Wanna grab a coffee…..

With moving on the horizon and after putting myself well and truly out of my comfort zone this week, it got me thinking about making friends. Yes,I’m no longer 5 on my first day of school but making new friends is still important.

Since having Charlotte the balance has most definitely shifted in terms of my ability to put myself out there. Those who know me would say I don’t lack the confidence but I definitely do. This week alone I’ve lost sleep over the prospect of people not liking me, just for being me. Silly in hindsight but anxiety is not rational.

So making new friends?

In your late teens, early twenties, it was enough to buy someone a drink, spare them a ciggie and before you knew it your were dancing the night away. In your career you can end up with a mixed bag of really good friends and acquaintances. In motherhood you can find those who will know more about you in a 5 minute conversation than your best friend knows after 20 years.

So the reality is as I get older it’s more difficult. The confidence has taken a knock. Friends who just wanna have a weekend bender Thursday to sunday (don’t get me wrong I’d love the chance occasional) every week no longer feel quite right. Those true lifelong friends don’t care where you live they will travel. Jobs change. People drift. So how do you go out ther and grab yourself a bunch of newbies. Your checklist is now excessive as you have no time for those who don’t fill you with joy. How do you enter the mate date pool?

I have decided with our move that I’m going to make an effort in my new surroundings. I will speak to our neighbors – to at least learn their names. I’m going to join at least one local class with Charlotte to meet mums in the area. One day I may even ask someone to go for coffee….. Ground breaking I know. As hard as it may be I know the only person stopping me – well it’s me really. So I’m just gonna pull on my Bridget joneses and do it. Put myself out there and hope that someone will take pity on me or maybe even think I’m alright.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

My brain has hit capacity…..

The phased return is now over. I’m back to work completely. Well for 3 days a week. The nursery runs are becoming the norm. All sounds pretty standard for any mum returning to work after MAT leave.

The truth. My emotions are flying about all over the place like a crazy women. I feel like a duck – above the water all is calm but underneath I’m paddling for my life. Throw in the imminent house move and well I’m sure you can imagine. My head feels like there is no switch off button. To be honest I’m pretty sure there actually isn’t a switch off button.

I was pretty excited about the prospect of getting a bit of me back when I went to work on that first day. In fact most days when I go in I am filled with joy about just doing my job. I do still love my job. I wasn’t ready to feel emotions about leaving my child. She’s fine at nursery, with her dad, with her grandparents. She’s probably having way more fun than a standard day of chores and food shopping with her mum. She’s learning new things and coming on leaps and bounds. But nothing feels quite like picking her up from nursery on a Friday and wanting to cry because i left her, She doesn’t cry. Often she would happily stay with her new little friends. Don’t get me wrong she’s never been upset (yet) about being in nursery. In fact it’s almost been too easy which may be why I’m feeling like I do. I think I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m pre preparing for her to one day get upset. This day may never come but my emotional brain is saying it will. No matter how much I think I’ll be fine the truth is I won’t be. The mummy bear will come out and I will want to do whatever it takes to make it better. The reality is that I will have tell her it’s all ok and then leave her to be consoled by the nursery staff. I will then go and cry in my car. Bloody emotions!

As for the house move…..well. It wasn’t planned. Let’s go look turned into let’s see if we can afford it. Then we did it. It’s scary. We have went all out to get a forever home. We are lucky to have a supportive family who have made getting to this point easier. With potentially only 4 weeks to go til we get the keys it’s safe to say the list in my head has never been longer. Between doing more maths than I’ve done for a long while, to plannig what can be packed now, my noggin is full. There are no vacancies for new information. I now can’t wait to be in. We have been fortunate that we’ve not actually had to wait for too long before we will be moving. It’s a new build and was on the later stages when we bought it but how people can buy from plan and wait almost years is beyond me. A couple of month almost has me full to capacity on the stress meter never mind any longer.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when life throws everything at you all at once. If I had a magic wand life would be a fairytale with songs about feelings and dances which convey emotion. Unfortunately it is not. Coping mechanisms are not one size fits all an frankly I’m not expert as I definitely creep into bad habits when I’m stressed and anxious. At least for now it’s only temporary and then we can all just get back to normality – whatever that is.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

One Whole Year of Motherhood…..

