Posts Tagged With: parenting

The importance of a little bit of head space…

I started writing this post sat in the peaceful surrounds of a public library – always a reliable haven for mums with small children. Little Miss was at nursery and Little Mister was snoozing next to me in his cosy buggy.

For the first time in days, maybe a few weeks even, I felt able to just sit, still and calm, and be me.

Neither child was demanding anything from me and being out of the house removed the ever-present temptation to start filling this time with chores instead of taking a moment for myself.

It was bliss. The autumn sun was shining through the window. There may even have been a rainbow as I’d just ducked out of a heavy shower.

It was quiet. There was no CBeebies, Peppa Pig or nursery rhymes playing in the background! And, much as I adore her, no Little Miss asking constant questions or insisting I do or get something for her NOW!

I felt refreshed and it made me realise that I should prioritise trying to do this more often.

The importance of a little bit of head space... www.mummystodolist.com

Having two children is what I always wanted. I now have the perfect family I dreamt of, a girl and a boy, and I love them to infinity and beyond. But one of the things I have found most difficult these last few months is the lack of personal time and space.

I sometimes wonder if growing up as an only child has made the transition more difficult for me. Whereas my husband grew up in a busy household with three brothers (and a very naughty dog!), I suppose I’m just more accustomed to being on my own a lot. My dad worked long, irregular hours so it was often just my mum and I at home.

I am used to, and sometimes really need, time for peace and quiet. Incessant noise, after a while, makes my brain feel frazzled, my head ache and my thoughts feel all over the place.

Whenever we’ve done those personal development quizzes at work, the ones that try and categorise people by character traits, I always come out as an introvert. This used to surprise and slightly alarm me as I’m not especially shy and can be a terrible chatterbox at times. But I’ve grown to realise it means that I like, and need, my own space to function well.

But it’s not just a need for personal space that has made having two little ones feel overwhelming.

My other big problem is the demands I place upon myself. I crave time and space but when I have a chance to grab some I all too often fritter it away on some mundane household task that could, for the sake of my sanity, have waited. Or at best it could have been done much quicker if I wasn’t on a constant quest for perfection.

That’s why getting out of the house the other day was so good for me.

Usually on Little Miss’s nursery day I stay at home and set myself an impossibly long list of household jobs and admin tasks that I want to get done. I nearly always end up feeling disappointed not to have finished the list, even though it was unrealistic in the first place.

I also often spend too long trying to do simple chores to an unnecessarily high standard. And sometimes it feels easier not to start at all if I think my standards won’t be met in the time available.

It’s a catch 22 situation. I feel frustrated about my lack of time, yet when I have it I don’t use it wisely or get less done than I could have and end up feeling I must get even more done the next day. Ahhhhh!

Anyway, getting back to the point, taking myself out of my usual routine did me the world of good this week.

Instead of staying at home and filling my toddler-free day with hoovering, washing and housework – in between the nappies and feeds – I escaped our four walls, which can feel pretty claustrophobic even at the best of times.

My husband was heading to the quaint, historic Sussex town of Lewes for a work meeting and Little Mister and I went along for the ride, meeting him later for lunch. It’s a place I used to go with Little Miss when she was tiny too, so it brought back many happy memories and a strong sense of déjà vu.

I had a lovely, relaxing morning. I sat and fed Little Mister in a coffee shop – without having to chase a hyperactive toddler every few minutes, or bribe her into sitting still with biscuits or Peppa Pig on my phone. I drank a latte while it was still hot and I enjoyed a packet of crisps without having to share. Little luxuries, I know!

And then I hit the shops!

And although I was enjoying myself, the trip was very productive too and did actually enable me to tick quite a few things off my to-do list. It was a winner all round!

I bought Christmas cards and a fair few presents. With just under six weeks to go until the big day, I now feel that we’ve made a major dent in the shopping. Something my bank account was also clearly feeling when I checked last night. Whoops!

It was lovely to have time to look around for gifts – something which has become increasingly tricky when Little Miss is in tow.

Little Mister, when he’s awake, loves being out and about, with plenty to look at. And it’s nice for him to be complete centre of attention for once. He enjoyed smiling and gurgling at all the old ladies who stopped to admire him. He is a fantastic flirt – loves putting on his cutest performances for an audience!

It was lovely to be able to focus just on him for a while. He was rewarded with a nice new pair of Sock Ons! (for those not in the know, these are genius little things designed to keep babies’ footwear on their feet. Little Mister is terrible for rubbing his feet together to lose his socks).

And, once I was all shopped out, I still had time to start writing this, my first post in a while.

