My-oh-my, I’ve watched some terrible TV programmes over the years. But, as with anything, it takes practice to become an expert at something. Learning select top telly viewage is no different. Haha! Of course, everything is subjective so if you ask Sam his opinion on some of these, I’m sure he’ll scoff. Time is in short supply now I’m the mum of a small though, so if I’m going to find the time to plonk my bottom on the sofa and indulge in some visual entertainment then I’m damn well going to watch what I like, cheesy or not!
As a long time commuter, I know it’s easy to dwell on the negatives of commuting: the cost, the time, the delays, the horror of being rammed next to a stranger closer than you get to most relatives… I will openly admit that the one thing I really wish I could change about my job is my commute. But…it’s not all bad. Since returning from Maternity Leave I’ve reached a new level of commute-appreciation. So next time you feel anger at having to spend in excess of an hour / day on a train for half your salary, bear these things in mind:
I’ve started writing this post numerous times, trying to come-up with some vaguely witty introduction. But this morning I decided to just get to the point. Being back at work is actually quite good fun. But working part time and juggling child care is hard – harder than I thought it would be. I’ve been back for 3 weeks now (which now I am part time is a grand total of 9 days!) and it’s been a mix of highs and lows through that relatively short space of time.
I was reading a blog post by a blogger called Kate Gregory the other day. She was musing over 8 things she would like to go back and tell herself as a new Mum. It chimed with me not only because I would want to tell my February-self similar things, but also because as my Maternity Leave starts to reach it’s end, I am reflecting on what I have done with my time and what I wish I’d done more / less of. So with that in mind, here are my top 9 things everyone should do with Maternity Leave. Continue reading…
Two weeks ago most of our possessions were in boxes and the rest were haphazardly strewn around after being loaded in to a big truck (I didn’t think we had enough to fill it, but apparently we did!) having moved from our house of 8 years to our new family home. We are now pretty well settled in and it’s already feeling like home, but it’s been a hectic and tiring fortnight. Moving is difficult at the best of times, but with an almost-eight-month-old it was even more so. Fortunately she isn’t mobile yet so it could have been a lot harder, but she also won’t just lay passively in a buggy anymore and needs reasonably structured meal and nap times.
I have mentioned in an earlier blog post (I really am busy, honestly I am) that although it might seem I just go out and about on strolls and for afternoon cake in town, looking after H is in fact a lot of work. As H matures and her life takes on more necessary structure, life isn’t just busy, it is really quite regimented.
In her earlier days, H would sleep almost anywhere if she were tired. Similarly if I offered her a feed, within reason, she would also always eat. However, as she’s grown she’s become more curious and inquisitive so won’t nap if there is something else to be doing. She also will only feed now when she wants to feed and that is often not on a predictable schedule. Attempting to feed her too soon could result in her just laying there staring at me, or worse screeching her head off. But not feeding her when she decides she’s ready results in an equally vocal response!
A few weeks ago Sam and I suffered when we forgot to respect the well known fact “an overtired baby won’t sleep”. What we had done was not adapt to H’s needs and keep to her schedule regardless of what it meant for us. I read an article online recently (I forget what though) about the infamous ‘four month sleep regression’. This article stated that babies do not suddenly regress their sleep. Rather they are developing such a lot at four months that their sleep requirements change and the apparent regression comes from parents failing to adapt to their child’s changed needs. This made complete sense to me after the overtired incident and is something I am now actively watching out for, not just with sleep but all aspects of her life and development. Now I have embraced the fact that at this stage life must be tied to her routine. So my day is structured around when she next needs to nap, next needs to sleep and when I can fit in all of the various activities that need to take place. Of course needs must and we do have to deviate at times, but it’s done consciously and with attempts to manage the impact.
What this does mean is that we cannot always do everything we want when we want. A recent example is Buggycise, a class I really enjoyed but have abandoned for now. It clashes with H’s morning nap and since she doesn’t reliably sleep in her buggy and it’s the nap that sets her up for the day, I now just exercise at home. Sure I’m disappointed about it and I don’t get to do such an intense session at home. But it’s not going to be this way forever and it’s ultimately in my benefit to keep her well rested.