Well she is One….. actually she was one a fortnight ago but actually sitting down with 5 mins free to write about this adventure has taken those whole two weeks. All I can say really is where did my baby go? One minute they are a teeny tiny helpless soul and the next they are toddling about all independent and feisty.

My little bundle of toddling fun definitely knows her own mind and so do the rest of us. She cracks me up daily with her antics. She has pushed me to the edge of reason. She makes me emotional, irrational and irritable. She makes me happier than I could every imagined being. She makes me proud of her and myself. She is my whole world (well her and her daddy).

This crazy year of motherhood has taught me more about myself than I ever imagined it would. I’ve learned to be patient – I mean I’m not Saint but it’s definitely better than it was. I’ve learned that I can function on very little sleep. I’ve learnt to accept my body and how amazing it is – let’s face it growing a baby, giving birth and then looking after them takes its toll. I learnt happiness, contentment and exactly what family means.

It’s going to sound cheesy but I definitely have found more of a purpose. Don’t get me wrong I love my job and have always felt purpose in terms of career after putting in the graft at college, however, I don’t think i realised I was missing anything outwirh this until I became a mum. Nothing makes you get up and face the day quite like an awake baby who wants milk and wants it now.

As I look back over how the last year has gone I know in hindsight I would have on occasion made different choices, been firmer about decisions as a parent and been less swayed by others. It’s easy to say these things now that I know my little girl better but as a first time parent your willingness to make everything right all of the time definitely steers your on all directions at once.

Being a parent is all its cracked up to be and more. Yes, some days are ghastly and there isn’t enough wine in the world but most days are amazing. Everything can truly be made better by a giggle, a smile and a cuddle.

From the exhausted mummy and her eyes

Work, life, balance….

My biggest fear about returning to work has been getting the balance right. Being a first time mum throws up all sorts of challenges you never knew you’d encounter. For the most part you find a way but when planning your return to work it’s hard to know what will work and what won’t.

I considered a while back what I thought of going back full-time versus part-time. I’ve never considered being a stay at home mum. Kudos to those who do it but I couldn’t. I love my daughter but the thought of getting a little bit of myself back by being in work is calling me.

For many I think the hours you go back to work are entirely worked out based on finances. The age old childcare costs versus earnings debate comes in to play. Don’t get me wrong if I had a bottomless pit of money I’m sure I would feel differently about going back to work.

I’ve been incredibly lucky and have the chance to do a phased return so not only will it not be a shock for Peanut when she sees less of me but also I will get time to adjust to being back slowly.

I started back on my phased return on Friday. Work was quite honestly a doddle in comparison to some days I’ve had a home. I will be eventually working 3 days a week but will get to that gradually over the next 4 weeks. This is on part due to my choice but also childcare requirements while my on laws are on holiday.

Me working part-time is the right balance for us. I’m pretty sure though if my other half could get away with it too he’d be off reducing his hours to be at home. We are in a very fortunate position that with family close by Peanut will mainly be looked after by me, her dad and grandparents. She will be going into nursery one day as I think it’s important she gets the social interaction with other children.

I’m sure after a few weeks back to work I’ll be wishing I could have another year off but here’s to all the juggling mum’s and dad’s.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Clumsier than a clown on stilts……

So our little Peanut had recently decided to just get up and walk everywhere. The buggy is no longer somewhere she is happy to be and on her feet toddling is where it’s at. With this has come many a fall – mainly just onto her bum bum.

No where is safe now. Our previously almost baby friendly flat is now no longer that. She wants to climb. She can now reach shelves she couldn’t before. The kitchen cupboards can now be opened. The bin lid is fun to just click open because she can. I love that she is exploring her world but when do I get the eyes on the back of my head because I could be doing with them pronto.

There have been a few interesting tumbles here and there. She fell in her toy box at her grans desperately trying to reach for a toy. She’s got stuck under the side table and tried to stand up. The one however that found us on our first trip to the kids a&e was when her little head met the corner of the couch. Nothing makes you move faster than seeing your child fall in slow mo. My hands just couldn’t get there. The egg popped up within seconds and a smashing bruise to boot.

After consoling her and seeking some advice from some more experienced adults – aka the grandparents and an aunt. I decided to pop to a&e. She was totally fine in herself but it’s better to be safe. Well what an adverture she must have thought she was on. A&E was very exciting for her, running about not a care in the world and clearly not bothered by her bump. She was checked out and as suspected was totally fine. On return home she proceed to walk into the TV unit. Her dad suggest a scrum cap for this stage as clearly this was her first big bump of many to come.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

KIT day – Am I ready to go back to work?

