6 life skills you learn on maternity leave

I’ve recently gone back to work after 8 months maternity leave and it got me thinking about life skills you learn on maternity, whether you go back to work or not!

  1. Patience – most people would tell you that I’m quite relaxed and laid-back, so you wouldn’t really see me getting impatient – but nothing prepares you for needing to be patient until you have a baby….. my patience skills were mostly tested when trying everything to soothe a screaming baby or trying to get baby W back to sleep in the middle of the night when he really didn’t want to go back to sleep!
  2. Perseverance – similarly to #1, I seemed to find a new level of perseverance when I became a mum. No unsettled baby was going to defeat me. No amount of times singing ‘twinkle, twinkle…’ at 3am was too much for me. This life skill will be tested a lot more as baby W grows into a toddler, child then teenager but I always hope I’ll have the sense that I will never, ever give up on him.
  3. Putting someone else first – there were so many times in the early days where I didn’t eat all day, or didn’t find time to wash myself (!) or do the things I wanted to do. As caring as you might think you are, I don’t think you can every truly say you’ve always put other people first… until you’ve had a baby!
  4. Celebrating small achievements – we’re generally good at beating ourselves up for not doing stuff, or for not being perfect. On maternity leave, I think you should high five yourself for your achievements of the day whether that be getting your baby to nap, doing the dishes or having enough time in the shower to wash your hair!
  5. Multi-tasking – while some days you feel like you’ve achieved nothing, on other days you can feel like super-woman…. breastfeeding your baby, while preparing your own food, while scrolling through Twitter and watching TV…. Seriously though, my multi-tasking skills have improved no end since having baby W!
  6. Eating one-handed – I’m not sure when this skill would come in handy, but if there’s a one-handed eating competition anywhere in the world, I’m sure a mother would win it! After so many months of wolfing food down using a fork in one hand while seeing to baby with the other, I actually find it difficult to use a knife and fork now!

So there we have it, did I miss any other life skills?!

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How to keep kids safe on social networks – #ShareAware

Thankfully, baby W is too young for me to have to worry about what he gets up to online. But I know all these fears are ahead of me and it’s already something I worry about. From what I understand, kids from a very young age know how to use the internet including how to bypass rules and settings put in place to protect them!

So when the NSPCC got in touch about their new campaign called ‘Share aware’ I thought I would share the info with you in case your children are of the age where you’re worrying about them using the internet.

Basically, Share Aware is an online guide that parents can use, to help them:

  • understand the risks of different social networking sites
  • start conversations with their children about these risks

The website is full of stats (e.g. which social networks are most popular with children, how many children have social media accounts even though they’re not supposed to!), tips and advice. Even though it’s full of information, it’s not overwhelming at all – the website is very easy on the eye and clear.

Check it out yourselves here and help to spread the word on Twitter etc using the hashtag #ShareAware

Small print: I wasn’t incentivised to promote this campaign – it’s a good cause that I’m happy to support

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Baby W and Mummy’s 8 month update

Baby W turned 8 months old last Saturday and what a busy month it’s been including his first Christmas and mummy going back to work!

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What we’ve been up to

December started off busy – my other half finally had the work exam that he’d been studying for all year. As soon as that was out of the way, he took a week off and we spent a few nights of that at my parents’ in Mid Wales.

We also had our first night away from baby W and we spoiled ourselves with a stay at the lovely Bath Spa hotel – although we missed baby W, we had a lovely night and it was amazing to get a proper nights’ sleep! He’s since spent another couple of nights with his grandparents and settles pretty well over there which is great!

I had another spa day in December – this time at Holland House in Cardiff, very nice and I will miss the ability to have random spa days when I’m back in work!

I caught a cold and 24 hour sickness bug in early/mid December which meant I missed my work’s Christmas party and it also set me back with Christmas shopping etc! The best presents I bought were creating calendars for family members using baby W’s newborn shoot – looks fab and they went down very well!

Suddenly Christmas was upon us… we spent the day with my in-laws, my sister joined us too. Nice, relaxed day with lots of food! Baby W was in a great mood all day, we dressed him up in his reindeer outfit, he tried turkey and sprouts for the first time and enjoyed some of his new presents.

