Five things I’ve learnt from maternity leave

With exactly a week to go before I return to the daily grind, the Final Countdown is on. Here are the top five things I’ve learnt from my year off…

1. There’s no such thing as boredom.

I asked DH before my maternity leave was due to start, “shall I do a Master’s degree? To pass the time?” After having DS1 during my undergraduate degree, I thought it would be perfect timing to have a year off work, look after a baby and gain another qualification. Young fresh-faced me may have stood up to that challenge – the slight older more worn me eventually decided I probably could do with a break. And you know, spend more time with the baby.

2. I’m not as introverted as I thought.

I felt enlightened after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution and watching her TED Talk. She and Myers & Briggs had me down to a T. But I found myself signing up to all sorts; baby yoga, Baby Sensory, Peas’n’Pods, the PTA for the older one at school. What’s more, I found I thrived around people and actually enjoyed small talk – yeah I know, right?

3. Yes, I can do it all over again.

A year ago I was gearing up to send my eldest off to school at the same time as welcoming a new baby to our family. I was past night feeds, controlled crying and potty training, not to mention shunting trucks and hauling freight. I was ready for homework, show and tell, and tales of who pushed who in the playground. What if I forgot how to do something vital? I found myself plunged in a world of nappies and clock watching for the next feed, Googling the odd bit to fill in the gaps. Within a few weeks, I was in the full swing of being mummy to a little once again and it turns out, it wasn’t that difficult after a routine was in place.

4. Change is scary.

There’s a real sense of panic when I think too much about going back to work. It’s not that I don’t want to work; if DH ever suggested I could be a SAHM, I think I’d be quite sad at that prospect. I felt a similar fear a few weeks leading up to maternity leave. It’s the new era, change, how our routine will be turned upside down. The lack of control I have over the situation is probably more overwhelming than the change itself. I absolutely love how interesting my job is and if I think about the job in itself without all the baggage, I’m actually quite excited.

5. I bloody hate cleaning.

Gone are the days of SAHMs scrubbing the floors and wiping down the windows. DH finds it hilarious when I say my week has been so busy, I haven’t found the time to pick up the Hoover. I can’t wait until I can legitimately ask DH to do his fair share.

Swimming with an eczema baby

DS2 is such a water baby, I’ve been desperate to get him into the pool. The only thing that’s been holding me back is his eczema, which coats the whole of his body.

Okay, it’s not the only thing holding me back… getting into the pool myself for such a brief time, just to faff about in the changing rooms after with a shivering cold baby, as well as the horrible smell of chlorine, has put me off.

Splash About Warm-In-One wetsuit

Splash About Warm-In-One wetsuit

As you can tell, I don’t share the same enthusiasm for the water as DS2. But, I was willing to put all my doubts aside when Splash About sent me their Warm-In-One wetsuit to review.

Moisturised head to toe with his eczema cream, we set off to the local pool with DS2 already wearing the wetsuit for ease. At 8.5 months, the wetsuit fits comfortably with his swimming nappy on and there’s still lots of growing room. The website says it’s made from a specialist fabric and fleece lined – perfect for keeping him warm and protecting his skin.

The pool itself was quite warm, but the wetsuit meant we could stay in just that bit longer. The real test was when we got out of the pool (where I was shivering, as anticipated), but amazingly DS2 remained warm in his wetsuit. He didn’t give any indication of being cold (however, he was clearly shattered from all that splashing about).

Luckily the velcro strip gives it a wide opening back. It was a bit of a struggle to get his arms and legs out, but that’s to be expected with a wetsuit. We showered and headed home, with DS2 having a lovely nap as soon as he got hold of his special blanket. All in all, a very successful trip to the swimming pool!

I should mention that the wetsuit also has UPF 50+ sun protection. It came in handy at the seaside in Cornwall, when it was (shockingly) rather hot.

Although it’s a bit pricey (currently at £22.99), the age brackets for 6-12 months and 12-24 months means it’ll last for longer (they also have it in 3-6 months if you’re super keen to get into the pool).

You can purchase a Splash About Warm-In-One wetsuit from their website.

A note to second-time parents

Remember that cot mobile you bought, with the fancy toys suspended on organic Free Trade cotton and the sweetest lullaby you’ve ever heard? The one you just couldn’t resist despite the expensive price tag? I’m sorry to say, but it’s time to ditch it.

I’ll tell you why. When you come to play that cutesy tune in the early hours for your second child, you’ll remember that it’s not actually cute, it’s creepy. You’ll get flashbacks of attempting to lull your firstborn to sleep at 3AM, lying in bed half asleep, desperately trying to catch a few minutes before he wakes for another feed. Eerie fairground music on repeat as you fade in and out of consciousness.

“My firstborn was a perfect little sleeper. We didn’t have any bad nights”, I hear you say. DS slept through most nights from very early on, but like all babies, he definitely had his moments. Teething, growth spurts, illness… all those nights you sat at the end of the bed clutching the Calpol will come flooding back.