In recent weeks i’ve done some keep on touch days at my work. When your on maternity leave you can do up to 10 in order to prepare you for the reality of going back. You get paid for these days which can be a bonus if you’re in the final stretch of leave when your bank balance is baron.

The first one to be honest was like a day out. Peanuts dad was on day off so I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself. I got up, got ready and left. I listened to a podcast on the way to work that was not child appropriate. I made a hot cuppa when I got there – then drank it still hot. I chatted with my work mates. I ate my lunch without someone trying to steal it. Overall, it was bloody brilliant. I realised that my fear of forgetting everything was in fact not true. It was just like riding a bike. I just knew what I was doing. At the end of this day I thought – this going back malarkey is going to be easy. Then I got home and saw my little girl. I didn’t realise how much is missed her til she snuggles into me and wouldn’t let go. She’d been fine all day too with her dad, laughing and playing. Then she saw me too and realised I hadn’t been there. It burst my little I can do this bubble.

My second one was definitely more challenging. I had to figure out a routine to drop her off with her grandparents on route to work – which meant driving a whole different way to work. Somehow I managed to get me up and ready without waking her up, pack her bag then wake her up, feed her and change her in less than an hour. Off we trundled to Grandma and Grandads for the drop – which went smoothly and found me with extra time on my hands. After filling the car with diesel I just headed to work – super early. Again my day at work was completely fine. I was now happy that I wasn’t going to be a burden when I got back. Peanuts dad has picked her up from her grandparents so I just drove home – got stuck in mountains of traffic. When I got in she was obviously happy to see me but not as clingy as the first time. It’s no doubt she will have been spoiled rotten by her grandparents. She just took it in her stride being away from us.

All in all, I’m glad I did the KIT days. It was not only important that I felt I could do my job when I got back but also that Peanut doesn’t freak out the first day her dad and I aren’t with her. I’m weirdly looking forward to going back to work. I love my job and wouldn’t want to do anything else. Peanut will be mainly looked after by family when I go back part-time but she is going to have a day at nursery. So with settling in days booked for the next month I’m hoping that my comfort with going back doesn’t change. After all this mama gotta work.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Why I decided to get a PT…..

So when I was pregnant I was under no illusions that I would ‘bounce back’. And quite frankly what was my pre baby body could have been quite easily been most people’s post baby body. I’ve always been a bit squidgy but active. The gym has been my friend for a long time both for the physical and mental health benefits.

After giving birth to my little girl I knew I had to be easy in myself. In relative terms I didn’t put much weight on apart from round my middle. An unplanned c-section also put paid to my plans of going back to playing rugby within 6 months (in hindsight I have no idea how I thought I’d have the time).

When I returned to activity I gave myself the challenge of completing a 10k. With 5 months of training I did it. I wasn’t fast by any means but I did it. I had proven to myself that I wasn’t a lost cause.

After my 10k I made the decision to get the assistance of a personal trainer. I know this is something that no everyone can afford and being honest I’ve used savings to pay for it. I’ve worked with the lovely Colin before so I trusted him to understand what I wanted to achieve and why.

As someone who’s always done some sort of activity I found that I didn’t trust my body after my c-section. Before I’d always known my limitations but now I felt like my body wasn’t my own anymore. I struggled to keep active while pregnant due to pelvic pain and the fact I was bloody exhausted. I knew that the only way to learn to trust my body again was to make myself understand my capabilities again.

I decided to get a PT so that I wouldn’t give up on myself. I wouldn’t wake up one day and got sod it there is no point. I also decided to get a PT because he understands what I can do a lot better than I do. When I would stop he will push me another couple of reps. He pushes me to do more, lift heavier and work longer. I make the most out of my time in the gym now given its limited to when I can work round my partner.

In 6 weeks I’ve managed to lose 18cm in totally from my body. I would never have achieved this if it wasn’t for being accountable. Having conversations about what I’m eating or how I’m training. I don’t plan to a skinny Minnie with a toned physique. I plan to be happy in my clothes and be able to happily run after my daughter. Yes I’m doing this for my own self esteem but mainly so that my daughter has a good example.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

We had a night away…..without Peanut

We are very fortunate to have family close by (my partner’s parents), that absolutely adore Peanut. She is one very lucky little girl. For some time Grandma has been offering to take her for a sleepover so we can have a night to ourselves – which is beyond kind (but it really does take a village).

