Sunday, 25 January 2015

D-Day -1

Today should be a lazy Sunday,  chilling out with my family, enjoying a visit from Nanny and cooking a scrumptious Sunday dinner and enjoying time with my baby.

Today however is not that day

Today I feel sad, I feel cross and I feel very, very crappy.

Today I need to tackle the mountain of washing and actually hoover for the first time in a time that is too long to be respectable. Today I need to iron clothes and hang them up. Today I need to plan ahead mine and Oscar's outfits for tomorrow.  Today I need to prep my lunch and my evening meal for the next day.

Today is the day before I return to work.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Tough times

As I stop and think on how tough this week has been, I also realise just how lucky I am.

This week I've barely left the house, I've physically spoken to very few people. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most stressful part has been a very grumpy, whingey, unsettled, hard to please 9 month old.

I can honestly count on one hand how many days I have felt I wanted a do over since he came into our world.  But this week I have wanted bedtime to arrive within an hour of waking up every single day. Every single day.

It's definitely been a shit week, with tiny moments of joy brought about from the wonderful humorous messages received from friends and the rare toothy grins and kisses from the wrigglebum.

But, despite the shittiness (yes that is a real word), I'm incredibly lucky. He's 9 and a half months old and it's taken this long to have a week like this.  I don't know why he's been like this, and I never will, but it's wonderful to have made it this far with a sunny smiley and content baby with no health problems who brings joy to my day, every single day.  Every single day.  That's amazing.

He's moving on to a whole new chapter in his life soon,  a chapter which will see him become even more independent, which will see him go from strength to strength.  I will miss seeing him do this as I need to return to work.  It makes me sad that I may miss out on so many 'firsts'. But... I remind myself during this tough time...

I'M SO LUCKY.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Panic!

I woke up on Monday morning with an honest to God freak out. In three weeks I return to work after nearly 11 months off work. Jeez Louise where has that time gone?

I remember before I went on maternity leave I had ideas about what I would do during my time off and how when I returned to work I would be in such a great routine that everything would run seamlessly.

Er.. No. Quite the opposite, I have a baby who hates naps, unless he sleeps on you and doesn't particularly like sleeping at night. I somehow manage to fit in (just about) mealtimes, and attending appts and play sessions. Housework? Don't be ridiculous,  my son is incredibly lucky, and I'm incredibly surprised that he has clean clothes to wear every day. There have been occasions where I realised I was dressing him in his last set of clean clothes and the panic washing and drying without a tumble dryer has begun.

When I return to work in 2 and a half weeks I'm either going to fall apart or become super efficient.

Place your bets!

One thing I have decided to do is try and focus on quick, easy and healthy meals. So the slow cooker is going to see some action, but as my other half isn't a fan of casseroles etc, I also need to look at quick meals that I can do on the stove and under the grill.  Man cannot live on sandwiches and omelette. Well he could but I wouldn't be very happy.

Got to.go, another baby appointment to get to!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ladies wot shop

Further to my last post where I decided not to be a frumpy mum, today I ventured into a personal shopper experience in Debenhams.  It's a fantastic service and I wish I'd discovered it sooner.  It was so easy to book an appointment.  The website asks for very straightforward information.  I do wish it asked for a little bit more info though such as your dress size, style preference, height etc as this could come in useful for your shopper later.

Screenshots of the booking process:
  


I was 5 minutes early for my appointment and the girls at the paydesk called for my shopper to come down.  The lovely Sammy arrived about 10 minutes later. Sammy was lovely and welcoming and I immediately felt at ease.  The only thing that puzzled me at this point was being asked if I had booked my appointment.  I had in mind that they would be aware of all the bookings and know who they would be working with and when.  Very odd.

Despite the lack of awareness of my appointment Sammy was straight into business.  She asked me a few questions about the purpose of my appointment and what I was looking for.  Before leaving me to go trawling the racks, she made sure I had a coffee in my hands.



While Sammy was looking for clothes for me to try I decided to make Oscar and I comfy.  The dressing room had two very large cubicles, seating, mirrors and magazines.  The dressing room served as the perfect playpen for the wrigglebum.


