Tag Archives: independence



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

I was up in London again this weekend, this time with Leigh to catch up with old friends.

It wasn’t really an occasion that Arthur could join us for, so he went to stay with Grampa and Mimi. He was so excited in the couple of days leading up to it. It took us ages to be comfortable with leaving him overnight, and all the while we were warned that our reticence would make him way too clingy. It is really lovely now to see him so self-assured that he relishes his opportunities for independence.

Mind you, when a sleepover with his grandparents involves picking apples and blackberries to make pie, collecting sticks on evening walks in the woods and playing ball games with his doggy friends, it isn’t really surprising.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

We have had a day of ‘getting things done’ today, which has meant that for much of it Arthur has been left to his own devices.

Sometimes, that’s a disaster.

But today, with Leigh and I busying ourselves with organising and tidying and planting, he has been a little star.

I found him at one point this afternoon with his balance bike upside down, bits of twigs strewn around him. I asked what he was doing, and he told me he was using his bike as a stick cutter. Obviously.

I’m still not entirely sure what that meant, but he was clearly utterly absorbed in experimentation. And rocking quite a cool outfit too…

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 



There is no denying it: my little baby is growing up.

Since he turned two ten days ago, it is almost as though a switch has been flicked. He wants his own space, to do things at his own pace, in his own way and his own time.

It’s almost left me feeling lonely this week. Leigh has had a crazy week, having to stay up in Exeter for two consecutive nights because of shift patterns and deadlines. Arthur has generally been great company, but he’s been utterly determined to eat alone, sitting at his little blue table on his little blue chair.


He clearly loves the autonomy of it, taking advantage of it at times to get up and wander around. I’ve watched him from my seat on the big table, missing my dinner companion in his highchair.

He has been testing his freedoms at bedtime too. We took the side off his cot a week or so ago, once it was obvious that he was perfectly capable of climbing out.


After the first couple of nights where he was still exhausted from his New Year sickness, passing out quite happily and staying asleep whilst he rolled onto the floor, I invested in a Sleepyhead Grand – kind of like a pregnancy cushion for toddlers which cocoons him safely on his bed.


He loves it – his ‘new cosy bed’ he calls it. As soon as bedtime is mentioned he’ll make for the stairs, keen to get up to his room. But then once we’re there he’ll take full advantage of the fact that he is no longer trapped by the bars on his cot, climbing in and out never mind how exhausted he is – or we are for that matter.

It felt endless the nights I was on my own with him. I have even more respect now than I did before for the parents I know who are doing this solo. It’s almost 10.30pm now, and I can hear him chatting away to Leigh as I type this. I know he’s tired, and he normally would have been asleep for ages by now, but the novelty is clearly still too much for him to handle.

I’m trying to encourage his independence – to give him the freedom he needs to test these things out. It’s hard when he pushes boundaries in a way I’m not comfortable with, but I don’t want to knock him down, to damage the trust I’ve been carefully building up over the last two years.

I have a feeling we’re entering a whole new zone of unchartered parenting territory. For the first time in ages I’ve been scouring Amazon for parenting books, looking for advice on how to continue the attachment approach that has worked so well for us up till now into toddlerdom and all the fresh challenges it brings with it.

It’s exciting, and just a little bit scary. But Arthur seems to be facing this new phase with confidence and relish. And ultimately that is of course what matters most.


My Word of the Week this week is Independence, linking up with Jocelyn at The Reading Residence

Now you are two


Dear Arthur,

A year ago today I wrote my very first post on this blog: a letter to you, a week and a day after your first birthday.

Reading back over those words now it is hard to believe that only twelve months have passed – and at the same time I wonder where that time has gone, where my little baby has disappeared to.

You are still my baby of course. I suspect that will be the case for many, many years to come. But there is no denying that you are growing up.

A month or so after that first post you started walking. Unsteady on your feet at first, you soon leapt in confidence. You are so strong and fast now – running around on your tiptoes, a look of glee on your face. You have finally learnt to jump: you worked on that for ages, such determination as you squatted down and pushed upwards, not quite understanding why your feet wouldn’t leave the ground. Gymnastics has taught you to be increasingly comfortable in your body in many ways – walking backwards and sideways, rolling and balancing and climbing. I reckon it’s going to be a pretty active year ahead!