So make sure you add ‘cot mobile’ to your shopping list, if not for your sanity, at least so your second child has something that’s theirs (because let’s face it, the second child always gets the raw deal).

Taking a step up(cycling)

It’s been a while, I admit. But let’s not dwell. 

I’ve been forever browsing decor ideas on Pinterest, waiting for inspiration to strike. It came, in the form of a ladder

So I sent DH to the local junk shop, where he found a wooden ladder. We had measured how long we’d want it at home, so he purchased the ladder, carried it to the car and took a saw to it (don’t worry – we didn’t want it to function as a ladder…)

Once DH got it home, he sanded the ladder and sponged it down with some soap. We then took a trip to Wickes and bought three brackets. We were paranoid about how much the ladder could support, so we opted for heavy duty brackets.

Half an hour later…

Image

Image

Although I didn’t actually create any of this (I’m more of a thinker, than a do-er) – DH said himself it was pretty easy to do.

Overall cost…

Ladder – junk shop £15
Brackets – Wickes £2.49 x3

Javelin Service (A.K.A Southeastern HS1)

Now it’s very rare that I’m positive about commuting, or even Southeastern for that matter. They must have anticipated my grief over the Olympics timetable, because today I received a nice little letter from Southeastern, containing a £40 voucher.

Thank you for thinking of me Southeastern.You give me air conditioning, fold-up tables, travel to London in 25 minutes and now compensation for putting up with sweaty overexcited Olympics fanatics.

Going potty over pants.

So I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog over the past three months recently, but for real good reasons. Honestly.

My time has been mainly consumed by house-hunting (don’t even get me started on this) and potty-training – as well as the chaos that is my everyday life. Training a 2.5 year old boy to urinate and excrete in the ‘right’ place wasn’t an easy ride, there have been tears on both sides. I say ‘right’ with inverted commas, because, in DS’ mind, who am I to decide where is and isn’t appropriate to take a p*ss when over the 200,000 years since humans graced the earth, the majority of the population have let go wherever they so please. I can only imagine that kind of philosophical thinking in a 2.5 year old has such a deep and wonderful meaning that it occurs in the most condensed and simplest form.

So we played hardball with potty training, mainly because I only had 5 days where I wasn’t working so I didn’t have endless weeks to faff around. We didn’t leave the house for four days, until we felt we could trust DS would give us some kind of indication of needing the toilet. Even then we only went to other people’s houses, as the stress of venturing anywhere public was inconceivable.

I won’t give a blow-by-blow account of DS’ toilet habits, but he very quickly learnt to use the potty and the toilet (hurrah!). At home, when he is out the house with us or looked after by Grandma, he doesn’t have accidents at all. At nursery, he does use the potty for wees but it seems to still soil his pants on more occasions than not, which leads me nicely into the crux of this blog post.

The majority of the time DS is unable to hold his bowels for the day and ends up poo-ing himself, nursery have taken the decision to bin his pants. It is not every time, on occasion they bag it up, but I have noticed DS’ pants collection decreasing by the day. What was once a nice assortment of twenty M&S and Gap undies, has now diminished to ten. Needless to say, I have replaced them with Asda George and Primark.

I am yet to read the policy on binning soiled pants, but I do think throwing away DS’ clothes without my permission is a bridge too far. They are not disposable, they are expensive items of clothing. Regardless where they are from, parents cannot afford to constantly replace pants, just when they thought a saving had been made on no longer buying nappies.

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

A paper Easter basket filled with mini Lindor chocolate eggs, made by my little sister.

The Easter holidays are upon us, which usually means time off, free chocolate and some kind of religious festivity. Though I am somewhat excluded from all three, in consideration that I don’t work in the education sector, am an atheist and not much of a chocolate fanatic. DS naturally falls into my latter three, being a baby and not having much of a choice himself.

I am aware that as he grows older, he will gain interest in the things I try to shield him from (i.e. Easter eggs). But the thought of giving my baby boy an Easter egg, or anything else sugary coated, horrifies me. Children have the rest of their adult lives to eat, or do, whatever they like; it seems ridiculous to give a baby chocolate just because it’s mean not to. He doesn’t think it’s mean, because he doesn’t know any better.

DS has only tried chocolate once or twice, because nursery had slipped up, and he is not overly crazed about it. Honestly, he would happily devour an apple and not think I was cruel. My line of thought is that all children are inquisitive and it is our job as parents to guide them down the right path. If we start as we mean to go on, children will trust their routine, take comfort in the rules set and hopefully grow up not being all that phased by the junk that is constantly shoved in their faces.

So now you know my stance on the matter (though you could have probably guessed), rest assured any chocolate presented to DS will not be wasted, it will be thoroughly enjoyed by DH and I.