Tag Archives: routine

Baby’s C.V

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.

NAME

Baby Boo

DOB

July 2016

ADDRESS

Wherever Mummy’s Boobs Are

EDUCATION

I have studied under the masters; my big sister and big brother.  Under their tutorage I have mastered the arts of fake crying when I want something, and throwing things when I don’t.

SPECIAL SKILLS

Clapping

Raspberry Blowing

Roaring

Growling

Falling off things

Crawling into things

Grabbing things

Biting

SPECIAL INTERESTS

I am passionately interested in remote controls and mobile phones, and I have developed, through an intense period of training, the impressive ability to retrieve them from even the most discreet locations.

Baby wipes hold a certain appeal to me.  I find pulling them all from the package and tasting each one individually to be incredible rewarding.  Indeed, I believe I am now something of a connoisseur.

I am very musically minded.  I have a piano which plays a tune that appeals to me greatly and I like to play it on repeat.  My mummy’s reaction is particularly entertaining to me; her face contorts into hilarious expressions after the seventh time through.  I am also developing skills in percussion.  I have several rattling devices which can be smacked against a variety of surfaces to create different sounds, such as tables, chairs, walls and heads.

WORK GOALS

I believe I am most suited to shift work.  I am very comfortable working late nights and early morning.  Indeed I often insist everyone gets up at 1AM just for the pleasure of experiencing such rarely appreciated hours.

I would do well in a creative role.  When presented with a bowl of pasta or soup I am able to, with minimal effort create works of art so incredible that my Mummy takes photographs whilst crying out “Oh my God” and “Look at you” and “Nobody step in it!” due to her desire to preserve my creations for the maximum time possible.

I have excellent leadership skills and would suit a role in management.  I am able to elicit the desired responses from my family with ease, indeed their entire structure has been reshaped simply to accommodate my arrival into the workplace.  If I am able to achieve that within days of my birth, imagine what I’ll do over the following years.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLEAGUES

I have excellent interpersonal skills.

My Mummy seems extremely willing to cater to my needs and willingly involves me in all her daily activities.  I am privy to such things as toilet use, showering, cooking, cleaning, wine drinking and crying.  I am allowed unfettered access to her breasts, indeed on occasion I have demanded access simply because I haven’t seen them in some time.  On being presented I am satisfied and refuse them, just to make sure she knows I am boss.

My Daddy clearly worships the ground I crawl on, and even though he regularly fails me by not offering me his own breasts, he seems most determined to achieve my happiness despite a substandard body.

My brother and sister seem very taken with me and allow me to take their toys without complaint.  When they do attempt complaint they are reminded that I am indeed only a baby and therefore their job is to accommodate my needs.  This is one of my favourite aspects of my currant position and I intend to make use of this for at least the next fifteen years.  Possibly more.

The Grandparents are particularly superb at catering to my needs.  A simple smile or fart elicits celebration of my skill and wonder beyond anything the ordinary family members have achieved in months.  I am certain that should our business relationship continue I will be able to engage in many hours of unprecedented chocolate eating, that which the Mummy and Daddy would no doubt attempt to complain about should they be privy.  I, however, know how to keep the workplace running smoothly and operate a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell.

PERSONAL STATEMENT

I, Baby Boo, believe no finer baby exists.  I am marvellous.  I am incredible.  Admire my toes, there are ten of them.  Ten!  And have you seen my thighs?  I am regularly reminded that they are fantastic and “squishable”.  I will fill any home with laughter.  I will fill any heart with love.  I am, quite simply, a wonder of the modern age.

 

 

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!

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!

8 Things I Learned From My Book Party

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.

I attended my very first book release party on Tuesday.  Not just any book release party, the book release party for my own book.

As well as food and drink, laughter and fun, books being signed and photos being taken, there are things that I learned.

1. Getting glammed up is fun.

J.J. Barnes, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic RabbitI work from home as I write for a living.  I don’t go out much because I’m a tired mum.  When I do go out it’s usually for a curry.  Getting glamorous isn’t my natural state, at least not anymore.  When I was younger it was, but those days are long gone.