It also means that visitors, as much as they want to see and cuddle H, have to respect her routine. She takes her naps when she takes her naps and if that means people hardly see her then that’s how it is. Adults can tolerate some fatigue but babies certainly cannot!
So if you have dealings with the parent of a young child, be kind if they don’t appear flexible. If you are visiting a friend or relative with a young baby, be mindful of their schedule; Don’t look dismayed if you can’t get the cuddles you want and don’t hype up the little one just before a nap. As repetitive and as regimented as the routine may appear, it’s the best thing for the baby and also helps to keep the parents sane!
H is now three months old. I cannot believe it’s been that long already. Life has changed so much in that time but yet H being here also feels completely normal, as if she always has been. But getting to this point has been hard work and there are a number of things which being without would have made getting this far so much harder*!
Of course I’m not expecting the next three months will be any less challenging so I suspect these things will continue to be as valuable as before!
*First world problems I will admit!
Subsequent to this blog post being published, I realised I’d forgotten one crucial ninth ‘thing’ and called it out in a later post which can be found here!
I’m sure people who know me will laugh when I say that I am generally quite a patient person. But in all seriousness when I have a plan / a schedule / an approach then I will happily wait until the appropriate time comes. However, when I don’t know what’s going on then I get a bit on-edge and my patience does dwindle a bit. I find myself in that position right now because Mini Watling could arrive at any time…but I have no idea when.
I have been trying to keep busy: having friends over, cooking meals for the freezer, baking tasty things for Sam and I to eat now, re-watching my ‘Friends‘ box set (including sending ‘Friends’ trivia questions to Carol over WhatsApp!). I’ve also managed to finish and deploy the code changes which I started last March! As someone who definitely doesn’t cope well with not being busy (as much as I complain when I am!), I think I’m managing it quite well. I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll look back at this amount of free time with longing. There is never a happy medium with these things!
Last weekend I went to the Cotswolds to stay with my three best friends from school. We haven’t all spent time together since July 2012 because Jenny is in Leeds, Carol in Paris and Helen is in Melbourne. Since I last saw her, Helen has even had a baby who is now almost 9 months old. She was back in the UK to organise things for her wedding in November so, in a rare treat, we’ll get to see each other twice this year!
We stayed in a lovely cottage that Helen and her fiancé had rented for the duration of their stay. It had 4 bedrooms so we each had our own, a large kitchen, an even larger lounge and a big family dining table. It was so comfortable and relaxing, we immediately felt at home and it made it even harder to leave.
Whilst we were sat enjoying a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, Carol noticed a number of decorative signs up to the wall with inspirational phrases. One of them, a quote from Art Buchwald, was so relevant to our meet-up that I felt I needed to record it so I won’t forget!
“The best things in life aren’t things.”
I’m a proper techie. Sure, I couldn’t build a PC from scratch but I know what they are made-up of, what runs on them and I love all of the developments that have come with such advances. However, there is one thing which I really, really miss: sending and receiving hand-written letters to/from friends.
From a young age, I was always writing to people. When I was still at school, I had a pen pal in the former Yugoslavia who I wrote to countless times a year. I also had several friends from my old school ‘down South’ who I kept it touch with. It was always a great distraction to get a letter from one of them and then pen one back.
When I went to Uni, the trend continued with my closest friends from back home and new friends at Durham. We’d keep in touch during term time and holiday time respectively with random tales, musings and sketches. On my year abroad in fact, it was the letters from both home and Uni friends which kept me grounded. They didn’t only cover the here-and-now, but general thoughts and random ‘chit chat’ not unlike if we were talking face-to-face.
When everyone got an email address, personal letters started to die-a-death. Email initially replaced them almost like-for-like (except random sketches of course) but as email became common place, they started to get missed or content shortened. Now with social media, even email is little used for friends to keep in touch. Neither medium has in any way replaced the very personal nature of a hand-written letter. Times change and we can’t go back, but nothing ‘online’ has ever given me that same joy as when a letter from a friend hit my door mat!