Alexandra’s Second Birthday Celebrations

This Tuesday marked Alexandra’s second birthday so of course we had to do something to celebrate. Last year we had a massive garden party with all her friends but we decided that we’d have smaller parties until she goes to school and then she can invite all her friends each year. However we still wanted our families to have a chance to see Alex for her birthday so we decided to do an afternoon tea at ours on Bank Holiday Monday again, just on a smaller scale. Once we’d invited our parents, siblings, their children etc and my best friend and Dylan’s best friend, there were still over 20 people round! It was a lovely afternoon and I think part of that was it was so simple. We just made sandwiches and set out loads of scones and cakes for people to eat alongside some drinks and then most people sat in the garden where we’d put some of Alex’s toys like her pop up tent and ball pool.

Alexandra had a fantastic time getting pushed around the garden on her trike, wearing her wellies and eating a lot of cake. Then when most people had gone she opened some of her presents.

However we also wanted to spend some time as a family of four. Things have been so busy lately that we haven’t had loads of days out so we blocked Sunday off on the calendar for the four of us and decided on a trip to West Midlands Safari Park as Alex loves animals.

I haven’t been since I was a child and I was super impressed with how great it was. We got round most of the animals and spent some time in the new CBeebies Boj area before doing the drive through safari, which was probably the only down point of the day as it was SO busy that even waiting til later in the afternoon like we’d been advised and taking a couple of the cut-throughs meant it took two hours to get round. We’ve got a return pass so we’re looking forward to returning later in the year when it’s hopefully easier to get round. Luckily Max went to sleep and Alex was so well behaved considering we were sat in queues for ages.

Tuesday is a nursery day for Alexandra so we kept her routine the same and she went there in the morning and took in some cake for her little pals. Part of me felt a little mean sending her, especially as I was just at home with Max for the morning; but she loves nursery so much and probably had way more fun than she would have with me! Also as she’s an August baby, it’ll only be the next few years that she’s actually able to spend time with her ‘classmates’ as once she gets to school, she’ll always be on holiday for her birthday.

So that was her birthday weekend! We couldn’t have asked for better weather on Sunday and Monday and Alex was so well behaved despite it being tiring!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A Nursery Update

15326479_1358669637500634_6099159638850928554_n

Don’t worry, I’m not going to update you with what Alexandra does at nursery every single week! I imagine that could get a little repetitive. But I thought now she’s done two whole sessions that it would finish off my previous posts about deciding she should go to nursery and her settling in sessions.

So last Tuesday, she had her second settling in session where I left her for an hour. On the whole she was fine but I was still a little worried about her first full session on the Thursday (8am to 12.45pm). That morning she woke up way earlier than usual at 6am and she was not a happy bunny – I don’t know if it’s because Dylan was away overnight working in London so she hadn’t seen him since the Tuesday evening, whether her teeth were bothering her or whether she just wasn’t in a good mood. She cried non-stop for ages, I managed to get her to calm down a bit while we both got dressed and then she had an utter meltdown when I started defrosting the car – even though I’d left the front door open and I was about five metres away from her.

All the way to nursery, she cried. It’s only a four-minute drive but it felt a lot longer! When we got there, she still wasn’t happy. They very kindly let me stay while they sat her down ready for breakfast then as soon as she was eating (and thus much calmer) I made my retreat. At about 9.30am I thought I’d call and see how she was – the answer was she was absolutely fine and sat in a circle with the other kids singing and reading books.

When I went to pick her up, she’d just finished eating her lunch and she was super happy. They said she’d got a little tearful because she was tired just before lunch but they’d decided to let her eat rather than try and make her nap. The advantage of not having napped was she fell asleep the instant she got into the car and by the time we were home, I was able to get her shoes off and take her upstairs to bed without even so much as a murmur – and she slept for two hours. A miracle!

