It’s February 2016 and I’ve been back at work after Maternity Leave for about three weeks. One of the female managers who I don’t really know asks me how I’m getting on. I’m honest and say it’s good to be back but it’s a bit of a shock to the system and I’m still finding my way. She nods empathetically and then says to me “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all. You can. I’ve never met any group of people more productive than working mothers.”. It was meant with a helpful and supportive sentiment and it was a positive thing to hear. However, I’m not sure if it was necessarily the right thing for me to here. You see, in the last 14 months I have pondered a lot on life and balance. And on that phrase that gets thrown at all new mothers:
“You can have it all.”
I’m going to open by stressing that I could not love my daughter anymore than I do; it’s not possible. I love every bone in her body through to every crazy hair on her little head. I know it doesn’t happen immediately for everyone, but I loved her from the moment she arrived. And as she has grown that love has changed and evolved from not only just being raw and maternal but also love for the little person she is becoming. I’m hoping that comes across in most of what I write on this blog. However, in the last few weeks I have found myself having moments where…*whispers under her breath*…I don’t always like her.
An hour. Sixty Minutes. Three thousand-six hundred seconds. A period of time which can go by in the flash of an eye, or can feel like a luxurious eternity. My appreciation of the humble hour has increased dramatically since becoming a parent. I have always been someone who endeavours to use time as efficiently as possible – to the extent where sometimes I have to be told to stop and switch-off for a bit. But children have a wonderful way of consuming every moment when they are awake. So these days when H is awake, my time is almost exclusively focused on her. Everything I would have previously spent several hours doing in my pre-Mum life now has to be condensed. Efficiency has been taken to a whole new level!
As 2011 reached it’s end, I decided to write an end of year post which reflected back on the highs and lows of the last 12 months. Since then, it has become a personal tradition to write and publish my “That was the year that was” post on 31 December every year. More than anything, this post is a personal opportunity to look back as a year a draws to a close. 2016 has been another life changing year with my Maternity Leave reaching it’s an end, seeing me become a working mum. Little H has changed beyond belief in the last 12 months and is rapidly approaching the big 2. It’s been a whirlwind of a year but a fantastic one.
Thank-you to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my blog. I have loved hearing your thoughts and feedback on what I’ve written. I am extremely grateful that you all spare your valuable time to stop by. I have also enjoyed reading all of the wonderful posts you have written this year! I can’t wait for some more fantastic reads throughout 2017. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!
But 2016 isn’t over until it’s over. So let’s dive right in…
Every month I share my ‘Five Favourite Finds’ for the month. They can be absolutely anything new that I have come across. The challenge: making sure I find five each month. Some months really do prove tougher than others but there is lots of fun had in the search. I’m using it to try encourage myself to find new things and also share my finds with you all to save you the leg work! So without further ado and in no particular order…
It’s been over 10 months now since I went back to work after my maternity leave ended. 10 months! Longer than I was pregnant with Little H. Only 3 months short of how long I was off work. By the time Christmas Day arrives, it will have been over two years since I bid everyone farewell and hobbled off to prepare myself for becoming a mum. In January my baby will turn 2! I’ll be honest, I’m in a state of disbelief about the whole thing. I’m in denial that this amount of time has passed already. It feels to be racing by.
H is one hungry little lass. She’s an active toddler with a very healthy appetite; She goes barely an hour without eating most days. She eats a lot more than most of her friends and at times I have worried I could be over-feeding her. But after trying to hold-off on giving her snacks when she asks for them, it’s clear she just needs to energy! This means I must have a good mix of snacks readily available. Of course I’d love everything to be home-made. But real-life gets in the way. So I have a stash of easy-grab snacks always to hand. She’s only just got her molars so she doesn’t yet eat as many vegetable snacks as I would like yet. But she has her veggies at meal time so it balances out.
Here are the things that work for us!
Last month it was my birthday. Whilst I was still awake early, Sam got up and went downstairs with H so I could have a lie-in; For breakfast we had some delicious pancakes and H decided to play ball and not throw any of it anywhere; We went out for a nice morning stroll in the sunshine; Then over H’s nap time I had a quiet read and opened a few presents (so they didn’t get pinched by little hands); When H woke-up we had a late long lunch in town where H enjoyed the people watching and ate all her food; A lazy afternoon followed where Sam and I watched a film as H played quietly; Bedtime went smoothly and then we had a delicious dinner before an early bedtime. The ideal birthday! The birthday that is absolutely nothing like what actually happened.
I’m pretty darn sure that upon reaching their Toddlerhood milestone, each toddler is secretly issued with ‘The Ultimate Toddler Guide: How to Give Your Parents the Best Toddler Experience’. I imagine it covers the variety of ways to approach eating, how to determine whether you like a particular food on a given day (or hour) and when to nap or not based on your parents plan for the day. It guarantees that every parent of a toddler gets the same experience regardless of individual personality types – Parent Equality if you will. The ultimate objective of the ‘Guide’ is to make sure parents are continually left guessing about what their young offspring are going to do, never complete confident and comfortable that they will behave as normal on a day you need them to; Or on the day you assume they will being brutally brought back to reality when they don’t sleep and then throw their lunch all over you.
Since H was quite small we have been quite careful about saying “No” when talking to her. Even back when she started her Sing and Sign class, we actively started using alternative phrases such as “Please don’t do that” accompanied by the sign which also meant “no” so she could understand these things consistently meant that she shouldn’t do something, but that the actual word “no” could be reserved for the serious things. And it was going really well…until she became a toddler.