‘Children and Art’- (‘Sunday in the Park with George’- Sondheim)

“Ah yes, The National Gallery in the centre of London- The perfect place to take a toddler” Said no-one ever! Or so I thought… Well my Dad was down in London last week just overnight, and he had a train booked home for late afternoon the day after his meeting, so his (obvious?!) suggestion was to meet for a cuppa was the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Yes it was close to Charing Cross, so easy for us as we get off our train straight from our home station, only 35 mins away. So technichally yes, it was an OK suggestion so far. Then we go into the café (not the posh part I might add) and don’t see any high chairs or any other children (It was a Wednesday morning, so not so unusual) so Dad goes to ask for a high chair. We get one (quite easily actually we were both just being blind!) and then get our refreshments. Then Dad suggests actually going intothe Gallery, with said toddler and let her have a ‘wander’ (probably part of his plan all along, I was just the mother who tries to say yes at any opportunity, rather than find an excuse through my apprehension). I’m literally saying “are you sure this is a good idea Dad?” as we slump off to find the nearest lift up to the artwork. My fears are the ones where we’re told she’s making too much noise, or getting in people’s way and she toddles around or accidentally touches something she’s not supposed to… Toddler is back in her pushchair at this point as getting to the lift didn’t look very near (in fact it wasn’t far at all), and I didn’t want to risk her legging it to the nearest exit or towards danger!

Back before having a child, I would have thought nothing of just strolling around a gallery or suggesting it as somewhere to meet up and maybe checking out the latest exhibitions. Living and working in London for so long, I did become a tad complacent and took it for granted that we had these places on our doorstep. Theatre is obviously more my cup of tea, but I did like to be cultured in other ways too.

So once we were at the top and in the upstairs foyer, Dad and I decide to let the munchkin out of the pushchair into the (relative) freedom (so she thinks-wearing reins) of the gallery. I shouldn’t have worried! It was actually really fun. Toddler loved stomping around the place and looking up at the big pictures of animals (“Wow” to the picture of the horse) and the groups of tourists actually found her very amusing. (I overheard a few “aww”s). She can be pretty entertaining (obviously not song and dance just yet…) and I loved being the mummy showing my little one round a place like that (or being pulled around).  In some of the rooms were groups of school children and students milling around with their notebooks and chatting away loudly, so I just found it funny when toddler started shouting and getting excited about the big rooms and saying “Tiger” at the ‘Surprised! (Tiger in a Tropical Storm)’ painting (omg she’s just so clever…!). Makes me really appreciate her cuteness and how lucky I am to have her. She makes me laugh so much and on days like that it just makes all the struggles of getting out of the house, and keeping her happy and fed, so worthwhile.

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I don’t think we’ll make a habit of it, but I will definitely take her to places like that again. What’s the worst that could happen ‘ey? And if anyone does say something, or looks down their nose at us at least we can say “They let us do that at the National Gallery”!

(And thanks to my Dad for taking us out of my comfort zone! x)

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‘The Guilty Ones’…? Or is it ‘mum-guilt’?

As part of another difficult week and as we slowly drag ourselves towards the end of January I have decided to look at some positives and update my page ‘Joy of Motherhood’ (take a look if you fancy). There is so much joy with baby at the moment, she asks for ‘cuggles’ and smiles with a cheeky squinty eye. I feel more and more guilty for the amount of low points that I have in these weeks. She is growing so much as a little girl and I want to give her the best of me. I really do need to take some time-out sometimes, even if its half an hour, and I feel as mothers we find it hard to admit it and say it to another person, but it really is true. ‘Mum-guilt’…it’s everywhere. This is one of the extreme examples of ‘mum-guilt’ and some of this guilt can be as simple as giving baby a packet meal instead of a homemade nutritious meal. But as mothers we do put ourselves through this feeling… daily, if not hourly.

Because of this and the realisation really hitting me hard while hubby has some crazy busy weeks, last week I had to make the trip up north again to stay with my parents. The only way I was going to get any time to breathe or get chance to go for a run or even to get out of the house without baby, was to stay with them. Frustratingly it takes a good 4 hour car journey to do it, and to get this result, but it had to be done.

