Talking About Death With A Four-Year-Old.


“I’ll always be able to count on you, won’t I mummy?” Freya asked.

We were sat at the dining table where she was drawing before dinner.

“Of course. Always.” I answered, gently rubbing her back. She looked up from her work and smiled sweetly. What a lovely mother/daughter moment.

“Not when you’re dead,” she added.

I didn’t even flinch. “Well, no, maybe not then.”

I’m getting used to having my hopefully not impending demise thrust in my face. It’s like some sort of hardcore therapy.

As an older mum, dying before she’s grown is a background worry. It was one of those things that used to keep me awake at night when I was pregnant and a billion hormones were racing around my body causing havoc. What if I’m not there when she’s a teenager; when she goes to uni; when she goes off backpacking (and I can’t go with her); when she gets married? Maybe younger mums worry about that sort of thing too? Maybe having children makes you think more about your own mortality?

People, young and old, die everyday. I figured there was no point in thinking about something I largely have no control over. So I didn’t. Or at least I tried not to. Until now,  when that option has rather been taken away from me.

I know just who to blame for her current fascination with death. I’m looking at you, Pixar and Disney.

An advert for their new film, Coco, came on television one night and prompted a discussion about Day Of The Dead. I think I did a pretty good job of explaining what it was in a positive and hopeful way – as, to me, it seems like a colourful, life-affirming holiday.

But then, later, as we all sat snuggled together in the warm, darkened living room in the wind down before bed, she shocked us when she said to Mark: “If you die, I’ll be fine because mummy will be here to look after me.”

It was the almost “nur nur ne nur nur” way she said it that took us by surprise. I turned from raising my eyebrows at Mark, back to Freya to try and find something appropriate to say. Before I had chance her little face crumbled.

“But…but…if you die,” she said to me. “I will be all on my own.”

Big fat tears started rolling down her face. She looked utterly heartbroken. And then, suddenly, I was crying too.

Wait, what. No. That isn’t supposed to happen – although she had just tapped straight into one of my nightmares so maybe it’s forgivable?

I wiped away my tears and Mark and I both worked to reassure her that we are not going to die and, even if we did, she has lots of people who love her, including my brother who has already agreed to raise her should anything happen to us.

It seemed to sooth her.

We’ve had further conversations about what happens when you die. I was actually worried about this – as someone without any religious faith – but I’ve been able to talk to her about all sorts of beliefs (it just so happened that our local mosque was holding an open day so I was able to take her there too as part of our general learning). I explained that when she’s older she will be able to decide what she does or doesn’t believe in, just like I did.


She seemed ok about it but the four-year-old mind is a mysterious beast and now, every so often, she’ll just randomly drop it into conversation. We might be talking about something completely unrelated or be in the middle of the food shop. At first I asked her if she had anything else she wanted to say about it but it seems she just wants to let me know that she knows. It’s like living with some sort of mini Grim Reaper.

Now most of our conversations go a bit like this.

Her in the middle of dinner: “I’ll miss you when you die, Mummy.”

Me: “Thank you. Eat some more peas.”

I know it’s fairly normal at her age to start thinking about death but have any of you got any tips? Anything specific I should or shouldn’t be doing?

Little Hearts, Big Love



Reasons My Four-Year-Old Woke Last Night (Plus Tips For Coping With Sleep Deprivation).


The mind of a four-year-old seems to be a miraculous, if slightly terrifying, thing.

Since starting school in September, Freya has amazed me with how much she has learnt. She’s like a little sponge soaking it all up. The trouble is, at night she seems to be squeezing that sponge to get the excess out.

The first time she woke up last night was probably legitimate. She thought there was a spider on her pillow, which she some how saw in the pitch-black (an extensive search by light of my phone revealed that was not the case).

Next she started awake wondering why she didn’t win any money on the amusements when we were on holiday last week. You have to go through the amusements to get to the disco/soft play and I let her go on some of the little rides, which is why she didn’t win any money.

Then she needed a “huggle” (blaming Topsy and Tim’s gran for that one).

A drink (ok).

Woke up crying that she doesn’t have any friends. She does, I listed half a dozen.

Needed the toilet (legitimate).

Was worried that she will never get married. I explained, with as much patience as I had at 1am, that it’s not something to worry about now OR EVER and that she needed to GO TO SLEEP.

Other nights have included fears about being unable to write the letter a, pondering what you get if you mix red and yellow together and letting me know she doesn’t like being called “Banana Head”. I have never called her that, for the record.

Despite all the wake ups she was ready to go at 4.17am today (grrr changing the clocks) which was obviously not happening and so she fidgeted and sighed loudly until 5am when I finally gave up.

Sadly, this sleeplessness isn’t a new thing.

I know we like to make jokes about sleep (or rather lack of it) when our babies are young but I genuinely believe it’s more of a problem than we give it credit for. People told me I had PND in her first year when she would wake every 10 minutes some nights but I knew, while I was really sad (even though I had the baby I wanted more than anything in the world), sheer exhaustion was behind it. If I even got a tiny bit more sleep, I felt better (I still do).

People also told me, with confidence, she would start sleeping at three months, one, 18 months, two, three and now? They have given up asking, I suppose assuming she just sleeps.

The bags under my eyes tell a different story (not to mention the weight I’ve put on from comfort eating). It’s a lot better than it was but her little brain just doesn’t seem to be able to switch off. As the experts say there is nothing physically wrong with her, there isn’t much help available (at least, that doesn’t involve just letting her cry, which is not something I want to do).

And, of course, it doesn’t just create problems for me but her too. Generally she is a happy girl but as the day wears on and she gets more tired, she gets manic. There are no naps any more (not that she was ever much of a napper) so we just take a not much fun trip to meltdown city when she gets home from school.

I’ve tried all sorts to try and help her (and me) over the years from cranial osteopathy to a Grow Clock, restrictive diets to baths before bed, warm drinks to white noise and massage to reward charts but I’ve kind of just accepted now that I have one of those non-sleeping children. As I’ve been told numerous times “She won’t be like this when she’s 15, you’ll have to drag her out of bed.” I have my doubts about that but at least now I can talk to her about it and explain why sleep is important for all of us. Some nights are better than others. I do my best to keep calm and carry on, bake Halloween gingerbread  (recipe here) at 6am and enjoy the sunrise.

After more than four years of it, I have realised a few things that help get me through the day.

no sleep

Have you got a non-sleeper? How do you get through the day following the night before?

My Sunday Photo – August 27th, 2017.

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My baby is four. Can you believe it? I can’t, even though I am surrounded by cards and balloons with it on.

I had an idea of where I wanted to take her birthday photo this year, which I use on thank you cards, but when I tried it, I just couldn’t get the shot I had in my mind. It was a bit frustrating. Not only did it start raining but the bandstand (see below) just didn’t work, for all sorts of reasons. Luckily it did make for a lovely shelter during the downpour.

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Then one night we decided to head up to Mousehold Heath to let Freya run off some energy and I grabbed the balloon. I got some nice shots with Norwich as a backdrop and have used one of those on the card (along with some random ones).

Do you do special yearly photos? I wonder how long she will let me do it for?

To see what other people have snapped for this week’s My Sunday Photo please click on the camera below.

Wishing you all a lovely week.