Moving into Week 2 with a clear head.

It’s Sunday and it’s been a great day.

Thanks to my understanding husband I’ve had some head-space today, I took the opportunity to dust the blinds and clean the front room windows.  Then I cleaned all the ornaments and re jigged our vast collection of books around the shelves a bit. It needed doing as my Bristol Blue glass was started to look like an archaeological find!

Doing chores like this so rarely reminds me that it would be easier if I did them more often, however I’m pretty well documented in my dislike of housework being #notadomesticgoddess I’d always rather be doing something more interesting and enjoyable with my time.  Like reading the wonderful article I found this morning via my new favourite website Advice to Writers  which was by Anne Lamott, it’s called “Turn off Twitter” in which she writes

at 80, will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors? ……. but maybe accidentally forgot to be deeply and truly present for their kids, and now their grandchildren?

The main point of the article is about finding time to write, of course, why else was I reading it 😉 but squinting at the tiny screen of my HTC in bed this morning, reading this article, reminded me that with a little time management and some carefully employed entertainment for the smalls, I can find head-space in every day, if only for an hour.

During this quiet dust removing thoughtful activity it occurred to me that I might find it helpful to plot our course through the holiday with Diary type entries, they really don’t need to be very long, perhaps photographic or a few words here and there, it will give me a focus and the smalls something to get involved with too. Win/win? We will see. Now since I’m a blogger of sorts it seems natural to me to do that here. So I shall.

This is also a pivotal summer for us, my daughter starts school in September.  Putting the really tense battle to get her into the school I wanted for her behind us and moving on to this eventful day should be fabulous, she is more then ready to go and talks about her school or “when I go to school” daily.  I know she is going to change, to learn, be stretched, form friendships and perhaps opinions which are not the same as her parents, I’m looking forward to this with slight trepidation but I’m not going to be one of the clingy Mum’s crying in the playground.  She needs this. It’s another big step in the huge learning curve of making her a well informed independent young lady.

Excuse me while I have a wistful smile on my face for a few moments, I’d dearly love to keep her as a four year old for a few more years, the same as I’d love to be able to revisit the 10 month old her and have a cuddle and a nonsensical conversation like we once did. Sadly it’s not to be, all the more reason to keep a summer diary.

Knowing me I will forget, although I think it is important to make the time to do it, remind me to get on with it will you?

 

#NotADomesticGoddess

I often wonder if people believe me when I tweet or say #notadomesticgoddess, I figured if I said it often enough people might actually believe me…  I know it to be true myself.

It’s a great thing to be a stay at home Mum, (grumbles about sacrifices over holidays, nights out, outings and decent toilet paper aside) I have loved the amazing times I have  had with the little lady and little man over the last 4 years I really would never have missed it for anything, after all I have seen all the firsts, taught them to eat and talk and run and scream…  hang on, no, I’m not responsible for the screaming, they got that from nursery…  I don’t think I ever stopped to take on board the wider implications of that choice, the “being in charge of domesticity’ bit. It’s fair to say that I’m completely hopeless in the face of organising a household.

Even with all the mod-cons of modern day life I just don’t get it…  My Mother used to stand over the twin tub and spinner all day to do the washing, there was always dinner on the table in time, the house was always pristine and decluttered. There is enough clutter in this house to fill three houses (to be honest it never seemed to be that cluttered before the big toy takeover, there was always somewhere to put something in those days…)

Our household has fallen into a his and hers jobs place and seeing as I was such an emancipated and opinionated 20 something I’m shocked at myself at how this has happened.  It’s disgraceful! (she says smirking, knowing that this point alone is the major contributing factor to her inability to be a domestic goddess – it really is mostly in my head).  Things pottered along while I was working, himself is an expert at ironing and will still show the carpet the hoover, but he doesn’t cook..  ever.  But now Daddy usually does a 50 – 60 hour week, most of that driving, he collapses at weekends in a state of exhaustion and I count my blessings if I get an child free hour to disappear off with the computer, is it at all fair for me, a stay at home mum, to expect him to lift a finger in domestic servitude?