One of the things we got up to was (in the frosty north) we went to Tropical World in Leeds. It was lovely to get into the warm even though we were ‘out and about’. It was great to let baby run about and feel like I could just wander slowly and just take in my surroundings for once, instead of constantly thinking about what we were going to do next, or how I was going to fill the time with her. However the only food I’d brought with us for her lunch was a microwave meal for 12 months+ from Tesco and no microwave to be seen. So while we enjoyed a hot cup of tea, I tried to feed her the cold pasta and veg… She spat it straight out. Joy. So I persisted a bit to see if she’d at least try a bit more and like it- alas no. So I went to find something that she might eat… the easiest/cheapest thing I found in the café was a (sliced) cheese and (wafer) ham sandwich (on white)… something I would normally never give her (‘mum-guilt!), but knew she needed something at least filling so she might not moan at me all afternoon. Thankfully she ate it and she had a little nap while we got our lunch a bit later. But then I had the guilt of eating a lovely salad (from a different café) while I just went for convenience with baby. Ugh. Can a mum never catch a break?!

I think I should have come more prepared, or maybe I should have let her eat food from my plate and not get a meal time to myself (as we tend to eat dinner together anyway).  I want to take pressure off myself, I really do. But those voices just creep in no matter what I decide and no matter what mood I’m in.

 

Ham & cheese sandwich went down well with baby

I think some parents on social media use ‘mum-guilt’ as a humourous way of explaining themselves sometimes, or as a ‘hashtag’ too readily, but the reality is we should talk about it a bit more and say these things out loud as NORMAL. This feeling of how we are bringing up our children and using shortcuts or getting time to ourselves, shouldn’t be seen as something to feel ‘guilty’ about and the more people use it as a ‘hashtag’, the more some mums might feel like these are things to feel guilty about. But we shouldn’t. No one is judging you for feeding your child, or for going for that half-hour run leaving baby with someone else. We should talk about these things in a humourous way because they’re so stupidly normal! Shortcuts are there for a reason, because we have so many other challenges to go through each day that to get 2 mins breath we might have to get the easy option for lunch. And that half hour time-out (if even possible) is there for a reason- to keep us sane and stay our own person in order to be able to develop our children and give them the best of us (or just keep baby alive).

I wish I had the luxury of childcare on tap or all the energy and time to cook infinite meals for baby but I just need to say out loud ‘I AM NOT A GUILTY MUM!’. Baby can have the best of me. And a ham and cheese sandwich is the best thing for both of us, sometimes. Hurrah!

 

‘Stuck in the middle’ with Toddler- Limbo, for all of us

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I really wasn’t sure what to write the blog about this week and to tell you the truth at points I was considering just jacking it in. We’ve been in the depths of a challenging spell (to put it mildly) with baby/toddler and the last couple of weeks and the weeks to come are going to make it even more on the tough side. A couple of weeks ago one of her ‘interesting’ developments was that she decided she didn’t want to sit in her high chair for lunch (*rolls eyes*) When did that become a ‘thing’?! And then doesn’t want her usual foods. Which makes lunch a ‘fun’ game of ‘what will baby eat?’. Carrot sticks today? Toast? Sausage? She likes blueberries today. She hates blueberries today- which all usually end up on the floor (*rolls eyes* again). So going through this routine every day for over a week, you can understand why my nerves are in shreds and I’m exhausted from the sudden broken nights again.

In myself, I feel in a state of limbo/purgatory. We have a toddler who can’t yet communicate (words like ‘woof’, duck impressions and ‘ga-ga’ aren’t really that useful) and yet is putting demands on us 24/7 which inevitably makes me desperate for some ‘time off’. She points to things and grunts and usually she’s not allowed said thing (a glass or my phone…), or just walks around crying and I just don’t know how to help!?- no amount of ‘Row row row your boat’ or ‘See the bunnies sleeping…’ is going to make a dent. Husband is in a crazy hectic time with work and I am so keen to get a job and put baby in nursery for a couple of days, but so far the job search and applications have been fruitless (today I had yet another rejection email ‘sorry you haven’t been shortlisted…’ blah…). So therefore the days and ideals of being a full-time parent and being ‘fine’ with it seem to be fading away.  Of course we have moments of complete joy and she just loves tickles and kisses at the moment and will even toddle over to me shouting ‘cuggle’ (cuddle) colliding with my legs until I pick her up…so it’s not all bad and I do need to remind myself of that. But it would be great if baby learnt the whole English language sharpish.

