The first week of parental leave, aside from a few mistakes, meltdowns and awkward moments was very rewarding - aside from anything else, the time flew by. Over the weekend we had few friends round who helpfully suggested a few things I could do, apparently there is a sensory room at a local children’s centre that parents can book for their exclusive use. It looks really good and might be fun for half an hour or so.
Florence and I also got some advice on sleeping as Leo has been a bit more disturbed the past few nights. We don’t know whether it is a sleep regression (if they even exist), whether he is teething or whether he just has cold that is waking him up. Anyway we we got some really good advice about trying ‘dream feeding’. For the uninitiated a ‘dream feed’ is where you give baby a bottle/boob at your bed time, even if he is asleep, that way he should sleep longer and so should you. In our case it really worked. Leo slept through waking only for a change and a feed at 3:30am. Many of these things might not work for everyone but its good when you feel that they do work - especially if it means you get more sleep/ less disturbed sleep.
Even though it worked I think that Leo is a little bit more grumpy these days as he may be starting to teeth. He keeps dribbling, sticking his fingers in his mouth, has more meltdowns and wants to be held a-lot more - all signs (i think) that he could be teething. I have checked by rubbing my finger across his gums but to be honest, I’m not sure what it should feel like. I’ve heard that the gums get harder when they are about to teeth but because I haven’t been making a habit of rubbing my fingers through his mouth (which seems a bit weird) then I have nothing to compare it to. Anyway, I’m assuming he is starting to teeth so have bought some Calpol Gel for his teeth. I have really nice memories of Calpol as a child so I’m pretty loyal to their brand. I did try their gel for myself and not only did it have a numbing and cooling effect it tasted as nice a their medicine. We also have some powder but I haven’t used that before so for the moment, whilst things don’t seem too bad I’ll stick to the gel.
The start f the second week was met with a perennial challenge of living in the UK. The rain. Would this mean that I would have to spend my first day cooped up in the house waiting for the skies to clear before taking Leo out? Nope not at all.
After a few hours of watching tv I decided to make the leap and walk to the park in the pouring rain. Our bugaboo pushchair has a really easy waterproof cover to put over it so I was certain that Leo would be kept warm and dry. I misjudged both the volume of water descending from the skies and the lack of waterproofing on my jacket, jeans, shoes and hat. After twenty minutes I could feel the rain water seeping through my jacket soaking my jumper and soaking through my jeans. So the first thing I did when I returned was to buy myself some waterproof trousers and find my waterproof jacket. If I’m going to go for another watery walk again, I’m going to be better prepared next time!
Fortunately, the rain cleared a little by the afternoon so after lunch I took a very grumpy Leo to Coventry Transport Museum for a couple of hours. I thought it was a safe bet as there is car park nearby, it's not the sort of museum that is going to be deathly quiet (ie Leo can kick off in there and I won’t mind too much) and it's not massive so we can get in and out quickly if needs be.
Leo screamed his way in to the centre of Coventry, screamed his way from the car park to the Transport Museum and screamed his way round until the World War II experience. After the cycle exhibition I couldn’t deal with his screams any more so I had to try something different. I took him out of his pushchair and carrying him in one arm and pushing the pushchair in the in the other. He immediately stopped crying and started was transfixed by the exhibitions. I know young babies love contrasts, different shapes and different colours so the Transport Museum must have been heaven for him. After about twenty minutes my arms started to ache so I had no choice but to put him back in his seat. Predictably he kicked off again, but I had to recover. I bit the bullet and did my best to bounce the pushchair through the different exhibitions. After a while he fell to sleep leaving me to enjoy the last few exhibitions looking at the rise of Jaguar, automotive engineering and the cars used to break the landspeed records. They were interesting enough but I did think that the Transport Museum sometimes focuses too heavily on the story of the City of Coventry rather than the automotive industry. The museum could play a really important role in inspiring the next generation to go into automotive engineering and sometimes I think the exhibitions that focus on the closure of the car plants over the years cast a negative image of the both the city and the car industry. Equally, whilst the Jaguar exhibition is interesting, as the UK’s foremost car manufacturers surely there is scope to do something more creative than simply giving a history of the company. Again, the museum should inspire and look to the future rather than look at the past with rose-tinted glasses.
The museum’s biggest weakness though is the need to use so many lifts or, as I did, carry the pushchair up and down several staircases. This is one of the those things that you don’t notice until you have children but the Transport Museum inexplicably has several small staircases leading up and down to different exhibitions. It's not really set out on different floors in some cases there are only about five or six steps. The lifts are also not very user friendly with doors that need to be pulled out rather than opening automatically, it makes it less family friendly than other similar museums which is a bit of shame. I did get some more exercise carrying Leo in the pushchair up and down myriad staircases though.
The coffee shop though is brilliant, lovely staff, spacious, decent coffee and facilities it couldn’t be better. So after a short coffee, a chat with Leo (once he had woken up in a good mood) then we set off home. Despite my criticisms of the museum the experience overall was very good and, importantly, it not only got us out the house for a few hours but it distracted Leo enough and I thought it was an interesting and new experience for him.
After a final meltdown in the car Florence returned home from work and gave me a much needed reprieve.