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’!

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.

Finding the motivation…

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I sit typing this whilst sat in my pyjamas late on a Saturday morning, under a blanket, lounging on the sofa with the TV on in the background. I feel this has become a fairly standard scene for a weekend where we have no plans. Amelia has gone down for a nap, and there are plenty of useful things I could be doing. There’s the pictures that I’ve framed waiting to be hung, there’s pictures that I need to get frames for, there’s a pile of clothes in the hall that need taking to the charity shop (they’ve been sat there for a number of months), and there’s general tidying up I could be doing. Yet I have sat for the last hour and done very little! Where can I get the motivation from? Yesterday was a good day of sorts. I finished work at a decent time. I would describe my work day as ‘unsatisfying’ for some reason – it wasn’t terrible but it just consisted of several little things that left me feeling ‘blah’. So I came home, having had a good nights sleep two nights in a row, and felt a little productive. So I got in the garden and planted the plants that have been sat on my windowsill begging to be put in the garden for a week. I tied my roses into the tunnel structure I’m working on and I pulled up some weeds. I even managed to make Amelia’s dinner before collecting her from nursery.

But here’s the thing….when I collected her she was already tired because she had only had one 50 minute nap the whole day. That’s where the motivation waned. I might as well have not made her dinner because she ate all of 5 pieces of pasta, a couple of bites of broccoli and a pea or two before trying to throw it on the floor piece by piece. I presented her with a few berries. It started off well and then she took to squishing them in her hand to create maximal mess. Ok – lets just do bath time and bedtime then. Bath time involved her stood in the bath screaming in frustration whilst we washed her, and getting her into a nappy and pyjamas involved screaming and wriggling. The peace as she quickly fell asleep was a relief. But then there’s the realisation that we now need to eat dinner. This is where my motivation disappeared…..pizza it was. I then ate the pizza with the guilt that I hadn’t provided us with a healthy dinner, and I must improve upon this next week.

Then – if there had been any doubt that I had lost motivation, as I peacefully slept I was awoken whilst it was still pitch black to her cries. What time is it? Oh – 1.40am…..really? So we spent the next two hours in a tag team trying to settle her back to sleep with minimal intervention. By this time I knew that Saturday would be a slow burner.

So as I sit in my pyjamas I think of all the things that I could and should do, whist all I really want to do is lie in bed and snooze on and off. I find that life currently seems to be a cycle of a few bad nights of sleep followed by a catch up. After the catch-up there is a couple of days of renewed energy and motivation until we start the cycle again.

So I ask the mums, and dads, out there – is it normal to feel like this? Is there a way to break the cycle, or it is just a waiting game?

Working mum – the experience so far

 

I have been back at work now for almost three months, and life feels like it’s just starting to settle into a routine again. I was looking forward to returning to work and dreading it in almost equal measures. Not because I didn’t enjoy work, or because I hadn’t enjoyed being with Amelia, but simply because it was a change, and something I hadn’t experienced previously. I was going to be a working mum and be on duty both at work and home. When would I have those moments where I could come home from work and just lie on the sofa for hours without a care in the world? When would I have a day off that might involve a lie-in until lunchtime?

Prior to returning to work we were all set up with a plan of action. Amelia would be booked into nursery for three days per week, we would have Mondays and Thursdays off together to go to groups and have fun, Her grandparents would collect her on a Wednesday and bring her home ready for bed (as this would be my long day). It was perfectly fine initially – the routine seemed to work well, and Amelia was sleeping fairly well. Then we had some holiday and upon our return Amelia spent two weeks with a viral illness, and some more teething. During this time she would cry each time we dropped her at nursery, she would wake in the night for up to two hours a go, and then sleep in late so we had to wake her to get her ready in time. A couple of the days she was just too unwell to go to nursery (I felt I couldn’t really drop her off with a temperature of almost 39 degrees), and last minute care by Grandpa had to be organised. It was a really tough couple of weeks where exhaustion took over. As Amelia became well again some of the behaviours improved. However, she always seemed to know when it was Monday night and mummy had to go to work on Tuesday. She would have slept perfectly on Sunday night but come Monday night she would wake either in the middle of the night or at 5am. So the week always started with a sleep deficit. She continued to be clingy and cry when we would leave her at nursery. I think I spent quite a lot of the day on edge that nursery would call to tell me that I would have to come and collect her. They didn’t, and she was always fine by the time I collected her.

As time has passed she naps better at nursery, and she’s eating and drinking well both there and at home. He routine continues to evolve quickly, and I cannot predict how she will change from one week to the next. For instance, we have just finished a phase in which she was waking between 5-5.30 am every day and, as a result, being ready to nap just as its time to go to nursery. She’s a little better at entertaining herself in her cot for a while if she wakes early. I think she is also moving towards having a one nap per day routine.

As for me – the first two months of work were hard. I had to get back into a structured routine. I had been doing the odd half-day in the run up to starting back, and this had generally been fine. But working more, and not having as much time to switch off, and not sleeping as well were leaving me really tired. It impacted upon my decision-making, and thinking powers. Though I could still make appropriate decisions and provide what I think is good care it did sometimes take a bit more than the 10 minutes I have per patient. I found this quite tough to tolerate, having previously been very efficient and on top of things. I felt a bit like I was swimming in rough waters and the shore wasn’t getting any closer by the time I had finished each day. Now I feel like the waters are calmer and I manage to make it to shore pretty easily!

Where I do feel that progress is lacking is the days off. I find that they feel more like recovery days rather than days to fill with piles of activities. I feel guilt about this. Not least after her 1-year check when I was interrogated as to what baby groups we attend. It has been tough – the groups we had been going to and enjoying were on Wednesdays, and now I work all day Wednesday. There are alternative options for these classes but they’re a bit further from home, and at times where currently Amelia tends to nap. There doesn’t seem to be many other groups that run on our days off. It may just be excuses on my part, and I need to readjust my mind-set, or maybe it’s ok that we don’t go to specific groups on the days off. Is it ok to just spend time together – playing, seeing family and friends? Is it ok that I make sure she naps well on our days off so that she doesn’t have a bad nights sleep when I’m at work the next day? Am I being selfish or is this self-preservation? Or are they the same thing? I ask myself these questions a lot!

I think there also seems to be some stigma at times about putting your child into nursery. I certainly don’t get any negative reactions from friends and family. Everyone I know is in a similar position – they either have to work, or they just really want to work because they’ve developed a professional career that they’re not ready to give up. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, just as much as there is nothing wrong with women who choose to stop working whilst they have young families. Everyone makes decisions appropriate to their individual circumstances. I’m fortunate enough that I probably could have stopped working for now, though it makes our lives a lot more comfortable with me working. I am also fortunate that I don’t need to work full-time, and my job enables me to undertake different types of activity to make my week varied. I also have a short commute, which makes it easier. So I am in awe of the women out there working full-time, having to undertake long commutes, and being a mummy!

I am sure that as time goes on, this balancing act of working and being a mummy will get easier. As Amelia gets older things will change again. There have certainly been benefits to being a mummy at work – I would say I am far better at managing my time, I am more pragmatic in my approach to working and on a clinical level I think I have better empathy, and can more understand the anxieties of parents, and those trying to juggle numerous aspects of life. It hasn’t suppressed my ambition to further my career, and I am always thinking about the future and how I might get there! Plus, having time off has given me a break from the pressures of working in the NHS, and the frustrations it sometimes brings. I have a renewed enthusiasm for work.

Has anyone else had a similar experience when returning to work after maternity leave? Or any tips for how I use my days off in a better way?