There’s swimming too. You’ve loved the water since you were little, but in your second summer, with the help of your float suit, you began to move yourself around in the pool and the sea. It made me very glad to live where we do, that there were so many opportunities for swimming in the open air feeling the breeze on your skin and the sun on your hair, looking out over our beautiful bay.

But the biggest steps you’ve taken this year have to be in your language and communication. You had a handful of words by your first birthday, and as you learnt to use them and discovered where they could get you your vocabulary snowballed. I stopped counting back in April as your list of words neared one hundred. Since then you’ve picked up many more from your books and films and conversation and just listening. You can put them together in simple sentences now, ask questions and express your preferences. Your definitely starting to do that rather a lot: I love the clear-minded and strong-willed personality that is emerging.

Your independence takes me by surprise sometimes. You still like your booba, and cuddles in the sling, and the moment in the night when you come and join mummy and daddy in the big bed. But none of these things are stopping you from developing your own sense of self.

You like to sit on your own table at mealtimes now – the blue table with the blue chair. You feed yourself with a fork or spoon, still wolfing down porridge and pasta. You love fruit too, especially bananas and satsumas and pears. And salmon – well, all fish really. Especially if it comes with chips. Though potatoes in general are pretty popular.

We took the side off your cot this week, and you’re very excited about your ‘new bed’. You like to be able to climb in and out. That was the problem with the high cot side in the end – it was a good thing daddy was there to catch you! You haven’t quite mastered staying in your bed when you’re asleep either, but you’re very close to the floor. The last couple of nights, when I’ve come in to check on you, you’ve been fast asleep on the mat we laid out to cushion your fall. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it, and for now I can’t help but find it super cute, especially since rolling out of bed doesn’t seem to wake you.

If you do wake in the night then more often than not daddy’s songs will soothe you back to sleep. You definitely still love your music – dancing and singing, playing piano and drums and your little ukulele. We actually had to replace that finally last month – it’s taken a bit of a battering with all your enthusiasm. Definitely worth it though.

The other thing you love, more than anything at the moment, is trains. You have a wooden train set which was added to this Christmas and birthday with all sorts of new and exciting bits of track. You could happily sit and play with it for hours. We’re lucky to have the steam train so close – we went on it for your birthday again this year, remembering that life-changing trip two years before when my waters broke at Paignton station. You love to watch trains too – Thomas is becoming a firm favourite, but you’re just as happy with the hours of footage on YouTube of steam trains all over the world, chugging and choo-chooing along with them as you sit on daddy’s knee.

There is so much more than this. Sitting here now trying to capture you at two years old is really quite overwhelming. I know that as this year unfolds you will blossom more and more – finding the words to express all the increasingly complex concepts swimming around your head, growing in strength and dexterity, playing with more and more purpose and absorption as your imagination opens up a whole new world.

And so, just for a moment, I will hold you close and breathe you in, savour the magic and wonder of your existence. And then I will take your hand and let you lead me into the next year of our adventure.

All my love for always, Mummy xxx


 photo 93142f35-6d39-479f-b3de-d94dbca68162_zps58499252.jpg

Letting off steam in Coram’s Fields


Arthur was a little superstar during our trip to London last week. There was lots about it that I think he enjoyed: he loved hanging out with new people in unusual places, and was totally captivated by the huge array of vehicles. But there was also lots that was rather testing for a toddler. Sitting still, mainly – on buses and tubes whilst we crossed the capital and in restaurants and cafés whilst mummy talked too much. He just wanted to explore, to run around – ‘walk and play!’ was his increasingly frustrated refrain.

And on Friday we found the perfect place for him to do just that. After a stroll around the not terribly toddler friendly British Museum and a very long wait for lunch at Strada, my friend suggested we go to Coram’s Fields. It hadn’t really been on my radar when I lived in London. I mean, I knew it was there – but you can’t even go in unless you’ve got a kid, and it really is focused towards the needs of the city’s littlest residents. And Arthur absolutely loved it.


He rode on the little spring-mounted animals first, crossing between the duck and the horsey several times. Then he saw the slide, making his way up the perfectly proportioned steps to show off the skills he’s learning in gymnastics – hanging off the bar and swinging himself onto the slide whilst I tried not to leap prematurely to his aid.




He had a go at climbing up the rope ladder too, and very nearly managed that on his own.


There were lots of little ‘baby houses’ for Arthur to explore, and he loved running between them without needing me to hold his hand every step of the way.