Today, she had her second session and it was daddy’s turn to take her. He popped back briefly before going to work and told me she’d been a bit clingy but as soon as breakfast had been mentioned, she’d practically pushed him out of the door. When I went to pick her up, they said there’d been a couple of tears but she’d had a nap, done some painting and enjoyed her lunch. She didn’t notice me for a while so I just watched her getting cleaned up after her food and she looked absolutely fine.

I’m definitely reassured by her first two sessions, she seems to like the interaction with all the new people and when I hear about her doing little activities like painting which we rarely (if ever) find the time to do at home, I know they’re offering her something that I can’t. Also I’m managing to get back into a routine of doing a bit more work – and last week I ate my lunch without a small child begging for scraps like a puppy!

I know a friend whose little one has been in nursery for a while is having problems with drop-off meltdowns at the moment, so I’m not complacent enough to think she will always be happy to go! But we’re just taking it week by week and seeing how we go.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Settling In

img_0773

As I mentioned in a blog a couple a weeks ago, we made the decision recently that Alexandra was more than ready for nursery and it would be beneficial for everybody if she started going a couple of mornings a week. Last Thursday we went to have a look around one, we were fairly certain before going that unless we found anything majorly terrible while looking round that it was the best choice for us – Ofsted outstanding, a four-minute drive from our house, we know a lot about it etc etc, basically it ticked all the boxes.

As soon as we got there, Alex wanted to play with all the other children – even giving one girl a kiss within about five seconds! In fact, she got a little bit upset when it was time to go home. So she decided it for us really, we took home the enrolment forms and dropped them back off the next day. Then it was time to sort out her settling in sessions – the first just involved both of us popping along for about an hour, I sat and filled in some forms while she happily played. That was fine.

Then yesterday, it was time to leave her. They said I could stay for up to 30-minutes and then leave her for the same amount of time, but the more I looked at her, the more I didn’t want to leave so I thought I’d just bite the bullet and get going. As I walked away, she waved and smiled at me and it was all fine, then as soon as I shut the door and started back to the car, I just wanted to run back and shout NO SHE’S MY BABY, ON’T TAKE HER,SHE NEEDS TO BE WITH ME. It was horrendous.

I held it together for the drive home and then had a little cry when I was on my own. Pathetic I know. She was four minutes away, safe with people trained to look after her (I didn’t get trained before I was left on my own with her?!) and lots of toys and other babies and toddlers. So I pulled myself together and got a few jobs done, looking at my phone approximately once every three nanoseconds.

I justified leaving 15 minutes before her session was over as I’d struggled to find a parking space on the way there. As it was, there was now one really close by so I ended up being a bit early to pick her up. I knocked on the door and as I did she came up to the safety gate and started crying. It must have been about two seconds before one of the staff picked her up and came and opened the door, but those two seconds felt like about two weeks. They said she’d taken a while to even notice I was gone and then there’d be a few tears but nothing out of the ordinary.

Next week, it’ll be another hour-long session on Tuesday and then she’ll go for her first proper morning on Thursday. I’m absolutely dreading it. Being in a silent house for almost five hours. The only time I’ve been away from her for that long is in the early days when I wasn’t really bonded with her enough to feel the way I do now. I also feel like she understands a bit more know and knows I’m her mom, not just a thing that feeds and changes her. I want to keep apologising to her even though I know it’s for her benefit!

I think it’ll definitely be a case of tissues at the ready next week, and cramming as much work as possible into the time she’s away from me to try and distract myself.

Harriet and Alexandra x

The N Word

14907666_10157787034430232_4775226669553895249_n

I’ve spoken on this blog in passing before about my desire to keep Alexandra with me for as long as possible. I’m in a hugely privileged position in that we haven’t needed to send her to nursery as yet because I’ve been working from home. Although with each passing month, it gets harder and harder to juggle her increasing needs/mobility and  decreasing amount of naps and I find myself doing less work, we’ve still kept her at home full time.

