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Why can’t we get a good cup of tea?

tea for two

“Tea, tea, tea for two?” YES PLEASE!

Remember the last time you had a great cup of tea? You shouldn’t have to think. It should be your last cup. But why as parents are we subjected to such atrocious tea standards when it’s a time we need it the most (alongside chocolate Hob Nobs).

I love tea. I’m British of course I do. But then, I do love tea A LOT! I don’t drink it because I’m thirsty, I don’t find it at all refreshing in that way. My reasons are two-fold; pleasure and perfunctory. Up until I had a baby, tea was all about the pleasure for me and I love everything it signifies. I’m a busy person and rush around a lot and the act of drinking tea actually makes me stop, sit down and relax – if only for 10 minutes.

Tea drinking changed with the onset of parenthood. I’d given up tea during pregnancy which was hard but achievable as I’d felt sick for most of it. I’d naïvely wondered if this was the turning point for my tea drinking and that it was the natural opportunity to give it up. Then, after being up all night in labour, the midwife brought me a cup of tea and I gulped it down thankfully. From that moment, tea became far more perfunctory for me; I needed that caffeine fix. It was a careful balance of drinking enough tea to keep you awake after being up most of the night and not drinking too much so that if the baby napped, you could still sleep.

Ask almost any new mum and she’ll tell you how hard it is to actually drink a cup of tea when it’s hot and at it’s best. Most tea in the first six months is  drunk lukewarm or microwaved after a mammoth feeding session or a rare moment when baby does sleep – but on the condition that she lay on top of you and you don’t move, trapped on the sofa unable to move a muscle and watching your cup of tea go to waste.

My baby was into everything and was glued to me constantly but as she grew more aware, making tea became part of our routine. We made a game of it and she started to think making tea was fun – to the point now that when I ask her if we can make mummy a cup of tea, she replies ‘ooh yes please!’. We sing a song, she opens the pot, chooses a tea bag, gives it a shake and puts it into the cup. She knows the drill now and tells me what to do next – ‘be careful mummy, it’s a bit hot! Put the milk in, give it a stir, oooh delicious’. I feel like an actual Einstein genius for achieving this.

Back at work, it became a novelty to have a fresh, hot cup of tea which I could drink sitting down. My old office thought I was a tea extremist as I’d be fairly specific about how I liked my tea – skimmed milk, colour of a Rich Tea biscuit. I don’t have time to mess around with bad tea when I’m baby free. I would try to be polite and say I wasn’t fussy but then you’d end up with tea that tasted awful. Then you’d have to be even more polite and be seen to drink it. Why not just ask for something you like? Surely if someone is going to the trouble to make you tea, they’d rather it be a good one? That way, it’s actually appreciated.

I’ve wondered why soft play tea is so awful. Plastic cups, weak and tasteless, it’s usually just a tonic to survive the bedlam of children and to give you the caffeine kick to chase up ladders, through tunnels and race down slides. Surely there’s never been such a concentration of tired, thirsty mums just desperate for a great cup of tea. Maybe our desperation lets them get away with it.

My fussiness in tea drinking has reduced since having a baby. I need all the caffeine I can get and drinking cold tea or sub-standard soft play tea has lowered my standards. I consider it a huge act of kindness for someone to make or even buy me a cup of tea – and equally wary about people who don’t drink tea at all.

And so I’d like to call upon soft play centres, park cafes and anywhere that sees a mum with a baby to up their tea game. Take pity on us and serve us tea which is hot, has actually seen a tea bag for more than two seconds and has REAL milk in it – not out of a sachet or from a jug covered in cling film that’s been left out all day. You’ll not only win our custom but our life-long respect.

 

 

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Post Baby – Why I’ve changed

So your friend has had a baby. Are you thinking any of the following?

“She’s changed”

“She never answers the phone and takes three days to reply to my texts”

“All she talks about is the baby”

“She’s replaced me for her new mummy friends”

Well, let me speak up for all the new mums who are too polite and frankly don’t have the time to defend themselves.

