Notable life changes after becoming a mum (the less obvious ones)

Of course motherhood is all about making sacrifices and making adjustments to one’s life. Before every mum to be has a baby we prepare ourselves mentally for those generic, obvious things we’ll miss (such as sleep) but actually it’s the little things that have changed that have impacted on me the most. I thought I’d share my list of notable life changes for any mum’s to be (it’s not intended to put you off!)

1. First of all, and possibly most importantly, you will never again be able finish a HOT cup of tea / coffee. Forever more you’ll be drinking luke warm tea or indeed not finishing the drink at all.

2. Your child will always wake from a nap before you get a chance to finish what you wanted to do.

3. You will never be able to sit on your sofa. Once your child is mobile you’ll be sat on the cold hard floor permanently. If you do dare to sit in a comfortable position your baby will almost certainly fall / intentionally throw themselves onto a dangerous object to get you back onto the cold hard floor.

4. It’s unlikely you’ll ever feel completely clean again. Showers are few and far between and when you do have one they’re extremely time limited. Two words: Dry shampoo.

5. Your clothes will forever be covered in food or sick. Or both. Equally it’s impossible to keep a weaned baby clean so you’ll either have to change your baby’s clothes 5 times a day or accept that you have a slightly grubby looking child.

6. Your hands will be always be dry because you will spend your life washing things, wiping bottoms and generally cleaning up after them.

7. You’ll forget what you looked like with make up and brushed hair.

8. You may lose your hair in the worst places possible. This doesn’t happen to everyone but is a well known side effect of giving birth. I’ve been left with tufts of hair regrowth that stick out at awkward angles and frizz uncontrollably.

9. Your feet might well get bigger PERMANANTELY. I’ve just had to throw several good pairs of shoes out because I can no longer squeeze my giant feet into them. I am now a full size larger than I was pre baby.

10. And finally, to end on a positive: you’ll become obsessed with your beautiful baby and all of the above will be completely, 100% worth it ūüôā

Advertisements

The power of now

IMG_8636I re-read a book recently called the “power of now”. The first time I read it it transformed my life. Well, not quite but it certainly gave me a new perspective on life and made me realise the importance of living for now instead of worrying about the past or indeed the future. I started re-reading it recently as life has changed dramatically since I last read it and I thought it would offer me some more enlightenment.

So what does happiness really mean anyway? And is there really such a thing as happily ever after?

I don’t think so. I now strongly believe that happiness is just a mood. Not a destination. There’s no absolute finality to happiness and we can’t just magically wake up one morning having found eternal happiness.

I used to measure happiness based on three different aspects of my life: family life, career life and love life. Based on the law of averages I figured that if two out of the three of those things were good, I could say that my life was relatively happy and fulfilled.

This book reminded me that actually what life is about is just finding a way of making the best of what you have and live for the here and now. It’s not an exact science. There’s power in the realisation that every day is potentially a happy day. Not everything you do every day will make you happy, but a positive can always be found in even the gloomiest of days.

And the past week has been gloomy. Annie and I have had a difficult week, with illness and teething. But we’ve managed, some how, to find moments in every day to smile and create happiness.

Looking at the bigger picture of life and one’s own happiness: My circumstances, on paper, aren’t necessarily ideal. That’s the word other people keep using anyway. Quite possibly others¬†believe my “not ideal” circumstances can’t possibly make me happy. But they couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve learned that life is too short to not be happy. Every day I remember the motto of the book and and try and live for the now. It doesn’t mean I don’t aspire to find more happiness in the future, a different kind of happiness, but I’m determined not to live my life looking for the illusive happily ever after.

The new baby-friendly Saturday nights

IMG_8401.JPGOn Saturday night I went out. And yes I mean “Out out” with my friends for cocktails and dancing. And we had a blast. I went out with two of my fellow single friends and did not stop laughing the whole night. I should add that I have no idea why they are single because they’re absolutely gorgeous, intelligent, successful and STRONG women. They’re also incredibly funny drunks and one of them in particular was on form on Saturday night ¬†making me lol.