For the last few weeks, Dylan and I have been discussing the fact maybe she needs some outside stimulation, maybe being at home with me all the time (although obviously we do go out and do things!) isn’t enough, maybe it’s selfish to have her here when I can’t give her my undivided attention which is what she would get from nursery staff. There are lots of different factors to think about and clearly cost is one of them, it seems such a waste to have her in nursery for a morning and then spend half that morning working just to pay for her to be there. But then you can’t be all things to all men as they say, and perhaps trying to spread myself too thin is more crazy than paying strangers to look after my child while I return back to our home for the day?

I think some of it stems from spending so much time away from her in the first three months, almost like I feel I ‘owe’ our relationship and myself that time with her now. Maybe if we’d been together 24/7 in that early bonding time I would have been desperate to get away from her by now! (I mean I still am some afternoons when she’s refused to have a nap!) I hate the whole ‘I didn’t have a child for strangers to look after it’ because that’s just a terrible thing to say when so many families don’t have that choice and both parents need to work to keep a roof over their heads, but I guess the principle is that we both want to spend as much time with Alex as possible and I’m very fortunate that so far that’s meant me being at home 24/7.

Anyway we’ve loosely agreed that we may have a look at some nurseries with the possibility of her going a couple of mornings a week. I know the reality of dropping her there and coming back to an empty house will not be something I relish but maybe if we do go down that road then hopefully I’ll see benefits for Alex in terms of her development and socialisation that will outweigh my negative feelings about it all.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Am I Doing The Right Thing?

Alex likes to use the opportunity of me doing some work to select age-inappropriate DVDs.

Alex likes to use the opportunity of me doing some work to select age-inappropriate DVDs.

Parenting is just opening yourself up to a whole load of things you never had to worry about before, but now constantly think about, right?

I think one of the things which occupies a lot of moms’ minds is the work/home life balance (I wanted to put work/parenting there but that would imply you’re not a parent when you’re at work which doesn’t seem at all fair). For some people there simply isn’t a choice, they go back to work full or part time after their maternity leave and there’s no option of changing that. For some people there is a choice and they make the decision to go back and have some time for themselves, perhaps some extra financial freedom etc.

I’ve been incredibly lucky in that the skillset I’d built up before having Alexandra and our living situation have meant I’ve not had to return to work full time. Instead I’ve started freelancing which in a lot of ways is absolutely ideal. I can stay at home and avoid travel costs and time, I can come downstairs in my PJs at 6am on a weekend morning and get an hour or two done before baby wakes up, I work when I want and how many hours I want and, of course this one’s the biggie, we have no childcare costs.

Alex is with me 24/7 and that works out perfectly in a lot of ways, not least because if it’s sunny and we want an impromptu day out, we can just do it, if she’s feeling a bit grumpy it doesn’t matter that I’ve had to stop writing a sentence about 52 times to go and feed her/try and get her to nap/administer Calgel.

But I’m not saying all this to brag about how fabulous my life is and how I’ve got the work/life balance thing down. Because I’m not sure I have. I feel like any option in terms of childcare/work comes with a certain amount of guilt. My guilt is that because I do have to get a certain amount of work done during waking hours, I’m not always 100 per cent in the zone with Alexandra. She’s not a child that normally naps for longer than about twenty minutes twice a day so it’s not like I have a clear two/three hours a day to plough on with some work while she’s asleep. Sometimes she is simply crawling around amusing herself with her toys out on the floor while I work.

I’m sure if I could ask her how she feels about that, she’d be fine with it. But part of me thinks maybe I’m being selfish by not sending her to nursery. If she was there she’d have someone who was solely focused on her needs and wants, she’d have activities to all day every day, she’d never look up and see someone eyes down at the computer typing frantically. When I think about this side of the ‘nursery pros/cons’ coin, I feel like it would really benefit her. But then I think about the fact part of the reason for me freelance was to be able to save up for the big things we want, like a car for me, our house being redecorated, holidays etc. – all things that will benefit Alex and take a lot longer to achieve if we were paying to send her to nursery.

