Book Review: ToddlerCalm by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

My recent post on doing your reading but putting the books aside and trusting instincts rings true again. Having read BabyCalm by Ockwell-Smith and found that it was a useful resource to dip into, whilst listening to my inner voice I was pleased to be offered a free copy of ToddlerCalm to read and review. With a baby I felt a bit out of my depth, with a toddler I seem to get even more conflicting advice!

What I like about Ockwell-Smith’s ethos is that she is supportive of a sensible attachment parenting approach. It is great to see for example that she recommends the use of a toddler carrier for free hands, and recommends parents don’t worry about ‘spoiling or creating dependency’ in creating a healthy attachment. I chose two areas that are relevant to us at the moment, although I know the book will grow to be with us a while as we are just entering the toddler phase:

Area one: Toddler eating

We are entering the throwing and ‘don’t want it, no wait I do, no I want cheese, oh wait I don’t’ phase:

I suspected that this was an issue of control when that too-ing and fro-ing started. Ockwell-Smith suggests offering some control to your child, for example some choices about what they might like to eat. Our favourite ‘carpet picnic’ crops up, that I blogged about a while ago, I thought Daddy coined that phrase but it seems to be in common usage. I also found it helpful to read about mealtimes, Ockwell-Smith suggests that we try not to be too rigid about 12pm lunch, dinner at 4pm etc, and says we should “respect the child’s natural appetite.” This was harder for me in the early days but my getting stressed about no-food mealtimes was not the answer and Joss did indeed eat when she was hungry, just not at the times I’d have expected. The Sarah and Gemma stories about their grazers also rang true, I took from the casestudies that following the toddler’s lead results in happier mealtimes for all. I really like the use of case studies in the book as they demonstrate well that these are just phases that we are helping our children through.

Area two: Tantrums

An early area for us but we have started to see a few silent and a few not so silent protests. I think the tips for ignoring negative comments from others is crucial, as children pick up from our emotional responses, I think when the times comes for public tantrums I might find this difficult, but this part of the book is definitely all about parentcalm, so I found the top tips on handling a public tantrum helpful, particularly remembering there are no winners or losers and being ‘too soft or too harsh’ isn’t the way to go, this links to Ockwell-Smith’s comments about the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parenting, and I agree that a healthy balance is something that is worked on and keeps in mind our long term parenting goals.

I look forward to dipping in and out of ToddlerCalm over the coming months! I would have liked to have seen a little more around some of the toddler stage specifics like potty training, although there are case studies around this some more focussed advice would have been interesting, but we might have to just see where that journey takes us!


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review, all views are my own

Incy wincy ‘pider

I am terrified of spiders, absolutely terrified of most insects infact, they make my blood run cold, I’d even go as far as to say I have a spidey sense, as I feel the hairs go up on the back of my neck before I see them.

This little fella arrived in Joss’ bedroom last week, just next to the changing unit. She clocked him before I did, “what’sthat?”

“That’s an incy wincy spider Joss!”

*Claps* “‘Pider, ‘Pider Mammy!”

OK, well lets go with it for now, so I did a round of incy wincy spider and we had a nappy change that was wriggle free as she was entranced by him.


So for days now, first thing in the morning and last thing at night we’ve said “hiya ‘pider” and “byebye ‘pider” and he’s been there, in the same sort of place, so no surprises, he’s just hanging out in Joss’ room. When I took this pic she was chatting animatedly about her ‘pider, can’t imagine me ever being this smily at the prospect!


Because of his relatively small size I can cope with him for now, lets hope he doesn’t get any bigger, say in time for Halloween, eek! Can’t say I’m over my fear but I have managed to keep in under wraps for now!

What’s the Story?


Lots of my blog posts are about my little girl, but there’s another little one in my life that deserves some attention. This was taken in 2009, Toby must have been about 4/5 which makes him 8/9 now, though he may be a little older. Toby, or Toby Mcscroby as he’s more commonly known was a wee rescue when we brought him home. He was quiet in the kennels and cowering, when we took him for a first walk he pulled on the lead, barked and tried to run across the road, “we’ll take him” we said! How could we not?

He needed us and at the time I needed him, a companion and reason to get out for a walk every day in the winter. We used to argue about who took the lead, once the novelty wore off we’d row about whose turn it was to walk him, but he’s still very much part of the family. Joss adores him, he gets fewer walks at the beach but more treats, and he’s come a long way from the quiet boy we brought home that was terrified of pop bottles and newspapers. When people talk about getting a puppy as a family pet I’d always say don’t rule out a rescue, its so rewarding for everyone involved.

Caught in the moment

A short post as we’re all pretty tired here. I caught a quick but fuzzy snap of Joss having a read in her little chair, she’s usually never still! My Mam said that I was described as a “wormy bairn” always moving and so I guess Joss is a (book) wormy bairn too!

She loves books, I am so pleased as I am a book worm, I can’t wait to share Enid Blyton and Grimm’s Fairy Tales with her!


