What I would really like for Mother’s Day

I’m counting down the days for my first mummy celebration,

I’ve got my own special list that I thought up with no hesitation!

You might be surprised to read that shimmery gifts I wanted not,

I’ve thought outside the box and I’m really not asking for a lot!

Now, my little tike can not yet decide how he wants to treat his mum,

I’m happy to wait patiently for that special time to come.

Right now, his dad needs to be kept upon his toes,

Because these requests may shock him at first, but deep down, he knows!

When our baby alarm strikes at six AM,

Up you get, it’s bottle time. You really are a gem!

Breakfast follows after to get us ready for the day,

Not just for him but for us as well, eggs in bed – the best way!

Next up on my list, is something again you can do for free,

A tidy kitchen to walk into, it’s been cleaned and not by me!

This cuts out a chore from my day to make room for fun activities,

A pub lunch and bottle of prosecco to add to the festivities?

When all that is done and it’s time to return back home,

Family time on the sofa would be nice, I don’t want to be alone.

It’s my day after all and I’ve been busy being mum,

So pop some daffodils in a vase and say they’re from our son.

Before I finish my little list of things I have been wishing for,

I’d like you to know that my husband already does this and lots more!

My poem has been purely to entertain those that read it,

And you can get an idea of what us mums ask for, at least a little bit!

Remember this day to celebrate what is done for you,

It’s not just Mums but Aunts and Nans can be thanked too.

Acknowledge those stepping in to be your greatest role model,

Reminisce and appreciate them, and give them a big cuddle!

Milo’s weaning journey

8 months old already! How does time go by so fast? I’m almost back in work mode, although, working mum is completely new territory to me. I will be sending help soon, I’m sure!

I have made the most of these past months at home, experimenting with our slow cooker (which has now taken pride of place in the cupboard again) and flicking pages of recipe books to create those tasty meals you expect every housewife to be able to make. In all honesty, I don’t fit the 1950’s housewife stereotype, as much as I try to convince my husband that I could stay at home and do this forever. Line up a few burnt meals or mushy broccoli and it’s easy to see that I don’t belong in the kitchen.

However, I have enjoyed experimenting with various meals for Milo and it’s been a great learning curve for me. I believe that’s down to using one ingredient at a time, really going back to basics and being mindful of what is going into his food.

I made the decision to purée fruit and vegetables rather than go down the baby led weaning route. I believe this was the right choice, for my confidence, because Milo tries to fit as much food into his mouth as possible and it turns me into a nervous wreck! He just has no real interest in chewing, unless it’s to help soothe his gums during teething.

The disastrous trial of finger foods got me thinking outside the box – what could I prepare to help Milo get used to chewing before swallowing? I reached out to the weaning saviour – Annabel Karmel. I asked a few questions about weaning on instagram and managed to win her book – New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. She also has a baby led weaning cookbook, if this is the route you are considering to go down.

This book has saved me! I was convinced we would be stuck on smooth purée forever but the soft food ideas eased us into the self feeding stage quite easily.

Annabel Karmel informs parents on nutritional facts and within a few minutes of reading, you will learn helpful hints on how to keep your little one healthy. This is even true of the fussiest of eaters!

We are slowly working our way through this book, I feel it should be called the weaning bible. For busy families, the frozen food ideas are a must and you can live by the grab and go mantra while still being healthy (as long as you are organised enough to prepare the food).

Now I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up the home cooked, tasty meals when I return to work, but for now, it’s working well and Milo is getting all of the goodness he needs and my nutritional knowledge is growing.

I suppose I can get on top of the grab and go freezer meals for starters!

How your child can achieve a smooth and successful transition into childcare

The last few weeks of maternity leave may be looming, and with that comes a list of options; do you stay at home or go back to work? Will that be full time or part time? Are you still interested in climbing that ladder? Can you afford childcare costs?

Childcare is almost certainly a topic that crops up in conversation in your household. Personally, I have been involved in many discussions surrounding the subject; I think it’s because I’m a childcare professional myself. This doesn’t mean my views are right and others are wrong, but I do see a variety of parents on a day to day basis who use childcare settings differently.

