Painting with a 17 month old

This week I decided to get some paint and see what happens. She has come home from nursery on a number of occasions with little paintings, or the report has been that they’ve been doing some painting. It was a nice sunny day so I stripped her down and let her go wild with the paint in the garden. Most of the paint went on herself…..a bit like the yoghurt moisturiser situation!​

Amelia’s learnt how to moisturise….

Since she was tiny we have always added in a ‘creaming’ step to the bath time routine where we basically slather her in Cetraben cream. In the last week or so I have been letting her rub a bit into her tummy herself. Slight fail for me when I thought she was ready for me to squirt it onto her hand because she tried to eat it. But today she decided to cream herself with the yoghurt I let her try devour by herself. The end result included yoghurt rubbed into the wall, the cupboards and the bench but this video shows her mid moisturising…..

The (mummy) dating game

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The beauty that brightens everyday, whatever else is occurring!

This week I’ve been leaving my comfort zone and making some first moves.I signed up to an app called Mush (http://www.letsmush.com/) which is a place where you can meet other mums, with similar aged children and are perhaps like-minded. There are some categories to describe what kind of a person you are, and a section to put a short bio. I logged in and spent some time browsing people local to me and wondering who I might contact. I questioned what children’s age range worked for us (thinking 12 months to perhaps 3 years worked well for playdates). I scrutinized the photo’s the mummies had uploaded – not rating for level of beauty but trying to guess ages – thinking that someone that might be similar in age would be a good start. By the time I had put these two criteria in place it had narrowed the options down quite a lot. I added in a mum who was really local but her baby was only several weeks old. Anyhow, I contacted the first three on the list, those who were most local, fitted the criteria of approximate age of mum and age of child, and seemed to have a similar outlook (‘tea lover’ was a good descriptor!).

Replies came through surprisingly quickly. It pretty quickly became apparent that the mummy with the younger baby wasn’t like-minded currently. She was on maternity leave and had all the time in the world to go to every baby group know to mum. She was really good at suggesting all the groups that were fantastic but not so much at wanting to meet up. The other two mummies I contacted were so much easier to message, and after a quick chat ‘dates’ have been set up, which I’m really nervous about but at the same time relieved to know that there may be hope out there. I will keep you posted as to how they went.

In addition to signing up to Mush I looked on Netmums (http://www.netmums.com/) to revisit what groups are going on locally, and on what days. Turns out there are a few groups but quite a lot of them just don’t work for the days I have off. But I’ve found a mum and toddler Yogabellies (http://www.yogabellies.co.uk/) class that’d work, and I’ve made contact with a view to going along in September as there’s a little break coming up. There’s also a local mother and baby/toddler group thats had really good press and is pretty popular. This runs on my other day off. So I’m going to try and make it along to that group.

We’ve also got a family membership to the gym and so far we’re really happy with it. We went on the weekend and there was a really good family atmosphere. Daddy and I used the gym, we all went swimming together, and then Amelia devoured the pancakes on offer! It’s got great facilities, including a creche, play area in the cafe and swimming lessons for Amelia. Also, as she gets older there’s lots of activity groups and classes she can try out too. I’ve been trying to be proactive at attending classes to try and meet people (and I’ve made lots of small talk so far), and I’ve been getting some solo workouts in to try and follow through with my new years resolutions (https://newmummydiary.co.uk/2016/01/11/new-year-new-resolutions/) and just using it as a time to destress and try and process my worries. I’m really enjoying it, and hopefully will stick with the regular visits!

Finally, I’ve really tried to spend some time visiting, and planning meet ups with those friends I already cherish to reinforce the fact that I am not alone at all. I have an amazing set of friends and family who I love dearly!

So, I’m making a start, and feel like I’m heading in the right direction. I’m also aiming to be a bit better with the blogging frequency because I find it very therapeutic to put my experiences down on paper (or should I say screen?).