Nights out have certainly changed for us girls. Notably, and for sure it’s an age thing, we no longer go out coat-less and seem less willing to risk losing our fingers and toes to frostbite. It wasn’t so long ago that I’d consider taking a coat out as sacrilege! In fact I took it one step further last night and even took a scarf out. Yes that’s right.

Secondly, I chose comfort over glamour and very happily swapped my heels for boots. My toes were snug as a bug all night long and I didn’t regret it for one second. I still looked great; just a few inches shorter than normal!

Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, we didn’t go out at 9/10pm, instead we went out at 6.30pm and were home and curled up in bed by midnight (not together I should add!). I quite literally do feel like Cinderella nowadays and if I stay out past midnight there’s a strong possibility I’ll turn into a pumpkin.

So there we have it. The new baby-friendly Saturday nights. It works perfectly for us mums because we can feed, bath and get our babies ready for bed, before handing them over to the babysitter. There’s no change to baby’s¬†routine and we’re home before they’ve even woken for their next feed.

And you know what? Going out and letting your hair down occasionally is good for the soul and I’m pretty sure it makes you a better parent. A little baby free time is refreshing and gives us mums a chance to find ourselves again. BE ourselves again. That doesn’t always have to be an alcohol fuelled night out on the tiles. It can be as simple as going out for a meal, or the cinema or even the gym, to just find a bit of time to ourselves. That time is precious and let me tell you as a single parent you appreciate it all the more.

Hoorah to the occasional night “out out”. Until next time.

My version of crazy

Mental health is getting a lot of attention these days. People are talking about it and there doesn’t seem to be the same stigma around admitting you suffer from a mental health condition, to a lesser or more serious degree.

Keeping your mind and soul healthy is an every day battle for some people. For most people I assume. Including me.

It took me a long time to realise that I suffered from anxiety and I have some issues with OCD/ controlling situations. I think both of these things, for me, go hand in hand. Where possible I try and control everything to a meticulous level of detail, in order to keep my anxiety under control. When I can’t control a situation I can often feel incredibly anxious, tense and let’s say a little bit antsy.

Having a baby has intensified and heightened this feeling of anxiousness, purely because I can’t control everything to do with Annie. Babies are unpredictable and incredibly inconsistent. I struggled so much with Annie in the early days because there was no routine or consistency and I felt on edge all the time. I kept trying and failing to find patterns of behaviour, things changed every day, and I found it against my nature to just “go with the flow” and relax into it.

Over time it has got easier but to keep anxiety at bay I’ve had to find new ways to cope. There’s nothing groundbreaking here but I’ve found three things work: letting go, letting¬†it out and getting out.

Letting go: I’m learning to let go of the small OCD stuff. It’s a part and parcel of motherhood that you never feel on top of things and you have to accept that you’ll never feel completely in control again. For example plans get cancelled because baby is in a mood or your babysitter cancels, the kitchen will always be a mess, there will always be piles of washing everywhere and don’t even mention the dirty nappies lingering around the house.

Letting it out: I’ve found that talking about things and letting my emotions out helps my anxiety. I don’t let things manifest as much anymore inside my head anymore; I speak to friends about how I’m feeling, I cry and I let those emotions out. I’ve learned it’s not healthy to keep things contained, for me or Annie.

Getting out: the simplest one of all is I find time in every day to get out of the house and get fresh air, exercise and clear my head. I find that often when I’m feeling anxiety building up inside me just getting out of the house helps blow the mental cobwebs away. I come back feeling less tense, have a clearer head and a healthier state of mind.

Realistically I don’t think anyone can say they’re 100% mentally well all of the time. Of course there are various forms and degrees of mental illness and some people are just better at masking it/ dealing with it than others.