I do now envy the mums who managed to go back to work easily into their same jobs but part-time and the ones who got a choice to go gradually back into a job they enjoy a few days a week, and then spend the few days they have with baby relishing in the tantrums and challenges, knowing that the next couple of days they would be in a baby-free zone of an office or similar. Ah the dream of a ‘day off’ in the workplace and the sweet free hours of commuting. (One of my earlier blogs ‘To work or not to work…’ explains a bit more as to why I’m not one of those lucky few.)

So bring on the job search (which has been going on since October…) I’m finding it difficult to find a job which uses my skills, something that I would enjoy, that would pay enough for childcare and isn’t too far from home. I’m going round in circles looking at jobs in the Theatre world (part-time doesn’t seem to exist..?!) and then changing my mind and looking at anything, even cafes and shops. I just know I’d find those kind of jobs difficult to find exciting, but then with baby at home, isn’t that enough for now? But then why should I lump for just ‘enough’? (If anyone has any ideas please send me a message.)

So off I go again, back on the job vacancy internet trails while baby naps, and while I’m at it search for things for us to go and do next week while I full-time parent with not a Single. Hour. Off. Wish me luck! Or should I say, tell me to ‘break a leg’! And off we go again, venturing into the unknown…

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Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

 

Happy New Year!

As I come downstairs after about the 5th time of having to settle my coughing baby during her nap, I think how criminal it is that babies pick up every bug, germ and virus and how much we suffer the consequences. Baby has had her second cough/cold of the season right over Christmas… typical.

I then caught ‘it’ on Christmas Eve and have had mouth ulcers and a bunged up nose this whole week… attractive.

It was pretty inevitable actually. The more activities we did before setting off up north (including soft-play and a visit to Santa’s Grotto) meant we were in contact with a lot more germ-ridden babies than usual, as obviously even with just a ‘little cold’ it was fine for their parents to drag them out anyway…(?!) Why is it that even when we’re told to keep babies at home when they’re ill we still insist that they go out and mingle with all the other babies? Especially over the holidays. Clearly I would never do this. Would I?? The reason I feel frustrated is because at said ‘Santa’s Grotto’ while we were waiting outside, another toddler, probably thinking they were ‘playing’, purposefully ‘coughed’ right at baby… (the mum didn’t even say anything!?) and then inside, another parent had brought along their child who was ‘not contagious’ but still with the appearance of hand/foot/mouth illness (that thankfully we’ve managed to avoid until now as its one of the bugs that hits mainly nurseries…).

So now we have to put up with being woken (what feels like) every hour of the night and a snotty, coughing, clingy baby during the day, feeling sorry for herself and not eating her food… I roll my eyes constantly and I’m sitting here, so very tired with no taste buds left- no I can’t stop kissing my baby even when she’s snotting in my face and the cuddles are extra long. Trust me to catch the cold bug because I’ve let the cuddly baby take a few naps on me and snot everywhere. So much for enjoying all this Christmas chocolate we have lying around the house that I can’t even taste (obviously out of reach of baby…). At least while we hibernate for a week or two I can still enjoy all the films showing on TV and baby’s face as she’s experiencing everything for the first time.

So I wanted to wish you all a healthy AND happy New Year (emphasis on the healthy), while off I go to dab some TCP onto my tongue and swirl warm salt water around my mouth.

‘I’m dreaming of a ‘fun, stress-free’ Christmas…’

So our long weekend ended up being lovely, despite my anxieties and all of our stresses about staying somewhere new. It is hard when nothing is where you want it to be and things like the second room at the air bnb being tiny and not fitting the cot, so we all had to bunk in together… I roll my eyes when things like that happen. Why put on your house description that there is enough space for families, when in reality this is only true if you don’t mind sleeping in the same room…? Especially when the baby gets a cough that exact week and wont stop coughing throughout the night for the whole time! We basically ran the weekend on about 4 hours of broken sleep. So using caffiene and matchsticks on our eyes, we did lots of ‘fun’ things with baby like going to a butterfly farm- a good tip there- a good way to keep warm in the freezing weather is go to a tropical centre that’s kept toasty warm; walking round markets, and finding different ways to not spend loads of money on food when the nearest ‘supermarket’ was a Waitrose… again I roll my eyes. Trust us to pick a place where Waitrose is the nearest shop. Good job we don’t live there! Makes me reaffirm my opinion that home is best, where everything is ‘just so’ and we are near a choice of shops and no silly expensive shops with no other choice.