With my birthday coming up my partner’s thought it would nice for us to go away for the night (not too far away I might add) so that I could have a full night’s sleep (him too) and maybe even a long lie. It was meant to be a surprise but I quickly figured out his plan and was very happy to see how little Peanut would get on having a sleep over.

When it actually came down to leaving her, I was totally fine about it. She’s 9 months old, sleeps fairly well and I was sure she wouldn’t notice much of difference being spoiled and Grandma and Grandads. He dropped her off by himself and I got down to so good old-fashioned selfcare (I went to gym and got a Greg’s 😂😂).

We left to go to the hotel excited to not have to worry about our little girlies as she was in very safe hands. We managed to get through dinner (with a wee bottle of vino) consciously talking about stuff that wasn’t child related. We sent a few texts to Grandma and Grandad but didn’t want to interfere or become overbearing – in all honesty it was exciting for them to have her so we knew she would be fine and pampered (she is the first and so far only grandchild).

I was excited about the prospect of a full night’s sleep and a long lie plus a cooked breakfast. However, those mummy hormones had other ideas and I found myself having the worst night’s sleep I’ve had for a long time – it’s ok though daddy got a good night’s sleep. Long lie was also off the cards as we both can’t sleep past 7 now thanks to our cute alarm clock at home.

I’m naturally a worrier in life. I’d made a real effort to not worry about Peanut and enjoy myself. Truth be told I did. I liked having time just me and her dad. Do I wish I could have slept for 13 or 14 hours – yes!! Especially as the bed was unbelievably comfy. The breakfast as exactly as brilliant as expected and getting the chance to eat without someone trying to grab your food was definitely as bonus.

I think next time (if we are lucky enough) I will definitely be more settled about leaving Peanut. She had a fab night without us (I’m sure she probably needs a break sometimes too). If you have the chance to get a night away and are putting it off because your worried then that’s completely natural but I would say don’t leave it too long, your allowed to have some time out (and so is your little one).

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Why I don’t get mum guilt……

So let’s be honest we all feel guilt in our lives. For me it’s normally after eating an entire bar of chocolate or a whole packet of biscuits (I’m a classic binge eater when the going gets tough). I feel guilty if I have to let someone down after we made plans or can’t get to an event to support a friend.

What I don’t feel guilty about is taking time for me. No it’s not selfish. No I don’t feel bad for leaving my daughter with her gran or her dad. No I don’t feel guilty. Why would I?

I’m order to be the best version of me for her occasional I need a break. Unless you hadn’t already realised parenthood is a full time thing. Every minute of every day is devoted to a tiny boss. You may tell yourself your in charge of your life but don’t kid yourself, your not, they are. So why would I feel bad for having a couple of hours a week to myself. Time where I don’t need to worry about my child because I know they are safe.

Don’t get me wrong I still miss her but I don’t have all consuming concerns when I’m away from her. Most of any time I’m away from her I’m contactable (if I treat myself to a spa treatment i.e massage or facial then I turn my phone off).

Mum guilt isn’t just about leaving your child though. Mum’s feel an unbelievable amount of guilt about how they parent, how the measure up to other mums. It’s time to drop it. For starters we are all different. We have different views, backgrounds, beliefs and circumstances. Then throw in the every changeable views of a baby. One minute they love their bun bun (her current favourite cuddle toy), the next minute they are mortally offended by the sight of it. This can also go for food, milk, my face, her dad’s face, sleep, bibs, car seat – you name it. Bringing up a tiny human is living on a knife edge between happy and tantrum.

So why beat yourself up about something you can’t control. I’m not naive enough not to know that anxiety plays a massive part in feeling guilty about parenting. I’m not saying I don’t get anxious. All I’m saying is, as hard as it is, try and stop giving yourself a hard time about what you can’t control. I’m no expert parent. I’m failing on the daily. However my little girl is fed, clothed and loved.

Life’s to short to worry about the hindsight. Just live the moments because they are short lived. Before we know it we will be at the school gates watching them run in after their friends with no second look back.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags