As part of our need to get more hands on experience of the realities of looking after children we looked after our nephews for the first time alone…all day.
Painting the picture:
We’re at their house
My husband’s on crutches and can’t stand for too long after an op five days ago
I’m on antibiotics with major toothache
Nephew 1 (N1) age 2 is teething and getting over a cold
Nephew 2 (N2) age 10 months is teething and in the thick of a cold
So we get there and N2 is asleep in bed. We’re told and shown snacks, dinner, microwave timings, baby drugs and timings.
They’re off – shopping then for dinner.
So left with N2 who can only crawl backwards we make a cuppa then look at each other, so far so good.
An hour later and N2 is falling asleep as I rock him standing up. I calmly take him up to his cot and put him down for his sleep at which point he screams to be picked up. Shit, what do I do know.. No amount of hair stroking helps. I bring him back down stairs and proceed with more rocking whilst husband throws balls to distract him. No I tell him, he just needs to sleep, please not more stimulation.
So he settles again and I calmly go back up put him down and waaaa, he’s off again.
Poor little mite, he’s got such a bad cold and now very rosy cheeks (a sign of teething pain apparently). So back down stairs we go and I think ‘teething crystals’ which apparently help. Have you ever tried to put powder into a baby’s mouth when they’re crying? I felt like I was trying to suffocate him.
Anyway, half a packet in and he’s not happy. Now for the syringe of Calpol. First lesson – how to get the Calpol into the syringe holding the baby. God you become resourceful! Done, Calpol half injected into mouth. That’ll do, he just needs to calm down. So we go back to stand up rocking and eventually he’s asleep on my shoulder.
I sit down on the sofa trying not to wake him in the same position and proceed to stay there for 40 minutes whilst he sleeps – a tired baby would be worse right?
Can’t get the TV to work so we sit in silence thinking ‘crickey, thank god that’s over’.
Monitor two goes and we can hear N1 waking up. He’s not expecting us to be there, husband can’t bring him down due to crutches so I dutifully hand over N2.
N1 is looking all disheveled and cute. I ask him if he wants to come down stairs with me and he clings on. This ones going to be easier I feel.
I bring out the teething crystals and he opens his mouth and I poor them in… That was easy. He also takes the Calpol like a dream.
We go through all the toys in the living room, try and hats, glasses, sing nursery rhymes. By now three hours have passed. I’m looking at the clock thinking food.
Husband chops a banana for N1 which he’s not too bothered about. N2 refused his bottle of milk. I’m slightly concerned as he hasn’t eaten much today according to mum as he’s unwell. He seems ok though. I try and put him in his high chair to have some yoghurt but he screams.
God this is so hard! Trying to communicate without words is tough.
5pm comes and any ideas I had about structured play has gone out of the window. You’re reliant on what toys they have, your imagination and ultimately what the boys want to do.
It’s tea time though so I put half a tin of spaghetti hoops in the microwave and butter a piece of bread and cut it into triangles. I’m careful to get the temperature right which involves a transfer to the fridge for a few minutes. It’s a tip from mum.
I turn to the prepared food mum has cooked for N2 in the fridge. A mix of broccoli, carrot and some yellow liquid which looks lovely and healthy.
Both boys are sat at the table. N1 is busy tucking into his spaghetti (I remembered the bib) and loving it. N2 on the other hand doesn’t want his healthy option but seems hungry. He’s beside himself with communication issues. God when you don’t know them it’s hard…
So I go to the fridge and get the puréed fruit. 20 secs in the microwave to take the edge off. Give it a stir. Back in the fridge, too hot. Darn…
Eventually take it into N2 and he smiles. I could hug him. He proceeds to eat the whole lot hardly taking a breath in between spoonfuls.
But he’s not finished he wants more. So I go back for yoghurt, he also eats this like he’s been starved. This is a good sign, he’s obviously feeling a little better.
N1 decides he’s finished, he’s eaten all his bread and most of the spaghetti to seems reasonable. N2 is still hungry so I try the spaghetti, it’s a hit. Man this boy can eat! He’s so happy. I totally understand, I’m just the same.
So much more happened in this time not least mum and dad calling to ask if they could have an extension. Of course I said, inside thinking ‘I’ve run out of things to do?’. We took them outside which meant me pushing the bike around the garden ten times whilst husband held happy little N2.
N1 had a meltdown when we came in.
N2 and I went to the ball pit to let him calm down in the bedroom.
At one point husband went into the kitchen to take in plates from dinner. ‘The kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it’ he said. Trying to keep my cool I told him to take a running jump and to clean it up. Tidying up was the least of my worries whilst I had two hungry mouths to feed. He did have a small point though. Note to self, more efficient to tidy away as I go along, not my normal approach.
So parents come home at 7pm and I’ve never been so happy to see anyone. They’d had a great time and were sooo grateful. Said that they’d gone for food at Wetherspoons which felt like a Michelin starred restaurant. Then ended up staying there. After the week mum had had, they couldn’t face shopping. I think I would have been the same. We chatted about what they eaten and the times they’d had their last meds. I told them how hard it was and totally empathised with her day. ‘Are you sure you’re still up for adopting more than one?’ She said. I just laughed in a crazy, mad eyed way.
So I did my last duty – change a pooey nappy and we left. That was an achievement in its own right. Last time I did that was approx 32 years ago.
So on reflection it was a great experience. Tips on play from my online friends were unnecessary. Can I do this? Blooming right I can. It was tough but the smiles on faces were worth it.
Husband said, I’m proud of you! How are you feeling? I said I haven’t thought of my ailments once.