A bit of a quiet day

Just stopping by to share a photo from last night, no photos today as I have a poorly girl home early from the childminders and a washing machine full with the evidence brought home that she in indeed a poorly girl spinning round and round. I may still smell a little of sick myself but she’s sleeping peacefully now so on with some work I brought home for now…


Advice from other mothers

I’ve been reading a book about the relationships between mothers and daughters, Mothering the Self by Steph Lawler, for my own university study exploring mothering. The book is about the mother in the relationship, where typically the focus of such studies would be the daughter. It has sparked some thoughts about my own mother-daughter relationship with Joss, about the kind of mother I would hope to be and the kind of life I hope she will have.

Some of the mothers Lawler interviewed talk about advice and to whom they would turn for advice either on mothering or childcare issues. Just this week I have had occasion to be talking to other mothers about Joss, in a week of calling a cab and experiencing some uncomfortable side effects of teething it has also been a week where I said yes to a rare evening out. Talking to friends about it I said that I was quite enjoying being back at work, but that Joss is always in the back of my mind, and I found it hard to head out for the evening without weighing up whether or not I ought to leave her for something that’s not a necessity, like work. The words ‘mother’s guilt’ came out. But why? Did I say mother’s guilt because I’m trying to assuage myself of that guilt, or persuade myself that me time is needed? I don’t know the answer but my friend immediately said, “Oh that never goes away you know, mine are all grown up but I still think, do they need me to be there for them.” I found it really refreshing to hear a mother whose children have ‘flown the nest’ so to speak shared similar thoughts.

Later this week I bumped into an old friend in town, “hasn’t Joss grown!”

She reminded me that not long ago I was worried about Joss’ food intake, I said that she is eating like a trooper and she said “it’s lovely to see them enjoy a meal you’ve prepared isn’t it?” A colleague asked me if I like to cook today and it dawned on me that I don’t really enjoy cooking per se, although I love to bake, but that I love to prepare food that I know Joss is going to enjoy, and I love to watch her eat, there’s a satisfaction that I cannot explain as she enjoys her food, probably that’s why I was so sad that our breastfeeding journey ended too soon, but that’s a post for next week.

Previously I was in a place where most parenting advice was unwanted, I was getting to know Joss and I suppose I felt that other people offering advice was like them saying all babies are the same, or that they knew Joss better than I did because they’d had children of their own. Now that I know that she and I have a bond unlike any other I guess my confidence has increased and I feel better able to ask for and seek out advice! Probably the best advice I’ve had was that which most appealed to my nature! A friend told me to read the books, as she knew as a researcher I would, but then to put them down and follow my instincts and Joss’. Why is this so powerful? It will seem really simple to others but as someone inclined to obsess it is a strong mantra for me!

This leads me nicely into a question to round things off:


Most Wanted – Tramp


Joss has a new word – want it. She wants everything that’s not hers, keys, telephones, money, she also seemingly wants things she doesn’t like kiwi, sprouts, nappy changes – “want it” followed by “no like it”

Our most wanted this week is featured behind bars here, Tramp, or Trampses to Joss got left at Grandma’s house, not satisfied by my explanation that he is away of his hols we’ve had full on wailing, then on the bus today we saw a little boy with his own Tramp, “want it, want it, Trampses, want it…” “Mammy Trampses WANTIT waaaaaaaah”

Thankfully Tramp is on his way home tomorrow, is it bad that I’m thinking of forking out £14 for a spare?!

Linking this into Magic Moments :-)

Making a start with meal planning on a budget

Mr B and I really want to put our shoulders under making some savings, we decided to start an MSE style storecupboard challenge, using what we have in for a good three to four meals a week. These meals are mainly vegetarian, with the addition of plenty of cheese and good healthy oils for Jossy. I set a monthly target for £s and number of purely store cupboard meals we want to make each week with a rough meal plan to keep us on track .

This month I’m going for £120 as I need to do some stocking up and Mr B has started taking lunches in to work so this feels reasonable.

I’ll be doing four purely store cupboard meals this week plus cheese and veg etc.

This week we’re having:

A Girl Called Jack’s lentil bolognese to do two days
Homemade pizza with the lentil bol as a topper, a few slices of chorizo, a little homemade onion chutney and loads of fresh veg
Jack’s spicy bean burgers with slimming world chips
Vegetable stirfry


For our non store meat days I’m roasting a chicken and stockpiling soups

As a bit of an aside we’ve also started a £1 a day jar for Christmas, not that we get into the spirit early, we just like to plan ahead!


Now who does he really remind me of? Pt 1

Mr B and I are big on lookie-likies of the unconventional kind. I guess we see similarities where others might not, but in our recent children’s TV watching we realised that three of our favourite characters in particular we could agree on. I present for your viewing pleasure our top three, and I’m hoping my follow parent bloggers can come up with more, hence this is our part one:

First up, is it Mr Tumble, or Gale Boetticher of Breaking Bad fame?

Mr-Tumble-Something-Special-Cbeebies-580x385 gale

Next up, sinister fave and internet ledge Saladfingers aka Sarah and Duck (I know, now you’re like, how did I miss this)

Sarah and Duck 06 41803_salad_fingers

And finally, a genteel fave Paolo Nutini, or is it Mr Bloom? Never seen on screen together, both can sing, separated at birth?

mr-blooms-nursery-thumb paolo-nutini-sunny-side-up-1-300x300

Now I want to hear yours!