The weekend away also seemed to mark the beginnings of Christmas, such as the lights being switched on, the ‘black-Friday’ sales and all the shops and pubs deciding to play Christmas music non-stop. This starts to create its own pressure on all of us, giving the impression that Christmas is creaping up on us sooner than it actually is, making us all think we need to start buying presents and get our decorations up asap, even though there’s still 3 weeks to go. Day 1 and as we walked around a museum (still in November) I kept thinking ‘Ooh the gift shop might have Christmas present ideas… What can I buy?!’ And yes, granted this might be a good way to do the Christmas shopping, it was still only November. The pressure and the (not so) subliminal messages got to us on the first day and by day 2 we had bought 3 Christmas presents already. Typical.

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So now we’re back home and I now feel like the artificial tree should come out of its’ box already, but as hubby kept saying last week ‘It’s only November!’ and also with a toddler on the loose, it’s probably sensible that the decorations go up as late as possible. So let’s work this out… baby and I are going up north the week before Christmas, that leaves us with 2 weeks still at home, so maybe we have them up for a week and a half, therefore meaning the tree goes up this weekend?! Although I was tempted to bring it forward to the weekend just gone… And Saturday was December 1st, so hubby couldn’t use the excuse that ‘it’s only November!’… (I was sneaky and took baby and hubby to the local massive garden centre with all the decorations, gifts and a couple of reindeer out the back to get him into the festive spirit..! mwahaha). So that’s decided. This week it is!

I think one point I have to raise is that this time of year feels like the polar opposite to how I would spend the run up to Christmases in the past (yes the ghost of Christmas past is creeping up behind me…). Up to a year ago, the whole of December would be spent going to (some pretty memorable) Christmas parties, mostly with work- one bonus of working in West-End Theatres is that they would have the parties nearby, at some pretty cool venues (such as Cafe de Paris and the Hippodrome) and would always go full out to treat us at Christmas. We’re talking at least 2 events with an extra for our department. So with a different outfit for each and obviously glamming up with hair, nails, etc, I was in my element at this time of year. The months before spent getting as fit and ‘slim’ as I could to feel the best I could (forget ‘no carbs before Marbs’, I was all ‘No Christmas without fitness’…!). Looking back I now realise that there wasn’t any time to worry or stress about presents for family and friends or decorating the house as I was spending nearly the whole time preparing for or recovering from said parties…! Now though, I get to really enjoy the mince pies and not miss any of ‘Strictly’ or ‘I’m a Celeb’… not to say I’m letting myself go, because running and keeping fit still makes me feel more myself and sane, but it is nice to cosy up with a few more treats (and of course wrapping all those pressies!).

Christmas is upon us! Let’s bring the joy and merriment of the season to us all and have as much fun as possible, leaving our anxieties and stresses behind. I feel like my main purpose of my life now is to keep baby happy and this feels even more so throughout the entirety of December, but we can at least plan to do fun ‘festive’ things to cheer us all up and keep us busy. Let’s warm up these cold winter evenings with festive beverages (I cracked open the port last night…mmm) and treats and cuddle up with our nearest and dearest. Ours will be a quiet one until baby and I get to Yorkshire but I will try my best to make this a fun 2nd Christmas for our little one. Even though she still wont remember it and hardly knows what’s going on. Merry December and Advent to one and all! xx

‘We’re all going on an…Autumn…holiday’- Planning a break with a toddler.

Before I get into the next blog, thought I’d take you back to the 1 year injection results…

So day 11: she was a bit out of sorts again but I was encouraged by her excited noises of ‘ooh’ and ‘oh’ reading her bedtime story…- boy I was wrong to be ‘encouraged’… she woke every hour of the night… hubby and I took alternate ‘get ups’ without having to say anything (I love it when these silent agreements work out).

Day 12: Spots/rash all over her torso. (Textbook –typical, baby knows exactly what the red book says!) Out of sorts still. We braved the swings and the library, trying to keep covered up and no fuss of the spots. I used moisturiser on her before bed (not sure if that was the right thing to do?!) and I had a draft email in my head to send to the swimming teacher in the morning if they were still showing in the morning (didn’t want to worry all the other mums).