At 4PM, Miss Rose and I had appointments at the salon to get our hair done for the party so we could be at our most glamorous.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit

Miss Rose had requested Rainbow Hair so we went armed with a box of hair chalks and my goodness she looked incredible.

For me I simply said “I’m not glamorous… but I want to be!”

My head is not used to be primped at and pulled around so it was an odd experience but one that resulted in some gorgeous hair full of golden butterflies that Lilly Prospero herself would be proud of.J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, Rose and Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit

When I got home and did my make up, got the girls into their new dresses and me into mine, I actually felt pretty fabulous.  I admired myself.  I looked nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start making all this effort normally, leggings and slippers is something I am very comfortable with as a fashion choice, but every so often it’s fun to feel glamorous.

2. I am not a natural party animal.

In the build up to the party I was frantically busy.  Media had to be alerted, food had to be chosen, decorations organised.  There were meetings to meet at, interviews to conduct, invitations to send.  The build up I felt quite natural at, I felt quite confident.  Even on the day I felt alright, getting ready to leave was fun.  But then it was actually time to go.

Driving my children and Jonathan McKinney to The Swan Hotel in Stafford, where the event was being held, was one of the worst driving experiences of my life.  I was physically shaking.  I felt sick.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt.  My hairdo felt too tight, my dress felt too restrictive, I struggled to breathe.  I wanted to go home.

Most people headed to the most important party of their lives that they’ve been working so hard towards would feel like Jonathan McKinney felt; excited and happy.  Me?  No.  I felt like I was dying.

Jon was calming and gentle.  Focus on one thing at a time, he said.  All I had to do at that moment was drive us to The Swan.  It’s a drive I’d done loads of times, a drive I know really well.  That was all that I was doing.  Just focus on that.

3.  Our products are bloody brilliant!

It’s easy to get anxious about what it is you’re offering the world when it’s about to be presented on such a grand scale.  What if the books are rubbish?  What if the merchandise is crap?J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress

As we posed in front of our book covers, smiling as people snapped various pictures of us, I realised that actually these books are fantastic!  People there were fans, people who’d read one or both books, and loved them enough to come and celebrate them with us and tell newbies all about them.

It was an odd surge in confidence.  One I greatly needed.  I smiled and I actually felt quite confident for the first time that evening!J.J. Barnes. Jonathan McKinney, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress

Our books looked good on the shelves around the room, the posters celebrating our books and quotes from inside looked brilliant.  The Siren Stories mugs put out as gifts for the guests looked beautiful and the whole room was looking ready to do it’s job.

4. Our family are so very proud.

My parents, his parents, my grandparents, and his brother all came.  Family showed up from miles away to support us.J.J. BArnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit  They were genuinely proud.

Jonathan McKinney and I both come from successful families.  Our brothers are all in careers where people are able to go “wow” and “ooh” when our parents talk about their accomplishments.  Until now we have been unpublished struggling writers, and none of that gives the required “ooh”.

It hasn’t stopped our families being proud, indeed my mum and dad have found reasons to brag about me my entire life, even when I’ve seen nothing there worth bragging about, they have always found something.  And I’m a major screw up so they’ve had to be damn determined at times.  But bless them, no matter what, they’ve always succeeded.

At this party I finally felt that their pride was justified.  That my mum’s smiling face as she posed for photos with me was deserved.  Sure, we’re not hugely successful yet and our debut novels are mostly unknown, but they’re there.  We’ve achieved something huge.  My mum can hold her head high now when people ask how I’m doing, and she can brag about more than my ability to eat an entire 15″ pizza alone in one sitting.

Our parents have published authors for children.  They can be proud of us.  And they are.

5. High heels are the invention of the devil.

I used to go out dancing in high heels until 4 in the morning.  I used to wear high heels to work in an office.  I used to wear high heels just for the fun of it because they’re so pretty.  I own a collection of high heels so beautiful and sky scraping that Carrie Bradshaw would be proud.

I wore some comparatively low high heels to the party.  Black, sparkly, gorgeous.  They went perfectly with my dress.

One blister, one agonising ingrowing toenail, and one twisted ankle later I furiously removed the stupid things and stuffed them under a chair.  Evil.