Having a baby changes absolutely everything. I was convinced things only really changed if you let them – and there were so many things that I certainly wouldn’t let change. I now mock the old me who must have lived in a fantasyland.

This BB (before baby) me planned to keep up an active social life; I would go out on Fridays while my husband stayed in and we’d swap on Saturdays. Why wouldn’t that work?

I thought we could keep up our schedule of visiting our baby-free couple friends around the country or hosting them. I knew that the itinerary for the weekend visits would obviously change but couldn’t see why we couldn’t sustain these visits. After all, babies sleep in cars and what else are travel cots for? Right?

I was also incredibly naïve as to think I may have time to fill during maternity leave. A year was a long time and I like always having something to do; this would be the ideal opportunity to decorate the house, sign up to a course and do those little tasks like I never got around to doing such as putting my thousand photographs into albums. I’d definitely be able to do that.

So, how has it all worked out? I haven’t achieved anything during my maternity leave which hasn’t been caring for the immediate needs of my baby; my landing is half painted and my drawer is still stuffed with photographs. I think I managed to go out twice in the first six months. We visited our friends once but what used to be a three hour drive turned into seven hours of torment – screaming, multiple stops, exploding nappies and sick. The thought of a long journey now still genuinely fills me with fear.

However, what perhaps I don’t realise is that everyone I’ve left behind in my BB fantasyland must still have the same assumptions I did and now think I’ve either gone nuts or become a very bad friend.

The reality is that there is no time in my life anymore. If you are baby free, you can’t fully understand. But trust me. New mums are not trying to edge their old friends out of their baby bliss-filled lives. We are chronically time (and sleep) deprived.

It’s not necessarily that being a mum is difficult – although it is at times – it’s the intensity of the job. Some days we can’t shower or even eat anything until tea time. We’re not deliberately ignoring your missed call or text, it’s just further down the list of priorities than trying to keep our babies and ourselves alive because we don’t have a clue what we’re doing and while it sounds dramatic, at times it really does feel like all we’re trying to do is survive!

I miss my old friends; really miss them. Of course we’re still friends but I don’t get to see them as much as I used to. And it’s really sad. So this is my plea to all baby-free friends:

We’re sorry we can’t be as good a friend as we used to be. Our lives have changed beyond recognition; we’re struggling to learn how to look after a little tiny person and we are so so so tired. But please understand that you are still wanted and needed perhaps more now than ever. Do you know how many mums I meet who feel lonely and are desperate for the support of a friend? Please keep on calling us. Please don’t stop inviting us out. Please come and visit us. Just bring cake.

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It’s for the baby – a blog to keep me sane

A bit of a boring blog post I’m afraid, just to set the scene. Future ones will be more interesting. I hope…

When I found out I was pregnant in November 2012, I thought it would be a great idea to start a blog.

I think (and talk) a lot but it was excruciating not being able to share the biggest thing in my life. But even when it was official, I didn’t think the people I see every day would want me wittering on about babies constantly.

This blog would give me the opportunity to chronicle my journey through pregnancy into motherhood which would hopefully connect me with other new mums – perhaps people who would want to listen to me and it would also be something nice to share with my baby when she grew up. So off I blogged – anonymously until I could tell people I was pregnant.

However, after a few months, we had a little bit of a scare with the baby. It all turned out fine but at that moment, blogging wasn’t my number one priority. Then when the baby was born, I didn’t have the time let alone the mental capacity to keep it going. My baby is now 15 months old!

I’ve wanted get going on this blog again for a long time. In fact I’ve actually written a few blogs along the way and not published them. I had intended on back-publishing all my old blog posts but actually, I doubt anyone would back and read them. So I’ve spiked all my old blog posts and today I’m officially starting It’s For The Baby from the beginning (again).

What gives me the authority to write about babies and being a parent? I’ve got one of these…..

My first day

My first day

…and we’ve both survived – so far at least.

Right, hopefully I’ve explained myself. Boring post over.