Finding Time for Me.

Saturday, 28 April 2018



So lately, there's been a lot of talk around self-care online. That it's important. That we need it. And I think that often, it falls to the bottom of the "to-do" list. Especially as a Mum. There's no time for lengthy baths or money for luxurious facials when dishes need to be done and nappies need to be bought. We only manage to find enough minutes in the day to have a shower, let alone snuggle up with a good book so we can escape for reality for a bit.

My counsellor, for the first time, suggested a direction we take during our sessions. Oh yeah! In case you missed it, I'm seeing a counsellor. I was a little worried about how I was feeling about Jackson and motherhood in general and I was starting to reflect a bit on my past and even present and realised that there might actually be a reason (or two) as to why I was holding back. I'm not one to just sit around and wait for things to happen so I booked in and she's been great. Really. She just has a way of understanding and summing up how I'm feeling. A lot of the time she is saying things I know but it's just really reassuring to hear a professional (and someone who is no way bias towards your situation) validate your thoughts. And after sharing the things I've been through she said she could totally understand why I feel the way I do which lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. 

So yeah. Counselling. That's happening. Anyway, on Thursday I mentioned that Rob and I had been talking about Baby Key #2 and that I really wasn't sure whether it was something I wanted. I know we don't have a huge rush (I mean, there is the IVF side of things and that might not be as successful the second time and we've also both wanted a smallish age gap, like 18 months - 2 years so that means I'd be pregnant at the end of the year omfgwtf) but it's been playing on my mind a lot. Mostly because I know that Rob has always wanted at least two. And I did too really until I actually became a Mum and realised what it all entails and how hugely my life specifically has been effected. Not in a bad way. Just in a different way. So I brought it up with my counsellor and she said she's hearing a lot of "what Rob wants" but not much of "what I want." Which made me think, how often do I put myself first?

The answer, not that often. Between attempting to keep the house tidy, paying the bills, doing the groceries, looking after a baby, trying to run my own business, managing a second passion project, spending time with my husband, having a social life, visiting my unwell mum and gran who both are quite emotionally dependent on me, running errands for them too, dealing with unwanted texts from my brother, spending time with the in-laws, there isn't a lot of time for me. At the moment the only time I do have "me time" is if I get up between 4-5 am and sacrifice sleep just so I can have breakfast in peace and maybe catch up on some youtube. But a lot of the time I end up doing the dishes, putting away laundry and then the txt comes from Rob saying that Jackson's awake. And Kate time is over.

Then, to think of throwing another baby into the midst of that is nuts. Ridiculous. I don't even want to think about it. See, a lot of people might think you're selfish for not wanting another baby, for not giving your child a sibling. And maybe it is. But I don't think there's anything wrong with that? You really have to think about how capable you are, the kind of lifestyle you want and whether kids can fit into that or not. You have to realise that life won't really get back to what it was like before kids for awhile and in fact, it might never happen. You've gotta be okay with it too. But anyway, this post isn't about that. Although obviously it's been playing on my mind a lot because it seems to be the first topic I bring up with anyone. I suppose it's a bit of a controversial subject, having an only child, and I'm always interested to hearing what people think. So if you are one or are just planning on having one, let me know how you've found it! 

Right. Where were we? Oh yeah. Putting yourself first. As a Mum. Kate, you're dreaming. Surely? Because where do you find the time to do that? To prioritise you. Jackson is exclusively breastfed and hardly takes the bottle so time alone is rare. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who has a great knack for putting him to sleep so there are times when I manage an hour or two away. But I'm not sure I'm really using that time very wisely. And I also need to figure out what self-care means to me. Often, I end up in front of my computer designing or blogging. Being creative is my outlet but it's also my job so I feel like spending time behind a screen isn't really the best form of self care for me. I'm not particularly into pampering myself (expensive hair cuts, manis/pedis and facials aren't my thing) and I always overheat in the bath. I also find that when I do have hands-free time it's usually spent doing housework or the groceries. Maybe I need to do less? Like, take less on? But I have responsibilities and people that rely on me so I'm not sure how I would do that. 

I don't have the answers. Perhaps we could ask Hermione if we can borrow her time turner? I have found one thing that is better than therapy though. One thing that I've just started that I was super dubious about but has quickly become the highlight of my week. Now, don't laugh... It's called Kanga Training. Yep. I know. I felt the same when I first heard about it. Basically, it's an hour long exercise class where you dance around a bit and get sweaty with your baby in a front pack. Like a kangaroo! Get it? Of course you do. I've been for the last two weeks and the effect it had on me was amazing. Rob even said he thinks I'm getting more out of the classes than I am from the counselling (plus it's a lot cheaper). I used to dance when I was younger so for me, it's revisiting that, spending time with a baby who has a 100% track record of falling asleep in the front pack, hanging out with other mums and getting my sweat on. Like actually, what's not to like? And I truly felt like a new person after. Finally, I found something for me. That involved Jackson but still focused on my needs. That we could do together without me stressing about him being fussy or not settling. It's a 10min drive from my house so it's not long enough for any car melt downs, you don't even have to wear shoes, you get to rock out to Vengaboys and you can just go at your own pace.