6. Working Mums are always on mum duty.

Miss Rose is usually asleep between 6 and 6.30 every night.  She gets tired and she asks for bed.  She thrives on routine and structure, her stories and sleep being an essential part of the day she looks forward to.  She never asks to stay up late.

Adrenaline carried her far.  We arrived at 6, the party started at 7.  As things were set up she and Z charged around excitedly, posed for family photos, and played with the toys they had brought.  As people arrived she was admired by strangers, cuddled by friends and family.  She had been looking forward to this party for weeks, telling everyone she knew about it, and thrilled to finally be there.

At half past 8 she crashed and she crashed hard.

Grandma was deployed to step into the breach and get her home for a Grandma sleepover.  But getting her out to the car involved her screaming hysterically, begging not leave me, and being carried out of the party so I could hold her in my lap and calm her down as she desperately sobbed and begged me to go with her.

Then there was Baby Boo.  Throughout the evening I was stopping to give her cuddles and the occasional breastfeed, but she was, for the most part, remarkably contented being handed between her nanny and her grandma and various family and friends.  She had photos, ate spring rolls, and generally loved every moment.

Then we went live on Facebook to announce the winner of a signed copy of Emily The Master Enchantress.

Then she started to scream.

If you check out the Siren Stories page and watch our video, you’ll hear Boo in the background, then witness me disappear as soon as Jonathan starts signing to book, and return moments later with a newly calmed Boo in my arms.

I spent most of the rest of the party sitting down, cradling her and feeding her.  She had reached her limits too but, unlike Miss Rose, couldn’t be whisked away by Grandma.

7. Despite my fear, the party was a success.

As I looked around the room and snapped photos for social media, I realised something.  Everyone was smiling.

JJ. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master EnchantressJonathan chatted to fans and friends with his trademark amiable smile, easy and engaging conversation, and generosity of spirit.  Everywhere I looked there were smiles and enthusiasm.

The food was good, and it was eaten enthusiastically.  The waiters carrying around drinks were friendly and charming, the drinks were delicious.

Everywhere I went people greeted me warmly, asked me to sign books and pose for photos.  Nobody looked bored or like they wished they hadn’t come.J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Rose and Mum And More, Lilly PRospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The MasterEnchantress

Proof reader Zoe was laughing her head off with her friends and taking selfies.  Illustrator Sarah had managed to get there despite recent knee surgery and was drinking and chatting with a huge smile on her face.  Friends were meeting for the first time and sharing thoughts on our books, bits that they liked most, parts that brought them to tears.

Despite my greatest fears, despite my head being full of fireworks of panic I was desperately trying to ignore, the party was a success.

8. I’m going to have to do it all again.

The releases of Lilly Prospero And The Mermaid’s Curse by me, and The Fundamental Miri Mnene by Jonathan McKinney will coincide again, and so forth will come another release party.

Will I be so nervous next time?

Probabably.

Let’s be honest, the likelihood is I’ll never get full used to this.  My natural habitat is that of a hermit, locked up quietly in a room with a laptop, some jazz music playing quietly in the background, and a steaming cup of coffee at my side.

But perhaps somewhere beneath the fear of impending vomit will be the memory of the success of this party.  The memory that fans, old and new, have wanted to gather to celebrate this occasion.  The knowledge that the positivity we received has not gone away.

Next time will be another fabulous dress, another spread of delicious food, and another party full of books to be signed.

But for now I’ll ride high on the experience of last time, and put the fact I’ve got to go through it all again out of my mind.  Because it was brilliant.  And it’s not every day you get to attend a party celebrating your first novel.

I’ll never get a first book party again, I’ll never write a first novel again.  So I’m glad this one happened with such a lovely evening to commemorate 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!

It’s Just Emotions Taking Me Over

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.

I’ve written many times about the striking differences between my eldest daughter and my step son.  Their emotional states are a true example of how different they are, and on a weekend away on the moors it was never so clearly demonstrated.

Miss Rose has mood swings, and her moods are very easily changed.  If you imagine your moods on a scale of 1 to 10, she’ll reside around the 8 mark.  She will be cheerful and happy, excitable and incredibly positive.  She is full of love and enthusiasm.  A real joy.  Then she’ll drop incredibly fast to a 2.  She’ll start to cry, she’ll need to take herself away from the room and have “alone time” to try and cope.  She’ll curl in a ball, hide her face and cry in despair over the tiniest of stimuli.