Sammy brought back a good selection of clothes, some of which hit the mark straightaway, others either didn't fit me that well,or were just not to my taste.  Some of the things she picked for me I really didn't think I would like, but the minute I put them on I loved them.  The personal shopper experience is great for encouraging you to be a bit braver and try things you'd normally leave on the rack.

Now that Sammy had a better idea of what I liked, and what worked for my body shape she disappeared again to get more things for me to try.  I decided to take advantage of the privacy and feed the wee man.

Sam, clearly knows her way around the store as it didn't take too long for her to return with another good bundle of clothes.  

Again, there were things I loved, and things I hated.  After this I decided to take a wander around the store and try picking up some things myself that I wouldn't ordinarily choose.  While waiting in a rather long queue, for a standard changing room, with a pram, and a lot of clothes, Sammy collared me and invited back up to the dressing room.  I was very grateful!

After trying on the last lot of clothes, the 2 hours were nearly up and I had the very difficult task of narrowing down the items I liked to the items I could afford to take home.

I really enjoyed this way of shopping and will definitely be doing it again. There's absolutely no pressure to buy anything at all, and you get good honest and constructive feedback.  Sammy was great at talking me through how to finish off an outfit how I could mix and match items, dress them up and dress them down etc.  Of course it's even better if you've got a little one you need to entertain while shopping.

8 out of 10, could be improved by taking more information at booking and perhaps having a number of items ready to browse through upon arrival.



Saturday, 27 December 2014

Frumpy mum

I've never been known for being fashionable or trendy. I've always gone for comfortable with a twist. The twist for the last 9 years has been my hair. I've always made an effort with my appearance and liked to feel 'pretty'.

Since having a baby I seem to have lost my way.  My current day to day wear consists of leggings or jeans (which don't fit) either a vest and t-shirt/jumper layer because it's been nice and easy for breastfeeding on demand.

Nine months have passed since the baby arrived and for nine months before that my wardrobe was severely limited by a large bump poking out front.

I return to work late January, and as I look in my overflowing wardrobe I struggle to put together more than a couple of outfits I feel comfortable in.

One of my problems is that I lack confidence in putting together an outfit that works. I struggle to visualise how pieces can go together and really don't understand what works for my shape.

Holding my hands up in defeat, I've decided to enlist professional help. Next Monday I will be in the hands of a personal shopper who will hopefully be able to clue me up and send me back out into the world with all the knowledge I need to make myself look and feel good.

Here begins Project Less Frumpy Mum.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Making Choices

As a first time older mum, the minute I knew I was pregnant, I couldn't do enough research into all the options available, and all the choices and decisions I'd have to make.

Some of the choices I've made have raised a few eyebrows (babywearing and baby led weaning for example), but I've done my research and I'm comfortable and confident in those. So much so I generally don't even try to defend those choices when questioned.

The one thing that is repeatedly asked of me though is why I give my child the food he gets, or rather why I don't give him the food I don't.  I believe in encouraging a baby to try as many flavours and textures as possible, as long as it's healthy.  That's not to say I won't ever let him have chocolates, cakes, chips etc, but there's a time for those and that time is not right now.

The latest figures, for 2012/13, show that 18.9% of UK children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.4% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.3% were obese and another 13.0% were overweight. This means almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese.

As someone who was slim when growing up because of a healthy diet and lots of exercise, but who didn't understand nutrition and has ended up a couple of stone heavier than is healthy; I don't want to see my child struggle with his health because of his diet later in life.  What's important to me is to ensure that my child enjoys ALL foods and learns about a healthy, balanced diet. One which includes fruit, vegetables, fish and fresh meat, as well as nuts, seeds and CAKE!  Gawd, I can't imagine a life without cake and wouldn't dare inflict that on anyone, but it's important to learn what a healthy lifestyle is all about.  Of course once he's older he can make his own choices but at least they will be informed choices.

