6

Why can’t we get a good cup of tea?

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“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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6

Grounds for instant divorce in baby’s first year

It’s For The Baby is proud to published new official criteria for divorce in baby’s first year. So daddies, beware and take heed!

Baby’s first year – us mums are tired. No, exhausted. No, we’re undergoing physical torture while learning to look after another life. Our limits are being pushed to the brink and, quite frankly, we don’t have the tolerance or patience to put up with any sh*t – from any source. Unfortunately, daddies, you’ve drawn the short straw. As you spend the most time with us, we often take out our tired grumpiness on you (sorry).

So to make life easier, here are some ground rules of what we’d ask daddies not to do in baby’s first year. Break them, and they’re official grounds for divorce.

1. Saying “I’m a bit tired”. You may be tired. You may have woken up during the night feeds too. And you do work hard. But seriously, you have NO idea.

2. Calling to say “I’m going to be late home”. Some days, we feel like we’ve been at home for a hundred years with a crying baby and constantly feeding. Daddy’s return home is literally the highlight of the day and we count down the minutes until you come in the front door. Just the very thought of you being late home can tip us over the edge. So we reserve the right to over-the-top go mental over this call. Even worse is not calling at all though so that’s not an alternative!

3. Coming home and saying “I’ve been working all day, I just need a break”. Sometimes, we haven’t eaten, haven’t showered, haven’t dressed, haven’t had a cup of tea, haven’t been able to put the baby down all day. Daddies please help us and forgive us for pouncing on you the second you walk in.

4. Waking up and commenting “They slept well didn’t they?”. Never assume baby has slept through when actually you’ve slept through and your partner has been up all night. Alternative – say “How was your night (would you like a cup of tea and pack of Hob Nobs)?”

5. Saying “I think they’ve done a poo”. If you smell it, change it.

6. Spending quality time with baby to give mum some relaxation but then saying “come and see this” every two minutes. I do feel mean about this one. We know you’re excited to discover what baby can do. And we do really want to share it. But we also need to eat, sleep and wee alone. So let us do that – we’ll be back pronto.

7. Changing the baby without doing up all the buttons on their grows / trousers. Just grrr.

8. When we do go out, not listening to the million instructions mums dish out. Look, we are barely a moment without our baby and we are a bit neurotic when it comes to leaving them for the first time. Please listen to the instructions and nod – it will make us feel better.

9. Never saying we look great. Okay so we may be a bit bedraggled, exhausted looking and still in need of our maternity jeans but this means that we feel awful and very un-sexy. Your compliments will genuinely make us feel awesome.

10. Telling friends you’re “babysitting”. Does not apply when it’s your own baby.

Anyone got any others?

Caveat to daddies – don’t take this personally, we do love and appreciate you really. Refer to this blog post which sings your praises. We’re just really really really tired. And grumpy. And irrational. And we’ll stay that way until we can sleep again. We know that us mums aren’t perfect either so if you want to submit your grounds for divorce, please get in touch *braces herself*.

Happy Mummy & Daddy

Happy Mummy & Daddy

4

Does baby brain exist?

What is baby brain? Is it a debilitating condition that turns your brain to mush or is it an excuse for when you’re not on par?

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I can’t deny I’ve had my share of baby brain moments. Such as when I put a whole toilet roll in with the washing the week after baby was born and when I dented my brand new car by literally driving into a parked van. There has definitely been a post-baby change to my brain where at times I wonder what has happened to my mental state of mind. I actually hope baby brain is real because it’s nice to have something to blame – I’m not actually going mad, allegedly.

The good news is that as my baby has got a bit older, my moments of baby brain-ness have reduced. This increase in mental strength has got me thinking and I’ve developed a theory on baby brain…

I don’t believe that mums’ brains are being turned to mush. I think that mums’ brains are being filled with so much more information and are being used so much more, we’re actually displacing our old knowledge. A theory I’m calling BBD – baby brain displacement.

Learning how to look after a baby takes a lot of time, concentration and (without realising it) brain capacity. Your senses are heightened and you not only need to look after yourself but need to become automatically atuned to looking after another human being. We’ve all heard of a mother’s instinct. I think that this is something that your brain actually builds and develops. In the same way that your body is tired while you’re pregnant because it’s supporting another life, your brain is bound to become fatigued when it’s learning to do the exact same thing once baby is born.

Think about how much more you do when you’re a mum:

– Even when you’re asleep your mind is on alert for baby. In the early days, even the semi-silent sound of baby wriggling and opening their mouth can be enough to stir you from slumber. If that’s not instinct, what is?

