It’s been a tough couple of weeks, with yet more change and adjustments that need to be made, some much bigger than others. One of the positives (I’m starting to over-use that word) is Baby D’s new nursery which has so far gone well. I say new as after just a week’s notice (!) his first nursery closed its doors eight weeks after he started, and we had to find another one pronto and get him fully settled in. Thankfully, day one at nursery two went very well (despite the over-tiredness in the boy I put to bed an hour or so ago).
With both children in childcare full time, I had a day to work, work, work. I’m enjoying working for myself (although I have to say I’m now over the initial euphoria of being at home with a hot coffee and a laptop screen not being pawed at or slammed shut).
We’re creating a home office but in the meantime it’s the kitchen table, once the breakfast things have been cleared away. There are so many positive parts (that word again) to working for myself and I sometimes pinch myself that it’s actually happening. However, there are also the niggles that only come to light once you start. Here are a few things that have made me wish it wasn’t just me here today:
The printer – I consider myself reasonably tech savvy but I fail to be able to default to the right printer (why do I have a list of 15??), print on the right side of the paper or push page 20 of said paper in far enough to keep on printing. My new email account – where’s the IT support when you need it? Answer – thousands of miles away on a virtual chat (probably answering a lot of other queries at the same time). I can receive but I still can’t send, a week later… The workman’s drill – do you choose a day when there are no children to trip over pipes and wires or have a full day of drilling when you’re trying to have a client phone call? The coffee overload – hot, freshly brewed coffee? Mmmmm. How many cups can I enjoy without getting the shakes? Not as many as I used to I realise as I bounce to the door to greet the postman manically. The housework – not the temptation to spend my whole time doing it – the opposite. I feel like I need to make every moment of work count so I end up with a house messier than the days with the children plus a basket full of wet washing. The mum guilt – it’s still there, niggling away. This isn’t a vanity project – I’m earning money for the family as well as doing something I hope I’m good at. Plus hopefully setting a good example for my children. But working from home feels the same as going out to work – you still get those moments where you feel you should be with your children, rational or not.
However on balance what a privilege to be able to do this and hopefully fit my work around my life rather than the other way around. I’m off to pick up the children (once the coffee shakes have subsided).
Sleep’s got to be right up there as one of the, if not the, most talked about topics by parents across the land. At one stage, ‘how’s he/she sleeping?’ was the first question on my lips as I heaved my over-loaded pushchair into a cafe to sit and gulp down strong coffee with a group of other over-tired mums. That stage seemed to last for a while, as I’ve already written about.
It does get better (as I’d reassure my former sleep-deprived self if I could), but then there are lapses. And Continue reading →
It’s been a while since we attended any baby groups. The first six months post-Scrip was awash with invites and free trials to baby swimming, music classes, Children’s Centres, Gymboree (never really took to that one) and baby yoga. And nowadays I have less time with her and more Continue reading →
I’ll admit, long before baby or even bump, when people used to talk about their ‘mummy friends’, it set my teeth on edge. It’s all a bit too cosy and smug – not to mention the fact it brings to mind a group of women who can only talk about their children, incessantly (I know I’m blogging about my family life here but at least people can choose to read or not).
Whilst the dreaded ‘m f’ phrase hasn’t yet entered my vocabulary – and it probably never will – I’ve been lucky enough to have made some really good friends since having Scrip. I hoped NCT would teach my husband and me a few basics about having a baby (and give us a chance to practise changing a nappy on an inanimate object before we tackled the real thing), and I hoped we’d meet a few nice people along the way. I didn’t realise we were in fact meeting a lovely new group of friends on that freezing weekend last January.
And it’s not just through NCT – I’ve met friends through my hospital ante and post-natal classes, through other new friends and even through buggy fit (or more specifically, during the much-needed coffees afterwards). We have our babies in common and it’s brilliant, in fact, essential, to have a network to call on to talk about weaning worries, teething troubles and every little problem in between. But they’re also new and interesting people I’d go for lunch with or even – gasp – a drink.
I think I was at the stage where I felt comfortable with the friends I had and, outside of changing jobs, probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to meet new people. So I count myself lucky to have found a whole new group of people through Scrip – and rather than needing to define them, I think I’ll stick to just ‘friends’.
I’ve become much more of a ‘local’ since being on mat leave. Not in the sense of engraved tankard and the usual down pub (although I did find out pubs in the daytime can be great places to take babies – lots of room, not so crowded, good changing facilities etc.) No, I mean I’ve really enjoyed discovering – and rediscovering – local life. Something I never thought I’d say in London.
I’ve always been a fan of our local corner shop, but the last nine months have actually meant I’ve had time to stop and chat to the nice owners rather than dashing in and out on a milk run just before the 7pm closing. My postman and I now know each other well, which is lucky because he’s seen me at my worst; in my dressing gown, hair everywhere, balancing a small baby mid-change. And as for the Amazon delivery man – he’s almost on the Christmas card list.
Then there are my local shops and cafes in the Askewniverse (aka Askew Road) and Chiswick, run by some lovely people who always ask after Scrip. The mat leave coffee drinking does come with the territory – but in my defence socialising with other mums is really important when you’re struggling with a new baby, and strong caffeine is an essential. So, after careful ‘research’, here are my top five places to be a west-London local:
Ahead of me going back to work, we’ve decided on a nannyshare – which was a pretty complex process in itself, but I’m really happy with the arrangements now. To ease Scrip in gently we’re starting off with some half days. Today was the first.
Was a little apprehensive about leaving her this morning – especially when I was greeted by her cheerful little face bobbing up and down in the Jumperoo when I got up – but I knew for her it would be a few hours’ worth of play in an exciting new place with brand new toys. She seems to love the nanny (hooray) and seeing different things, as well as her new little friend. Sure the novelty will wear off at some stage but for now, it was all smiles when I left.
Meanwhile, I had freedom to meet an old friend, drink a coffee without balancing a little wriggler on my knee/worrying about spilling it and even wear earrings! Can count the number of times I’ve been able to do that in the last seven months on three fingers. I also made a quick stop off at the Whistle’s sale (as you do) to use my credit card on something for me for a change. My efficiency has improved no end on mat leave.
By the time I picked her up I was refreshed and very keen to see her. And she was in her element – banging away on a little miniature piano (yes really – evidence here) and laughing hysterically. A good half day.