As it was world mental health day this week I guess I just wanted to acknowledge my version of crazy to the world and share my coping mechanisms. I wonder how many other mums can relate?

Unsung hero

Today’s post is dedicated to my dad, who is definitely my unsung hero. In the past few months I’ve relied on him like never before and quite frankly couldn’t have done it without him.

I’m not sure I’ve always appreciated my dad and I’ve definitely taken him for granted over the years. For that I feel incredibly guilty. Especially now, since I’ve had Annie and he’s supported me so much. He’s gone out of his way to help me in a practical way, which anticipated he would, but what’s surprised me is the level of emotional support he’s offered me, in a way that I never anticipated or expected. That’s humbling and wonderful. He’s listened to me, consoled me, advised me and put up with my tears and tantrums. I don’t want to sound like a petulant child, but I have had moments where things have gotten on top of me or I’ve felt like I couldn’t cope and in those moments he’s been there and in some instances dropped everything.

He picked me up from work when I was heavily pregnant and started bleeding and drove me to the doctors. He was there when I called him in the middle of the night (when Annie was 8 weeks old) to tell him my car had been broken into and didn’t want to be alone. He was there a few days ago, on his day off, when I called him with a spider emergency (yes I have a ridiculous spider phobia).

Those little things, that actually are quite big things, when you’re partner-less and need somebody. For those things I’ll be eternally grateful.

IMG_8308.JPG

This photo was taken this morning. Dad was entertaining Annie on the beach whilst I slurped my much needed coffee on a bench and took a few minutes to myself. It’s those precious moments, of solitude and quietness, that I appreciate more than ever. If it wasn’t for my dad those moments would be pretty much non existent.

I guess, to sum up, this is a shout out to all the unsung heros out there. The grandparents who are stepping up and supporting their children with their own children. In whatever capacity that is. I know that if my mum was here she’d be my support system, my rock, but as she can’t be here I think she’d be pretty damn proud of my dad for stepping up to the mark. Thank you dad for everything you do.

Let’s talk business

It’s been a while since I talked about the launch of my new baby box subscription business. We’re slowly and quietly progressing behind the scenes. On the run up to launching Annie Evelyn next year I’m looking for some mums-to-be to sample my boxes and write reviews about the products. So once a month (until the end of the year) I’ll be running a #followfriday competition and selecting one mummy to receive a free baby box! If you’re living in the UK and currently pregnant (due sometime in early/mid 2018) keep an eye out for next Friday’s post. I want mums-to-be to comment on my #followfriday posts using the hashtag #mumtobe2018 and telling me their due date. OR If you know someone who is pregnant tag them in comments and ask them to follow me and comment below with the same info. I’ll be randomly selecting one lucky winner at 9pm on the day of each Follow Friday post. Don’t forget October’s competition will be NEXT FRIDAY!

I’ll be revealing more about products inside the boxes very soon, but I can tell you the products will be awesome. Our boxes will be appropriate to the baby’s age and development and there will also be something special for mum too. What makes Annie Evelyn unique is that all the products will be sourced from other small UK businesses and quality will be guaranteed!

In other news… Annie has started crawling in the past few days. She’s still very unstable and mostly crawls backwards, but every day she’s improving. Today we had a little accident and she managed to crawl and fall onto the coffee table, cutting her eye as she went down. It’s safe to say I was more upset than her, especially as I was sat right behind her at the time and feel like I should have reacted quicker to her falling.¬†But she’s ok. No permanent damage. And I guess I need to get used to her having the occasional bump and scrape now that she’s on the move. How very terrifying this parenting malarkey is.

The gift of sleep

Sometimes I don’t know what my blog is going to be about until I started typing. And then my mind shifts into gear and all of a sudden my thoughts come to the forefront of my mind and it just flows out of me. Other times I’ve been thinking about something particular all day and I just know that’s what I want to write about. Today I knew all day.

Yesterday Annie woke up at 4.30am and by bedtime routine last night I was on my last legs. Completely drained and desperately needed to lay my head on a pillow and close my eyes. Of course Annie had other ideas and we had a difficult bed time. Annie didn’t want to sleep and frustratingly she kept waking up when I popped her in her cot. She doesn’t often do this now, so when it happens I’m somewhat enraged. After the 3rd time my patience was dangling by a thread. I sat back in my rocking chair in Annie’s nursery, willing her to sleep, but she clearly could feel my tension and continued to open her eyes, wriggle about and fight me. I couldn’t help but cry in that moment because I was so desperately tired and in that moment I was angry that there was no one downstairs to pass her to and say “your turn”. Because it’s always my turn. Every single time. No respite. No day off. And most days that’s ok. But I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. ¬†I think it’s ok to admit,¬†now and again, that I wish there was someone to help and support me. On those off days when you just need someone to say “you go relax and I’ll take over”. What a relief that would be.

Anyway, I’m not sure if anyone else experiences this but I’m pretty sure Annie feels it when I’m sad. As I sat in the rocking chair and had a little pathetic cry Annie stared into my eyes and it was like she was staring into my soul. She all of a sudden realised I was crying and instantly stopped wriggling and just laid there very still, touched my face and just held her hand on my cheek. Call me crazy but I felt like she was comforting me. And you know what? It helped me. I realised in that moment that I¬†had forgotten in the hazy fog of tiredness that my daughter is my world and I’m so utterly blessed to be sat here rocking my baby to sleep. I thought to myself “So what if it takes a bit longer than normal? So what if I’m tired?” I realised that I’ll look back in a few years and miss these special¬†moments.

So, I pulled myself together and let those sad/ frustrated feelings go. I realised I was holding myself tense, so I sank deeper into the chair and relaxed my body, closed my eyes and focused on my own breathing and the rocking motion of the chair. Five minutes later I opened my eyes and Annie was fast asleep in my arms, still holding her hand against my cheek.

She slept wonderfully for the rest of the night and I was able to fall into a beautiful deep slumber. I woke this morning feeling refreshed and alive again, but mostly feeling incredibly grateful that my daughter had given me the gift  of sleep. Thank you my darling.

 

 

Conforming and conventional isn’t for me

IMG_8268I was thinking about this earlier today and I thought it would be good to write a blog about it. The idea of being conventional and conforming to what is viewed as the “social norm”. As a single mum I guess I don’t fit into the conventional category. Neither do some of my closest friends (and that’s probably what I love about them).

What is crazy to me is even in today’s modern world “conventional” ¬†means doing things in the right order and that’s judged to be love, marriage and then babies. We’ve made so much headway in so many ways yet most people tend to still conform don’t they? But why? Is that because that’s genuinely what is in our nature as human beings or because people are too scared to live their lives in a different, slightly unconventional way?

I’m kind of happy to be unconventional. And I’m ok with not conforming. But the trouble is some people still have a problem with it. And I wonder why? I wonder if it’s because they feel threatened by it, or whether they can’t relate, or whether they’re too judgemental, or because of their own conventionality they think they’re somehow morally and socially superior. Don’t get me wrong I’m talking about the minority here. A few jerks who have a problem with how people live their lives.

I absolutely don’t have a problem with other people being conventional and I think it should be celebrated. I am genuinely happy for others who have the option to choose that path and in lots of ways envy them for having the opportunity to conform. Life hasn’t panned out that way for me, at least for now, and I’ve chosen a slightly, unexpected path. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be celebrated and valued in the same way.

I think the moral of the story is that parenting is hard enough without the judgement. There’s been a few times in recent months where I’ve had to stop myself from explaining why I’ve chosen this path on my own. Why should I explain, why should I have to justify my decisions to anyone?

The good news is most people are lovely and I’ve been blown away by how loving and supportive people can be.

I strongly believe in fate and this is the way things were meant to be for me. And I’m genuinely happy. Content. And feel incredibly blessed.

So to all the conformists out there.¬†My message to you is congratulations, I’m happy for you, if you’re happy for me.

Being a mum feels like my brain has 5867 tabs open. All day, every day.

So we’re night three of Annie sleeping in her own room and so far, I say somewhat hesitantly, it’s going ok. Not perfect but ok.

To be honest I thought I was going to feel sad about it, and that I’d miss her next to me. Actually¬†it’s felt liberating, but more so it’s given me some peace of mind. And I don’t mean in the reassuring peace of mind kind of way, just simply giving my brain a rest.

Even though my sleep is still very much broken I think the quality of my sleep has much improved. When you’re sleeping with a baby you don’t really ever sleep deeply and you’re constantly aware/ semi conscious. It feels that way anyway. It’s two nights in and already¬†I feel more refreshed and better rested. Body and soul.

And I need it because Annie is a whirlwind now. From the moment I wake up to the moment I lay my head in the pillow I don’t stop. Physically and mentally. I saw an Instagram post today that said “If you ever want to know what a mum’s brain is like then imagine your laptop with 5867 tabs open”. And it couldn’t be more true. My brain is in constant overdrive. At the end of every day is not so much the physical exhaustion but the mental exhaustion. My brain is always switched in “mummy mode” and there’s very few (if any) hours in the day where I can switch off or in fact find any mental headspace for anything other than baby.

My blog is one way I try and mentally re-boot. Often it’s a way of clearing my brain of mummy things, so I can in a way detox over night and not take things into the next day. As soon as my blog is published I try and have some time to myself. Drink a cup of tea and watch some tv or read a book.

Tonight I’ve not been so lucky. Since writing the above I’ve had a difficult evening with Annie. She has a snotty nose and is teething so I’ve been up and down the stairs every 10 minutes for the past two hours.

I don’t think I’ll achieve any peace of mind tonight. But there’s always tomorrow. You can’t win them all.

Breast no longer best

I’ve talked a little about this in a previous post: my reluctance to stop breast feeding and my ongoing¬†struggle to let go of the sentimental aspect of breast feeding. I’m still breastfeeding but I feel like I’m almost ready to stop now. I haven’t breast fed properly for weeks; all I’ve been doing is giving Annie the occasional top up on the boob. But these top ups are few and far between and, I have to be honest, the only reason I’m doing it is to keep my milk supply up. I breast fed Annie this morning and I mentally said to myself “try and enjoy this experience because it may well be the last time you breast feed”. And that’s a real possibility. Because I haven’t put her on the boob since.

I was still breast feeding Annie at night time up until recently because I felt like it was the easier option. But now when Annie wakes for a feed she doesn’t want my boob and she cries out for her bottle. I don’t think I’m producing enough milk anymore to sufficiently fill up her up at night. I’m now armed with several sterilised bottles and a flask full of hot water ready for her nightly feeds. It’s the end of an era and I can’t ¬†help feeling sentimental and sad. But having spoken to other mums of slightly older babies they all gave up around the 7 month mark, when their babies had been weaned onto solids and their teeth had started to cut through (for obvious reasons).

It’s time to let go. To move forward and accept breastfeeding is no longer for the best. If anything it’s causing me more stress because I’m trying to find time to breastfeed and when I do Annie is often fighting me and reluctant to take anything from me.

So I think I’m done. I can’t promise there won’t be a few more feeds but it feels I’m at the finish line. Or at least at the 100 yard sprint, on my way to the finish line.

In other news today I completed my tour of the local nurseries and I’ve made a decision on which nursery I want Annie to go to. I’m really happy with my choice. Now I need to figure out work and working hours and the what the heck I’m doing with my freelance career. And of course launching the business. Work life is still a long while off but it’s now firmly at the back of mind on a daily basis. Festering there. Unavoidable really isn’t it? After all I can’t live in my maternity leave bubble forever. I’m pretty sure the next six months will fly by. After all time flies when you’re having fun!