Day 14: Spots have cleared. Hurrah! (Hubby looked it up and thankfully the NHS guidelines say that the rash after injections are NOT contageous anyway!) It really was just a brief showing.

So now that we are all (seemingly) back to ‘normal’* we decided that after a year, we all now deserve a break to somewhere different and we have (finally) booked ourselves an ‘air bnb’ for 3 nights away this week. Obviously this isn’t counting times we’ve stayed with the grandparents on either side (which even then has only been a handful of times). But to have a break away just the 3 of us, feels like a pretty indulgent thing to do (even though we’re only driving 2 hours to do it!).

So having a little one somewhat limits us to what we wanted to do, easily, (we’re talking without stress). We can’t stay in a hotel, what with having to stay in the room when she goes to bed (dull!). And unfortunately baby is still too young to appreciate or make the most of anywhere like Centre Parks or the like (I can’t wait to go on those fun trips!). So a house/cottage short stay will have to do. We also didn’t want to drive too far, as spending a whole day in the car/train/plane pretty much defeats the point of a ‘holiday’ doesn’t it?- We drew a 2-3 hour circumference line around where we live and decided where looked ‘nice’ or where we haven’t been before.

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We also didn’t want to go abroad, A) because we’d have to buy a last-minute passport for baby, B) travel time, and C) money. Hubby already had these few days booked off work, so no matter what happened, we at least had some free days to play with, but to go away, just stay anywhere different from this house, makes it feel a little bit more special. A bit different. A change is as good as a rest… or so they say? Not sure how true this can be with a baby/toddler? Are we not just doing the same things as always, only in a different location? As I’ve said in previous blogs, it is great to at least try and shake up the routine from time-to-time (even though I still find this a challenge). It helps keep us all sane and if baby isn’t sleeping so well, it might just tire them out with different things to see and do in the day, giving them lots to mull over and learn in their (long) sleep (or so we hope!).

So we have booked it and if all goes to plan, we also hope to see a couple of family members (who have yet to meet baby) while we’re there. We’ve written off the money, justifying it by the fact that we havent actually paid for a break for ourselves for nearly 2 years and we obviously deserve it! I’m even finding the packing quite exciting(!) just a couple of days to go. Lets just hope baby plays ball and doesn’t moan too much or give us too much broken sleep. I mean we’re tired enough already. And she must know it’s a holiday right?!

Now back to the packing!!

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Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

*Think I spoke too soon when I originally wrote this as she now has a horrible cough 😦

‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, helps the dreaded 1 year injections…

I’ve spent some of the last week messaging the other NCT mummies, finding out from the ones who’ve already been, how the jabs have affected their little ones. They didn’t seem to have much to report, which was either reassuring or a lie. It now seems pretty apt that baby’s jabs fell over Halloween- The anticipation was indeed worthy of the outcome…

So Tuesday was the fateful day, so we tried to do something nice with baby in the morning to balance out the pain that was to come in the afternoon. Plus daddy was going to be at work when we had to go for the appointment, so I was up for anything to distract us/me mainly from what was to come later. So we went shoe shopping…baby is a big-foot at size 5f so straight into big-girl shoes!

Anyway, back to the task in hand and baby and I’s book-reading session in the waiting room was rudely interrupted by the nurse calling us in.

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After a blur of needles (4!) and crying and leg swapping and trousers, we are sent on our way to deal with the consequences.

So the days following pretty much went like this:

  • First evening (Tues, appointment was at 15:30) wasn’t too bad, apart from finding a scratch (which the nurse failed to mention at the time) going to one of the injection holes (how to make a bad thing worse- poor baby!), and then before bed she got a temperature..
  • Day 2 (Wed): Temperature still in the morning so calpol was our saviour, pretty moany and clingy all day and off her food. Injection points tender and getting bruised.
  • Day 3 (Thurs): Friends over in the morning (good distraction), so she seemed a bit better. Then took her for a long walk to avoid being moaned at all afternoon. Still pretty moany and off her food again. Then that evening, she vomited- I heard a wretch from our bedroom, ran in, put the big light on and found her sitting up in her cot, vomiting onto her sleep-bag- my instinct was to put my hand under(?!)… eww… the things we would do for our babies…
  • Day 4 (Fri): Clingy and pale still and very cuddly after her long nap. Still off her food- we had a plastic bowl close by all day in case of vomiting (new fun toy)… but we were ok. Then that evening it’s the ‘go up ten times before she’ll settle to sleep’ scenario. I would suggest not going up every time they cry, but the girl knows how to get my attention- chucks her dummy (literally) out of the cot.
  • Day 5 (Sat): Seems to be eating a bit more today, especially this evening but will the moaning never end?! All day! Arghh! I have a feeling some of it is teething too, although she already has 14 teeth, she thinks more are necessary at 1 year old…?! This weekend we’re now also competing with fireworks going off all around the houses- I’m checking the monitor screen with every pop and crash. I think I might dive into the stronger stuff this evening…*
  • Day 6 (Sun): Much better day (less of me having a nervous breakdown)- baby a bit less moany and I had more time to spend with her. Still not eating normally, maybe 70%. Less fireworks to contend with my nerves…
  • Gradual improvements so far and a strong return of the dancing and animal impressions (see ‘The Joy of Motherhood’ page)… I’ll let you know if this changes at a later date.