How I felt afterwards was incredible. Truly. And for the first time in the last four months, I felt like myself again. I was doing something for me, without feeling guilty that I wasn't spending enough time with Jackson. Something where I put myself first but that included my baby too. That kinda just ticked all the boxes of what I need for self care. It made me realise too, it's possible. It's possible to do things for you and have a baby. You can prioritise yourself, even if it's just for a couple of hours a week. And you should. Even if you're a solo parent, take up neighbours or friends who offer to watch your baby for an hour. Find activities that interest you that you can also do with your baby. Instead of allowing being a Mum stop you from doing the things you want, confront it face on and find a way around it. Babies are resilient and not as fragile as we think. And man, what a difference it will make to your journey as a Mum too.

I read something this week and it said, "Happy Mum, Happy Child." Have you heard of anything truer? If us Mums don't look after ourselves and meet our needs, we're grumpy. We're shitty, we're unhappy and we're resentful. And I think our kids will pick up on that. So for our sakes, and for our wee babes, we need to look after ourselves as well as we can. Because not only do we benefit from it, they do too. And I'm sure our partners won't complain about coming home to a couple of smiley faces either.

PS. If you enjoy a bit of a dancey workout (it's kinda like zumba I guess, although less booty shaking) then I 100% recommend you check out Kanga Training and see if there are classes in your area. So good.
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But I Don't Want To.

Monday, 23 April 2018


Ever since Jackson was born, the first question on anyone's lips is "How is the sleeping?" And as any parent will know, the concept of a full night's sleep quickly becomes a thing of the past. Some parents are lucky and are blessed with a child who manages to sleep through fairly early on, others are up every couple of hours to nurse their babes. But for some reason, and I don't know who's fault this is, this is a misconception that babies have to sleep through the night. That they should. That if yours doesn't, there a bit of a dud. 

I've been finding that this is coming from either, people who haven't had babies or our parents/grandparents generation. And they're not too sweet about it either. I remember talking to someone about Jackson's sleep. I never complain. I mean sometimes I'm like, "gah jackson just sleep!" but I also know that he's pretty "normal." Which in baby world means that basically everything is normal. He does wake up quite a bit in night, especially recently, but it's because he's actually hungry - jumps on the boob, and falls asleep before he's finished. Anyway, I just said that he's up every 2-4 hours and straight away they go "you've gotta be tough Kate." Oh. Do I? Says who? You? Hmmm. They then proceeded to tell me that when they had their kids their father in law told them they have to be tough and let them cry it out. "And honestly Kate, my son is a great sleeper now because he learned pretty quick that we weren't gonna deal with that crap." Huh. "My wife found it pretty hard but I had had enough." Right.

Each to their own and I'm trying pretty hard not to criticise parenting styles because the truth is, we're all different - our situations, our parenting, our upbringing and our babies. So it's pretty understandable that we'd all parent differently too. But, please don't tell me what to do. Don't tell me that what I'm doing is wrong, that I have to do this. Don't make me feel like I'm being indulgent, that I'm spoiling my baby, that I'm creating bad habits. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't effect you in any way. At all!

See, while you're at home with your teenagers I'm in bed with my baby. While you're sleeping through the night, I'm getting up and feeding Jackson. When you have a sleep in, I'm changing his nappy, playing peekaboo, rocking him to sleep. What I'm doing as a parent has no effect on you whatsoever so you don't really have a say in how I choose to parent. Sure, crying it out might mean I get more sleep, but for me it feels wrong. I could implement a routine and add some structure into our lives so I'm in more control, but I prefer to just go with the flow and follow Jackson's signals. And if it doesn't seem like the right thing to do for us, then I'm pretty sure it isn't.

I understand where you're coming from. You just want it to be easier for me. You want to help. You are a parent and therefore have advice for a new one. But how about we lay off the "you should" and "you have to's." Let's rephrase it to "in my day," "oh man I remember when our kids were babies" and "have you tried." Perhaps then I'd be more likely to listen. When it comes down to it though, if I'm happy, if Rob's happy and if, most importantly, Jackson's happy, then that's all that matters to me. And we are. Honestly. I know that the constant waking is just a phase he's going through. I mean, it's bloody exhausting but I know developmentally it will get better. And in the mean time I'm just hoping that happens sooner rather than later but hey, we're on the Jackson ride so I'm just taking it as it comes.

