The Toddler Tent Trials

After some disasterous nights’ sleep during stay-overs in motels/B&B recently, and another trip away coming up, Hubby and I have embarked on a slightly crazy plan to engineer a better night’s sleep for all three of us!  Find out how we’ve been getting on so far….

Contented Calf Elena Cimelli

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Stressed is best?

When I wrote the following words back in the Spring last year I’m not sure I knew just how true they would remain nearly a year on:

“Feeding a baby is perhaps the most important thing any new parent must do. However, it can often end up being one of the most difficult and stressful tasks.”

In fact I think I should probably amend it to read ‘child’ instead of baby and simply ‘parent’ instead of new parent. For 17 months in, I’m still not sure we’re getting it right – I’m not even sure what ‘right’ is….?? As (new) parents we are constantly told to trust our instincts. But if I’m honest, I often find it hard to know what my instincts are.


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Dreams can come true

Well aware that I’m running the risk of sounding like I’m gloating, I’m very excited to report (fingers crossed, touch wood and completely tempting fate) that we have hopefully remedied the Babe’s early morning waking…… I almost don’t dare to type these words for fear of being woken tomorrow morning, not by the soothing, gentle words of Radio 4’s Today programme, but the “Aahh…!! What’s that?!?!” sound of the babe wailing, gradually working its way up to the full-blown “Mummy out!” But having posted my Christmas wish to Santa, I wanted to report that our craving for some more sleep just might have been satisfied (for now at least).

Desperate, exhausted and frazzled, I contacted Vicky Jollands for advice. She confirmed my suspicions that I needed to make sure the Babe wasn’t waking from hunger, but also suggested that she had just got into the habit of waking early. As well as trying to ensure our darling daughter has had enough to eat (no mean feat – a growth spurt must be under way as she seems to be eating more than I am at the moment!), we went through about 2 – 3 weeks of addressing pre-7am waking by going in, lying her back down, quick kiss and telling her “night night” and it was “still sleepy time” (no pooey nappy dependent).

Naturally, there was a fair bit of protest, and I felt like the cruellest mummy in the world. But after only a couple of days, my gorgeous girl settled after only a couple of reassurances. Within a week we were pushing nearer the 7am mark, with no 5am waking. And any doubts I have are pushed aside by her general improved mood and energy levels – she wakes up (in general) more calmly, has less tantrums and seems by and large happier. If she does wake up in the night for any reason (last week I was woken at 3am by “Mummy poo!”) she has settled back to sleep with little fuss – “mummy poo” translated into poo explosion and full outfit and sleeping back change.

Contented Calf nappy pile

It’s also made an immense difference to me too. The babe was poorly and off nursery for a week in the run up to Christmas, and rather than feeling frazzled by the end of it, I relished every day – I’m really enjoying every (well most! ;-)) minute with her. I commented to my mother in law over Christmas that “for some reason I just feel like I can cope more – I don’t know what’s different?” And then I realised that I was getting an extra two hours sleep a night. It turns out it can make one hell of a difference!

Contented Calf happy mum

So with the realisation that I have now jinxed our success, and our family will once again be entering a no sleep zone, we seem to be on track for a more rested household. Thanks Vicky (and Santa)! And wish us luck for continued zzzzz……

Contented Calf baby sleeping

Elena Cimelli

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Woman’s Hour Drama – Series 2

Just listened to this whilst working from home and it made me smile:

Hope you enjoy too!

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All I want for Christmas……

… some more sleep!

I realise that I said on my first blog post “the lot of a parent is eternal tiredness” and so I shouldn’t moan, but a bit like my slightly irrational hatred of the high chair, I’m developing a bit of an obsession with getting the babe to sleep longer in the mornings, so that I can just claw back just a little bit more sleep myself. I’ve gone from being always tired, to existing in a semi-zombie state much of the time. And I find myself fantasising about having a real, proper lie-in. I know people say that I’ll just wake up super-early anyway. But it doesn’t matter if I wake up at 5 because I CAN GO BACK TO SLEEP. And maybe I could have breakfast in bed? Or watch DVDs all day, dozing on and off. Ooooh…. perhaps one of those student-style lie-ins, when you would get up around 4pm, have some food then head out again, except I wouldn’t go out. I’d just have a bath, a large glass of wine and watch some rubbish on the TV. The babe is booked into the grandparents’ for the weekend over our anniversary, but that’s in March! And medical studies say I need it! 🙂 So I’m doing my best to help reset the babe’s body clock before then.
My 'Lie-In' fantasy

As I’m sure many parents will testify, early morning waking (or EMW as it’s known in the mummyblogosphere) sneaks up on you with great stealth. We used to have to wake the bairn – generally around 7am for us, but sometimes having a sneaky ‘lie-in’ til 7:30. Whilst she was a handful during the day, she was a little super-star at sleeping at night. And then one day you’ll realise that it’s 6:50am when you hear those ‘dulcet’ cries, then 6:30am. Before you know it, it’s nearer 5am that you’re dragging yourself out of bed, shattered, and showerless. The quest for a shower starts to entail setting the alarm earlier and earlier to try to carry out your ablutions while the little one is still in their deep sleep state. While at 10pm at night, we could have full-blown party going on in her room and she wouldn’t wake. After about 5am, the slightest sound and she’s up and ready to go! After dropping the babes at nursery yesterday morning, Spotty Baby’s Mum and I joked that we would soon be getting up at 4:00am to get showered and dressed ahead of the babies’ calls to start the day. Kind of extreme you may think, but in reality I have recently been spending a lot of time creeping round the house in the dark, getting ready, trying to get those extra few minutes of sleep time programmed in to her baby body clock. Time for a shower!