There are parents who use settings for their child from just a few months old, 5 days a week, and also parents who wait until their child turns 3 and they want them to gradually be exposed to a learning environment before starting school. These aren’t the only examples of course, childcare is used for a whole range of reasons and for varying time scales.

I’m going to try and guide you through those first few weeks of settling in to a nursery provision, because this is where my childcare knowledge lies.

Choose a Nursery provider that fills you with confidence at the first meeting

Gut instinct is key here. If you don’t feel comfortable walking around a setting on your visit, you probably aren’t going to change your perception of the place unless you have 24 hour surveillance at hand. That’s not realistic. On a Nursery visit, you will most likely meet the manager, owner or a member of staff in a senior position and these people influence the actions and decisions of the rest of the staff. Factor in the vibe you get from the staff, when choosing the Nursery. You could really get on with the manager and other staff whilst visiting the Nursery but be put off because the pre school room looked trashed when you walked in. The mess should be secondary to how happy the staff and other children look. Let’s face it, some days your little rays of sunshine just want to play with every toy on sight and other days they won’t touch them; it’s a raffle with what you’re going to get on the day!

Establish your accounts and payments to Nursery a few months in advance (especially if you’re returning from maternity pay)

Many nurseries require you to pay monthly fees upfront e.g. you pay for the month of March on the first of March. Obviously if you are going back to work, you need to put the little one into Nursery straight away; meaning that you have to give up a chunk of your wages a month before you get them. It softens the blow if you have the money set aside. Advice I should really take myself!

Once enrolled at a Nursery, arrange settling in sessions

Settling in sessions at Nursery are put in place for you, your child and the setting to build relationships and get a feel for each other. On your first day, you will most likely get paperwork to fill in and it will be an opportunity to write and record any information you feel necessary to tell the Nursery. You will talk about routines, family celebrations, dietary requirements, allergies, medical conditions and interests. It will make you feel a lot better once you’ve described your day to day life on a few pieces of paper. Nursery staff follow your routine from home and the stability usually makes the transition for your child a lot easier. Babies and children thrive off routine so it’s good to have a little bit of structure and consistency between settings. It gives them extra security and confidence when not in the presence of the main carer.

One thing I’ve noticed to be 90% true is that the second settling in session is the hardest. Children know they are going to be left, so they anticipate this before you’ve left them. They will pull on your heart strings and cry right up until you close the door behind you! So, don’t be fooled by the fantastic first Nursery session because once they know how to make you feel bad, those little tikes will do what they can to make you stay. What I’m trying to say is; book at least two settling in sessions and if it turns out to be disastrous then you know you can always book more until the official start date!

Get to know your child’s key person initially and then branch out to other staff (at any opportunity)

These people are looking after your pride and joy. It’s good to have a bond with your child’s key person because this makes communication so much easier between home and nursery and any sensitive issues can be addressed immediately without either party feeling uncomfortable. Once you have got to know the staff in direct contact with your baby, it doesn’t hurt to acknowledge other staff in the corridor and get to know their names because these wonderful people know your child and although they don’t work directly with them, they will have some impact in the little ones lives at some point.

Use first settling in sessions to establish a routine that works for Nursery and your child

It isn’t necessary to have your child in a routine, but it does help to give the Nursery some guidance into day to day life, for you. Discuss when you normally have lunch and dinner, when you give snacks or bottles and warning signs for a tired baby meltdown! If you can discuss your routine in full and any feeding or sleeping queues that put you one step ahead, this is a great help. Nursery staff want to meet your child’s needs alongside all of the other children in their care so talk through something that works for both of you.

Have confidence when handing your child over to staff

If you are comfortable when handing your child over then they will feed off this energy. Be hesitant, so will they. They will sense your nervousness and then act on it, leading to a longer and more awkward handover.

