My flexible stay-at-home-mum routine

A typical day for us involves waking around 7am, if we’re lucky, we get half an hour together as a family [we usually spend it cuddling/playing in bed] before Richard gets ready for work. I get ready [at Mom speed, i.e. super fast] whilst trying to occupy Wilfred, then I get him dressed. We’re typically downstairs before 8:00 and having breakfast [Wilfred’s really enjoying solid food, but it can get a bit messy … how I long for wooden floors!].

After breakfast [when Richard’s at work] I attack the house; laundry [every single day … baby stuff is never ending], general clear up downstairs, hoovering, cleaning the kitchen [thank God for our dishwasher] and bathroom, making beds and tidying upstairs. Worth noting that my entire day is interlaced with nappy changes and entire outfit changes/bath times if I’m really lucky and he throws up. #momproblems

After ‘helping’ me tidy up, I give Wilf a bottle and he takes a nap. These days it’s not very long, half an hour or so.

We have ‘activity time’ before lunch, this can be a play together, a walk in his pushchair, running errands [hugely exciting for a 7 month old baby]. Something that we can do together [I am totally one of those moms who talks to her baby all the way round the supermarket].

I always have lunch at our dining room table with Wilf in his highchair so we can eat together. We’re currently experimenting with finger food, which is lots of fun for Wilfred but it can take a while to get lunch finished.

I try to get out of the house every day [or have visitors], so if we didn’t take a walk earlier, I use this time to visit people, take a walk or have other mummies/babies here for play dates. Otherwise we do something at home, like bake a cake or prep dinner [with Wilfred watching from his walker].

Afternoons are my favourite, after his bottle and nap [usually an hour], we have play time and cuddles. Sometimes I’ll put a Disney film on in the background … I get a selection of toys and we sit on the floor together and play. I love watching him figuring things out. Wilfred also loves the garden, so we often walk around it and have a talk, or I sit him on the lawn on a blanket and take a coffee out for myself.

Rich normally gets home before 6pm, so we feed Wilfred dinner together and they have father/son playtime. Watching Wilfred’s face when his dad walks in from work is the best thing ever, he loves him so much and gets super excited. Cute!

Wilfred goes upstairs for ‘wind down’ at 7ish, he’ll have a bath get in pyjamas, then we all sit on our bed, read a story and give him a bottle before he goes to sleep in his own room.

By half 7, we usually eat our tea at the dining room table and commence ‘adult time’ [like, adult conversation and chores, not x-rated lol]. Try as I might to stay up and enjoy the fact that Wilf now sleeps through the night without any interruptions, we’re usually in bed by half ten. Hardcore!

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My Mummy favourites

Rather than a post about things that work well for Wilfred [I may well do one in the future], this is a post about things that worked well for me. I am now 7 months into this parenting business and feeling like I have it sussed [amazing how fast you learn], but in the beginning … I was a novice [like all new Mums] and some products really worked well for me when I needed them to most.

Lansinoh Ultra Thin Nursing Pads

When I was breastfeeding [particularly when my milk ‘came in’] I struggled to find a nursing pad worked for me. I wasted a lot of money on supermarket own brands … they just don’t cut the mustard. Eventually, I found Lansinoh pads in Sainsbury’s and bought 3 boxes [on offer] … I breastfed exclusively for 3 months, and supplemented for another month or two beyond that and I still have a full box left! They are amazing! Much more absorbent that other brands and most importantly, they stay put. Even during the night [honestly, there are nights when I’d wake up sodden before I found these] they kept me dry. Happy days.

Philips Avent Electric Breast Pump

Even though I was happy nursing, I knew I wanted a pump so that Wilfred could get used to a bottle from the get-go [I wouldn’t want to breastfeed forever, or in public and Richard could feed him too]. The first one I bought was a manual Boots pump – it worked brilliantly, for all of a few days then lost it’s suction entirely [a common problem with manual pumps]. I invested in an electric pump [they are not cheap!], it was Tommee Tippee and I hated it, the suction was too low to be effective and it was super-noisy. I returned it to the store [against their policy, as I had used it] in such a state that the woman immediately swapped it for a pump of my choice [don’t mess with a hormonal new mom!]. I picked an Avent pump which has worked perfectly from day one to the last day I used it. It is easy to take apart and wash [it’s even dishwasher-friendly] and re-assemble. I have stored it very neatly back in it’s box for next time.