Any more suggestions greatly received, otherwise I will get back to my ‘dating’!

A fun day was had…

First of all I can only say that everyone that reads this blog is amazing! You are all really kind, and very helpful!

It’s been reassuring to know that many other mums have had similar experiences when making the transition to motherhood. It was also really helpful to see how different the ideas and thoughts about how many, and what kind of friendships people have made post-baby. The tips on how to approach making friends was really helpful too. One lovely mum said she found an app called ‘Mush’ good – it’s a bit like a dating app for mum’s. I’ve downloaded it, signed up, and had a browse. I’m just plucking up the courage to make some first moves! I’m not the best at making the first move (my husband may beg to differ but I’m pretty sure he made the first move), so I just need to spend a few days thinking it over (and probably overanalysing the profiles too much – I really need to stop overanalysing).

We’ve also lined up some weekends of visiting good friends. This weekend includes seeing a great pal who still actually wants to hang out with us despite the fact that I convinced her, and her then few month old, to come to Malta with me and Amelia. Anyone who has read ‘the worst week of my life’ post (https://newmummydiary.co.uk/2015/12/)  will know that Amelia got admitted to hospital on the second day of that trip. So this lovely friend spent the rest of the trip hanging out with her son, my sister now and again, and visiting us in hospital. The best part was that I had suggested at the start of the trip that she could use that trip to assess if she might want to holiday with us again. As I said, I’m surprised she still answers my messages!

But today was great… We went swimming. This sounds really simple, and we were going to regular swimming classes on a Sunday so it may seem odd that I could have this as a highlight of the week. But we joined a gym, and today I took her to the pool for the first time. There was no pressure to be in the pool at a specific time, it was just me and Amelia playing around, and there was no structure to the session. We played in the water, watched the older kids jumping in and splashing around, and Amelia practiced climbing in and out of the pool and up and down the steps! She was in a really happy mood and giggled and did her excited wiggle! She even enjoyed the changing room. Although it became somewhat embarrassing when I turned around to find her presenting me with another woman’s bra (luckily the woman was not around), and even after I put it back she tried to collect it again!

Once again, thank-you so much for being such an awesome community!

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Wanted: a better mood

I write this post whilst struggling to get to sleep. I thought hard about writing this  but I guess a blog is here to talk about what’s going on and how you’re feeling.

Well, at the moment I feel like crap. I feel like I’m just existing, and not living life at all. I’m wandering from one day to the next and just trying to make it through another day.

The hardest part is trying hard to not let Amelia see how I feel because all she wants to do is hang out with me and play, and be happy. It’s not her fault because I’ve felt like this much longer than she’s been around. I knew before she arrived that it’d be harder when she was here because I’d have to fill our time with something other than work.

I’ve lived in my current hometown now for 6 years. I moved to be with my husband, and as such had no-one other than him to move here for. I’ve spent the last six years training and working hard, and using that as the excuse when I realise that, though I have plenty of acquaintances, I haven’t really made any best friends. I could really do with one of those nearby right now.

Perhaps I don’t have the right personality for it but I always suspected it would be really tough being a new mum and trying to find people in similar situations. Rightly or wrongly I didn’t go to any antenatal groups. My reasoning to everyone at the time was that I didn’t need to pay for a course to tell me stuff I could read elsewhere. The truth – I kind of knew that everyone in the group would get on well and that somehow, eventually, I would end up on the sidelines. I didn’t want to feel like that so I didn’t put myself out there at all.

We tried baby groups and I’d have casual chats with other mums but it never went further than that, though I could see friendships evolving around me. I’ve watched friends have their babies, move house and make loads of friends to meet up with. But somehow I’ve just not managed it. I guess it’s something to do with me and my personality.