The day was a reminder, a wake-up call, that me-time matters. That, sometimes, it needs to be made more of a priority. My wellbeing is important and giving myself a bit of a day off from the housework was one of the best things I did this week.

It’s made me realise that I should try and carve out more time for myself – either to rest, relax or do nice things. If that means lowering my standards a bit at home then I think it will be worth it.

Having a bit of breathing space, time to clear my head, makes me a calmer, happier, more positive parent when I return to the joyful chaos of childcare.

So I will strive to do it more often.

I’m linking this post and the word ‘space’ with The Reading Residence’s fab Word of the Week linky. 

The Reading Residence
Pic credit: thaikrit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Word of the Week | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Our first fantastic month as a family of four…

So the ‘Babymoon’ – a daft word but it seems appropriate right now – has finally come to an end. Last week saw Daddy going back to work and the routines of everyday life beginning to resume after three lovely weeks all together. And this morning Little Mister turned four weeks old, before officially becoming a one-month-old on Friday. But before these magical early days become too distant a blur and I’m overcome by the exhaustion of looking after two little ones on my own, I wanted to share some of the memories and milestones from the first 28 days of Little Mister’s life. It’s taken me a week of snatched moments to finishing writing this post, such is the daily juggle now!Our first month as a family of four

Our baby son’s arrival coincided with a spell of decent hot weather and we’ve been out and about much more this time around than in the weeks after his sister was born. I suppose we’re more confident and a bit more relaxed having successfully reared one newborn! And staying inside with a boisterous toddler is a surefire way for everyone to go mad.

Little Mister has already enjoyed a family barbecue to celebrate his cousin turning seven – I blame her for his late arrival and my subsequent discomfort since she was so desperate for the new baby to share her birthday month! He wasn’t much interested in the fabulous Narnia-themed chocolate birthday cake but Mummy was and I’m sure it was good for my milk supply! It was a lovely family occasion and, of course, a chance to show him off.

There have also been several picnics, one in the park and one at our local vicarage. Little Mister has already felt the air on his cheeks – yes, those ones – as we’ve got to grips with his lunchtime nappy explosions! But it’s been wonderful to sit back on the picnic rug and enjoy our little family.

Family picnic

Family picnic fun

Food actually features quite heavily in the last few weeks. I’m a nervous eater when pregnant. I worry about everything, especially food that’s been prepared outside the home. Eating anything more adventurous than a cheese and tomato pizza in a restaurant was out of the question.

So I’ve been making up for months of self-inflicted food tedium… starting off with a takeaway curry binge the night Little Mister was born – a tradition started when Little Miss arrived. I have to have the sweetest, creamiest, sickliest curry on the menu. We followed up with takeaway Chinese the next night, fish and chips a couple of days later and several lunches out before returning to the Indian menu and a lamb biryani, which it turns out Little Miss will happily eat!

We also has a trip to Wagamama as a threesome on one of Little Miss’s nursery days. Little Mister was impeccably behaved, sleeping throughout the whole meal, so it was a chance for Daddy and I to feel like a proper grown-up couple again for an hour or two. It’s been a while! It also brought back fond memories of us eating out together when Little Miss was the sleeping baby in the pram.

Food, we can already tell, is clearly going to be very important to Little Mister too. After a slightly slow start, he’s taken to breastfeeding with great enthusiasm! He almost beats his little fists on my chest when he’s hungry and will try and nibble the shoulder of whoever happens to be holding him when that tummy starts to rumble.

Post-feed calm and cuddles

Post-feed calm and cuddles

When he was weighed at six days old he had lost less than an ounce – his sister, at the same stage, had dropped more than half a pound. He obviously takes after his father, who apparently actually gained weight in his first week! By his most recent check, at 13 days, Little Mister was up to 10lb 1oz, a weight it took Little Miss more than six weeks to get up to! He definitely has his Daddy’s long limbs, while our daughter has inherited my shorter ones!

But although our baby boy is bigger than his sister was, and has more hair, they do look very similar as babies. We’ve got very similar photos of the two of them, as you can see…

Spot the sibling difference

Spot the sibling difference!

Little Miss has taken her brother’s arrival pretty well for a 2-and-a-quarter-year-old. It must be hard having to suddenly share Mummy and Daddy. It probably helps that she was already obsessed with ‘dollies’ before he arrived so she now loves pretending to look after her own babies, copying the things we do for Little Mister. It’s very sweet. She has a few dolly-sized nappies and we’ve let her have a few of her old tiny baby clothes – they never fitted her ‘big’ baby brother anyway. But I constantly have to stop her stealing more of her brother’s stuff – nappies, muslins, the car seat, his bouncy chair, all of them are nabbed for her dolls given half a chance! That said, her dollies are proving a very useful distraction for when I need to change poopy nappies without a toddler’s help!