After session one, do the drop and run

When all of the paperwork is put in place and the Nursery knows what routine they are following and what your child enjoys, they will be for you to hand over quickly and briefly. As long as you inform them of how they have been in themselves, any medication they may require or have taken at home and if somebody different is picking them up that day, you can leave swiftly. Nursery staff are trained to deal with upset children at handover and they aren’t lying when they say ‘he will stop as soon as you leave the building’. Your children like to make you feel bad for leaving them. If they are happy when you pick them up then you can guarantee they’ve been happy all day!

Always have time for a handover

Handover at the end of the day is crucial. You find out what has been going on in the Nursery day and you can ask any questions about development or play ideas if this is something that will benefit you. You also get to find out all of those cute little things they do with their buddies that you wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise.

Trust the amazing staff who look after your precious ones

They don’t work alone, they have a wealth of knowledge and senior staff available for extra support and advice. Nurseries have policies and procedures in place to keep your children safe and they are revised regularly. Nurseries employ those people that will be the right fit to join their already fabulous team and managers are usually a good judge of character, so they’ve handpicked these people to give your children the best care!

Relax! You’ll be back soon

It’s not long until your baby is back in your arms for the day and you’ve finished your chaotic day at work. It soon becomes routine and you’ll forget what it’s like to wake up without an alarm. Your children will take to their new routine in no time and they will love it too!

There’s so many benefits to using a childcare provider for you and your children, and these are evident as time goes on. Remember, it is healthy to spend time away from loved ones and your children blossom when given independence in the right doses. The guilt of leaving them does ease, but it’s only natural to miss them a little bit or feel bad because you don’t miss them as much as you think you should. Children enjoy their time away from parents, believe it or not, they adopt personality traits from their peers and learn things to teach you. It’s a great time for them and you, embrace it!

Milo’s feet are free!

For 12 hours a day, at least.

Yesterday, we had our most exciting hospital appointment to date. The moment we have been waiting for since we found out about Milo’s talipes a whole year ago.

A visit to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to see the consultant to check on Milo’s progress turned into a bit of a celebration. His feet have been progressing well, which means he is following the standard timeline in his treatment. This means no more boots and bar during the day!

In truth, we knew this was going to happen at around this time, it’s just very nice to hear it from the professionals. I did spend the journey doubting Milo’s progress and a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios were drifting in and out of my thoughts. It’s the worrying mum in me.

I never knew how much I wanted this boots and bar phase to pass until we were told the good news. Milo has taken full advantage of his new found freedom too. He’s tapping his feet together, alternating his leg swings and chewing his toes! It’s like we are discovering so many more developmental milestones with this extra freedom; it’s going to be a fun few months.

I’ve been looking through old photos and I think now is a good time to reflect on Milo’s progress and I want to proudly show off the fantastic work of all of the professionals involved in his treatment, so far!

Milo’s feet, before treatment.

first casts at 2 weeks old (above)

Feet after 3 casts (below) Milo is 6 weeks old here!Milo’s feet (below) after all 8 weekly casts and before his operation Milo’s operation day (above) and recovery in casts (below)feet post operation (above)

First day in boots and bar (below)sleeping skills above!

Standings skills below!

Finally, above two photos show Milo’s straight feet! The use of boots and bar are now to prevent regression.

Back to work blues

With only about 7 weeks to go until I really try to juggle life and go back to work, I’ve realised I’m on a bit of a countdown and I’ve also had quite a lot on my mind surrounding the subject too.

I’ve become very comfortable living off my maternity wage, budgeting well and not treating myself as often as I used to. Having the freedom to have snuggly sofa days or big adventures whenever I feel like bodes well with me!

I’ve mastered 6am get ups and these are now the norm. I share no resemblance to a spring chicken by any means, but I am out of bed, feet firmly on the ground with dozy eyes and a caveman vocabulary. So the time I wake up won’t really affect me when it comes to going back to work. It’s my little buddy now in the morning routine. Milo has been my only responsibility regarding a morning routine because I have been easy and low maintenance. Throw my hair back, slip into activewear and boss Milo’s morning routine – that is all I’ve had to do and I still manage to take 2 hours! So doing the calculations, 6am wake up to leave the house at 6.45am… not happening.