Christmas presents :)

Christmas presents :)

We didn’t go mad with presents – we bought him a ‘lost my name’ book which is something to keep forever, I bought him a couple of other books but the best thing we bought by far was a £7 set of stacking cups etc from Mothercare – it’s provided us with hours of entertainment!

best present ever - stacking set from Mothercare

best present ever – stacking set from Mothercare

With Christmas and New Year out of the way it was time for this mamma to go back to work – I’ve just done my first 3 days back and I must admit I’ve actually really enjoyed it! The toughest thing has been another level of exhaustion which I’ll have to get used to!

Over the last month baby W also went to a christening and 1st birthday party, and went on a train for the first time!

Milestones and personality

Nothing new from last month other than he’s just got busier and busier – he doesn’t sit still and he’s getting a lot more vocal!

Although he can’t crawl, he can move around pretty well by shuffling around. He grabs everything, all the time now… he doesn’t stop!

He’s generally a happy chappy and we get smiles and giggles every day. Because he’s a busy little baby though, he does get bored easily so needs entertaining a fair bit… anything from a remote control to scrunchy paper tends to work :)

Weight, health etc

  • No idea what his weight is
  • His 6th tooth came through in the last month
  • His lingering cold/cough finally went
  • Overall seems really healthy :)

Routine

In December, our weekly and daily routine was all over the place. As I’ve just gone back to work this week I’m sure we’ll settle into a routine again but at the moment it looks like this:

  • 6-6.30 get up and have 1st milk feed of the day
  • 8-ish breakfast
  • 9-ish nap (ideally an hour)
  • 10.30-11ish 2nd milk feed
  • 12-ish lunch
  • 1-ish nap (ideally another hour)
  • 3-ish 3rd milk feed
  • 4-ish he might have another nap
  • 5-ish tea/supper/dinner (whatever you call it!)
  • 6-7 bedtime – bath, books, bottle, bed!
  • 10.45 we wake him up to give him his 5th and final milk feed of the day

Most nights he sleeps through now, every few nights he wakes between 1 and 3 but settles back easily after some water, a cwtch and switching Ewan the dream sheep back on.

So now the days I’m in work he goes to a childminder, I spend an hour with him in the morning before daddy drops him off and I head straight to work. I work from 7.30 to 4, pick him up at 4.30 and so I have a couple of hours with him before he goes to sleep. He’s settled in fine with the childminder and he has all sorts of fun there that I haven’t done with him like jelly play and a play in a ball pool!

Weaning

Baby W’s enjoyed his food over the last month and is currently in a bit of a ‘eat everything’ phase although as you can see we haven’t dropped any milk feeds yet.

He LOVES my homemade macaroni cheese – he can eat about 15-20 pieces of pasta in one go.

He LOVES fruit – especially satsumas and apple slices (I still take the skin off)

We tend to give him Weetabix (spoon-fed) or toast for breakfast. Lunch and dinner we’re still going the baby-led weaning way in terms of him just eating a bit of whatever we eat.

My sister bought him an IKEA highchair for Christmas and now he sits in that instead of the snug on the table, there’s definitely a lot more mess on the floor but he loves sitting in the highchair. Mealtimes are probably the favourite part of the day for me – playing with food keeps him interested and entertained and it’s fun watching all of his facial expressions!

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My thoughts on going back to work

1 sleep til I’m back in work… I can’t believe it! I pretty much picked Jan 5th as my return to work day before baby W had even arrived, I figured ‘new year, new start’ and also knew that most people would feel blue about being back in work on that day after just a few weeks off so I’d be in good company!

What I hadn’t thought of is that the last few weeks have felt like a bit of a holiday, with my other half being off work since Christmas Eve. So it does feel like it will go from a high to low on Monday!

Having said that, I am looking forward to it. I’m fortunate to be in a job I love, surrounded by a great team and colleagues. Before I had baby W, work was a huge part of my life and I’m looking forward to getting a bit of that feeling back even though I know it won’t be the same as before.

Maternity leave can be bloody hard work. Baby W is generally good as gold but he has plenty of grouchy moments, and as I’m the person he spends the most time with I’m also the one he gets most bored with, sometimes nothing I do can make him happy and those days can be tough.

I know I did well keeping busy, taking him out and about, taking him to classes and groups. Both of us really enjoyed them but even then, maternity leave felt lonely at times and those days where we didn’t leave the house meant no adult conversation!

That’s one of the things I’m worried about… Interacting with people again… My social skills have taken a nosedive!! I’m worried about how long it will take me to get back into the swing of things and get up to speed. My team has changed while I’ve been off… Another challenge in proving to newbies that I am a worthy leader! (And proving to peers that I still have it!)