As per usual I call on my friend google (see my blog ‘Happy talk…’) but obviously no one can tell you how long this fresh hell will last…?! ‘Every baby is different’ (rolls eyes) and baby’s red book just says that symptoms could last up to 6 weeks! (They better not!) I assume if she doesn’t eat normally for a week we should see a doctor…? Will they look at us patronisingly once again and say ‘you know your own baby’ (now a toddler)…again? I really hope not.

The sad thing is, we do this to our babies to prevent them getting any worse illnesses and then we have to go through all this agony and feeling of guilt and questioning what we’re doing. Let’s just say that this week wasn’t the all-singing/all-dancing week that we usually entertain with and hope to give baby. My anxiety has gone back up a notch and I have this under current of  feeling that we’re taking a few steps back rather than forwards. But we’ll get there- I’ll keep running to stay sane but in the meantime I’ll crack open the choccies that hubby gave me to make me feel better on ‘vomit night’, despite the diet… well there could be worse things to crack open!

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*(Most of day 5 was actually a bit of a blur as I was trying to make baby’s food for the week and then while making my lunch I burnt my hand on boiling soup straight out of the microwave, and crying that it was all pretty crap whilst being moaned at all day, which meant the wine felt like a suitable healer that evening… but we’re all still alive. Yay!)

‘Dancing through life’- Birthday week up north

Baby turned 1 last week. We made it a whole year! Hurrah!

Because we went to stay with family last week to celebrate, we missed her very last sensory class, so the week before was her ‘graduation’ from Baby Sensory. We’ve been going to Baby Sensory since she was 11 weeks old so in the last month or so we’ve found it very strange now that she was nearly 1, that being one of the older babies, the mums with 8 week old babies look at you like you’re the ‘experienced’ one…?! I told them that you blink and that time is gone, even though at the time, you feel like the night feeds and the struggles and lack of sleep will never end. Even getting a shower and brushing your teeth was an achievement. But now, baby has dropped down to just 2 milks a day and 3 full meals plus snacks. And (wobbly) walking! –Ah my little ‘drunk’ toddler. (Toddler?! How on earth did that happen?!) Their little ones were falling asleep on the air bed in the play area. Baby was trying to jump on them…

So back to last week and transferring my ‘experience’ to real life, staying away from home at my parents’ house. Being away from home makes me realise that I know my own mind* about baby now. I do get a little stressed (sorry hubby) if we’re running late for a nap or meal time. This makes visiting multiple relatives in less than a week a bit of a timetable challenge. While spending weeks away like this I of course have to spend baby’s morning nap putting on a full face of makeup each morning , in case of visits to/from every Tom, Dick or Harry, keeping up my best appearances- ‘Yes I am a full time mummy, but ooh don’t I look wide awake’!

We managed to fit everything in, just, with a few baby tantrums in the car. But you see this is why I stress about routine- because I know my baby and I know what she can get like! It’s all set out to make our lives a lot easier and avoid the moaning and whining- driving round Yorkshire with a screaming baby is not a fun jaunt in the countryside!

Another problem with short trips like this is that you’re constantly trying to keep everyone happy, especially those who don’t get to see baby very often. My feelings get pushed to the bottom of the list and although the relatives all say that ‘it doesn’t matter’ and to ‘do whatever’s easiest for you’, you know this wont happen. With only 4 days to fit in seeing over 20 people, you know some things have got to give…mainly baby’s naps and mealtimes. But of course it is easy to moan but I do love catching up with everyone and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And as baby dances/bounces her way through her birthday parties, I use matchsticks to keep my eyes open. We just sacrifice ourselves for a day or 2 and then thankfully have a very tired-out baby who (almost) sleeps through the night- hurrah!