Tena Ladies

Apologies in advance if this is TMI for some people, but new mothers experience some bleeding for a while after giving birth. It’s a fact of life. For me, even though Tena Ladies pads are for incontinence [don’t rule that out either!], they worked perfectly post-partum. I bought them initially before my due date as I was [obsessively] worried about my waters breaking in public. I wore them religiously for 2 weeks and when my waters did go [spectacularly, in a Hollywood-style gush] I was thrilled to find the pad had caught every drop. When I took my full pad to the hospital [they check to make sure your waters have definitely gone … although there was no mistaking what I’d felt for an accidental wee!] even the midwife commented on how good the pad was.

John Frieda Luxurious Volume [shampoo and conditioner]

My post-partum hair was pretty limp and lifeless [although this didn’t really bother me as I had a new baby to attend to and it was in a bun most of the time]. When I did get back around to looking after me … this shampoo and conditioner combo was the only one I was happy with. Hello root-lifting, thickening wonder serum!

Essie and Sally Hansen Nail Polishes

Again, it took a while – but when I was ready to play ‘well presented mama’, I wanted nail polish that was fool proof and quick to apply. Both Sally Hansen and Essie Polishes have a shaped brush that fits perfectly into your nail bed, as well as good colour pay-off/smooth formula. I can be done and dusted with these polishes in a matter of minutes! As a side note, Sally Hansen do a 60 second quick dry polish that is a must have! They are touch-dry instantly [useful for unforeseen nappy emergencies].

Quinny Buzz

My pram of choice from the beginning, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a Quinny! I initially wanted the Moodd [their most recent design] but ‘settled’ for the Buzz as a compromise with Richard who couldn’t understand the extra expense. I’m glad we got the Buzz for a number of reasons; it is easy to operate [any pram will take time to get used to, but even in the rain with a screaming baby, I can handle the Buzz pretty efficiently from car to shops]. I chose a bright tomato red, assuming me have more children in the future, it’s pretty unisex and stands out in a crowd [just what you need in a busy mother and baby group]. The three-wheels make steering a dream, I can do a 360 with one hand! Wilfred loves it, from flat to fully upright, he is content in any position.

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Picking our baby’s name

 

When I fell pregnant, I thought the hardest part [like most new moms do] would be giving birth. Why do people focus on that so much? It is one day [4, if you’re unlucky like me] out of a full 9 months of pregnancy [back ache, morning sickness, sciatica and numerous toilet trips] and sleepless nights that follow. That intense, yes … but brief labour pain ends with the most euphoric feeling I have ever felt … holding your baby for the first time. Actually, I felt that picking a name was the hardest part about preparing for a baby. That name, they will carry with them for their entire life [providing they’re a semi-normal person and don’t get it changed]. It could shape their personality and the way they’re viewed. No pressure then.

I realise this post is completely personal and subject to preference [I’m not at all offended when people dislike the name we chose for our baby … I am however, sometimes surprised with how blatant people are in giving me their opinion]. I have purposefully decided against slating names that I find distasteful or grating.

We chose the name Wilfred for a few reasons; we are big fans of traditional names [Sarah and Richard aren’t exactly ground-breaking or ‘out there’, so maybe our own names shaped that decision]. I wanted a name that could be abbreviated so our child [having never met him at that point and not knowing what he might grow up to be] could choose a version of his name that he liked … options being Will, Wilf, Fred, Freddie, Ted, Teddy. We also wanted a name that would grow with him as he aged … so Wilfy is our current preference but when he’s an old man he’ll probably prefer Wilfred. Wilfred was also my Grandad’s middle name, so it carries some family history. It’s quite unusual name [you don’t hear it much amongst young children]. I didn’t want him to be the fourth Wilfred in his class [I spent most of my school life as ‘Sarah B’, to differentiate from the other Sarah’s in my class]. Although quite unique [for babies in 2014], it’s a well known name and not too unusual … no questions over spelling etc.

