As Clara reaches that big milestone of her first birthday on Wednesday, it has got me thinking about the last year and being proud that we got here but also all the things that have changed and that I have learnt in this incredible year. For many a year goes so quickly and yes you can look back and pick out certain moments that have defined that year; a new job, holidays, a few weddings, new romance and for some it is difficult to remember much. For me their are a million moments that keep on popping into my head and as the days creep up to her first birthday I can remember so clearly those days leading up to her birth – all the pineapple I ate, long walks, acupuncture, spicy food and a few other old wives tales we did to get our little girl on her way.
It was also a really special time as the weather was lovely and I remember Ryan and I going for some lovely relaxing lunches, knowing they would be our last for a while, whilst watching some frazzled parents chase their children. I am proud to say we are now those frazzled parents and there has definitely been some highs and lows over the last year and as Clara starts becoming a tiny human who can walk, say words and express what she wants and how she feels. I am loving it even more and starting to develop and build a relationship with her. The last year has been hard and I know many parents say the first year is the hardest and I would have to agree, as a first time parent which is stressful enough and then to add all the societal pressures we now have – you spend your whole time worrying about their salt content, sleep quality, development milestones, have I done the wrong thing stopping breast feeding at four months and all those awful pressures we put on ourselves. I now feel like I am coming out the other end and not having so much to worry about and just enjoying my gorgeous little girl.
What I did want this blog post to be about is my year, what I have learnt and anything key I can share, as I know when you are in the depths of that first year, sleep deprived and feeling rubbish it’s hard to sometimes to see the fun that is about to come. I have heard many people say that when they start walking that is the hardest, but I am actually finding it the best bit so far as she has gained a little more independence and can really entertain herself and interact with more things, which she is so much happier about as felt we had a good six weeks of a frustrated Clara who just wanted to move.
So I digress!! Right, here are a few area’s I wanted to capture and talk about that have been so important to me this last year, some I have covered in my other blogs but with a lot more time to reflect including being back at work now for almost two months, it has really made me realise what a year it has been and how much I have changed…
Family & Friends
These wonderful, incredible people have really made me realise that all those years of memories, family holidays, drunken uni nights and late night chats have meant that I have some of the most awesome people around me that just adore our little girl and make so much effort with her. Recently one of her Life Parents (we aren’t religious but still wanted to recognise the people who are going to shape her life) sent Clara a postcard from Paris, to tell her all about it and that it was a special place where we got engaged. It choked me how special it was. So make sure that you have these people in your life as they will be the people that will support you through the down times, laugh with you through the good and make memories for you as a family.
This has been one of the biggest changes for me and in a way only a mum who has gone back to work can understand and I wish I could have told myself this many years ago, but I can now honestly say I have some perspective on what is important and making time for the things that matter. I love working and am loving being back at work as I really do feel like I have the best of all worlds and have time to be ‘me’ and make decisions and be part of some incredible projects. The thing that has changed is I realise that is doesn’t matter if that email doesn’t get answered straight away or having to work at 10pm at night. What is important is balance, being strict and efficient about your time at work but that it is important I get home for that precious hour I have with Clara before she goes to bed. Don’t get me wrong, if there are a few things to finish off in the evening, I will happily do them. But, I am finding balance to make sure I get as much time with my little girl as I can.
Being Kind To Myself
This is so important and as someone who likes things just as they should be and can find when things go wrong or not as expected a little stressful, this has been a big lesson for me. This last year was hard and I think because you can’t control babies, you don’t know when they are going to kick off, be hungry, get ill, do a massive poonami or throw up all over you (or in my case projectile vomit all over a velvet sofa in a new restaurant in Windsor) and this I found hard and I don’t think I realised how hard until she has started gaining her independence a bit more. I don’t think I will change and I am sure one day when I have another one, I will still find it hard. What I have found easier is just not really caring what other people think so much anymore and in turn this has led me to be a little kinder to myself and not always trying to have my clothes or hair done, it’s okay sometimes to not.
This has been so key to my year and meant that not only has it given me some sanity but also that we have done some wonderful things as a family. So if you can find some time, just once a month to sit down for a few hours to plan out your next month and more of your year. It also gives you some nice head space to reflect on everything that has happened, because trust me it is one big blur and anything you can do to just let life continue on in a planned fashion, which means you still have some quality fun time together just makes parenting so much easier. Also I do things like look at friends and families birthdays a month in advance and write all my cards and do presents so you aren’t running round on the day trying to put together some sort of a card or present!
This is probably the most important thing on here and I have talked before about how hard this can be and that sometimes the planning takes longer than the time you are actually enjoying a bit of ‘you’ time but it is so key. My sanctuary was getting into the gym as it served a dual purpose for me but I also found Hot Yoga which was amazing and I always fell asleep right at the end I am sure snored a couple of times, but those 5min of sleep plus the 90min of Hot Yoga gave me time to work on me and have time to switch off and reflect.
Things I Couldn’t Live Without (and have learnt)
It wouldn’t be great post without sharing some of the amazing things I have used this year which has really helped me and made me survive it but also quite special.
TinyBeans – this is a great app which is an online baby journal so you upload a picture every day of your baby. I know this might sound a lot but you will probably be taking 100 photos a day anyway and then it is all in one place. The best thing is that you can invite whoever you want to see the pictures and receive the weekly email. So you don’t have to bombard social media to keep all the family happy (and your friends not so happy) but also means you can look back at the pictures and video’s over the year. They also have a handy service where you can turn them into a calendar or other things. Plus it’s free!
Baby Monitor – buying a good baby monitor is key and we got the Motorola MBP853 (which I talked about in my last blog post) but it just meant you don’t have to keep on going in and out of their room to check they are okay, plus you can take it away with you so means you can have some ‘you’ time.
High chair – We made a bit of a booboo with this one. We wanted an all singing all dancing one that would suit our kitchen and don’t get me wrong the Bloom Fresco baby chair does look great (we got it from the baby show so didn’t pay as much as £450) but in hindsight it is a pain to clean and if I could give any bit of advice, go to Ikea and get their Antilop baby chair for £15, it is perfect, easy to clean and store and that is all you really need from a high chair.
Amazon – get Amazon Prime, it is a the best money you will ever spend as with babies they change every other day and having a service that you can order and it arrives so quickly saves you so much stress and time.
Lights – babies love lights and many a time the only way we could soothe Clara was by having some lights on (or having the hairdryer app on). We got given the Summer Infant Slumber Buddy (£24.99) which she is mesmerised by still. Also Clara just got the Cloud B Tranquil Turtle which are used for the first time this morning as a sleep aid when she woke up at 5:30am and she then didn’t wake up until 7:45am (Hallelujah!!!!!)
SleepyHead – a little lifesaver for those first few months and also when we put Clara in her own room at about two months, we initially put her in this in her cot and she loved it.
My final bit of advice is remember whatever you do defines who they are and will shape their patterns and routine, so before they get here think about what your life involves and what you can do to make it as simple as possible. For example we always have Classic FM playing when Clara goes to sleep, partly because it is quite soothing but also I didn’t want her to get used to only sleeping in a quiet environment as our lives are busy and I wanted her used to noise.
I hope this blog post has resonated with parents but also helped any parents who are either about to go on this journey or are on it to know every day gets a bit better and now I can’t wait for her to wake up every morning for those special morning smiles and cuddles.
Lauren – workingmummablog