Jody Brettkelly, the chic mum behind the blog About Last Weekend, thought she had the contented baby thing sorted… and then they became teens. Perhaps she’s now wondering if there’s a contented teen book!
Over to Jody…
Fourteen years ago when I had my first baby boy, Harley, we were utterly clueless. We knew nothing about caring for a baby and pontificated annoyingly about how it wasn’t going to change us. Luckily for me, he latched on immediately (I was so ignorant I wasn’t aware of all the challenges of breastfeeding) and he seemed to love being out. And with no routine, we did go out – and out and out – strolling him all over London parks and restaurants, then to New Zealand and San Francisco and back to London.
By nine months Harley wanted to be up and out all the time. I was a shaking, wan, scrawny mess. (Not a good way to lose 15lbs.) Harley hadn’t weaned except for the odd spoonful of Greek yoghurt and I was breastfeeding randomly and often. His up-all-night exploits rendered me exhausted and unable to even think about going back to work. Or even to think.
Somehow we managed to have another baby. A friend arrived at the hospital with The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford. I was desperate. I tried to follow it as close as I could: the sleep training, the meal times, the routine. I was a believer, a convert, a book-thumping bore.
The babies were in bed by 7pm even when they were tiny, so we could get a babysitter twice a week knowing they wouldn’t wake up (I couldn’t express much milk so we had to be sure.) We had two more babies. Of course life with four kids was not exactly easy, there were the monumental meltdowns and we definitely felt in the trenches. But holidays, even skiing, were doable because they were mostly rested and fed.
Now our kids are 14, 12, ten and eight. They still eat at 5pm. They still keep them to strict bed times. But they fight constantly, crave cereal for every meal and watch hours and hours of TV. They’re ungrateful and whiney. Our piano teacher just fired us – apparently their lack of progress and poor attitude was unprecedented. “We won” said the kids “It took three years- but we won!”
I sort of, kind of, learned to do the baby thing. But they didn’t stay babies. Help me, help me!
At what age were your kids when you felt “sort-of sorted”?
Jody Brettkelly–About Last Weekend
Jody Brettkelly, 49, was a journalist in London for 15 years writing on a variety of topics including football players’ hairdos and ‘banana hammocks” (men’s speedos). She now lives with her husband and four children in California.