Breakthrough or Fluke?

I could actually cry.
Yesterday we had a little breakthrough with Henry. To anyone else, this probably will not seem like a big deal in the slightest. But for us it was kinda huge. I managed to do a short walk (literally two minutes) from the car to a local softplay, and back again after, with no buggy AND NO REINS. And no twins – ha just kidding. To most other parents, even those with twins of a similar age, this is probably just normal. But for us, it definitely isn’t.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll no doubt have read/heard me banging on about the fact that Henry is a runner. I don’t just mean he runs fast (which he does – it’s frickin ridiculous, he’s like a chubby lil cheetah) but more that he runs away. And doesn’t stop. Usually, no amount of calling after him will deter him from his mission to get the f**k away as fast as he possibly can. Occasionally, pretending to turn around and walk in the other direction, ie pretending to leave him behind, works and he will run back, but I doubt whether it is the best parenting strategy to be using. Anyway, more often than not, he laughs his head off, waves and runs even faster. At this point I invariably begin to panic as he gets further away. If I only had him to chase after and keep track of, it might be manageable. It would probably still be a bit stressful but at least I could maybe cope without a buggy and would just be able to focus on keeping up with him. However, with another child and a buggy (which, ironically, is mainly only needed so that I have the option to strap him down and contain him if he’s being too crazy) it becomes a whole other level of anxiety. It gets to a point where H will be getting too far away for comfort and showing no signs of stopping, not responding to me shouting after him etc, and I’m then forced to suddenly abandon the buggy and Cora in order to put on a sprint so that I can catch up with him and bring him back. What worries me the most, along with having to leave Cora behind for a minute, is that Henry seems to have no real concept of danger – he would blindly run full-pelt towards a road given half a chance, isn’t bothered if he runs out of sight of me etc. It’s only happened on a couple of occasions that he’s actually gone out of my sight and that feeling of bubbling panic rising up inside me so I feel almost sick, is just the absolute worst. I’m so utterly paranoid now about it that I find things like going to softplays a source of huge anxiety. I can only cope if it’s basically one room, completely enclosed, and I know exactly where the exits are and know for sure that he can’t escape. Because if there is any way to escape, Henry Houdini will bloody well find it.
Anyway, the upshot is that Henry spends probably 90% of his time either in the buggy or on reins, especially when I’m on my own with them. We have our Adventure Belt which is fab because he’s attached to me but a bit more independent and I have my hands free, and also some Little Life backpack reins, which are useful if I’m letting him on and off them as I can quickly and easily tuck the β€˜lead’ into the backpack. He’s generally pretty good with reins these days as he’s so used to them and understands that the alternative is that he has to stay in the buggy; however, there are times when he gets really frustrated and will lash out/lie on the floor etc – basically go nowhere fast πŸ™ˆ So that’s fun… πŸ€” It makes me sad to have him on reins all the time as I would much prefer to be able to give him a bit more freedom when we’re out walking in a park or something for example (obviously not anywhere too busy or crowded like a shopping centre) because I love letting the twiglets explore nature and discover things and just wander. But most times I try to let him off them, he just legs it and gets put straight back on. I find it so frustrating and always feel guilty about it. When I do let him off, I’m paranoid about him not going more than a metre or two away from me because I know that if he’s much further than that, and makes a break for it, I’ll have to ditch everything and run to catch him. I’m sure it must seem to other people like I’m super uptight and/or overly cautious, but I think if you have children who can wander off a certain distance but you can trust that they will come back when you call them, if you haven’t felt that abject panic of seeing your child running off and knowing they’re just not going to stop, it’s probably quite hard to understand. I’ve never met a child of his age who has such an apparent lack of awareness about danger as he does, or the willingness to run so far from his parents. It just seems like most kids by the age of almost three, are generally pretty sensible and can be trusted a bit more – like Cora, to be fair. I feel so much more relaxed letting her out of the buggy as I just know that the vast majority of the time, she will listen and be careful. Similarly, in cafes or restaurants, I will happily let her sit on a β€˜big seat’ or even get down and walk around a little, but I always strap H into a highchair and wouldn’t dream of letting him get down because I know he’ll just be gone. I feel bad for treating them so differently, but if it’s a question of safety there’s just no other way. I know they’re two individual children so sometimes it is appropriate to treat them differently anyway but I just hate having to baby him so much more and not give him as much independence. But I guess until he’s ready for it, there’s not much else I can do.
So, that is why a simple two-minute, buggyless, reinless walk yesterday felt like a monumental breakthrough. H walked sensibly, he didn’t go too far ahead, he came back when I called him and when we were near the carpark, he waited and held my hand until we got back to the car. It was like being with a different child and made me realise how much easier and less stressful trips out would be if he was always like that. And to add to my joy, we had the loveliest afternoon today with friends at a local National Trust place, and again, Henry mostly listened, didn’t go off too far and actually played with the other children instead of just constantly running off. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be able to let him explore with no reins on yet also to feel relaxed about doing so. We all know toddlers are the most random, unpredictable creatures ever so I’m not allowing myself to think that maybe, just maybe, we’ve turned a corner but oh my goodness, it would be incredible if we had. It would certainly save me a lot of heart attacks! Anyway I’ll keep you posted… πŸ™ŠπŸ™Š