In the meantime I take my responsibility as a parent seriously. We have fun with food and exercise while nurturing and developing our bodies. I will encourage him to try all foods and learn to cook, understand where food comes from and understand the importance of food choices on your body and mind.

The basics are obvious, limited sugar and salt. The NHS website provides lots of useful information, but the key rules to follow are these:

Salt

Babies shouldn’t eat much salt as it isn't good for their kidneys. Don't add salt to your baby’s food and don't use stock cubes or gravy as they're often high in salt. Remember this when you’re cooking for the family if you plan to give the same food to your baby.

Sugar

Your baby doesn’t need sugar. By avoiding sugary snacks and drinks, you'll help to prevent tooth decay. Use mashed banana, breast milk or formula milk to sweeten food if necessary.

Honey

Occasionally, honey contains bacteria which can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism, which is a very serious illness. It’s best not to give your child honey until they’re one year old. Honey is a sugar, so avoiding it will also help to prevent tooth decay.

Nuts

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five as they can choke on them. As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family you can give your baby peanuts once they're six months old as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.

"Low-fat" foods

Fat is an important source of calories and some vitamins for babies and young children. It’s better for babies and young children under two to have full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese rather than low-fat varieties.
uts

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five as they can choke on them. As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family you can give your baby peanuts once they're six months old as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.



Sunday, 30 November 2014

The First Weekend Away Of A Breastfeeding Mum

This weekend was the first time I've been away overnight from my little boy. He's 8 months old today and it doesn't seem 8 months since he came into my life.

Ages ago however, in my naivety, I thought at 8 months I wouldn't worry about leaving him,  at 8 months he'd be sleeping through,  and at 8 months he'd be happily taking a bottle of expressed milk.

Guess how many of those things actually happened?  None!  To be fair perhaps I wasn't worried as such but I sure as hell felt lost without him and would have preferred to have him and my boyfriend with me for the weekend.

In the week leading up to the trip I have expressed milk like it was going out of fashion. On the plus side I now have a freezer of milk, which as a friend said, is probably enough to feed the street! On the downside, increased expressing means my body thinks there's increased demand when there isn't.  I planned for this and brought my breast pump with me and made sensible plans to express as soon as I got to my hotel and other key points during the weekend, but the best laid plans and all that!

We arrived at the hotel to find our rooms were not ready yet.  Not having gone this long before without feeding I felt my boobs were ok for a couple more hours. After a couple of hours I desperately needed some relief.  We didn't make it back to the hotel until about 4pm and as soon as we were in our room I expressed while mum made that all important cup of tea!

A night out for Chinese food and a couple of drinks were merrily enjoyed but before I could go to bed I needed to relieve the boulders resting on my chest.  I had thought they were pretty bad,  mmm, until I woke at 2am, again at 3, 4 and half 5. Each time the boulders getting harder and heavier.  At 6.45 I gave up and  headed for a hot shower to express a little in there under the heavenly hot water.

Disaster! At 7am in the Hilton, we had no hot water.. :-(

On went the pump and within 20 minutes I managed to get two full bottles.  Unheard of and incredibly uncomfortable.  The day ahead involved visiting the NEC and spending the day at The Good Food Show.  I wasn't expecting much in the way of facilities to be honest but decided to ask at customer services.  I was directed to the Parenting Room which really surprised me .  I can't praise the NEC enough for this.  The room had a big play area with toys,  a tunnel and a teepee for kids to play with,  two high chairs,  tables and chairs,  two changing tables complete with nappies and wipes,  and a private screened area with plug points for breast pumps. Amazing!

We had a great day at the show and about lunchtime I went and availed myself the facilities.  At the end of the day we found ourselves short on time and at the other end of the centre and I couldn't really make it to the Parenting room,  express and make it to our coach on time.

We were in the Wetherspoons having a quick refreshment.   We spied an empty table with a plug socket and with some sneaky shielding I actually managed to express both sides without anyone realising.

We're now on the coach home and I know my other half has done a very hard but great job of making sure the little one has had his milk,  but I can't wait to get back to feeding him.   I'm in no rush to spend so long away from him again.