Pippin Explores – Speke Hall, Merseyside

I said we’d head back to Speke Hall when we got a chance, because Pippin slept through the whole trip last time.

We also had the advantage of better weather and a near empty property, so we tackled both the maze and the Childe of Hale walk.

We did the maze three, four, five time? I lost count. But Pippin adored it, especially climbing up and over all the bridges. We still got lost even though we’d been in it more than once, and apparently they change the route periodically using gates, so I guess we will get lost next time too!

The walk takes you through woodland, following the story of the English giant, John Middleton. Following the story through will lead you to various activities, including the giant’s huge musical instruments and an amazing woodland adventure playground (that the parents were enjoying as much as the adults!).

From a practical point of view, as a mum to a baby with a dairy allergy, we were able to get her soup and bread for her lunch, and the baby change facilities are easy to access and are separate to the main toilets – meaning that either mum or dad can change baby.

Speke is fast becoming my favourite local National Trust property, and we are definitely heading back for their Tudor May Day Celebrations.

Why I try not to say no

I’m going to start this whole post by saying it doesn’t always work. Sometimes, a sharp ‘no’ just slips out; sometimes I’ll admit it is during one of my daughter’s screaming tantrums, but by and large we don’t say no to her – unless it is really necessary.

When Pippin began showing all the signs of a baby about to crawl I floated the idea to my husband of minimising our use of the word ‘no’. Every indication led me to believe that Pippin was going to be a wilful little girl, and my experience of wilful little girls includes the liberal use of the word ‘no’, usually unheeded.

The thing is you need something that gets their attention. In a potentially dangerous situation you want their attention fast, and if no is something you hear multiple times a day then it just loses all its meaning.

That’s not to say we don’t have limits, or prevent her from doing things, because we do, we just phrase it slightly differently.

We talk a lot about ‘gentle hands’. She can be very heavy handed, as most toddlers are, so if she is we get down to her level and explain about being gentle.

We’ve talked to her a lot about not touching the oven and hob, because it is hot and would hurt, and shown her the steam. As of yet she hasn’t tried to touch it, and obviously she’s never alone near it anyway. She does point and tell me it’s hot (ot, ot) whenever she sees it.

Whereas when she picked up a stone and went to put it in her mouth, and mummy shouted ‘no’ she stopped. Immediately. She also cried and I felt bloody awful, but it did avert a situation that could have been dangerous. A cuddle and an explanation solved the tears anyway.

No, for us, will always be reserved for occasions where it is really needed.