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Twiglet Top Tips – More2Explore

So far my blog has been all about telling my parenting journey and discussing issues I’ve encountered along the way, with a few (hopefully) funny stories thrown in. I hope that it brings a smile to a few of your faces and maybe a bit of reassurance when it’s an issue you can relate to 😁 I’ve decided to introduce something new alongside my usual posts and start sharing some fabulous brands and/or products as we come across them. There are so many small businesses out there, particularly on Instagram, and it can be hard to know which ones are great, which ones are not so great or which ones you can trust. I for one, love recommendations and will often end up buying things I’ve seen people I follow wearing or using (#instagrammademedoit 🀣🀣) If you’ve followed me for a while on Insta, I hope it comes across that I’m an honest and genuine person – for example, I would always say if we were sent something for free (we are very lucky that that happens occasionally). I wouldn’t ever recommend something just because it was free but only if I genuinely loved it and thought it could either make things for others that little bit easier, or just to make you happy so they seem easier 🀣 Anyway, introductory spiel over…. Introducing my first β€˜Twiglet Top Tip’ 😁😁 This week I’m featuring a lovely company based in Scotland called β€˜More2Explore’ and their awesome product, the Adventure Belt.

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The Adventure Belt is basically an ingenious hands-free version of traditional reins. It comprises a pouch attached to a belt which is worn by the child and is fully adjustable around their waist. I really like the fact that the buckle is childproof; undoing it requires a button to be pushed at the same time as squeezing the sides which means the child can’t undo it themselves. The adult then wears a simple, plain belt and the adult and child belts can be attached together with an elasticated bungee strap which clips onto each one (again with a childproof buckle so the child can’t detach themselves). I love the bungee feature – it’s adjustable so you can choose how far your child can walk away from you which gives them more independence whilst still keeping them safe and close. It also avoids the β€˜straining at the leash’ which we would sometimes have with our backpack reins when Henry would get particularly impatient. To attach another child, they have a belt and pouch too, and the adult simply wears a second belt.

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The main difference between the Adventure Belt and other types of reins is that it leaves your hands free which is so so useful, particularly if you have more than one child.

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Also, there is a range of fun pouch designs and colours to choose from, including camouflage and animals such as a panda and tiger. The child can store small items in the pouch which really gives them a sense of ownership. Even when they don’t need to be attached to me, the twiglets often ask to wear their panda belts and they love collecting and storing little treasures on our walks.

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I think this product is such a fantastic, innovative alternative to traditional reins, particularly for families with multiples. As we were walking around the shopping centre taking photographs, I heard a dad with twins say ‘oh wow, look at that – how amazing!’ And I genuinely think it is 😊 More2Explore have created discounted twin and triplet packs too so that you can easily purchase more than one belt. The belts are designed for 2-5 year olds but have been tested and sized for up to age 8. The Adventure Belt is perfect for use in busy, crowded situations. One of my biggest anxieties when out and about with the twiglets is the thought of losing one of them, particularly as Henry is a runner and liable to bolt at any opportunity. Having them attached to me is such a weight off my mind and makes it much easier to go out without a pushchair, especially as I have my hands free to juggle bags etc. I would definitely highly recommend it as a convenient, hands-free alternative to reins 😁

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Check out More2Explore’sΒ website to purchase or follow them onΒ Instagram to find out more 😊

NOTE: We were gifted this item in exchange for some photos of the product – I was under no obligation to write a review but wanted to because it’s bloody awesome 😊 All views are my own 😁