– Your day takes meticulous planning. You have a 10am music class followed by a play date. You’re up at 7am (if you’re lucky) so surely you can get out in three hours? Routine: Up, nappy, bottle, breakfast, wash, dress, nappy, desperately try to help baby fall asleep so they’ve napped and are not therefore grumpy making any outing pointless, get yourself washed, dressed, sterilise bottles, pack changing bag with nappies, spare clothes, bottles, milk, muslins, wipes, clean dummies (once hunted for), toys and books to entertain, lunch (once you’ve figured where you’ll be and will they heat it). Then another bottle, set up the pram, leave the house, return immediately for a dirty nappy requiring a full change of clothes. Leave again – this time needing to run because you’re so late…already thinking about the next feed and nap.
Think we just rolled out of bed and leisurely rocked up drinking tea and eating cake? No, this was a military operation.

– When you’re doing something seemingly simple such as walking down the street, you’re not only concentrating on the task in hand but are on high alert for any hazard and foreseeing any potential danger or accident; there’s a pot hole at five paces, dog poo at eight paces, pebbles to be picked up at 16 paces, steps to mount at 20 paces, is that the sound of a car? Will that patch of gravel trip baby over? Is baby about to make a run for it? Will not crossing the road to pet a doggie make them roll on the floor in a tantrum rage? Do I bash the car that’s parked on the pavement with the wheels of the buggy? Wait, it’s tea time in 10 minutes and we’re 15 minutes away from home! And all this while singing wheels on the bus on a continuous loop.

– Then there are the endless to-do lists which circulate in your head and the panic of when you’ll get stuff done. If baby naps for only 40 minutes, can I wash and sterilise the bottles, clean up after breakfast, boil the kettle for tea, shower, change, make the bed, do the washing, pack the car ready to go out…oh and catch up on precious sleep? Not really. No wonder the tea never gets drunk hot!

– And don’t forget you’re doing all of this while being physically tortured by sleep deprivation. Fuelled by (cold) caffeine and as much cake as you can lay your hands on, you have to perform like a super hero when you’re so tired you could sleep standing up.

So the next time you try to put yourself down by worrying about having baby brain, think about the amazing feats you perform every single day in caring for, nuturing, feeding and entertaining your baby. All this with no experience, training, guidance or sleep. If you do have a “baby brain” moment, it’s not that you’re losing your mind. That piece of information has just been justifiably displaced.

What do you think of this theory? Leave a comment below or say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

Like this blog post? Read these:
Post baby: why I changed
Things parents do they’re not proud of

3

It’s not all about you baby – but shouldn’t it be?

I’m sad to say that I’ve heard a lot of parents shouting at their children this week. I don’t mean shouting for their temperattention or the panic shout of NOOOO when a toddler tries to poke their finger into an electric socket. I mean really shouting. And there’s been one phrase I’ve heard more than most – “It’s not all about you”.

I’m not sure why this phrase has been particular prevalent. Maybe the amount of tempers I’ve heard flaring is more to do with the quantity of parents and children crammed into soft play centres and parks with it being the Easter holidays. But I do find it uncomfortable when I hear some parents telling off their children. I’m not perfect and at times I do lose my cool with my toddler’s fiercely independent and tempestuous nature – such as when she refused to hold my hand on the zebra crossing last week so decided to have a tantrum and lie down in the middle of the road with an audience of oncoming cars.

I try not to judge any parent and I understand how frustrating parenthood can be but there are some incidents that I think are totally unnecessary and I do pity the child. Such as when I saw a parent grab their little girl and drag her whole body by the arm across the pavement and into a Greggs shop because she was dawdling instead of walking and had fallen down. Or on a packed train when a mum screamed at her boys: “shut the hell up and sit your bum down”. I could see other passengers visibly wince and bite their lip from intervening. I don’t know what the boys were doing but the screaming was constant and the fact that it was loud from the other end of the carriage says it all.

Maybe these parents had their reasons. Maybe they were having a really bad day. But how are we supposed to expect these children to respond after being treated like this no matter what they’ve done to “deserve” it? I appreciate it’s difficult to think rationally when your temper is frayed and you’re being led by emotion but does anyone really think these children will respond well? That they’ll suddenly stop playing up and act angelically because they’ve been screamed at or dragged down the street? Can you imagine how you would act if someone treated you like this and we’re adults who are capable of processing and understanding the situation?

When did we start treating other humans – and most importantly, our own babies – without the respect that they deserve? Maybe this is naive of me but I can only hope that when these parents calmed down, they apologised to their children for their violent reactions.