But I think what I’m finding really tough now is that I feel this pressure to conjure up some friends to make Amelia’s life more fun, and to allow her to grow up making friends easily, and having other children to play with. I love Amelia dearly but at the moment our conversations are still fairly one-sided!  And our lack of people to hang out with in the day, has led to me going out with her less and less. Put it this way – today we didn’t even get dressed. I don’t really know where to take her when it’s just there two of us because it just adds to this feeling of loneliness watching other mums out together, enjoying good company. 

I feel like I need to simply pull myself together but I have no idea where to start. All advice is greatly received (especially since I’d really like to be able to sleep whilst Amelia is sleeping peacefully). And sorry for the really crappy depressing post. I promise to make the next one more cheery.

15 months progress report!

 

I must apologise for my lack of new blog posts recently. Work and life have caught up with us, and time to myself has been lacking. However, Amelia is currently snoozing and will hopefully remain that way so I can squeeze in an update!

I can only describe Amelia as busy, very busy! As such it leaves Daddy and myself also very busy monitoring her activity. Over the last 6 weeks she has progressed from tentative steps on occasion to walking at all times. There was a short period where she would drop to her knees and crawl if she needed to be somewhere really fast (such as when the fridge door is opened), but now she just walks at full speed instead. It’s great that she’s walking because I think she feels independent and far less frustrated. But there are downsides. We had expertly taught her how to climb down the stairs and steps with a ‘feet first’ policy. It was going very well and she was relatively safe under observation. However, now she walks she tends to walk to the edge of the step and then try to step off. As such she must have someone in front of her ready to catch her as she attempts to walk down stairs. She also tries walking up stairs on occasion and doesn’t really appreciate that her legs aren’t long enough to undertake said activity just yet! She’s confident on her feet and pretty fast, and it’s really fun to watch her wandering about the place.

Once she started walking I took the decision to invest in some shoes. This was an event in itself because it turned out she didn’t find it as fun as I did. With respect to shoes she doesn’t take after mummy at all. I personally love a good pair of shoes…or 10! Amelia on the other hand screamed the shoe shop down when we tried to put the pair on her feet. It was like this for about 3 weeks every time we put them on. Then suddenly one day it wasn’t a drama anymore. Now she accepts them being put on and perhaps quite enjoys wearing shoes now….there’s still hope that we will be able to share a love of shoe shopping!

As for talking – she chats, mostly incomprehensibly, all the time now. She makes conversation, and at times you can make out a word that allows you to grasp what she’s trying to explain. She does have a few words – Mumma, Dada (or Diddy), yes, no, dog, der (for there), ta (for thanks) and on the weekend she clearly said scooter twice! She supplements her talking with plenty of pointing to help us understand what she’s trying to say. She also signs for milk, food, bird and duck. It’s amazing the dialogue we have despite her lack of words (it could just be that I make up her side of the conversation a little too much though)!

Where eating is concerned she is doing really well. There was a period where she seemed to take little interest in food. She would try a variety of foods but never wanted much more than a few spoonfuls. But now she eats good amounts regularly throughout the day. I am actually so grateful for nursery because they have really encouraged her with eating, and she has such a variety of foods there. It has inspired mealtimes at home, and it makes life a little easier for me as I am not having to think of brand new meals every day! It is tough trying to come up with 3 meals and 2 snacks per day and trying to maintain plenty of variety. I’m sure I over think it but I’m so conscious of introducing her to as many new foods as possible. I know that when cooking for just myself and Daddy I tended to end up in a routine of rotating the same meals, and therefore buying the same stuff every week. Nowadays I try to add at least a couple of new foods to the basket each time to create variety. It’s easy to tell what she does and doesn’t like because if it’s on her list of dislikes she eats all the bits she like and then places those that she doesn’t to the side, or more annoyingly she likes to drop them on the floor for me. It’s at this point where I wish we had a pet who might like to munch her leftovers from the floor! She takes her time and eats at her own pace. I try to follow advice such as putting a small amount on her plate at a time and offering her more if she eats it all. I don’t try to force feed her. When she lets me know she’s done (and she does this by trying to mush the food up with her hands or wipe it onto the floor) then I take it away. I don’t push it at all. Most recently she really enjoys it if I load a bit of food onto a spoon or little fork and let her feed herself. I’m trying to introduce her to the use of cutlery so that she starts to get the idea of how to do it.

