her daddy and brother.  She’s still breastfeeding and in a bit of a clingy to mummy phase at times, but if I can leave her downstairs I do, because whilst Rose has never been angry with Boo for stealing my focus, it definitely does her good to have time alone with mummy.

The wind down with her morning stories, the quiet and calm, has reset her.  Instead of the complaining and fussing she has a lovely time looking at the books, counting, practicing her letters, telling me what’s going on in the book.  Then, without any complaint, she gets undressed, has a wee, brushes her teeth, and puts on her pyjamas.  She lies down in bed in the dark, cuddles her Rainbow Dash toy, and listens as I read her a book or tell her a story I make up.  Then she falls asleep.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Dagon

That night when I lost my mind at her, so tired, so frustrated, and shouted at her for not falling asleep when I wanted to is a huge piece of shame for me.  I know she needs time to settle because, just like me, her mind is racing.  She gets stimulated and full of thoughts and emotions and it buzzes around her brain, whizzing and whirring, and without allowing it time to settle how could she possibly fall asleep?  She’s not a little robot, I can’t programme her to fall asleep on command because it’s convenient to me.  I need to respect who she is and what she needs.  Reading her morning stories does that, and the evidence is clear in how happily and calmly she goes to bed afterwards.

If you’re struggling to get a child to fall asleep I’d recommend rethinking your process, I’d recommend morning stories.  The impact it has had on Miss Rose and her bedtime, her brain being allowed to slow down for the night, is remarkable.  She is so much happier about going to sleep, so much more relaxed.  And in turn so am I.

I hated myself that night.  The look of betrayal in her eyes as she sobbed whilst I shouted at her to go to sleep, the way she cried that she was sorry and the way her lips quivered as she clamped her eyes closed and desperately tried to fall asleep to please me.  I was horrible to her that night.  I wanted her to be a robot and ignored her humanity.  And I deserved to hate myself.

But I’ve corrected it and it has worked.  And I won’t make that mistake again.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

And So It Begins…

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Today my little baby girl, my first born, started her educational career.  Dressed proudly in her school cardigan, white collared t-shirt, grey pinafore dress and smart black shoes, she had her first session at nursery school.  My baby girl is growing up… SO.  DAMN.  FAST.

As if that wasn’t a big enough deal on it’s own, she also started the day by proudly throwing her bottles into the bin and declaring that she doesn’t need them because she’s a big girl, not a baby anymore.

She really isn’t a baby anymore.

We set off for school and she marched ahead, leading the way with long, excited strides, her Spiderman backpack bobbing away on her back and a huge grin on her face.  I imagined an emotional goodbye where I forcably held myself together as we exchanged a last cuddle before I was no longer her full time care giver, then waving to one another through the windows as I walked away before finally letting out the sobs once I was out of sight.

Reality?

The little madam was first in, barging past all the other children, and before I had hung her coat up on her peg she had vanished from sight into the classroom without even a glance over her shoulder.  Nothing.  Not even a goodbye.

I hovered, thrown by the distinct lack of significant farewell, until the kindly teacher advised me it was okay to leave and held the door open.  So I did.  I left my baby girl confidently taking in her surroundings and deciding what to conquer first and was taken out for lunch by my mother who, observing how much harder I was founding the entire process than my child, fed me burger and chips followed by a chocolate brownie and ice cream.

I neurotically checked my phone, making sure I had no phonecall advising me of a crisis in which Miss Rose needed me and only me (no such luck) and soon was told by my brother that he bet me a fiver that she’d make someone else cry before anyone made her cry.  My fragile, delicate flower baby has something of  reputation for being more of a tough cookie and potential thug than one might imagine of a three year old girl.

When we picked her up she happily came out then dropped to her knees to open her Spiderman bag and pull out the drawings she had done, then gave me a huge hug.  She was happy.  The teacher gave me a thumbs up when I shot her an anxious look and Miss Rose was all smiles.  It was fine!