Then there’s the times she hits 10 or 0.  She will shoot to a 10 and be absolutely manic.  She can hardly hear you.  She’s excited to the extreme, visibly shaking.  The drop to a 0 is horrible.  She’s broken.  She cries, she screams, she can hardly breathe.  She has been sick because the crying has been so extreme.  She thrashes around.  She’s had full on panic attacks.  It breaks my heart, and it’s incredibly hard to cope with.

Then Z is the opposite.  He’s a constant 5.  Occasionally he’ll get excited and rise to a 7.  Occasionally he’ll get sad and drop to a three.  But mostly he bobs along about a 5.  The only time he truly wavers is when he gets angry, and that can overwhelm him, but as long as nothing triggers that in him he’s just a standard 5.

Last weekend we went away for a weekend on the moors.  Miss Rose was homesick.  Z wasn’t bothered, he’ll go wherever he needs to go.  Miss Rose desperately missed her nanny.  Z missed his mum but no more than the other times he goes without her.  Meal times were different and Miss Rose needs her meals, Z prefers to go without food.  Nights were late and Miss Rose gets incredibly tired, whereas Z will just carry on regardless until he’s told to go to bed.  Miss Rose was desperate to please and felt social pressure to perform, Z is unbothered by what people want of him and is just himself regardless of circumstances.

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

Photo credit Pezibear

Miss Rose’s emotional state is massively impacted by all of those things.  Z’s is not.  Z wasn’t being forced to eat anything he didn’t want so didn’t get upset.  Nobody took his toys so he didn’t get upset.  Nobody tried to touch him, hug him, pick him up, so he didn’t get upset.  All the triggers that might bring about a mood fluctuation or anger didn’t happen.  Miss Rose was on the edge of an emotional breakdown all weekend.

Not only was Miss Rose struggling with her emotions, often curling in a ball and sobbing, needing cuddles and reassurances, often becoming so emotional she just had to be carried away to calm down in a quiet space, but she was extra tired so she was even more clumsy than her already clumsy self.  She fell off the sofa, she fell off the chair, she fell off the toilet.  She slipped in the shower, she ran into the wall, she cracked her head on a worktop.  She fell in the garden, she broke her thumb nail on the wall.

Life for Z will always be easier in so many ways.  His emotional calm means he’ll never hit the lows Miss Rose hits.  He never gets tired enough to lose control of his physical abilities.  Life will be easier in so many ways because he’ll just handle everything that’s thrown at him with his usual unflappable way.   Notices where he is, who else is there, what’s going on, and just ambles on, whereas it all impacts Miss Rose in huge, huge ways.

But Z will never hit the highs either.  Because even though Miss Rose’s highs can reach almost intolerable levels of high, they’re still high and she feels amazing.  She feels joy like nobody else.  Z is known as “hard to impress” whereas anything you present Rose with she thinks is the most amazing thing in the world.  She is the most brilliant person to give gifts to.  Her grandma often brings her a Starburst (her favourite sweets) and she recently commented how every time she presents them to her, her face absolutely lights up, her mouth is wide and her eyes are sparkling, like they’re the most wonderful thing in the world she never gets to see, even though it’s practically every time she sees Grandma, which is practically every day.

I understand how hard Miss Rose will find life sometimes.  I understand because that’s how I find life.  That’s how my mum finds life, that’s how my aunty finds life, and that’s how my grandfather found life.  Life is full of joy and wonder, but also full of emotional pain.

JJ. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly PRospero Series, Rose And Mum And More,, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Greyer Baby

All I can do for Rose is try and teach her ways to manage it.  I am still learning but I’m getting there.  When I feel the low coming I know I need to funnel that energy into something that course corrects me.  I rearrange furniture because it gives me a sense of control and takes all the energy and focus off the dark cloud that is forming.  When I feel the highs I am able to write and I write well.  I will write chapters and chapters of my books because I have this energy soaring through me that I can apply in ways that are helpful.