As he can’t cook & won’t cook, he doesn’t – he has no interest in what he eats as long as it is unspiced, unsloppy and there is enough of it.  So that bit falls to me, she who went to Catering college yet can still burn water..  As a self confessed foodie I did ‘used’ to be able to throw together something half decent at a whim but after 14 years of an unimpressed audience; why bother…  I stick to marginally healthy boring tat I know he will eat and often end producing something different for me (and sometimes the smalls)…

The washing pile baffles me.  It is it’s own alien life form. A constant heaving mass of varying linens which takes on unrecognisable guises and giggles rudely at me when I go in the bathroom. It taunts me because it knows that I could spend two entire days attacking it and making it go away and the very next day it will be looming ominously at me again. Where does it all come from? and the odd socks… Don’t get me started on the odd socks, they deserve their very own post!

When do small people honestly start to keep their rooms tidy? (I can see my Step Mum jumping up and down in the back ground urgently needing to speak and in between laughing at my comeupance she’s saying ‘you never did!’)  The little lady is 4 and every time I spend literally hours in her room putting all the tiny annoying pieces of polly pocket and various Disney princess toys back together and placing them neatly on her shelves within seconds of returning she can have the place in uproar again.  I ask her ‘why!’ she says ‘because I like it messy’. Battle lost before it began?

I know himself can get quite frustrated with me, in the kitchen the other day he said ‘If I’m going to make the effort to put in this new kitchen are you going to keep it tidy?’ and I looked at him with resignation and said ‘You really think I’m likely to change after all this time?’ and he kind of rolled his eyes and huffed a bit and I felt a kind of breakthrough…  An acceptance of the person I am and that person is #notadomesticgoddess #butagoddessallthesame and in finding that in myself I have since then been able to find a small glimmering of satisfaction in sorting out the kitchen at the end of the evening (don’t go mad it’s just a small glimmering! As long as I’m in the mood to dance in the kitchen and nobody whinges about my singing…) It doesn’t need to be the perfection of goddestry does it? Just enough… and that applies to all the areas of my new job.  The washing needs to be contained, not always finished, the dust needs not to have names written in it, toys need to be places that people don’t hurt themselves on them,  The smalls are well loved, well fed and clean and tidy in the morning but if they get covered in paint, pens, flour, mud or chocolate biscuits at some point in the day so be it – Bo-sucks to anyone who doesn’t like it!

My new years resolution for this year, to be more accepting of who I am, to like that person because for all her many faults, her heart is in the right place and she’s not that bad…

Things I would share with my Cousin…

My cousin is about to have her first baby at 41, it has got me thinking of my experience of being pregnant, having a baby and all that involves, so I thought I would share that experience with my blog, these are some random things I learned that were useful to me, they may not be applicable to anyone else, folk may disagree with me should they choose and they are certainly not scientific!
Take what is useful to you and leave the rest 🙂

Make the most of the bump, when it appears feel free to use it to make your life easier, let people hold doors open for you, give up seats for you, if they don’t ask them to!

You don’t HAVE to let people touch the bump, it’s your body the baby is in and if you don’t want people in your space make yourself clear, I had to back away from one person and ask them to stop, I had only met her once before, she was actually fine with my saying no.

You will be pregnant most of our summer, putting your wrists in cold water really helps with the heat.

Be aware of where the loos are…

People will forgive an obviously pregnant lady for parking in the mother and baby slots in the supermarket.

Those strange flutters might not be indigestion, for me the best experience of being pregnant was the little kicks inside me, little miss always started a dance routine as soon as I stopped moving, at bedtimes I used to get back up and stand and sway for a while, she also liked listening to music – Il Divo was a favourite – once she was born too, then she would lie on my shoulder with me swaying and drift off to sleep – so lovely!

Midwives are wonderful people, they are knowledgeable and supportive, if one of their tests comes back less than perfect they will send you to the consultant, this is not necessarily because things are wrong and you shouldn’t panic, I was sent to hospital twice with Alex due to small amounts of protein in my wee, when I was re-tested at hospital there was none present but if in doubt check it out, phone them for any niggle that is why they are there.

Do check out the hospital / midwife center prebirth, they normally do “tours” that way you can get a feel for the facilities and know what you need to provide yourself.

Do write a birth plan, both of mine were carefully thought out and then went out of the window straight away but it was a useful exercise. Little Miss was an emergency c’sec and we were delayed doing skin to skin until I came around (Daddy did his best bless him) but they knew I wanted to do it – it was in my birth plan!