Finally, her sleep. That ongoing saga! When she’s not teething or unwell then she sleeps really well. And for maybe 2 -3 weeks she has been completely germ free and not teething. In the day she is transitioning to one longer lunchtime nap. This has thrown up a need to alter mealtimes but it is more consistent now and it means we can start engaging in morning groups because they don’t start at just the time she would be ready for a nap! The one aspect of her sleep that I would like to work on is getting her to go to sleep by herself a bit more. From about 6-9 months of age it was easy to put her down awake but tired and she would drop off by herself. Once she started being able to stand up it became difficult because as soon as you’d put her down she would stand up and start crying. The separation anxiety added to this situation because she doesn’t like being left alone. A couple of nights in a row she woke at 3.30am one night then 5am the next. I was just so tired I decided to leave it a little longer to see what happened. It took 45 minutes of her whingeing (not screaming because I couldn’t have put up with that) but she went back to sleep. If we had gotten up with her then she would’ve been up for a good couple of hours, or if waking at 5am wouldn’t have  gone back to sleep. The night following these two she slept through completely. So I know that she can settle herself. I’ve been a bit tougher the last week or so. If she has dropped off in my arms or its clear she’s tired I have put her in the cot and left immediately. She has stood up and cried for 5-10 mins but then gone to sleep. I think I need to continue doing this a little more to encourage her to settle herself to sleep.

She’s at a really great age. She changes on what seems like a daily basis and it’s fun to watch. It means that you can never really switch off until she’s fast asleep in bed because if you dare to look away for a matter of seconds then mischief has occurred. Daddy learnt this the hard way when she got the lid off the Metanium ointment and smeared it on the carpet. He had to explain what had happened, and watch helplessly as I frantically tried to clean it up. No one was in my good books that day. Luckily the carpet looks ok now (apart from the slight jaundiced appearance in certain lights).

Has anyone else had similar incidents? Should I just accept that my carpet is unlikely to survive her childhood stain-free?

 

Maternity leave – The reality of the situation!

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“How many times in your life do you get to take time out of work?”, I asked myself. Once the pregnancy was public knowledge, and after all the usual questions about ‘Do you know what you’re having?’ ‘Have you got any names?’ and so on, came the next question ‘How much time are you taking off for maternity leave?’ Well I can’t say I had ever spent much time thinking about the answer to this before last October time. Having spent many years at school, six years at university and five years in a training scheme, I felt like I had stepped on a conveyor belt at age 4 and hopped off aged 29 with a qualification and the shock of finally having to get a permanent job – with a C.V. and everything. Now don’t get me wrong I’d had a C.V. before this but it was always more of a ‘for information’ only. It never needed to get me a job before! Anyway jump to last October and I was at another point in my life where I actually had to make another decision – how much time should I take off as maternity leave? So we talked about it and, being in a fortunate enough position to make such a decision, agreed I’d take a year out. Or at least aim for a year. I also had to decide when to finish work. Lots of people seemed to stop at 39 or 40 weeks, or use up some annual leave to finish a little earlier. Most people’s rationale was that they wanted to have the maximum time off with their baby. A colleague was just about to finish for maternity leave just as I was making the decision. With holiday to use she was finishing at 37 weeks. She sat with me one lunch and explained just how glad to finish she was. She was tired and struggling to get through a day of seeing 30-40 patients. With this advice I made a decision that I would finish at 37 weeks. I didn’t have annual leave to take.