Getting her home was a challenge… her legs were like jelly and she was too tired to speak properly or move.  And she’s heavy.  Between my mother and I we were eventually able to manouver her home, at one point me carrying her body whilst mum carried her legs, and collapsed her onto the sofa where she watched TV like a wounded invalid, occasionally grunting and wafting her arms in the air.

My big girl is a school girl.  She survived, I survived.

Then the challenge of big girl bedtime… going to bed and to sleep with no bottle of milk to settle her.

Ten minutes, half a reading of The Lion King, and lots of cuddles from her toy diplodocus Jeffrey and the child was snoring contentedly.  I shall write later about what I credit the calm transition from bottle to no bottle on, but for now suffice to say I am damn proud.  I’m proud of her for turning into such a confident and lovely little girl who copes with what life throws at her so admirably.  I’m proud of me.  I’m proud of me for raising her to be the girl she is and I’m proud of me for not having an emotional break down about losing her to the educational system I so loathed when I was growing up.

All in all?  Stuff feels positive right now.

She is on her path towards adulthood.  Now we just have school, puberty, and all that jazz to look forward to…  That emotional breakdown may still arrive yet…

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Tired Drunk

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Miss Rose is three years old and she is drunk.  Well, we call it drunk because as we both have plenty of experience in being actually drunk, we can recognise how similar it is.

She slurs her speech, stumbles around, and confuses reality with her imagination.  She laughs over things that aren’t there and randomly starts singing in the middle of converstions whilst waving her arms in the air.  If I thought she could get access to any booze I would be mighty suspicious.  But it’s not booze.  It’s tiredness.  She has huge bags under her eyes and begs to go to bed, usually from 4pm onwards until we finally give in after she’s had her dinner.  She is in a constant state of total exhaustion, and as she starts nursery school this term, we desperately need to do something about it or she won’t cope.

We have some theories about her tiredness.  One is to do with her other strange behaviour… because not only is my daughter a drunk, she is also an addict.  Her addiciton is to eating things she shouldn’t.

She will sneak under the dining room table to eat cardboard boxes.  She will tiptoe out of her bedroom at night to eat towels.  She will sit in the carseat on the way to places frantically ripping at her cardigan with her teeth.  She has eaten holes in carpets, shredded cushion covers, and destroyed blankets.  She is an addict.  She knows it’s wrong and gets very upset about it but she can’t stop.

She could be anaemic and we went to the hospital for blood tests (something she found so exciting that she keeps asking to go back).  If she is anaemic it could explain the extreme tiredness as well as the addiction and, hopefully, treating it will help.  Of course, if we treat the physiological need to eat things we might then have to battle the psychological addiciton side that has developed in response.

Another reason could be her love of milk.  She adores milk and she wants it in a bottle.  She put milk by her bed at night in case she need it in the night, which she invariably does.  For a while this was fine but as she is now toilet trained in the day, we fear that drinking in the night is making her wee more in the night, and the sensation of weeing in her nighttime nappy is waking her up.  Because she associates the suckling on milk with falling asleep, if she wakes in the night she drinks again.  And thus the cycle continues.

So we have to cut out the nighttime milk.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Blogger, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Matlachu

Now, I do realise that at 3 years old she doesn’t need a bottle of milk to fall asleep.  I am also aware that she doesn’t need milk in the night.  I know that I have (desite my loathing of this expression) made a rod for my own back.  I could have cut her off sooner but I chose not to.  She finds comfort in the milk, it relaxes her and helps her get back to sleep.  Denying her comfort when it was doing her no harm seemed pointless to me.  It seemed like something I would do to make my own parenting look better, rather than to actually benefit her.  She was happy, she was sleeping through the night, and that is what mattered to me rather than people giving me judgement face that she still has night milk.

However, now it is no longer to her benefit, and indeed could be to her detriment, it is time to make the change.

