I’m always a little defensive when people ask about my childcare. I always emphasise the ‘share’ in my ‘nanny share’, and tell them how in London, nurseries cost just as much (which is true) and that Scrip felt quite little to be left with lots of others when I went back to work. The truth is, I’m very happy with our arrangements and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was actually my employer who first suggested a nanny share – ironic considering what difficulties followed with work, but that’s another story. She’d had one a few years before and it worked well. So, during my pregnancy I ignored the “put her name down for nursery after the 20 week scan or else” scaremongering and we decided to considering sharing.
It’s been fantastic – our little ones get on so well and they learn a lot from each other. I’m sure it’s helped with their development. They both crawled and then walked at very similar times, and they now play together, eat together and even hold hands every now and again (very sweet).
I’m sure we’ve been lucky – and it helps that our nanny is fantastic – but we’ve also learnt a lot inthe process. Here are some nanny share tips to help along the way: Continue reading →
When we were in Greece last October, sitting by the pool in the last of the summer sunshine (with a slightly subdued Scrip), we got chatting to another couple staying at the resort. They had a 2 and a half year-old, Cameron. In amongst the general anecdotes and advice I like to soak up from parents slightly ahead of us, I remember them saying how slowly the first six months go, and then how everything speeds up, and before you know it, your baby’s 18 months and you wonder where the time’s gone.
For me, it was probably the first eight months that went at the most leisurely pace. I was grateful for that as time went on – I remember being on maternity leave during the summer and revelling in the fact I had a few months of sunshine (hopefully) and Scrip gradually growing and changing stretching out in front of me. But, as I’ve said before, the first three or four months were pretty tough and I vividly recall counting down the hours from around 5pm until my husband came home, and being particularly relieved when the weekend came around.
At eight months, Scrip started crawling competently, and I went back to work, part-time. I was still getting my weekly and monthly baby updates (‘your baby at ten months’) and reading them as much as I could, but each month seemed to roll by much more quickly, and my newborn became my baby and then my little toddler. Her first birthday was suddenly upon us and before I knew it she was 13 months, and developing all the time. Cameron’s parents were right.
A conversation I had this week summed up so many I’ve had since I’ve been back at work. Them: ‘But don’t you just want a job now that means you can leave on time? And if your baby’s sick don’t you want to be able to take a day off at short notice?’ Me: ‘Yes, and yes.’ Them: ‘So that’s surely your priority now? So maybe it’s time to settle for something which will allow flexibility in hours, first and foremost?’ Me: ‘Er…’
Of course, having a baby focuses your mind on the important role family plays in your life, and how your job’s ultimately there to provide money to support you and said family. That’s unequivocal. But I refuse to subscribe to the equation which seems to boil down to ‘no children = enjoy work OR children = don’t enjoy work’.
Work is different when you have a child – especially one you’re responsible for picking up and dropping off at exact times. No longer can I faff at the end of the day and stay a bit longer – if I’m not gone by 5.40 on my ‘early’ leaving days, I won’t make it back in time. And an after work drink with a client or colleague is more of a long-lead operation than a casual email the day before. Add to that the seed of parental anxiety that’s now ever-present in the back of my mind, and probably always will be. 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 been planning a blog post about something totally different, but I’m just so tired I can’t muster the words. So instead I’m going to write a bit about being tired. Maybe it will send us both to sleep. I’m certainly ready.
The epidemic started during pregnancy – in those early weeks when I was so exhausted after a day at work the stairs seemed like Everest. Then there was the late pregnancy tiredness, accompanied by the kind of aches and pains I didn’t expect to be experiencing for at least a few more decades. Then the hazy, day/night merging tiredness punctuated by black-out sleeps if I did manage to nap during the day. And finally the ‘up 4 times a night’ tiredness with days fuelled solely by caffeine.
That’s certainly how it felt; scouring the shops for work clothes the weekend before my return felt strangely like the annual trip to WH Smith at the end of the summer holidays to pick up school ‘essentials’ such as a new pair of compasses, pencil case and protractor (did I ever actually use that?) Then there were the nerves the night before and on the Tuesday morning, as I took time to get dressed, put on make up (in the day – really?) and dry my hair using a hairdryer. Novel.
In fact, it was focusing on the minutiae that actually got me through the morning without thinking that that Tuesday marked the first time I’d be leaving my little girl behind for four days of every week, for the foreseeable future. A big thing after eight months with a mini sidekick everywhere I went.