And it suits us. We have found a freedom in no routine. He doesn't need a dark room to settle down and fall asleep. Yes he's fed or rocked to sleep but he gets there.  He's not fussy during the night. He's just hungry. So thank you for your advice. Thank you for thinking of us and wanting what's best. But, and I kinda feel like a dick for saying it, we're his parents and we know best. 
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When Things Don't Go To Plan.

Thursday, 5 April 2018


You learn pretty quickly that when you have a baby, there isn’t really a plan. There is the way you’d ideally like your day to go. Then there is your realistic expectation of what could happen. And then there is the worst case scenario. The fun part is, you have no idea which way it’s gonna swing, what you’re going to end up with that day. You’ll be pretty confident in how your baby works, how long they’re sleeping, when they sleep. You’ll feel like you know them quite well so plan an outing around that, feeling like it’s going to go swimmingly. Ha! Did you tell your babe that? For some reason, your wee angel has turned into an inconsolable, screaming thing that won’t settle and your plans are shot. I mean, you could still go. But going out with a baby is stressful enough in the best conditions. Add a full set of lungs that are ready to be used, not a great time. 

The trick is, to set low expectations. Not just with your baby, but let your friends and family have them of you too. At the beginning, we kinda said yes to everything (pre baby) thinking we’d be fine. We were wrong. Earlier in the year, Rob’s family had a weekend camp where they were all spending time together, doing activities and staying overnight. We knew we wouldn’t be staying but had planned to spend two full days out there (driving there and back each day) with our four week old baby (yep, we obviously had no idea what we were doing). The camp rolled around and all I could feel was dread. He was so little. There were so many people. All the kids! And they just want to touch and play with him but I can hear their sniffles and coughs. I’d be hanging out with loads of mums who I know will be watching what I’m doing and I still don’t know myself! I’ll have to feed in public meaning getting my boob out in front of everyone and trying to play the “will he latch” game that I haven’t quite got the hang of yet. What seemed like a fun idea was turning into a nightmare and suddenly, all I felt was dread and anxiety when I thought about spending two full days away from home. 

Rob and I butted heads over it. And I get it. You don’t want to feel like you’re missing out and you also don’t want to feel like your baby is getting in the way of your life. But. Reality check. You will miss out and your baby will “get in the way.” That’s what they do. They’re demanding, require constant attention and need you to help them meet their needs. It’s not their fault. That’s just what being a baby is all about. It definitely takes some adjusting too but once you set the score and let friends and family know too, the pressure is off. 

Of course it’s hard to admit that you haven’t got it sorted. That your baby is being difficult. But that’s just how life is and the sooner you accept that, the easier it is to do what’s best for you. Even if it’s not what you planned. And when people expect the bare minimum of you, you can say no without fear that people think you’re being rude. You don’t have to make excuses for your messy house because they’re aware that you have a baby who doesn’t lend much opportunity to getting your household in check. Friends will understand when you have to cancel lunch because your baby won’t stop crying. Family will get it when you turn up an hour late as you wanted to let your baby sleep. People get it when they turn up and you are still in yesterday’s clothes with baby vom and food stains. Because you’ve let them know that this is just how it is. 

I’m still struggling to come to terms with it myself though. To let go of the idea of plans that must be stuck to. To understand that some nights he’ll be up all night and I need to sleep where I can instead of get up to work/clean because I’m going to burn out otherwise. To be honest with my clients about deadlines so I don’t feel so pressured and stressed when things don’t go to plan and I can’t get anything done. To get rid of this “supermum” vision I have of myself and just be honest and say, actually, today is just one of those days where I’m going to do nothing. That today has gone nothing like I planned and that’s okay. Because you know what? I still got cuddles. I still was treated to little smiles and giggles. I may not have showered and still be wearing my PJs but me and my boy got through another day and tomorrow is a new one. Hopefully one that is a little more “normal” but then again, what even is that? 

PS. This blog was written while I was on the toilet at 5.37am after being up at 11.30 (after a 9pm sleeptime), 12-1(feed and two cot attempts before admitting defeat and putting him bed with us), 2.30 (him waking me up by kicking me in the back), 3.30 (feed) and 4.30 (him wriggling around like crazy until he finally released a whole series of farts and a giant poo). I have a shit tonne of work to do but once I’m done here, I’m crawling back into bed for cuddles and some much needed sleep. Not how I planned today to go at all.
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