The Dummy Fairy

Freya and I might look all innocent and smiley when we see you in the street but we hide a deep, dark, slightly dirty and a little mouldy inside, secret. Every night, before Freya goes to sleep, I give her a dummy. Now, if she were three weeks old this wouldn’t be a problem, if she were three months old, so what? But the fact of the matter is she is nearly three-years-old! Every morning I squirrel her dummy away hoping she won’t mention it at nursery, praying she won’t ask for it in public. I know she shouldn’t still be relying on it, but we’ve tried to go without it several times and not only have we not slept a wink, but half the street probably hasn’t either. Excuses aside, house move done, new nursery settled and with a work-free week ahead, now was the time to get rid of the dummy…

It all started off quite fun. We got a cardboard box and lots of colourful bits of paper, sparkles and glitter and set to work decorating a box for the dummy fairy.



We talked about how the dummy fairy would be coming soon to take Freya’s dummies to soothe the newborn babies who couldn’t talk and had no teeth. Freya liked this concept but kept insisting that the dummy fairy would be coming tomorrow, not today. Okay. We also discussed Freya’s beautiful smile and how her teeth might start pointing outwards all goofy if she kept sucking on her dummy. Turns out Freya is really quite vain and didn’t like the thought of this. On Monday we told Freya an exciting thing would be happening that night, the dummy fairy would come and take her dummies and leave magic fairy dust behind which would help Freya to sleep, as well as a few special presents as a thank you. Freya happily put the dummies in the box (yes, we were surprised too) and that night we placed it by the window in the front room. We then found a card from the dummy fairy herself on the doormat. Please don’t judge me..I know it’s a little cringey:


When we read the card together it was all so magical! Freya had wonder in her eyes. Four hours later she was acting like a crack addict without a hit. We kept reading the card together and she did believe in it, she wanted the dummy fairy to come, but she had to re-train herself to sleep without her dummy and it wasn’t easy. By the morning we had all had just a couple of hours of sleep and next door were probably on the phone to environmental health but Freya had done it, her first night without her dummies. We’d sprinkled fairy dust (star confetti) from her bed down to the front room where her dummy box had gone and in its place were some presents – a Saxophone from Early Learning Centre and some Peppa Pig stickers. Freya was so proud of herself and the presents were the boost she needed to, well, carry on with life with really. Last night we prepared for battle again. This time Freya cried until 9pm and then slept through until 7am. A fantastic result! I am slightly worried by the fact she told me this morning that her dummies would be back in two days when the babies didn’t need them anymore. I’m fairly sure there will be some more ups and downs on the road to a fab dummy-free lifestyle – but we are getting there! Has anyone got any great tips for getting rid of the dummy?

Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Scheme

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Yesterday I wrote about an unfortunate experience Freya and I had with a dog off the lead in our road, and a rather abusive owner. It made me realise how little I knew about where the law stands on safety, as well as how to protect my daughter if we should come across a dog which is out of control. We learnt how Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act states it is an offence for a dog to be out of control in a public space, which means either the dog has injured a person or acted in a way which makes the person believe they might be injured. And that under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (2005) council authorities can ban dogs from certain areas and insist dogs are kept on a lead, our local authority insists owners put their dog on a lead on all public footpaths and highways.

This is good to know, but what can you do to protect your child when you are in the situation? That’s where the Kennel Club, an organisation dedicated to the welfare of dogs, comes in. They’ve developed a Safe and Sound Scheme packed full of information and advice to help children learn how to act around dogs and prevent an attack. There’s an online game which your little one can play where they are faced with different situations, each time they stay safe they receive a safety star. Also check out the 20 Paw Plan with tips like always asking the owner for permission before touching a dog, staying calm and quiet and avoiding sudden movements. And there’s advice for how to tackle a fear of dogs and how to act if a child is frightened. The club has also created teacher’s notes and advice for both parents and children here.

Having now checked it out myself, it really is a great resource which has made me feel much more clued up!

Dogs Off The Lead…

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It’s not often I get a bee in my bonnet but for the last few weeks it’s been there buzzing away… My issue is with dogs off the lead and I’m not talking about frolicking in the park, I’m talking about running along the pavement outside my house. I usually try to turn a blind eye but a few weeks ago Freya and I were at the bus stop when a big dog came up and put both his paws on her little shoulders. We both started screaming and eventually the owner arrived to pull him off her. It was terrifying and now Freya, who usually loves all animals (except snails but that’s another story) is terrified of dogs.

It would be okay if this incident was a one-off, but it really isn’t. It’s fairly usual to see dogs off the lead running ahead of their owners and this lunchtime I asked a man to put his dog on the lead. He told me in no uncertain terms to go away and that next time he would set his dog on me. Nice. When I reported all of this to the police I realised I didn’t know exactly where the law stood. I had assumed a dog roaming off the lead on a pavement by a busy road would be out and out wrong, but that’s not quite the case. And, with a two-year-old recovering from being mauled in Swindon and three separate dog attacks on children in June this is something every parent needs to know about. Here’s some information I picked up this afternoon:

  • Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act states that it is an offence for a dog to be out of control in a public space. Out of control basically means either the dog has injured a person or acted in a way which makes the person believe they might be injured. 
  • Each local authority sets its own guidelines on whether and where dogs should be held on the leash. For instance, my local council, Lewisham, states that all dogs must be on a lead on all public footpaths and highways, nature reserves, cemeteries and crematoriums. It is an offence to refuse to put a dog on a lead when asked to by an officer in a park, garden or open space. Or to allow a dog to enter an area it isn’t allowed like play areas, fenced sports areas within parks, gardens and open space or any other dog exclusion zones. All dogs must also have a collar with the owner’s contact details inscribed on it. 