We are coinciding the change with her starting nursery school for two reasons.  1) Big girls go to school, babies have bottles.  She is desperate to be a big girl like her older cousin Jay, and extremely excited about starting school.  Babies who have bottles don’t get to go to school.

2) Z is being taken to Disney Land for a few days by his mother so, whilst we usually have him with us several nights a week, Miss Rose will have a rare time of several nights alone in her room.  The transition from milk to no milk is highly likely to include a few nights of loud and angry protest.  Dealing with one child at night in that state is hard enough without her waking Z and putting him into a similar tired, angry rage.

The plan is simple.  We have warned her it is coming and said she can drop the bottles sooner if she wants.  We have stopped giving her milk in a bottle in the day and she has it in a cup, much to her disgust.  Her nanny bought her a fancy new none spill beaker to have water in by her bed because I never want to deny her a drink if she’s thirsty, it’s the reliance on milk and suckling we need to sever.  She knows it’s coming.  Tonight is her last night of milk in a bottle at bedtime.

Part of me feels guilty for letting her have them so long, whilst part of me stands by my decision because I have things that comfort me that I don’t need, so I’m no better.  If it doesn’t hurt her, why stop it?  Part of me feels guilty for wanting to take them away from her when she loves them so much, but most of me knows that for her own well being it has to happen.

A large part of me is dreading the night we start.  I’m tired as it is.  I find massive comfort in her reliable and consistent bedtime, in the knowledge that I will definitely get a few hours in the evening to be a grown up and not in the company of a busy and exhausting toddler.  Getting her to bed and sleep is rarely a challenge and that is partly down to the milk.  Giving that up is a big deal for me because I don’t know what’s on the other side.  I don’t know if I will be like so many of my mummy friends and suddenly struggling to get her to go to bed and go to sleep every night.  Facing a battle every night instead of the relaxing time I have become so used to.

So wish me luck.  If you have any advice on how to make this transition easier for all of us I’d be grateful.  My little girl is growing up and soon she will be off to school in her little uniform, and sleeping at night without milk.   I know it will happen.  I just don’t know how hard getting to that point will be!

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Self Doubt

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

If another mother told me this story I am sure I would say “it’s not your fault” and “it’s just their age” and “you’re doing just fine”. But it’s not another mother, it’s me, and I am struggling.

Miss Rose has for a long time been a star at bedtime, charging up the stairs for “paste and teeth”, climbing into bed to listen to her story, have her milk, and snooze. It was so much of a guarantee that I didn’t worry about it at all, we just got on with it. It’s changed.

Last night was crisis point for me and resulted in me curled in a ball crying into The Boy’s lap, who had come upstairs after hearing the wailing from both of us through the baby monitor, whilst Miss Rose spat, shouted, and thrashed around. She was so angry, and so very upset, and so so tired that the anger and upset just got heightened.

“What am I doing wrong?” I asked The Boy.

In the next bed over was Z, sleeping soundly, who had fallen asleep within ten minutes of Harry Potter being read. Z had always been the bedtime challenge whilst Miss Rose was the easy one we could rely on to settle. Now, for whatever reason, Z will go off to sleep fine whilst Miss Rose is more and more frequently having a nuclear explosion size meltdown, complete with violence.

What am I doing wrong?

The Boy assures me that I am doing nothing wrong but she is a toddler and they go through phases. I know that, and I understand it, and I would say the exact same thing to any other mother. But seeing her in that state breaks me and makes me doubt my abilities as a mother.

Photo credit Counselling

Photo credit Counselling

In the morning, once we are all up having survived the night, the next challenge begins.

In between the squabbling and fighting that accompanies a morning alone with two year old step-siblings comes the challenge of breakfast. This instance is not a challenge for Miss Rose who happily hoovers down most food that is set in front of her, but no matter what I do, no matter what I try, I cannot get Z to eat for me.