Mini me nappy changing

Dolly needs her nappy changing too!

Little Mister’s early milestones have included his first experience of water (excluding his unfortunate habit/our parenting fail of weeing in his own face on the changing mat) when he had his first bath. He was a bit angry about it to start with but since then he’s become pretty chilled in his little tub and we think he takes after his sister in enjoying a nice warm soak now.

Another milestone saw the little man being made all official when we registered his birth. He greeted the occasion with a demand to be fed while we gave all our details to the registrar, followed by a loud poo just as we were handed over his certificate!

It’s been a lovely laid back first month. Of course we I’ve had my moments of feeling completely overwhelmed – with love, responsibility, exhaustion and frustration – but I’ve surprised myself with how well I’ve coped most of the time. Looking after a newborn baby does feel that little bit easier second time around. Keeping a bossy toddler happy, now that’s the real challenge!

Little Mister 3 weeks old

Little Mister at almost 3 weeks old

Categories: Baby days, Motherhood, Mummy memories | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Digging the garden centre

A few short years ago visiting a garden centre would have been way down our list of fun places to hang out. For a start, we lived in a second floor flat back then. But lack of green space aside, our view, in the not-so-distant past, was that garden centres were places for folk who are (ahem) much older than us! The main exception to the rule being the annual festive foray to buy a Christmas tree.

20130803_155529 (480x640)Fast forward to life with a curious toddler and suddenly we’re seeing our local garden centres in a whole new light. Plus, I do think many of them have started to branch out (excuse the pun) and become far more family-friendly than I ever remember them being when I was a kid.

Suddenly, visiting a garden centre has become a fairly fool-proof, cheap and cheerful way to spend a few hours keeping Little Miss entertained. There’s loads for her to look at, favourites being ornamental animals of all shapes and sizes that she can pat and proudly say the names of. And, if she’s lucky, maybe some real ones to see in the pets and aquarium sections.

Even better, some of the best garden centres near us now have great soft play areas we can visit in return for a small donation to charity. In wet weather this can be a lifesaver! And to keep us parents happy, there’s the lure of a nice cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake.

20131025_114925_resized_1It does also seem that garden centres are no longer just about selling plants. Most now have various areas of gifts, toys, books, clothes and often a farm-style shop of tasty treats to tempt us. And now Christmas is coming they are getting even more interesting, with some lovely winter wonderland themed displays and activities. The one we went to this week had so many fairy lights twinkling it was like a free baby sensory experience! It also had an ‘alternative’ nativity scene set up, with moving life-size animals (see picture, which doesn’t quite do it justice!). I say ‘alternative’ because as well as your standard Christmas story stable creatures it also featured penguins and a lion, which I’m pretty sure were not part of the traditional  line-up. But either way, Little Miss loved it.

Our favourite local garden centres include Old Barn Nursery & Garden Centre at Dial Post on the A24, Sussex, home to the scene above, and Hillier Garden Centre on the  A281 Brighton Road just outside of Horsham, home to the ornamental rabbits and guinea pigs in the first picture . Both are part of bigger chains with outlets in other parts of the UK too.

So, it seems we are officially garden centre converts. Strange how parenthood changes your perspective on so many things!

(NB: These views are my own, I’ve not been paid/bribed/asked by the garden centres mentioned to post this)

Categories: Out and about | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Lift off from the list!

Muffin with number one candle onOk, here goes… first post! As the name of this blog suggests, I’m a new(ish) mum who finds herself writing a fair few lists.

Secretly I love a list. They make life feel that little bit more under control. Only problem is, many of the items on my lists have a tendency of staying there far too long, this blog being the perfect example. It went on a list around 18 months ago, shortly after my darling daughter was born! It had good company, there were a whole host of other fab things I thought I’d be able to fit in while I was on maternity leave that, once the baby haze kicked in, never made it further than the pages of my notebook.

But (drumroll), this particular project has now finally made it off of a piece of paper and into cyber reality. Well done me! And the best bit? Being able to tick it off the ever-growing ‘to-do’ list of course!

I hope this blog will encourage me to get more things ticked off our family wish lists and perhaps give others a few ideas along the way. It will also be a space for me to record and make sense of the trials, tribulations and, most importantly, joys of parenthood. I hope you’ll join me.

And I’d love to know, what great ideas were on your ‘things to do while on maternity leave’ list that never saw the light of day?

(Thanks to Marcus/FreeDigitalPhotos.net for the image)

Categories: Motherhood, My 'to-do' lists | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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