We will send her to nursery before she starts school (and she’ll only just be four the week before she goes to school due to being a late August baby), I massively believe in having them in a routine of going out the house not with mommy in the week, spending time with other children (she does socialise a lot with other babies of course but not for as long as she would do if she was in nursery each week) and I know trained nursery staff could prep her for school much better than I ever could. When people have asked I’ve said I’ll send her when she’s two, which would give us a chance to send her for a few hours, increase it when she’s three and feel like she’s had a good amount of time to prepare for school life. But who knows when it will happen in reality, I could end up having less work coming my way next summer and therefore it would be pointless for her to go while I sat in the house twiddling my thumbs, we could decide next week that actually we’d rather send her sooner.

The point in all this, far from just being a brag that I get to spend all my time with my baby when I realise how incredibly lucky I am to be in that situation, is that whatever choice (or in a lot of cases it’s a necessity and not a choice) you make about where your baby spends their time, it’s going to come with some guilt. Some days I think it would be easier for her to be out the house for a few hours while I just worked solidly with no interruptions, some days I wish I had every single second of the time she was with me to dedicate solely to her without having work/housework to contend with, some days I feel like we’ve got the balance just perfect.

Either way, they should just have nursery places where you don’t have to book and you can just drop them in on those days when they’re refusing to sleep even though they’re tired, screaming for no reason and crying every time you even so much as walk two paces away from them to prepare their dinner. Grumpy Baby Nursery. I would start one but can you imagine anyone applying to work there?

Harriet and Alexandra x

 

Seven Months Later

How to add to your child's cuteness: 1. Dress them up in hilarious outfit. Extra points if seasonal. 2. Make them hold a teddy and grin like a loon.

How to add to your child’s cuteness:
1. Dress them up in hilarious outfit. Extra points if seasonal.
2. Make them hold a teddy and grin like a loon.

Well here we are, seven months into this epic journey today. Alexandra is basically a grown up now and we expect her to be moving out and getting a job any time soon.

There’s been a lot happening this month, most of which I’ve already documented in some form or another on this blog, but let’s repeat because I’m a big fan of forgetting what I’ve told people and saying it again and watching them roll their eyes at me. She’s now in her own nursery, being a big girl in her big girl bed. We’ve mastered sleeping through the night in her own room (I say we, I still don’t sleep through the night, but she does). The general pattern now is she’ll go down anywhere between 8 and 9pm and will maybe wake once for the dummy to be put in before getting up for the day around 7.30/8am.

Dummy wise she now consistently goes to sleep without it but does want it to get back off to sleep if she wakes in the early hours. We’d started trying to wean her off it a little for daytime naps but then she got a cold (again!) so it seemed mean to deprive her of something which helps her sleep much more easily. I don’t think we’re doing too bad to only have it in for naps and a couple of hours in the morning, but this is something I want to cut down on in the coming months.

Weaning is the topic of an upcoming post so I won’t talk about that at all here, I’m sure the suspense will kill you all but basically the gist of it is the baby now eats mushy stuff.

We’re getting much better at sitting (again I’m using the wrong pronoun. I am fabulous at sitting down and have been for a while), up to about ten minutes unaided but only if she’s occupied doing something else. I think she has ‘stabilisers syndrome’ (where the kid is riding along quite happily after mom/dad has let go of the bike which no longer has stabilisers on, but as soon as they realise no one’s holding the bike up they fall over dramatically) as she’ll topple to the side or face plant pretty soon if she doesn’t have something to hold/play with/focus on when she’s sitting up. She’s rolling from back to front all the time now and manages to scoot around in her cot with ease. She still doesn’t go from front to back so when she’s on her tummy she just bleats helplessly until someone comes and rescues her.