After trying various things to try to help the babe sleep longer (earlier bedtimes, later bedtimes, shorter day-time naps, longer day-time naps), I’ve come to the conclusion that the increased waking could well be caused by hunger. The little lady has always been on the move, and since her first birthday she’s been walking too, plus she does three full days at nursery. She’s going to burn up a lot of energy. And on the days she’s at home she does eat a tremendous load of food.

So I’m now on a mission to make sure she gets all the food she wants and needs. I normally give the bairn half a banana on the way home from nursery, but yesterday it was a whole banana and a toddler-pack of ‘Savoury Bakes’ – minus the one I had and the one that fell on the bus floor. Upping the banana quota on the way home from nursery
We’re also trying to give all the milk after the bath, instead of before or half and half. The babe, as I know every baby does, LOVES milk. So it’s become a bit of a challenge to find new places to hide “the cow juice” (or other such code words we now have to use) during bath-time – last night it was at the back of the nappy drawer, tonight it was under our pillows. And my pockets and handbags have a constant supply of snacks – though the reality actually often ends up being banana skins in my coat pocket, breadstick crumbs in my handbag and raisins falling out of hubby’s laptop bag mid-meeting.

Yesterday morning after a two-stage dinner the night before, plus two yoghurts and a large bottle of milk, 6:35am was wake up time, with a combination of gorgeous chatting and snoozing until I went in at 7am with the babe’s morning milk. It was so much nicer a way to start the day than the heart-breaking sounds of her crying – wonderful. Over the weekend we had wake-ups of 6:40am and 6:45am (we’ll forget the 5:25am blip). Today was 6:30 again, but again with little chatting until 7ish. So with the increased food intake, we’re hopefully getting there, so by Christmas hubby, babe and I will all have got my Christmas wish.

Wish me luck! (Or if you’re reading this Santa, just grant me my wish)

Elena Cimelli

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Contented Calf website

In my very first blog I talked about the business I am starting.  Well slowly, but surely we are making progress.  And I’m very excited to announce that the initial Contented Calf website is finally up and running!

So please feel free to visit us at, and be sure to register for exclusive updates, news and offers.  We are still in development mode, but as things progress, I look forward to sharing more with you.

Have a good one!

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Falling snow, roaring fires, hot mugs of….

Snow is starting to fall, the fire is roaring, winter is drawing in. And what better symbolises the start of the festive season than a steaming, hot mug of………. Lemsip. How dull and boring!

The other night, as I once again emptied that sachet of yellow-y powder, poured in the hot water and watched it fizz slightly as it dissolved, I silently yearned for the day when my mug would hold something more exciting than a cold remedy.

Hubby and I had been all inspired by the local ‘Turning On Of The Lights’ ceremony the previous evening, and had gotten excited about making some mulled wine, and sipping it in front of the fire! But when the time came, I was planning to top-up with some strong cough medicine shortly before lights out, and thought it best not to mix. I even declined Hubby’s offer of a glass of some gorgeous Shiraz Cabernet!. But the nearly empty box of Lemsip sachets showed that my evening indulgence has been of the paracetamol, rather than alcohol, variety for too long. And I’m bored of being ill now.

Perhaps I need to “man up” and stop whinging.

However, I really do feel I’m doing everything to stay healthy – multi-vitamins and Echinacea taken regularly, massive bag of satsumas being chomped through, fully flu-jabbed, and relatively healthy diet (as long as I keep on top of the MealPlanner.xls!).

Maybe it’s ‘that time of year’? Maybe it’s the 1,001 viruses (viri?) the Babe brings home from nursery along with her paintings? More than likely, it isn’t helped by months of broken nights’ sleep. (She used to be such an excellent sleeper! Where did it all go wrong?) Who knows? But still The Cold clings on.

It’s like a constant poker game between me and The Cold. It’ll play the cough card. I’ll match the cough with cough medicine, and trump it with an early night and a few extra puffs on my inhaler. Then without warning, it’ll play a blinder of a hand with a super sore throat – not your basic variety, soothed by the odd Strepsil, but one that feels like you’ve been strangled and your whole neck is bruised. It took me a couple of weeks to out play this little blighter, but a few nights of super hot Lemsip, with added lemon and honey and gargling with TCP for over a week, and I was back in the game. The runny / blocked nose combo was a quick win, ever since a friend introduced me to the wonders of Sudafed.

Hopefully I’ve Royal Flush-ed The Cold out of my system, and I can enjoy a few more ‘medicinal’ mugs of mulled wine this winter (especially those particularly potent brews courtesy of Chez Leonard!), and a few less lemon flavoured cold remedies. At least I haven’t got a “Man Cold” – I understand that’s virtually fatal

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