Not suitable for people with irony deficiency and
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Thursday, 17 June 2010


The other day the really nice man from the Blinds shop came to measure up for a new blackout blind for Boy 1's bedroom. Old one strangely frayed at edges - query - has Boy 1 been chewing it and if so how did he manage this? Also roller making strange rattling sound, possibly Lego inside.

I have been obsessed with blackout blinds ever since Boy 1 was a tiny baby and I became a disciple of Gina Ford's "The Contented Little Baby Book". I have no idea whether Gina is still in vogue but I remember at the time your baby either was or wasn't a Gina baby, and parenting sites would be full of highly charged debates about the wonderfulness or awfulness of the big G.

When we brought newborn Boy 1 home from the hospital Mr B and I were a bit unsure what to do next. Mr B gave him a tour of the flat, showed him his room and explained how the washing machine worked. Then we sat him on the sofa, looked at him for a while and asked him if he would like a cup of tea. We thought we had a new lodger rather than a baby. Imagine our surprise later that evening when our quiet new housemate suddenly transformed into a wailing, all-night party animal; and the partying didn't stop there, night after night it went on...There were moments when I found myself searching through my wallet for a receipt from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to see how long I had to return him and get a refund.

It became obvious we needed some sort of users manual on how to operate a baby. When should he nap? Do you change his nappy before or after a feed? How much on-line poker should he be allowed to play?

This is where Gina came in. Gina was all about routines for your baby, and her book contained exacting timetables to follow. Very exacting timetables. I can recall getting quite stressed if it was 9.02am and I still had not put "baby" in his cot for his first nap of the day; I could never remember which breast I had given him (probably one of my own but in my sleep deprived state even this was uncertain) and I never fancied the large glass of water I was supposed to drink after a feed (a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits was more what I had in mind). And Gina gave dire warnings about not letting "baby" nap after 5pm because otherwise he would not Go Down at 7pm, to such an extent that any signs of snooziness in Boy 1 at this time of day would give me panic attacks.

I am sort of coming to a point. Gina was very firm in advocating both blackout blinds and interlined curtains in "baby's" room, to ensure he slept well. The book included terrifying case studies of babies who were Woken by Light Coming into their Rooms. My favourite was where the father, a City trader, left for work at 5am each morning and the Light from the front door opening Woke the Baby; in this instance Gina seemed to condemn at one fell swoop bankers, fathers, and lack of suitable window dressings. So this explains my blinds fetish.

After the measuring up, important discussions took place about what colour blind would match the curtains. The blinds guy had lots of books of swatches, and I found myself telling him about a study on colour perception done by some super clever boffin guy in the US*. So I thought I'd tell you all about it too. I find it so funny. Then again it could just be the sheer relief that Boy 1 won't be Woken by Light Coming into his Room.

Warning - the language, as you might expect of young studenty types is strong, not suitable for children.


  1. People are always having new answers to how to raise babies. Conservatives like routines. Liberals like babies in the bed. On the whole. It's all political and there isn't an answer and mothers are to blame for everything. In case you didn't know that:).

  2. Gina Ford! I remember my friends and I all (attempted to) read that bloody book... and then held a ceremonial book burning! Apparently she DOESN'T EVEN HAVE CHILDREN OF HER OWN! Admittedly I rebelled so strongly against her advice that I ended up with a baby on my breast 24 hours a day... guaranteed to make any new mother feel worthless & incapable... don't get me started!

  3. there's a very funny 'reverse Gina' programme on the All Best Wishes blog (I think it's the last post but one). One does become a bit obsessed by blinds, and I'm still trying to find a way to explain British Summer Time to the Tiniest Trefusis, who insists it's morning at half past five from April onwards. x

  4. I bought Gina Ford's 'How to toilet train in three hours', or something similar, as half the house at one point seemed to be in nappies.

    We had star-charts going, and a rewards system, there were potties in various strategic points about the house with running water tinkling in the background, and there were puddles of wee near the front door and in the kitchen ...

    I went to brush one of my son's hair one day, and he screamed "Don't use that brush, that's the one Grandad used to scrub (Child 3's) poo off the couch!"

    Needless to say, I ditched the book and I'm not fussed if they're still in nappies when they start school.

  5. My sister's baby is a Disciple of Gina!!!! She is obsessed with Gina! "Baby" is 3 months old and goes to sleep at 7pm, is worken at 10 for a bottle and then sleeps til 7am! Apparently it works if you stick with it!!!

  6. Dr. Spock was the voice when I was young...
    I did the opposite...feeding on demand...I nursed whenever the babies fussed...
    they had their own cot but occasionally I'd bring them back into our bed and fall asleep nursing...
    I probably scarred them for life!
    They both seem fine at the moment, but it's early days. (29 and 31)

  7. You do make me laugh - loved this post... !However Gina dictatorial seems, I have to say I do agree about 'black out blinds' - worked for mine when she was little!! Now at 19 she can sleep on with full sun streaming through the window with the curtains wide open I hasten to add!! x

  8. Thank you for another painfully honest but also very humorous account of parenthood.

    It's encouraging to know that both child and parents do survive those first few days at home on their own and that a cup of tea helps all involved.

    SSG xx

  9. Hi girls! Love all your comments, thank you!
    LPC - yes, I do agree, mothers are to blame for everything, the other day Boy 1 who is getting body conscious and aware that lots of the others boys are bigger built than him, blamed me for his lack of muscles;
    Melissa - in the early days I had the baby on the breast all the time thing, actually I had a lot of trouble with breast feeding and Boy 1 was getting v thin, when at last I gave in and gave him a bottle (I had been completely indoctrinated about breastfeeding) he walloped the whole lot back and passed out, grateful at last to have a proper meal! Sometimes I consider becoming a sort of formula ninja, suddenly appearing at the side of new mothers who are struggling and giving them lovely big bottles of lovely formula;
    Mrs T - so thrilled you commented on my blog, welcome!
    Make Mine Mid - remind me not to brush my hair at your house! I have had a lot of similar adventures in potty training, oh the horror!
    FF - I must admit, Gina worked for me, I needed that structure, I just hope one day she will do timetables for housewives in their 40s ("9am unload dishwasher and do not start reading last week's newspaper" - oooh, I feel a post coming on!)
    Hostess - yes, v early days, I don't think you can tell if they have turned out ok until they are at least 70 - that is what my mother tells me, she is still hoping I will come out all right in the end
    Semi Expat - that is very reassuring, thank you, I do wonder if all the Gina stuff has made my boys a bit prima donna like and fussy (how can I sleep in this bed? the thread count on these sheets is just NOT acceptable!) but I think any pickiness they got from me, not Gina's routines!
    Dear SSG - Mr B and I were particularly clueless as we are both only children and had not been around babies at all growing up, probably we should have started by getting a goldfish.


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