This is where the real husband and wife tag team will come in. As a team, we do good! Chris has been getting the early morning bottle while I bring myself round to consciousness and I take it from there. Luckily, Milo now feeds himself because he’s super independent! This gives me about 15 minutes to sort myself out and in maternity world, that 15 minutes is a final bit of shut eye. In the real world it’s going to mean getting ready for work and breakfast semi complete! I’m confident that we will make it, but just in case, I’m going to go into practice mode starting next week. I’ll let you know how I get on!

Now, I love my job. I work with children. The little geniuses surprise me every day and no two days are the same – quite like spending time with Milo! So, why can’t I just get paid for being a stay at home mum? That would be the greatest! Unfortunately, you don’t get paid in money to be a mum. Of course, being a mum is the best job in the world, I’d just prefer it to be a well paid job.

Knowing that this will never happen and has never been an option, realistically, kind of softens the blow a little bit, every time I ask my husband if we can just be super rich so I can stay home, get fit and have lots of fun being mum.

On the other hand, I can’t wait to have a little bit of my own money again. I won’t feel guilty for spending it on myself because I know we are already providing Milo with everything he needs, but we will have a little extra in the bank for selfish reasons. It’s good to be a little selfish because you need time for you, alone and in other relationships that may have taken a back seat whilst getting used to this new, busy life.

I also have a career to focus on. It’s not one that will provide me with a comfortable, part time working life in a few years and it will always be fast paced and ever changing but it’s my career. The one I chose straight from college and it’s the one I’m still navigating myself through, deciding which avenue to take next.

This is how I’m banishing these back to work blues. Knowing that I’m contributing financially to my family and in knowledge and experience towards my career.

Now, let’s get this next step rolling!

A Day in the Life of a Talipes Mummy

It sounds like a huge challenge with those boots and bar attached to Milo for 23 hours a day but, it’s normal life for us. Luckily, Milo is our first born so we don’t have anything to compare it to. The first two weeks of his life were crazy so when we finally settled into weekly hospital visits and plaster cast legs, we soon got used to that as being normal. So when it came to having his boots fitted, we were excited for less hospital trips and fun daily bath times.

Milo has his boots and bar on his feet for 23 hours a day, meaning the hour out of them is filled with squidgy cuddles, tummy time, baths and boot cleaning! He has his free time just before the bed time routine so we can tie in his bath and change of clothes with this, minimising the amount of times we take his boots off throughout the day.

Mornings for Milo are quite straightforward and not too different to anyone else’s routine. He wakes us up by blowing raspberries or yawning very loudly, and then it’s bottle time. Mr independent will only take his bottle when holding it himself now so as he’s doing this, lay like a king on our bed, I take the opportunity to get myself ready for the day. Typically it’s activewear thrown on, for actually being active and going to the gym! With bottle thrown across bed and mum all ready for the day, boots and bar come off so Milo can be dressed. There’s usually a bit of a whiff from the boots and Milo’s feet because that area does get sweaty. We try and eliminate as much smell as possible by using a wet wipe on the boots and then using talc on boots and feet.

Boots and bar back on and Milo’s ready too. Heading downstairs with a million things in my arms, including the little man has become the norm. He’s pretty easy to carry, no different from other babies that can hold themselves comfortably on your hip.

The first hurdle we come across happens every morning before breakfast. I usually forget to remove the bar between Milo’s feet to help him into his high chair so try to do it one handed whilst he’s in my arms. Sometimes I succeed, most of the time I have to admit defeat and sit him on my lap and start again. We have a wooden high chair so the metal bar banging against it is very noisy, which we forget are now very used to. We’ve often had visitors asking why we are banging so loud in our kitchen and it takes us a while to correct them and show them who is really making the noise.