The hard times come when I am unable to manage it.  As much as I can teach these coping mechanisms to Rose they won’t help on these weekends away when you’re taken away from the things you’ve learned to use to cope.  And sometimes no matter how hard you try to funnel that energy there’s nothing that helps anyway and you just have to ride the wave feeling ridiculously amazing with no outlet, or desperately low with no support.  And I can’t save her from that.  It’s who she is.

Our children are so remarkably different it really does strike you.  Their emotional states both bring advantages and disadvantages, depending on what’s happening in their lives at the time.  All we can do is work with them, help them understand themselves, and hope to steer them into lives that are as full of joy as possible.

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!

When Will I Stop Breast Feeding?

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.

I’ve been breastfeeding baby B since birth and she’s now seven and a half months.  For the first five and a half months she only had milk from me, and then I started introducing solids and now she’s a huge food fan as well as being a true devotee of the boob.

So the question starts coming up a lot now, when will I stop breastfeeding?

I fed Rose until nearly 11 months.  I had hoped to go for a year but actually was happy to stop when I did.  I was feeling trapped and frustrated by the process, I was hoping to get her onto a bottle for at least part of the time but she wouldn’t go near one, and finally my body made the choice for me.  She couldn’t get enough milk out and was getting upset and angry, biting me and crying, and I finally said it was time.  I had missed my goal of a year but it was time.

With Boo, who knows?

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

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum 2 years of breastfeeding.  Whilst I have no negative feelings about the idea of breastfeeding for 2 years, I’m also not wedded to the idea.  I understand why it is best for her, and part of me thinks I should be more dedicated to achieving 2 years, but I’m not.  I might do it, it would be nice to, but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up over it.

I know I’m not keen to stop now regardless of what the health recommendations are, but equally so I’d like her to start taking a bottle as well.

I don’t want to stop because I love it.

I love that it’s something special for she and I that nobody else has with her.  She’s such a social creature, loves going to others, has no anxiety when she can’t see me.  Selfishly, I am aware, the fact that she depends on me for breast feeding gives me a feeling of being special in her life.  I know that I’m her mummy and I’ll always be special, I’ve not breastfed Rose for more than 3 years but I’m still very definitely special in her life.  But still, this babyhood dependency on breasts is incredibly short lived.  I’m not ready to lose it.

I love that it calms her and soothes her.  When she had her vaccinations she cried, but as soon as I stuck a nipple in her mouth she calmed down immediately and started suckling happily.  When she’s rolled off her play mat and hit her head on a chair she’s cried, but breastfeeding instantly calmed her again.  When she’s been poorly being able to snuggle into my chest and feed has calmed her when she’s been at her worst.  I am not keen to give that up.  When Rose is distressed it takes so much more than just popping a boob out and latching her on.  She needs so much more.  The simplicity of breastfeeding to end her pain, reassure her she’s safe, make her illnesses less distressing, it’s something incredible and I don’t want to lose that.

I love that it settles her to sleep.  When she’s tired, rubbing her eyes and getting grouchy, she will fall asleep with cuddles sometimes, or just where she is.  But most of the time she gets crankier and crankier as she gets more and more tired.  A sure fire way to settle a tired and irritable baby is by cuddling her up with a breastfeed.  She sucks away until she falls asleep with an arm around my boob and snuggles in, completely contented.  When Rose is tired and irritable it takes more.  She needs stories and darkness and calm, she needs wind down and settling.  Sometimes she’s so tired that she won’t go to sleep, as bizarre as that seems to me.  Giving up that easy settle of breast feeding isn’t something I’m keen to race to.

In a similar vane I love that breast feeding keeps the nights quiet.  Other than occasions when she has a cranky night, the baby at night is the easiest one in the house to deal with.  She falls asleep in her co-sleeper crib then, at some point in the night, shuffles her way into our bed and latches on to my boob.  If she wakes up she just reattaches herself and goes back to sleep.  If she’s sad she reattaches herself and feels better.  There’s no walking around in circles trying to settle her.  There’s no crying baby disturbing the whole house.  I don’t even have to sit up.  She just attaches herself and we all sleep soundly.  Of course, the downside is I have to sleep in the same optimal breastfeeding position every night which gives me a bit of cramp, and I have to sleep with my boobs out which drips milk onto our sheets, but that is far preferable to any alternative.  I don’t worry about night time.  The big kids, on the other hand, with Rose’s separation anxiety and Z’s night terrors, can be quite a challenge.  Indeed, the night time is the time I’m most keen to keep feeding through!

So, with all these positives, why would I want to stop?

Well, I don’t fully want to stop yet but equally so I’d value her being able to take a bottle occasionally for a number of reasons.

I want some alone time with my man.  I miss him.  We’ve only ever been parents in our relationship, we had none of those heady child free days even when we were first dating, but we did occasionally have nights off where we’d send the children to grand parents and we’d go out for dinner, have a few too many drinks, then come home and (mum, look away for a moment) get down to some seriously excellent sex.  Our love life and dating life is now done on the hurry.  It’s quick whilst the baby is asleep.  It’s let’s go out for dinner but somewhere that’s pram accessible, and never with too many drinks.  I’d love a night to just be with him.  I miss him.

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

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

With two bigger children I am sometimes a little unable to parent them properly because I’m attached to a baby.  If a fight breaks out or a toilet crisis occurs I either need to leave the bigs unattended in a time of need, or pull a feeding baby off my nipple and let her scream in despair whilst I sort them out.  If she took a bottle I could sort out both.

As work gets more and more busy, meetings occurring and events that I need to attend, I’m either taking the baby with me or I’m leaving her.  Currently leaving her can only happen for an hour or two at a time before she needs another feed, or I can take her and breastfeed at the time.  I’ve been perfectly happily getting on with breastfeeding her in various locations and have no embarrassment about doing it, but there are times it’s tricky.  I have to find somewhere to sit, sometimes not easy, I can’t walk around, meaning sometimes things have to be delayed to accommodate it.  It’s possible but it poses a challenge, and one which I could avoid if she took a bottle enough for her to go to her grandmothers for the duration of a work event.

What I definitely don’t want again is the all-or-nothing I had with Rose.  She absolutely wouldn’t take a bottle and when I physically couldn’t feed her anymore she was forced to scream and scream whilst her father tried to force her onto a bottle and I sat downstairs crying.  I hated it.  I hated myself.  I felt like a failure and a cruel and horrible mother.  My ideal situation would be that she will take a bottle happily, and continue to breast feed until she naturally comes to a stop because she and I are both ready.  Perhaps before 2 years, perhaps after, I’m not committed to either, but at a time that feels right for the two of us.

Until then?  Until then I’ll just keep making bottles available for her and I’ll keep feeding for as long as I physically can.  My relationship is stable and not suffering for our lack of alone time and I’m managing to balance working and parenting a baby in a way that is definitely hard but somehow I’m muddling through, and the bigs are remarkably accommodating and accepting of the new situation.  We are not at a point where I’m even considering forcing her off completely, but we are at a point where I can see the definite benefit of her taking both a boob and a bottle.

How long we’ll go for I honestly don’t know, but for the time being I’m definitely not looking to stop.

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!

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!

Nanny The Weekend Dad

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.

Grandparents can be incredibly important and special people in the lives of children.  They love you as much as your parents do, but they don’t have to do all the telling off and rule making.  Their cuddles are just as good and they come with sweets before dinner.

That said, for my two bigs, my daughter Miss Rose and my step son Z, their grandmothers have become something even more than a traditional grandparent role.

Since he was 7 months old Z has spent weekdays with his grandma as both his parents work full time.  She did his naps, his meals, his bath times.  She took him to playgroups and taught him to ride a bike.  Whilst she would never replace his parents in his heart, she very much became a third parental figure in his life.  Not a grandma for naughty treats and visits, but a consistent and depended on parent figure to do disciplining and raising as well.

In Z’s life, where he is bumped from his mother’s home to his father’s home to his grandmother’s home, it is a positive.  Knowing he sees every home he spends time in as a place here a parent he depends on is, it gives him security everywhere and doesn’t leave him pining for something that is missing.

For Miss Rose her relationship with her nanny, my mother, is something different again.  Last night is struck us exactly what it is.

As Miss Rose sat on the stairs, clutching a photograph of her nanny to her chest, and sobbing huge tears of sadness, we realised something.

Nanny is her weekend dad.

When her biological father left, my mum stepped in to become something he had taken with him.  Whilst I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, struggling not only with the collapse of my marriage, the vanishing of my husband and the sudden thrust into single parenthood, but also existing mental health issues, my mum became her dad.  When I needed help my mum was it.  When I was struggling to pay for things, my mum paid.  When I needed a break my mum cared for her.  When I needed to make a parenting decision, it was my mum I made it with.

In Miss Rose’s world, where her real father disappeared, my mother stepped in.  Where my mother stepped in she became daddy number 2.  She didn’t fill the void left by her father, but she came close.

Photo Credit Hannah Pirnie

Photo Credit Hannah Pirnie

My mum was depended on in a way more than a grandmother for visits.  Much like Z and his grandma, nanny became one of Miss Rose’s parents.

Then I met The Boy.

When The Boy came into her life he didn’t take the daddy role immediately.  He was a stranger and my mother was already there.  Indeed, he’s spoken about how he often felt he had to be conscious of not treading on her parenting toes with Rose, far more than he felt it about mine.  He couldn’t overstep his mark because my mum was the protective parent, and he was the newbie.

However, over time The Boy became Daddy.  He is now depended on as much as any biological father would be.  He does the fun, the games, the discipline and the worry.  He loves her, cares for her, raises her.  It’s he who steps in when I need help.  It’s he who I discuss my parenting concerns with.  He is daddy.

But that means my mother and I had to break up.  My mum had to stop being the father figure to allow The Boy to take that job.  My mum became the weekend dad.

When her biological father used to visit, sporadically though it was, Miss Rose would immediately have a breakdown as soon as he left.  She would scream and cry and tantrum, she would break her heart and take out her frustration and confusion about his leaving on me.  Now when my mother leaves it’s the same deal.

Nanny does everything a weekend dad does, both good and bad.  Nanny spoils her, taking her for trips and buying her ice cream.  Nanny helps financially paying for things she needs.  Nanny comforts her, gives her someone to depend on.  It’s Nanny she cries for when Mummy and Daddy have thwarted her.  Nanny loves her fiercely, is loyal to a fault, and puts Rose’s needs in the forefront of her mind like any good parent would.  But sometimes Nanny promises to show up and has to cancel.  Nanny makes decisions that I, as the mother, have to over rule and become the bad guy in.  Nanny disagrees with parenting choices I make and has to be shot down because I’m the one who would deal with the consequences.  Nanny comes and goes.

Nanny and I broke up as parents of Rose, and it’s Rose who’s living with the consequences.  Nothing about her grandmothering would be out of place in a regular grandmother, but in the light of her stepping in as a daddy role, it leaves Miss Rose grieving for the absent father who is still in her life;my mother.  She is left with an open wound from her biological father, and now a constant scratching from her second father.

Her third father and I promise her we love her, promise her we’re here for her, and give her the consistency and stability she needs and craves.  She is better for us being together and, over time, my mother will morph from daddy number two into just a grandmother.  Over time she’ll be able to wave goodbye to my mum with a smile and a cuddle, and not break into little pieces because her heart is being ripped out by the absence.  She is only four years old and my mother was who she depended on second only to me for a huge portion of her life and it’s still very fresh.  Over time it will ease.

Photo credit PeziBear

Photo credit PeziBear

But until then we have to try to understand what she’s going through.  When she reacted like this to her biological father’s absence, when he expressed his opinions on her raising and we disagreed, it was a given.  We understood it, we expected it.  We hadn’t fully taken into account that it is the same emotions raging through Miss Rose where my mum is concerned and it’s something we need to respect.

I am so very grateful to my mum for being so essential in Rose’s life and caring for her as much as she does, she is and always has been an incredible parent, to both me and Miss Rose.  I am so grateful that The Boy has stepped in to become the father she truly needs and deserves.  And together we are all muddling through trying to raise a little girl to be happy, and dealing with the complexities of a patchwork family that so many of us are facing in our own unique ways.

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!