As for the phrase I’ve heard so often this week; “it’s not all about you”. Two of these occasions were in response to very young children calling to their mummy to watch them whiz down the slide or to chatter to them while the mum was trying to read OK! magazine at soft play. As I’ve said, I’m sure there were reasons for not wanting to engage with their children at that moment. Maybe they’ve been up all night. Maybe all they want is one minute of peace in the mayhem of a hectic day. But if they saw the disappointment in their child’s face like I did, I think they’d reconsider. Because surely as a child, it is all about you. All they know is their world – and they are at the centre of it. They don’t have the comprehension that someone might want to do something selfish, even when it’s as simple as visit the toilet by themselves or sit down and eat a hot meal or sleep for more than two hours straight. It’s our role as parents to embrace this, be patient and nurture our children as they learn and grow. I’m probably being a bit too preachy but I’ve been so touched this week by this phrase. I look at my toddler and I don’t mind that she thinks life is all about her at the moment. Because to me, it is.

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6

The 18 stages of a baby lie-in

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It’s not often you get a lie-in with a baby. You may dream about it and obsess about the extra minutes (hours) of sleep you so desperately need.

Naively you analyse how long baby napped today and how they were late settling for bed – you assure yourself they’re bound to wake up a bit later tomorrow. Unfortunately, with babies logic never prevails.

But rarely, just occasionally, baby does miraculously sleep through their usual internal alarm clock and you are allowed to actually wake up naturally. Today we slept in until 9am!!! An actual baby miracle. I won’t lie, it was amazing. But I fell into the baby sleep trap which gets me every time…the 18 stages of reacting to a baby lie in:

1. Start to come around blissfully slowly but something feels strange.

2. Sit up bolt upright – what on earth is the time?!

3. Check the clock in disbelief.

4. Do a silent dance of jubilation.

5. Lay perfectly still wondering if you can get away with another snooze. Or maybe you should treat yourself to a baby-free shower or hot cup of tea?

6. No, definitely don’t move. Baby will sense it and wake up. You need to relish this feeling of being vaguely rested.

7. You need to wee. No, hold it in. It’s not worth waking the baby to go.

8. Hmmm, it’s funny that baby has slept so long. Hope they’re ok.

9. Baby is really quiet in there, surely they can’t still be sleeping.

10. Hope nothing is wrong.

11. Stealthily sneak to baby’s door and listen to the silence.

12. Become overcome with concern. You really need to check they’re ok.

13. Slowly turn the door handle and peep your head in – all achieved without making a single noise. Baby is of course fine and fast asleep. Relief.

14. Repeat military precision of closing door without a sound, tip toe back into bed. Put head on pillow and let out a relaxed sigh.

15. Baby cries. You’ve woken them up. Dammit. Bad parent.

16. Spend the day telling everyone about your amazing lie-in from your wonderful genius baby and enjoy your new-found energy from having actually slept.

17. Wonder if this is the start of a new era of baby sleep time? Maybe you can stay up past 10pm this evening – enjoy a glass of wine and being a grown up? You can totally work with this new routine!

18. At 6am the following day realise it’s not. Back to it then.

2

10 signs you’re on holiday with a baby

This week we are having a much-needed break at Bluestone; Wales’ answer to Center Parcs. After the frenzy to pack and get here, it’s made me laugh at how much our holidays have changed post baby.

Here are my 10 signs that you’re holidaying with a baby: 

1.You decide it’s fine to leave the packing until the last minute. Then totally freak out when you realise you can’t actually do it while holding your baby or with them playing treasure hunt with everything you’ve put in the suitcase.

2. You realise you don’t have near enough clean baby clothes to last the week so have to stop en route to buy more. We came out of M&S with two new coats, a romper, pack of sleep suits, bag of baby grows and a swim suit. £100 gone and we’re only five miles away from home.

3. After being confident you’ll only pack the essentials and won’t overload the car, you pack every square inch of space in the car and celebrate being able to jam another spare towel or singing train. Having room for your legs is totally overrated anyway.

Overloaded car - picture from freedigitalphotos

4. You spend half the journey listening to songs about monkeys and the other half sat in silence hoping the rhythmic car journey will send baby off to nap. Obviously they don’t actually sleep until 10 minutes before the destination.

5. You can’t check in straight away so when shown where the pub is, you decline; you’re confined to the car and watch the rain until nap time is over.

6. Everything is done in pockets of time: so once you’re in, you dump everything and run to the pool – you only have 90 minutes until dinner time otherwise a meltdown will ensue.