Once breakfast is all done and Milo’s bag is packed for the day, we usually head out to our local leisure centre so mummy can have some free time and work out. It’s only about 20 minutes away by foot, and we really enjoy the walk. Especially now that Milo can see the world, forward facing in his stroller. We use the childminding facility for Milo so he gets about 2 hours play time on his own, which he loves. He especially enjoys the attention he gets from the lovely staff that run it. I get a little bit of time to myself too, a chance to blow off steam, talk to adults and relieve anxiety. It’s the reboot I need and will always recommend to any parent that feels like their life is on repeat, day after day.

After a little bit of me time, I always feel a lot more positive about motherhood. I remind myself I’m doing a good job, then I reward myself with coffee and cake with friends! Milo enjoys this part of the day too. He has someone new to entertain and show off too and they aren’t bored of singing his favourite songs to him, so he’s completely spoilt with love and attention the whole day.

We usually throw in another walk around our area, or walk to the shop (especially now it’s creme egg season again). Outdoor time is so important and good for the soul, it exhausts us both too, enough for Milo to nap and mummy to have a quick clean up!

House cleared, Milo well rested and dinner cooking and it’s finally time for a cup of tea. The stereotypical afternoon ritual of stay at home mums everywhere! It’s well needed and definitely deserved though. So, never deny yourself of that quick 10 minute rest whilst you can because as soon as you know, your husband comes home from work and that is the equivalent of 3 children returning home – a whirlwind!

Milo’s dad comes home and gets fed, then it’s their time together until bedtime at 7! In this time, I sit back and watch the two nutters play together and remember how lucky I am. Yes, sometimes I wish those boots and bar could be stored in the cupboard and never see the light of day, but Milo was born with talipes and that is a small part of him. He’s a tough cookie, he copes just fine and we will have great stories to tell him when he’s old enough to learn about his condition. Until then, we will continue to encourage him to be the best version of himself and enjoy life.

I think we’re doing a good job, and Milo’s pretty darn lucky to have two crazy, loving parents like us.

Happy New Year!

A big Happy New Year from all of us, especially Milo! We have been so busy over the Christmas period so I decided to take a small social media break, put pen to paper and plan my 2018 goals.

I spent some time reflecting on my year too. I started 2017 pregnant and sober and watching the London fireworks on television. I remember how odd it felt that I wasn’t drunk and cheering in the New Year with friends or dancing to our favourite band but it was so exciting knowing our baby would be born a few months after. I also only had 15 weeks left at work and it was the best countdown, especially as my bump grew and I had inquisitive pre schoolers asking me all things baby. Maternity leave arrived pretty quickly and in time for the May bank holiday. It should have been a relaxing time but as the days were long and warm, I did anything I could to stay outside. Mostly hanging out with my niece or my friends with kids, because they love to play outside (and so do I). When my due date arrived, so did the hottest days of the year and many trips to the farm shop for ice cream. I was greeted with a lot of “ahhhh, when are you due?” Or “how long have you got left?” At first it was funny when I told them I was due 4 days ago or Monday, last week! I soon got frustrated that Milo wasn’t here yet though and instead of staying close to home in case something happened, I went where I wanted and most of the time I was completely under prepared. Who knew you should carry your maternity notes everywhere?! 12 days over due and my husbands birthday, the day I was getting induced. I decided to take him out for a birthday breakfast, 30 minutes away. We knew Milo wasn’t going to come on his own so we really weren’t worried, although, everyone else was slightly concerned that we were so relaxed about it.

Milo arrived and we have been happier than ever. Although time has passed so quickly since then, we’ve enjoyed every single day together. We had a few bits of bad news last year that have changed small parts of our lives and the way we look at things. Despite this, we remain positive and grateful, even if it’s for five minutes that day.

Positivity is my main focus for the year, and as much as I used to cringe at those “New Year, New Me” posts on social media, I now welcome them because it means somebody has the positive outlook that they need to make improvements to live a happier life and I think we could all do with those kind of people around us.

I’m also going to make an extra special effort to praise people because I often think it, but never say it. So, lady I’ve seen running up the same road for the past 2 years… good job and great improvement!

With only 6 weeks until I go back to work, I will remain positive, prepare for my return and make the most of my coffee and cake dates!

Happy New Year!