Then came my husband’s jokes about me spending a year watching daytime television, whilst I explained how busy I would be with the baby (though secretly imagining days of meeting people for coffee and gardening).  I spent many times feeling like I was required to justify finishing at 37 weeks. I almost felt ashamed to say that I preferred to have 3 weeks to myself rather than an extra 3 weeks at home with the baby. I made many plans as to what I would do before Amelia arrived, what we would do together, and all of the tasks around the house that I should aim to do before the end of the maternity leave.

Fast-forward to March 2015. Having had exactly one week of maternity leave (just enough time for an eye check, dental check-up and a haircut) Amelia arrived at 38 weeks. Well that put paid to a spa day I had planned for the following week as last minute relaxation! I could only be thankful that I’d at least had one week off to run last minute errands because her arrival was a whirlwind. I had not packed snacks in my maternity bag. In fact I hadn’t even done any shopping. So for the first week parents and local takeaways mostly provided our meals! I can probably count on one hand the number of times I left the house in the first couple of weeks. I had a baby attached to my breast for half the day (more on that another time)! If I wasn’t feeding her I was feeding myself. I hadn’t really had many preconceptions of what maternity leave might be like to start with, but I guessed it would be tiring. I really didn’t appreciate how full on the day would be with such an intense feeding regime. The concept of ‘you sleep when the baby sleeps’ was mystifying since if I did literally that then I would not have eaten or washed for some time.

I wouldn’t say the first three months went by in haze as I can recall a lot of events and days vividly. But they certainly sped by. I really did spend quite a lot of time in front of the T.V. In fact I knew the daytime schedule like the back of my hand. Amelia also used to have the best and most sustained sleep of the day between 8am and 11-11.30 am. So generally I was not out of bed until late morning/lunchtime on most days. I was so lucky in the first three months to have relatives around for much of the time. My younger sister spent some time staying with us to help out, my dad would come over at the drop of a hat after calls to say I was just exhausted after a bad night, and my older sister, in total, must have spent probably a month on and off staying with us and helping out. In fact – my sisters, and my 15 year-old niece provided respite and undertook night feeds, giving myself and Daddy a chance to have some restful sleep.

When we got to three months I couldn’t believe just how quickly the time had gone. It was a quarter of the way through my maternity leave and I had really not achieved much. I had been a fool and decided to continue a Diploma I was undertaking so in this time I had sat and written two 1500 word reports. I cannot say for certain how this happened (I was supposed to do them before she arrived). I also had an exam to sit when she was 3.5months old. This really just highlighted the lack of insight into what it would be like. I think I thought that with all the time off I’d have time to sit and revise. I just hadn’t realised that my brain would be like mush. I have no more to say on this error in judgment! I have made other sleep deprived errors of judgment, for example buying nearly 150 plug plants (not that I knew exactly what this meant) when she was two months old and having to pot them up, and agreeing to undertake my annual appraisal when she was three months old.

Somehow, by around four months old, Amelia started to need me a little less. She was feeding less regularly and able to entertain herself a bit more. She didn’t need to lie on me to nap in the day, and the number of times I have been stranded on the sofa for an hour or two while she sleeps on me is such that I can count them on one hand. So we’ve been out and about more. I have done four mornings of work (though I don’t think I’d manage a full day until she can manage a full night of sleeping through), we’ve been to visit friends, and stayed over places. In the last month I have even managed to get out in the garden, with her taking her afternoon nap in her pram, and do some gardening. She’s now at an age where she’s far more interactive so we have signed up to some mother and baby sessions for the autumn term. It just feels like it’s taken a long time to get to this stage, and now we are nearly halfway through my planned time off.

I must admit I have enjoyed the mornings that I have been to work. My brain has been used in a way that it is used to. I have challenged it and ensure it still works (I sometimes have serious doubts about this when I realized I have left the washing powder on top of the washer, carried the T.V. remote to bed with me and told the same story several times to the same person). Yet I also really enjoy the days when we don’t get dressed and have a lazy day at home! So, as I enter month seven of maternity leave I look forward to our jam-packed schedule of baby groups and meeting friends and family for lunch or tea!