His full name is Wilfred John Barney Marston … I have two middles names [Jennifer Lane], so we’re continuing that tradition. My ‘Lane’ is my Mother’s maiden name, just as the ‘Barney’ in Wilfred’s name is mine. The John is a family name on both sides.

We are super happy with our choice but it was a long road. We toyed with hundreds of ideas including Benedict, Theodore and Sydney … for girls we liked Ava, Mabel and Madeleine. But once we knew he was a boy and landed on Wilfred, we stopped searching. When you know it … you know it. It just felt right for us.

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Sleeping through the night – how I got my sanity back

Wilfred, whilst a generally happy and contented baby [everyone comments on how cheerful he is], has always woken [numerous times] during the night. Initially, I was breastfeeding, so he was waking hungry. Later, when he was in his own cot, he would wake for a bottle or to be held. I didn’t mind too much, he was my Son and I wanted to make sure he was ok. But he gradually got worse and worse, peaking around 6 months when I had my gallbladder removed [I know, it’s all systems go here!]. I spent a few nights in hospital and when I returned home I faced a week of hell where he’d wake up, up to TWELVE times in a night.

Now, I don’t like to see my baby cry any more than the next mother … but something had to be done. I found myself rocking him in one arm and frantically Googling “how to make my baby sleep” with the other hand. I tried everything I read and nothing worked until I caved in and did the Cry It Out routine. Controversial, I know. Believe me – I did not enter into it light-heartedly. But after 4 nights hard work … our baby slept through the night for a solid 11 hours! He has not had a broken night since. I do believe it is a last resort, but for some mothers/babies it may be just what you need. Here are the basics in case you, too are a walking zombie:

  • Give your baby a last bottle before entering their bedroom [somewhere comfy with subdued lighting].
  • When they look drowsy [but BEFORE they fall asleep] take them to their room.
  • If they wake up a bit, sit and quietly read them a book [they should not be in their crib at this point]. If they stay drowsy, skip to the next step.
  • Put your baby into their cot, tuck them in and say “goodnight [insert name here]” and kiss their head. Walk out of the room.
  • The baby WILL cry. Check the time and leave your infant to cry for no longer than 5 minutes.
  • Return to the room and say “it’s ok, Mummy’s here”, pat their tummy and kiss their head. Do not stay in the room any longer than 2 minutes. Again, leave [they will probably still be crying].
  • Leave it another 6 minutes before going back in. Each time, give a reassuring pat and say a few words. Obviously, check they are dry and safe and leave the room.
  • Each time, increase the crying time by a minute [until you reach 10, never exceed that amount of time].

I kid you not, the first night, Wilfred was hot, sweaty and inconsolable [as was I]. I returned to his room 4 times that night and was on the verge of giving in, lying there listening to his monitor and feeling like a terrible mother … when the crying just stopped. Obviously, I thought he’d died and rushed to peek through his door. To my astonishment, he had fallen asleep! Well, he had probably cried himself to sleep and that felt awful, BUT he slept solidly through the night for 10 hours, the most sleep he’d ever had in one go. I was elated!

The next night, I was more determined and less upset by his crying [I knew he’d get some real sleep at the end of it]. As if like magic, that night took 3 return visits to settle him. The next night, I returned only once to his cries, which were less pained already. On the fourth night … he whimpered briefly then went soundly off to slumber land. Not only had I had 4 solid nights’ sleep [the most I’d had since being 7 months pregnant], I had a happy chirpy baby in the mornings. I felt like superwoman. Honestly, I’m still a bit smug that he sleeps through. I can’t quite believe it.

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