Disclaimer: I love dogs and Freya does too…or at least the ones attached to a friendly owner!



Parent-Proof Your Relationship

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If you’re expecting your first baby you’ve probably started to do your research – you might be tracking her development as she grows in your tummy or perhaps you now know the pros and cons of every buggy on the market! The question is, have you given the same care and attention to your relationship? Having a baby turns your couple into a family and while that’s a fairly seismic shift, it doesn’t need to be stressful. I’ve written a feature for Prima Baby & Pregnancy on this very subject and you can check it out here!

After The Storm…

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Since my delightful two-year-old turned into a diva on (precisely) Tuesday of last week, I have found myself taking a good long look at my parenting skills. You’d have to be pretty thick skinned not to when your child is screaming “Don’t call me naughty! YOU are naughty!” at you. And I have admitted something to myself. As much as Freya and I love going to the park, children’s centres and our weekly music class, when we do have an afternoon to ourselves it’s far more tempting to start the zillions of things I have to do around the house than it is to sit down and play a game with her. Talk about a guilty secret… Since when did the hoovering become more important (interesting?!) than playing a game with my own dear daughter?

There is a happy ending to this shameful story, we decided to come up with some ideas for games we could play together. And it’s been an epiphany of sorts, because there are far less temper tantrums and much more cuddles when we are playing together rather than apart.

Here are a few of our new favourites…

Bathing baby – we filled the kitchen sink with bubbles and water and bathed our babies (dolls, not real ones!) with cheap sponges. Then we put their nappies on and put them into bed – this also proved a helpful trick at bedtime because we had to be very quiet and soothing so as not to wake baby!

Pasta necklaces – We painted/glittered/stuck paper on to some pasta tubes and threaded them on to string to make necklaces…

Make a Face – If you want to do craft but you just can’t face the mess, we love the Mister Maker kits and they are on offer at the Early Learning Centre at the moment.

Meet the wildlife – Now Freya is walking to the park/shops/everywhere she has a growing fascination with slugs, snails, spiders and creepie crawlies in general. This isn’t my favourite past-time, especially since I have to pretend I love holding a ladybird (least favourite thing) in the palm of my hand for several minutes at a time. But, we’ve found the Chad Valley Insect Collecting Kit and it’s a great way to keep them entertained either at the park or in the garden for hours. Time enough for a cup of tea while they hunt them out if insects aren’t your bag either…

Music – If all else fails, we bought the Jump Up and Sing CD which has most of our favourite songs – Wheels on the Bus, Happy and You Know It, Music Man (personal fave because it stays in my head for days on end… I find Pia, Pia, Piano! has a habit of popping into my head at around 4am when I can’t sleep) etc.

I’m still looking for fun new games we can do together so if you have any ideas please let me know!

All packaged up…

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I am wishing all the luck in the world to my quilts and bunting as they make their way into the world all tucked up in their new cellophane packaging!

They are now on sale at Home and Kids, Staplehurst Road, Hither Green, you can also buy the quilts on the website

The Real Terrible Twos

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I’ve uttered the words “terrible twos” with a shrug and a knowing look several times over the last year, and I honestly thought this phase in my lovely little daughter’s life would involve the odd tantrum here and there. Once again Freya has reminded me just how little I know, and how tough being a mum can be. Because when it really happened there was nothing knowing about me. The real terrible twos happened over night and her usual easy-going nature turned to perma-frustration, uber-bewilderment and endless-tears. With me mirroring these emotions in no time at all. The morning she threw her cereal bowl off the table because she didn’t have her favourite spoon, went into meltdown because I advised her wellies on a blazing hot day might not be very comfortable, then slapped me in the face because I also thought her snowsuit might not be a great idea…we both lay on the floor crying together. I found myself really questioning my parenting skills and panicking I had done something wrong to make my daughter this way. It felt as though every single thing we tried to do had become a battle. My boss had gone from being lovely to making my life hell overnight. I turned to Jo Frost Confident Toddler Care: The Ultimate Guide To The Toddler Years. I turned to the internet. And I turned to my mum.

Of course, every child is different but with Freya I quickly learnt that I had to be strong, calm and in control. By raising my voice alongside her I simply elevated the tension to another level, by panicking I panicked her – she needed to know I was in control, and by backing-down I merely put the problem away to rear it’s head another day (hour/minute/second). Instead I found it really helped to calmly ask Freya how she was feeling, patiently wait for her screams to subside, give her a cuddle and talk her through the situation. If she raised her hand to me or shouted at me I would give her two minutes on her thinking chair, keeping on returning her to the chair every time she got up. Eventually she would stay, calm down and say sorry. I found some really great advice in Jo Frost’s book as well as lots of great parenting blogs, and what really helped most was the knowledge that Freya and I weren’t alone, that this stage is normal and that it wouldn’t last forever! We are still having moments of madness, but on the whole I have my lovely little girl back. Here’s some of the amazing advice I found which really helped me cope…Thank you!

Domestic Goddesque: Terrible Twos: tips for dealing with tantrums? Understanding Tantrums Coping with toddler tantrums Dear Terrible Twos