Once you get the baby home you will be in demand socially, leave the coffee, tea and sugar next to the kettle somewhere easy to find in the kitchen, when people visit tell them to help themselves and make you one too, better still, get them to bring a casserole. We had an arrangement with some friends of ours that when visiting after a new baby was born they bought dinner with them, as we did to them when their daughter came along, it worked really well.

Give yourself at least a week before people who are not grandparents or siblings can visit, Daddy’s best friend turned up right in the middle of my baby blues (3 days after delivery) and a midwife visit, so not only was I blubbering I was showing another woman my breasts!
Get your partner to be your security guard, decide between you when you want to start seeing people and be firm about it – this is a magical time for you but not an easy one, turn people away or book them in later, our first Saturday with Little Miss was like Piccadilly circus people were arriving as others left, it resulted in exhaustion for me and a totally cranky baby!

If you can get newborn poo off with just cotton wool and water, you are a better woman than me, it’s like tar!

Baby girls often have a little “period” when they are working Mummies hormones out of their body, I was totally freaked out finding blood in her nappy and phoned the hospital straight away, apparently its quite usual, don’t panic.

One packet of wet wipes will not last a month or even a week, a friend of mine once commented that on preparing for her newborn she only bought one packet because it seemed so big it would last for ages, within the first week she sent her partner on an emergency buying spree for more…

Don’t buy a huge amount of newborn nappies, Little Man was only in new baby nappies for about a week, he was then too big and had to have size 1’s, he didn’t last long in those either.
Sudocreme is a great product for comfy bums but for real nappy rash that won’t budge I’d recommend Metanium – it the bees knees!
Anti bacterial hand gel is ideal for on the move nappy changing, Detol wipes are also good for the nappy bag if you are planning to use cafe highchairs – just sayin’
Pampers are excellent overnight protection. My two both had/have a routine for pooing in the morning once they are up and moving so I put on a cheaper nappy just to catch that early morning one, then back to pampers.

Yes, breast is defiantly best but if you are unable, don’t want to don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong, you will do your best and love your baby, that’s all anyone can ever ask of you.

If you are breastfeeding, it is your right in my opinion to feed your baby when he/she is hungry, where ever you are, if someone doesn’t like it they can stick their head under a blanket. I personally don’t enjoy getting my boobs out in public unless I’m on a beach somewhere hot, however, you will soon get used to what items of clothing allow you to comfortably achieve feeding almost anywhere discretely, when I was feeding little man I could hold him in one arm feeding him whilst doing something else with my other arm – practice makes perfect.

Shopping center breastfeeding booths are terrible, The outlet village in Swindon was not too bad and John Lewis at the mall has an okish one otherwise they are small and dim with plastic chairs or a bench seat. The one at centre parc’s Longleat is sheer heaven, I could have stayed in there all day!

I’m fed, I’m warm and comfy, I have a clean bottom and I’m burped… Key issues 🙂

My midwife said to me “if mummy sleeps the baby sleeps” whilst this is true because Mummy won’t be able to sleep whilst baby is crying it is not that easy to leave them to cry and some say it’s harmful for the baby. Try different things, Little Miss liked to be fed to sleep or rocked to sleep (people will tell you this is not a good habit) but once asleep she would be put down and got used to waking up in her cot. She could also be put down in her cot to sleep but she needed a dim glowing light and music. The Little Man will not even try and sleep if something is going on, he needs blackout and quiet. They are all so different, my sister used to drive her boys around for hours to get them to sleep, She hated driving in the dark – keep trying anything that you can think of and find what is right for your baby. Sometimes you will try everything and nothing works, so start at the top of the list again and keep going, eventually something works.

If you choose to use a dummy, leave a few in the cot because if one falls out they might find another before they wake you up.

Don’t worry about the housework, it will still be there tomorrow, get some rest when you can,

Get the giveaways – Bounty bags are treasure troves, Boots Baby club nappy bags are fab, Lloyds pharmacy also does a gift bag, I’m sure there are more.

Books, they say babies don’t come with a manual but actually there are several useful books around, we thought Haynes baby manual was hilarious but it was also pretty informative, What to Expect the First Year, by Arlene Eisenberg, was really useful to me.

Well, I seem to have gone on forever so I’m going to stop here, as I said before, take what you need and leave the rest…. Good luck and most of all enjoy, it goes too fast!