It was wonderful to see his increasing confidence, even if deep inside there was a pang of something else as I realised my little baby boy is growing up before my eyes.


It was definitely a much-needed pitstop – it’s always great to find new playgrounds, and this is one I’d heartily recommend if you find yourself in central London with an energetic toddler in tow!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week: Separation

Today the word that sums up the week that was is:


I took quite an important step this week in my journey as a mum. It’s taken fourteen and a half months, but this week I had an evening out on my own. No Arthur, no Leigh. It was the first solo night out I’ve had since I was about eight months pregnant: even then Arthur was with me really. I haven’t really felt any inclination to go out on my own since, but on Tuesday I’d been invited to read from my first novel at a writer’s salon in London. You can read about my evening as an author here, but it was also a very important evening for me as a mum. My instinct on first hearing about the night was that I’d just take Arthur along in the sling: I soon realised that this was something I had to do on my own.

I can almost count the number of times I’ve been separated from Arthur on one hand. Leigh and I have been on two dates: one last summer when my brother’s girlfriend babysat for us in our hotel in New York whilst we went to the restaurant for our wedding anniversary dinner, the second time only a fortnight ago when my parents looked after Arthur whilst we went for dinner again, this time to celebrate the anniversary of our first date. Both times we were gone for only a couple of hours. Then there have been a few governors meetings where Leigh or my mum have looked after him. And that’s about it!

Neither Leigh or I would have predicted that this was how things would work out. And it’s not like we haven’t been out at all – we’ve done plenty of things as a family, including restaurant meals, gigs, festivals, parties. We have just always wanted to keep Arthur close. I guess breastfeeding’s been a major factor – with everything being so challenging in the early days we never taught Arthur to take a bottle so it’s been hard for me to be too far away. But to be honest we haven’t wanted to leave him either – we have all, as a family, become decidedly attached.

But this time I really couldn’t take Arthur with me. I am intent on building a successful career as a writer, one which in the long term will hopefully be much more conducive to spending time with my son than teaching could ever be, and I needed people to take me seriously. I needed me to take me seriously.

Leigh couldn’t join us in London – another first, being separated from Daddy for so long – so on Tuesday evening Arthur was looked after by my parents. I filled him up on breast milk before I left, knowing that he was unlikely to take much water let alone milk from his cup, and made sure they were preparing a dinner he would like (mild Thai curry with lots of veg and rice seems to be his current favourite). He sat with my mum as she began to make the dinner and I made myself presentable, and then trying not to turn it into too much of a drama I slipped out into the streets, alone.


It was a bit odd. I felt very light on my feet without my usual accessory strapped to my front, and I noticed rather more of the world around me. I read over my chosen extract from my novel on the tube journey – I hadn’t had much time to practise, and my run through the previous evening had been punctuated by Arthur’s cries. Any pangs of missing him were soon overcome by nervousness and excitement, and when I got there the pleasure of catching up with friends over a drink and being just myself for a change. The evening went brilliantly, and though thoughts of whether Arthur was hungry or thirsty or had been able to go to sleep occasionally intruded I had an awesome time.

I made it back to the flat soon after eleven, about five hours after I’d left, and despite all my trepidation Arthur was of course fine. He was asleep, in fact – my mum snuggled up to him in bed. He hadn’t drunk much, but he’d eaten. And he was fine. There’d been a bit of a whimper apparently, and at one point he’d toddled purposefully towards the door, but all in all they’d had a lovely evening too. I swapped places with my mum, Arthur had a sleepy feed without even really waking up, then rolled away and slept better than he has done in ages.

He was most definitely pleased to see me in the morning, snuggling up and being even more super cute than usual. But we had both survived our first proper separation.


I’d genuinely been worried that with our very attached approach to parenting it was going to be a real wrench for Arthur to be without us, even just for one evening. So I was definitely relieved to find that in fact he is secure enough to cope. I’m not in any massive rush to make a habit of going out on my own, but it’s strangely liberating to know I can if I want to. I expected a part of me to be sad – sad that my baby is taking little steps towards independence, that he doesn’t need me quite as intensely as he once did. But I suppose by waiting I was finally ready for that separation too – to take my own steps towards the new person I am becoming since he made me a mum.

Thanks to Jocelyn at The Reading Residence for the brilliant Word of the Week linky.

The Reading Residence