I’m not worried about leaving baby W. We did lots of settling in with the childminder so I know I’ll be ok with that and no tears, one less thing to worry about. Of course I will miss him like mad, and it feels like the end of an era, but if all goes well I will get home early enough to have a quality couple of hours with him everyday! And I’ll be working 4 days a week instead of 5 :)

When daddy gets home from work, he gets lots of excited smiles and giggles. I’m hoping I get the same when I pick him up from the childminder everyday… In some weird way I’m hoping that me going back to work makes the time I have with him more special and quality.

It will be nice to dress up a bit every day and put make-up on…. and brush my hair! I will miss my companions Jeremy Vine and The Wright stuff. I’m not looking forward to the daily commute, that feeling of routine and having to get on with it as soon as I wake up – no lounging around!

I worry about the tiredness. W still wakes up at least once a night and our cats usually wake us once a night too! One of the most significant things I learnt on maternity leave though is that new mums can survive anything…. including extreme sleep deprivation!

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My top 5 posts in 2014 and what I’ve learnt along the way

Happy new year to you all or blwyddyn newydd dda as we say in Wales!! 2014 must go down as my best year yet….  I gave birth to my gorgeous son in May… But also started blogging!! ;)

The two are closely related, I’ve found the community of parenting bloggers and tweeters to be a huge help and support with any parenting-related matters from baby constipation (!) to highchair recommendations! I’ve really enjoyed reading blogs… And have read far many more posts than I’ve written but… It’s been great to give something back, reviewing some of the best items we’ve bought, with many mums saying these have been useful… similarly to our updates about things like weaning.

It’s been great to use my brain a bit and find a new hobby. It’s been great working with some big brands like Medela and Cow & Gate but it’s also been great to turn down work with other big brands because blogging is just a hobby for me and I never want it to take up too much of my (or more specifically, baby W’s) time.

I’ve loved keeping my brain working by getting obsessed with stats, and seeing my posts rank through SEO. I’ve not cared too much about the design of my blog or the poor quality of images I use!

A nice moment was one of my posts getting mentioned in a Britmums round-up called ‘newbie Tuesdays’

So in 2015, I just plan to do more of the same. I always have a huge list of ideas to post, there’s so much I want to write and don’t have time for and time will be even more limited with me going back to work. Without thinking too much about the year ahead, here’s my top 5 most popular posts from 2014 and some tips I learnt along the way that might be useful for you :)

#5 – Baby clothes haul – NCT nearly new sale

From this post, I learnt:

– we’re all a bit nosy, so blog readers love haul posts!

– we all love a bargain, so people love reading about bargains!

Another tip I learnt with this one is to post relevant posts in Facebook groups that you’re already a member of (not just ones that you’re only in for blogging purposes). So for example I’m in a Facebook group for Cardiff parents, I would never dream of posting all my blog posts in there but this one is relevant to Cardiff (especially when I can tie it in with upcoming NCT sales)

Because this post did quite well because of those reasons, it now ranks on page 1 on Google for things like ‘NCT nearly new sale Cardiff’ which helps drive visits.

#4 – Bepanthen offer at Boots

This is a totally random post that I posted quickly without much thought, and I didn’t promote it much. So thanks to the power of SEO, most of the visits have come from searches like ‘Bepanthen toys’ where I now rank right under Bepanthen! They started sponsoring some TV programmes with these toys, which got a lot more people searching for them!

So not sure what the tip would be here other than never discount a post because you think it’s a bad idea – it could turn out to be very useful for new readers!

#3 – REVIEW – Bumbo vs Mamas and Papas Snug

I had a feeling this one would do well – before I’d bought either I’d done a bit of research and had a lot of twitter conversations about it so it did quite well my usual readers who might have babies of a similar age to mine.

Again it now does well on Google for searches like ‘shall I buy a bumbo or snug?’. My tip here is if you don’t find the answers you’re looking for when you’re a post about it yourself and Google might rank it!

The other thing to note here is most of my reviews have been based around products that I’ve bought, as opposed to being asked by brands to review them. Personally I think this is a great way to build up Google-friendly content that’s also useful to parents. You can then use them to contact brands to show them what you can do – this is what I did when I contacted Medela asking if I could review a breast pump.

