It feels like ages since I’ve done a general update; I suppose because I was focussing on completing my end of year round up which included a general overview of December. In reality though it’s only been just over a month which is actually usual. Time seemed to take on a really different speed through the Christmas period with the whole thing seeming to fly by yet the days feeling long and timeless. For several years we’ve always wondered whether spending Christmas alone with just Little H was the right decision. However, this year, especially with Little Z, we finally concluded that just being together in our little family really was the right way for us to spend ‘The Big Day’. We had such a wonderful time together playing, eating and ‘relaxing’ (as much as parents can). Of course we loved seeing all our family over various days but after a stint of family and friends days leading-up to New Year, we were all quite wiped out!
Little H was genuinely excited about Christmas this year. I tried as best I could to get her involved in the preparations. She helped me to decorate the tree, picking out the different decorations for me to hang. In our drive to be more eco-friendly (I need to do an update on that soon too!) we also made some of our own wrapping paper using brown paper and paint (I forgot to by an ink pad – face-palm moment). It was a bit of an average outcome but Little H enjoyed it. We made a hand wreath too…which I forgot to take a pic of but it’s in the loft for next year!
We also got our bake on! My sister came over a couple of weekends before Christmas Day and gave Little H various gifts including a penguin cookie kit. That got made the next day to much delight! Then on Christmas Eve we russelled up a batch of chocolate chip buns so Little H would have a nice treat for pudding the next day. After I got a snazzy Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas, we then took the opportunity to make a caramelised apple upside down cake for when Sam’s family and then my Dad came down to visit us. Little H was really proud of the cake and showed everyone the moment they arrived! I’ve also used it on my own to make a few other things, including some bread on New Years Day, but I’m really hoping that Little H and I can do more baking together over the next year. I really want her to have a love and confidence for cooking and baking in the same way I have after watching and learning from my Mum.
Finally arriving in 2019 feels a little strange though because suddenly going back to work feels ever closer. Immediately after Christmas I cut one of Little Z’s day feeds and in the next couple of weeks I’ll need to cut the mid-morning feed too. I’m planning on keeping the morning feed until she starts nursery. Little H was already on formula feeds during the day by this point so I didn’t have the wrench of cutting out breastfeeds which I was quite content doing. It has made me feel a little uneasy about returning to work because I have so enjoyed that continued connection with Little Z. But I intend to keep the bedtime feed (and any night feeds she continues to want) for the foreseeable future which is my silver lining.
The thought of going back to the office is a little daunting too. I’m going in at the end of January to meet my new manager which will be the longest I have left Little Z. Ever. It will also be almost 12 months since I have been in my office – for various reasons I haven’t been in to visit. I know that I will get myself back-up to speed once I’ve settled back into the work routine. I know because I’ve done it before. But it is hard not to feel a bit anxious after 13 months of not using that part of my brain or knowledge! I doubt it’s ever easy to return to work after a child though. A friend of mine (“Hi Carol!” if you read this!) is going back shortly when her little one will be less than 4 months old and this has made me grateful of having the time with Little Z; the steep re-learning curve (and lack of salary!) will just be the cost I have to pay for that!
As we came into the New Year, Little Z was poorly with a virus. I think it was the result of a cold. But she had a temperature for a couple of days which I found really stressful. After Little H had to go to hospital because of a temperature-induced convulsion and Little Z was admitted at 6 weeks old with a virus, I have a real anxiety with fevers which I struggle to manage. Whilst checking her temperature the first night, I’ll admit that I got upset as it gave me a real flashback to that night when she was a tiny baby and I realised she to be checked. I hope with time that fear will pass.
Moving on from those slightly more negative updates, we also decided we needed to implement The Den again. Little Z is so mobile that she cannot be left unattended for even a few seconds without getting to something hazardous. After going to our friends for lunch and temporarily putting Little Z in theirs, we realised how convenient it would be. I couldn’t think where to put it, but Sam suggested we move the chair out from the window bay. So after we packed away the Christmas decorations, we installed the ‘cage’ again. This time we put it on the ‘Totter and Tumble’ mat and it looks much smarter. So far Little Z has enjoyed cruising round the inside and will sit and play more calmly when the option of escaping is taken away. It has made it much easier to cook and tidy with her awake!
Looking forward, January is all about parties it feels. Little H’s NCT group friends all have parties this month. Then at the end of the month Little H is four. FOUR! How on earth did that happen? But it means that she also has a party which we need to organise. We got ahead of the game and booked a venue before Christmas. We umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether to run the entertainment ourselves or not. In the end we decided to pay for a pro to do it for us as it was causing Sam too much anxiety at the thought of entertaining 15 young kids for over an hour. That leaves me food, cake and party bags to sort! And I’m determined to do it as eco-friendly as possible.
I’m also trying to get back in control of two other aspects of my life: my fitness and cleaning the home. Fitness is something that I jumped back on top of quickly with Little H. In many ways I dived into exercising a little naively because I didn’t work on re-building my pelvic and deep core strength first. Since Little Z was born, I have focused well on that through my Pilates. However, I haven’t really invested any time in other exercise. Nor am I doing big walks like I used to the first time round. I guess it’s the reality of only have 3 days where Little H isn’t at home to do things and also get some rest as well as doing chores.
Yet, ironically, there are still aspects of cleaning which I don’t tackle during that time too! Going back to work will take away these pre-schooler free nap times so I need to be more efficient with cleaning and exercise. My intention is to try and exercise 3 – 4 times a week for just 15 – 20 minutes at a time so that I can do it in the evenings and on a weekend afternoon when Sam is with the girls. As for cleaning, I need to start doing more whilst the girls, especially Little H, are awake. And as a family, we need to do more at the weekends to all take responsibility. The ‘how’ and making behaviours bed-in needs a bit more thought though!