On a side note, a week like this is probably normal for a lot of mums, but for me, living hours away from family and most friends, we don’t actually do much on a ‘normal’ week. We fill our days with walks up to the park and trips to the library, with an occasional meet up with other mums.

Which is why when I went for a much needed run on the chilly Friday morning, I had a huge feeling of decompression and relief. My body is definitely feeling last week- both baby and I are nursing a cold and I hasten to say we both need a holiday from our ‘holiday’.

(*am a control freak).

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‘Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk…’

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Especially when it comes to babies. We can look back and either be happy with the way we muddled through things, or we can regret those little things we did to make our lives a bit easier. Such as giving baby a dummy to help aid sleep. In some ways I’m glad we have an easy tool to use to indicate sleepy-time, but in other ways, I think we’ve made a bit of a rod for our own backs as we’ll have to get her off it at some point… So we must get these ideas and tools from somewhere and in this day-and-age a lot of that is from our quick-fix: the internet!

One thing that I’ve wanted address since starting this blog is mums’ internet forums (not naming names but squash the words ‘internet’ and ‘mums’ together). They can be useful in looking up things you might be concerned about and see other parents’ opinions/tips. Believe me I looked up all sorts near the beginning, such as ‘why is my baby pooing so much’ or ‘baby hasn’t pooed for 36 hours. Is this normal?’ (Sorry for the poo-chat peeps… but that always seemed to be related to the important stuff). However they are beyond necessary when headlines pop up on social media such as ‘Do I cuddle my baby too much?’ (I mean what??!!) This wouldn’t have even popped into my head had this not been highlighted in a forum/parent ‘advice’ site. I just think that we are struggling through so many things when we are learning how to parent our little bundles of joy and questions like this are just NOT HELPFUL! A lot of these chats and headlines just put negative thoughts and ideas into mum’s heads. I don’t know about you, but I was worrying more than ever about everything- e.g. what to do when baby projectile vomits?; What and how much I’m feeding her.; Naps- where and how long?

photography of person using laptop
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I admit the cuddling one is an extreme example and when you read the articles that talk about these kinds of subjects, they are mostly a discussion about spoiling children and techniques for getting baby to sleep. But I just think they are so young, even with these opinions out there, I just think there is no way you can cuddle your baby, your offspring, your little bean too much. They deserve all the cuddles. We brought them onto this earth, if she is crying I will go and cuddle her. ‘Cry it out’… what even is that?! Yes of course some babies do cry a lot and when they need to sleep this can be the worst cry of all. But it’s all what you yourself can tollerate and feel is right. We luckily didn’t have it too bad when we were trying to wean baby off the night feeds and yes the dummy really helped!

I don’t profess to be an advice blog myself or want to change peoples opinions of these sites as they can be useful, especially when it might be difficult to even leave the house, and you are concerned about something small, but my advice to new mums is to avoid the internet (except for the NHS website and my blog…obviously!) Go with your instincts or go back to basics. As the mother of an 11 month old you sometimes forget the advice you were given at the beginning/before birth, as you look less and less at the minute details. E.g. she hasn’t pooed all day or has a cough.

glass bottle filled with black straw on brown wooden table
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We had so much hands-on advice before the birth about giving birth, labour and feeding etc, from NCT classes. And then immediately after the birth, you get a couple of health visits to help with your recovery and check baby is still alive. And then a few clinics are around for things such as breastfeeding or weighing the baby. But apart from that, you are just left to your own devices to muddle through being a parent. I need to remind myself of this advice quite frequently- just yesterday I was googling what bottle/cup to use when we progress onto cows milk. Obviously every different website gives different opinions to this question and the discussions are full of all sorts. But the resounding answer is to do what is best for your individual baby.

I would also say if you do decide to read these sites and ‘chats’ and ‘parent advice forums’, take it all with a pinch of salt. You are the parent. You know what your baby needs. If there is something you’re genuinely worried about, phone the NHS 111 line or visit your GP. You might feel silly asking at the time, but believe me, they’ve probably heard it all.