This morning I put out two bowls of cereal, Miss Rose tucked into hers, Z pointedly ignored his. I tried a trick I have seen his grandmother use with success and sat him on my lap, and spoon fed some cereal into his mouth which he then spat out in fury. I gave up and, when Miss Rose had scoffed her cereal, I took the bowls away and made toast. I set the toast out, Miss Rose started in on hers whilst Z ignored his. I encouraged him but he howled and ran away. I didn’t force it and Rose soon cottoned on to this and ate his too. Last night she ate his dinner because equally he refused it.

I feel like a failure. I cannot get him to eat. I cannot get Miss Rose to settle calmly anymore.

Some how I have lost all the parenting skills that I so relied on and I am at a loss.

Last night I was so emotionally drained and exhausted from the entire experience that I could barely stay awake and had to go to bed early. Today I find myself profusely apologising for my failed efforts to his grandmother, who, just as The Boy did, assured me no apology was needed and that it isn’t my fault.

But I feel it. I am finding it hard, and admitting that is at times a bigger challenge than actually dealing with the situations with which I am presented.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Tag Team Of Doom

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

When one child plays up at bedtime it is, usually, relatively easy to deal with. It is tiring, stressful and frustrating, but once the battle is eventually won you can freely pass out in bed with a bottle of wine and Netflix on your iPad, swearing that you’ll never make more babies. However, when there are two of them, it is a little bit more complicated.

For the most part, Miss Rose and I have bedtime down to a fine art. She knows the signs and responds accordingly. She has a routine which she understands, then when we head upstairs to bed she knows why and is perfectly happy with it. She gets herself into bed, settles down with her warm milk to listen to her bedtime story, then dozes off. As she begins to nod off I stop reading, kiss her cheek, and leave. This can take anywhere from five minutes to twenty, depending on how much story she stays alert for, but it’s pretty much job done.

Photo credit Dagon

Photo credit Dagon

Of course, there are occasional nights when she plays up. She kicks the wall, she rolls around, she tries to begin inane conversations about how there are flowers on the wall paper. She points at shadows, shouts “NO BED MUMMY” and turns the duvet into a tent. She demands endless soft toy bed companions and then asks for The Boy to come and do her story instead of me. Each of these efforts to distract is ignored or rejected by me, and eventually she gives up and the normality returns.

However, if there is one thing Miss Rose loves more than anything else it is an audience. The Boy’s son Z is a superb audience for a number of reasons.

Z does not like bedtime. A bedtime routine is new to Z. Miss Rose has had this routine ingrained into her for nearly two years but for Z it’s all new and he is distinctly unimpressed.  When we announce it is time to go upstairs to brush teeth to them Miss Rose trots off to the stairs calling “paste and teeth, Z!” as she goes. Z objects. Loudly.

After teeth are brushed and we have placed them in bed, Z continues to object. Even more loudly. Miss Rose calls his name, climbs out of bed, kicks the wall, hits the wall, throws soft toys around, pulls the blanket over her head. Z remains unimpressed and continues to wail. Eventually, if she persists for long enough, Z’s determination to be angry begins to break and he starts to giggle in between sobs which, quite frankly, is enough to convince Miss Rose than she is a comedy genius and her efforts heighten. The increased comedy from the girl’s bed makes the boy’s bed quiet. Z watches, chuckles, and has his milk whilst enjoying the show. I battle with Miss Rose, continually lying her back down and telling her no.

Eventually the battle is won and Miss Rose settles down. Quiet from the girl’s bed is, of course, a sign that the boy’s bed must then become LOUD. The Boy then is confronted with his turn to battle with a toddler on the rampage. Screaming and wailing so loud it could be heard three streets over.

When Z is being particularly loud, there is no hope in settling Miss Rose. She behaves beautifully however, occasionally asking why Z is crying, but generally we chat or she listens to her bedtime story. This is, of course, until The Boy manages to cajole Z into settling down and giving in on his eternal battle to not have to go to sleep, despite being exhausted.