7. Kids’ pools are suddenly the epitome of excitement once more – Blue Lagoon at Bluestone has a wave machine, rapids river ride, flumes, lazy river which goes outside and wet play zones. I don’t know who was happiest – baby or grown ups! Needless to say, we did take it in turns to hold the baby / ride the slides. Typically, our baby’s favourite was the staircase which we had to pull her away from after clambering up it 17 times.

Here’s a picture of the wave pool:

Wave pool at Bluestone

8. Your evening meal is now at 5pm and overlooking someone dressed as a clown dancing to Gangnam Style surrounded by a dozen hyperactive screaming children. But it kept baby entertained until dinner arrived and we were kept ‘hydrated’ with a nice glass of Birra Moretti.

9. You don’t feel guilty about going to bed by 9pm. Now this is something that’s taken us a while to learn. Usually on holiday, we excitedly stay up late drinking wine and enjoying adult company. As the week goes on, we slowly start to spontaneously combust from exhaustion. So this time around, my bedtime on the first night was 8.45pm. Up at dawn this morning with baby, I was feeling totally smug and raring to go. I’m sure I won’t be this sensible any other night of the week but I’m going to enjoy feeling awake while it lasts!

10. Your days are the most fun filled of any holiday in your adult life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of amazing action-packed holidays but there’s something about the infectious enthusiasm and unbridled joy from your toddler that makes you raise your game. Baby even makes simple things like exploring the holiday lodge a total adventure. But today we are going to visit Folly Farm before another trip to Blue Lagoon at Bluestone and I’m more excited about sharing with with my baby than when I went zip-lining across a Mauritian jungle, picnicked in the Grand Canyon or flew by helicopter over the Las Vegas strip.

2

When to call a mum

Sometimes I look at my phone and I wonder when the last time I spoke to some of my friends. We text each other and bemoan how long it’s been since we’ve had a good old chat. Then they ask me when’s a good time to call me. The trouble is, I’m not sure I actually know the answer. When is the best time to call mums?

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Before 8am: Do not call because the day you do will be the day baby sleeps in and it will have been ruined. For everyone!

Before 10am: We can’t answer because we are trying so hard to leave the house. See that door that you can just walk through with your handbag after a quick shower and a leisurely breakfast? For us it’s like a magical portal that we are fighting to reach alive each day. We’re lucky if we make it clean, fed, without being dragged down by bags of everything we may or may not need (just in case). And we’re probably running as that extra nappy change or tantrum has waylaid us yet again.

Between 10am-12pm: You could call but we will literally have our hands full of babies, prams, food and other paraphernalia as well as running after our toddlers who want to poke, jab, grab, suck, kick at something new every three seconds. This is the perfect time to actually come and meet us. However if you expect us to be able to hold a conversation or even offer you eye contact, think again. Just bring tea and cake. But keep both out of reach so it isn’t thrown and smashed across the room. We won’t forget about it – we know it’s there watching and taunting us with its heat and deliciousness. We will down it when it’s lukewarm and practically inhale the cake as soon as physically possible.

12pm-1pm: It’s feeding time at the zoo. If you call, expect the phone to be grasped by the baby who will otherwise scream for it. Not only will you not get any sense but the phone will probably get covered in yogurt and smashed on the floor.

1pm-3pm: It’s nap time. For everyone if we’re lucky. That’s after we’ve scrubbed porridge ingrained on the kitchen floor tiles, picked up a thousand toys, washed up for the umpteenth time, run around with a vacuum. And if we’re really really lucky, maybe eating a sandwich.

3pm-4pm: Prime meeting up time. Phone calls? Not so much. We’re at the park or on the top of a rope bridge at the play centre surrounded by screaming kids. Are you sure don’t want to meet us?

4pm-5pm: Feeding time again. See above.

5pm-7pm: Time for baths, torture time (hair washing), wet babies, dressing, milk, more torture (teeth brushing) stories and bedtime. Military operation required.

7pm-9pm: We’re usually still trying to get the baby to sleep. Of course if we have plans like eating a nice dinner, catching up with friends or leaving the house, baby will have their own plans for us.

9pm: We’ve just sat down for the first time today. Tired and starving.

10pm: We’re in bed. At the latest.

11pm-5am: If we are awake at this time, it’s not out of choice. For the times when sleepless nights are a frequent occurrence, this may be the time we need you the most. Unfortunately, we may only be capable of a rant, a cry or maybe even a scream of frustration at being up all night. There’s nothing like these early hours of darkness where you feel you and your baby are the only people on the planet awake and every fibre of your being longs to be asleep.

Hmmm, I wonder why no one calls anymore!? But please don’t stop calling. All of this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to speak to you – just the opposite. And seeing that you call makes us feel that you care. Just please understand when we can’t answer….