Mainly, she wants to bounce ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Honestly, I’m thinking of sending the people who make the jumparoo some money to thank them for all the babysitting their device has done for me. It’s a magic miracle worker, designed to let any tired mother catch their breath or, you know, eat/make an effort at cleaning something in the house. If she’s not in that, then most the time she’s bouncing up and down on anyone foolish enough to hold her. My thighs look like mouldy pears they’re so bruised from being jumped up and down on repeatedly. It’s a fun look.

Apart from that, she’s still got a super cute face designed to let her off the hook in any and every situation. I really like her, probably more this month than any of the previous ones (am I allowed to say that?)

Harriet and Alexandra x

Get A Room

The tiny one is now using this room!

The tiny one is now using this room!

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they ship baby off into their own room and reclaim the space as their own. That time for us came recently and here I am blogging about it, as I do with many, many baby related milestones!

Pretty much before she was born, I decided around the six-month mark was a good time for Alexandra to go into her own room. I think Dylan would have been okay with her going earlier, but I got my own way (I don’t always, I promise!). Much of my decision was based around SIDS statistics and advice that they’re better off with you for at least the first six months, which is when they’re at a higher risk of SIDS. But another part of it is I knew that once she was in her own room, that was that. It seems so final for her to not be with us, like a watershed moment in her life where she progresses from a tiny baby to being a proper little person. Knowing we’ll never have another means I’ll never have those moments where you lean over and put your head in the moses basket to check they’re still okay or lie there listening to their little snuffly breaths.

Just before Christmas she was growing at such a rapid rate we figured we didn’t have very long left where she fitted in her moses, and our room just isn’t big enough to accommodate a crib or cot as the furniture in there is pretty hefty. So it was a waiting game to see how much life we could squeeze out of the moses. Eventually by the start of March it was becoming apparent that unless she became a contortionist pretty quickly, we were going to have to transfer her to the cot. We were off to Edinburgh for the weekend so it just didn’t make sense to do the move yet, so we waited until we returned.

Honestly, the first night I hated it! We got into bed and I instantly asked Dylan if we could have her back in with us and keep her there til she’s 21. He said no. I tried to negotiate down to just until she started school. He still said no (told you I don’t always get my own way!). I know it’s the right thing to do as the poor girl was starting to wake herself up every time she moved in the night. Also because sleeping in a moses basket in your parents’ room as a teenager is probably weird. But just not having her there feels odd to me, she was technically in with us from January last year when I got pregnant and spending so many nights without her in hospital was awful, so I supposed it’s only natural I’m going to have a bit of sadness about the separation!

We have noticed an increase in how often we get up to her, but part of that could be as she’s got a little cold and also, I think it sometimes seems like so much more often as we have to actually get up and walk into her room to see to her rather than leaning over. Hard life isn’t it?!

I am starting to get used to it now (writing this a week in to the process), and the one huge benefit is I can get ready for bed whatever time I like without creeping around like a burglar trying not to disturb her. I’m sure I’ll find many more positives about the situation in the weeks to come, but for now I’m still a little sad!

Harriet and Alexandra x

(Not sure 100% what I’m doing with my scheduling right now, I used to post on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays during pregnancy. Now I post on Tuesdays and Thursdays but I find I’m writing blogs for weeks in advance so I may add the extra one in at the weekend, but not every week. Who knows?!)

The Nursery

Alexandra is now three and a half months old and we’re moving towards putting her in her own room (mostly due to the fact she’s nearly outgrown her moses basket and there’s no way her cot will fit in our bedroom). I thought it was about time to show you the nursery – we opted to keep the furniture very neutral and simple and then just add some girly decorations. I feel like it’s a lot plainer than some people’s nurseries but equally she won’t be in that room when she gets bigger and I’d like to wait and find out what she’s into before settling on a design. Imagine giving her a Barbie theme if she hates pink? (Is Barbie even a big thing anymore?!)

IMG_5330 IMG_5329 IMG_5328 IMG_5327 IMG_5326 IMG_5325 IMG_5324 IMG_5323

Harriet and Alexandra x