Quiet from the other side of the room? Now, obviously, Miss Rose must resume her efforts.

When there is just one, if it plays up you know you get peace once it settles down. When they tag team you, THERE IS NO PEACE. One being quiet means the other must be loud. A seemingly endless turn taking enterprise which, baring in mind how often we are telling them to stop fighting and take turns with things, is actually remarkably impressive.

Did they work this out behind our backs? Does Z’s baby babble actually translate into cunning plans of world dominating supervillain style geniuses? Are we doomed? Are The Boy and I going need a mini fridge full of booze by the bed?

That last one actually doesn’t sound so bad…

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Raising Steps

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Everyone has their own way of parenting; tried and tested means of getting the best out of life for both yourself and the child you’re responsible for. Everyone does it slightly differently and, because different doesn’t mean better or worse, everyone ends up with different results. So long as your children are raised with love and raised with kindness I think everything else comes second.

I was responsible for deciding on Miss Rose’s parenting style. When her bio-dad was around he respected that, as the primary care giver and (let’s be honest) the more likely to have a strong opinion on the subject one, that it was my final say. After he left it was entirely down to me. We have together worked out routines that have come and gone, changed and adapted, until we have a system that works for us. We have well established rules, patterns and life styles. Miss Rose and I had our life together worked out.

When The Boy came into the mix he had to fall in line with how she is raised. In the time we have been together the changing and adapting has continued, but the basic structure and rules have remained. This was over two years of work between mother and daughter which has to be allowed to continue and, because he is understanding and patient, he slotted in without question. Opinions were offered when asked for but basically he stepped back and unquestioned me as leader.

Now it’s my turn.

Because we spend more and more time with Z, and the children are expected to function together, the differences in parenting styles are often quite apparent. It’s easier when you’re stepping into an already functioning household, but when two collide and two differently raised children with two different routines and different expectations are expected to function simultaneously it can be tricky.

As this is Miss Rose’s only home, and Z’s second, there was a degree of Z having to fit in with Miss Rose as she is here full time and thrives on cosistency. But still, I have to stand back from the situation and allow his mother and father’s parenting style to take the forefront.

It works but it’s tricky sometimes.

For instance, Miss Rose’s fixed bedtime had always been a priority for me. As I am with her all day, every day, I get to bedtime and crave adult time. Alone time or time in the company of other people with a firmer grasp of the english language who enjoy watching American Horror Story more than Peppa Pig. My mother never had that with my brother and I. She worked full time so evenings were her child time, her time to be with us and be “mum”. Because Z’s mum works full time she has the same attitude, and he is used to staying up until she goes to bed, so suddenly finding himself put to bed at a child friendly time with Miss Rose was a shock to the system and is a rule he sometimes accepts with a degree of irritation, and at other times fights in new and creative ways. Part of me wants to do what I would do with Miss Rose in that situation, but I can’t, it’s not my child. It’s their child.

I’m a bit of a control freak and like to be in charge of my home. Outside the home not so much, but here I am a bossy cow. I know full well that how Z is raised works for them and is just as good as how Miss Rose is raised, but because it’s under my roof I have urges to take charge and do it my way.

The Boy managed this back seat taking with Miss Rose with grace. He is an active and involved parent, takes responsibility for her, disciplines her, reassures her and loves her, but all within the existing structure of how I have set out. I am following his lead with Z, allowing Z’s parents to decide how and why things are done they way they are done, but being the non-bio parent of a child you are partly responsible for the caring and raising of is hard! My house but not my rules. A kid I love and care for, but not  a kid I choose the rules for.

Fortunately The Boy and I are both respectful of both one another as people and one another as parents. Respecting that choices are made different to our own is easy, and we have two pretty awesome kids to show the successes of different parenting styles from.

This is still all new and everyone is still getting used to the blending of families and lives. In time everything will be the new normal. The way things work for us now. Until then we adapt, we develop and we learn.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!