#2 – My breastfeeding story

This was prompted by a Medela campaign which I was more than happy to support as I’d worked with them on a review. I published it during ‘breastfeeding week’ and most of the traffic seemed to come from someone (no idea who) posting it in Facebook (no idea where!).

More established bloggers wouldn’t support a PR campaign like this without getting paid for it, but my tip for newbie bloggers is that joining in with campaigns like this for free can help you grow your blog.

#1  – Exploring Cardiff – Rhiwbina

Another post that I wasn’t expecting to drive much traffic – but this one went a bit viral!  A website based in that suburb published it on their website, and retweeted it etc – even the local MP tweeted a link to it!

So again, writing about ordinary days from your life can help grow your blog traffic. And I guess this post proves that a bit of flattery can get you everywhere!

To my regular readers, thanks so much for your support in 2014 – look forward to seeing you in 2015!

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Christmas tag

I was kindly tagged by 2 of my favourite bloggers – Jenna at TinyFootsteps and Katie at Life on Vista Street to do this Christmas Tag…. with just 6 sleeps to go I’m as unprepared as ever… still have a few presents left to buy, still have some Christmas cards to send and the tree is still in the loft!

I will be glad when the big day is here – we’re off to the in-laws for the day so no cooking for me :) This year is baby W’s first Christmas so hopefully we will have a lovely day with lots of fun memories!

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?

I think it has to be ‘Home Alone’ as that reminds me of Christmases when I was growing up – I think it came out when I was about 10, we had it on video and would watch it a lot! I also love Elf, and Love Actually.

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning, of course – always have, always will ;)
 3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I’m not sure if I have a stand-out one to be honest…. all the childhood Christmases blur into one.. and they were defo the best, I think Christmas is so magical when you’re a kid! Although just thinking about it, last year I saw the Coca-Cola Christmas lorry and that was pretty magical :)
4. Favourite festive food?
Roast dinner is my favourite meal anyway, so Christmas dinner is just awesome :) turkey with cranberry sauce and bread sauce, roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips yummmmmm

I also love the endless supply of mini sausage rolls that my mum has every Christmas!
5. Favourite Christmas gift?

Again, I can’t think of a stand-out gift… I used to love getting Friends box sets when I was in my late teens! These days I have everything I need/want and so I’m happy with bubble baths and smelly candles… they are my treats!

6. Favourite Christmas scent?
I love all the smells associated with Christmas and always have some Christmas-themed candles on the go… spiced apple, mulled wine, cinnamon, oranges…. lush!

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

I don’t think we did when we were kids. When I was a student I was always working in retail til quite late on Christmas Eve. After that, there were a few years when I’d go out in my hometown (Aberystwyth) for a few drinks on Christmas Eve with my sister :) It will be interesting to see what our family traditions with baby W will be!

8. What tops your tree?
We still haven’t put the tree up this year yet so I can’t actually remember what we have on there – I know 2 years ago we didn’t have an angel or star so we put a Hello Kitty teddy there instead!

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
It’s not crazy, wild or extravagant…. all I ever wanted was a Mr Frosty toy and never got one :(

10. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?
It has to the sense of togetherness, catching up with family and friends.

What are your answers to these questions?! Pop your blog links in the comments! Merry Christmas y’all x

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Baby’s first Christmas… wardrobe!

We’re fast approaching baby W’s first Christmas. I’ve only bought him one present so far (a ‘Lostmyname’ personalised book) but we do have a few things for him to wear…

I picked this up in the Next sale months ago (£5 I think) – a cute little Santa top and hat – perfect for Christmas day itself. I fear the hat will be too small for him – his head is a bit big in proportion to the rest of him :)

Santa outfit from Next

Santa outfit from Next

My other half bought him this gorgeous reindeer outfit from Mothercare – it feels so cosy and I think he will look adorable in it! Perfect for Christmas Eve or Boxing day?

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And a couple of jumpers for the run-up to Christmas – the one on the right is from M & Co (£15 – I was exchanging a gift that was too small) –   And my mum bought him the one on the left from Tesco (£8) – it’s a size too big at 9-12 months but Tesco sizes tend to be small so we might be ok :)

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And this one is a gift from a cousin and it’s made by a company called ‘Santa’s little helpers’. Can’t wait to see him in these with his jeans on :)

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What will your baby wear on Christmas day?!

Posted in fashion, haul, parenting | 2 Comments