Nothing changes if nothing changes.

So you may (or may not!) have noticed that I’ve been very quiet on the blogging and even posting front for the past few months on here and now it’s time to let you all know what I’ve been up to.

After being made redundant just before I returned from my maternity I decided to make the most of the opportunity and use what I think is always the most precious commodity you can have….time! I took time to really absorb Holly growing up, focus on one of our personal goals of adding to the family and also use the time to really reflect on what it was I wanted to do next. I’ve always maintained that it’s equally important to feel like myself as much as I can as well as a Mama and this opportunity gave me everything I needed to consider my next move.

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But what would that move be? I was missing being in a work environment and getting involved in conversations around self-development and coaching as oppose to weaning and milestones. Becoming a Mama was the best thing that has ever happened to me but I also wanted to get back to work, to building on what I had previously achieved and earning some money. I decided to write down a ‘wish list’ of what I would love from my next step; it included learning some new skills, having client interaction and also having the flexibility I now needed with family life.

For a couple of months I toyed with almost every idea under the sun, all just as impractical as the next and then one day whilst scrolling the ‘gram an ad popped up in my feed for Digital Mums. I clicked through and had a read; here was a way to retrain in the wonderful world of social media and it was focused around Mums! Digital Mums clearly recognised the huge amount of talent out there from Mum’s not being able to, or not wanting to, return to their previous roles and also the vast amount of businesses out there screaming out for some social media help but not necessarily needing to employ someone on a full-time basis.

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I called them up and spoke with the wonderful Christine who listened to what I was looking for and what I had come from, we discussed how I would fit the study time in to my week and loosely started talking about a business plan for when I graduate.

I started the course in February this year with a mix of excitement, nervousness and self-doubt. Could I really fit in the study time of 25 hours a week and would I be able to run a successful campaign as part of the course? Thankfully Digital Mums know that these feelings are normal to lots of the students and they group you up so you always have someone to talk to who is going through the same thing as you (this is a godsend!) and get you started on designing your campaign fairly swiftly to reduce your procrastination. Think feel the fear and do it anyway!

Since February I’ve been running a local food campaign called Scrumptious South Coast and it’s been better than I could have ever imagined. I’ve been to foodie events, invited to launch nights, interviewed some of the top Chefs in the area for the accompanying blog and of course had the burden of trying some of the most delicious food on the South Coast!

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It’s been challenging, I’ve had to work in the nooks of time I never knew existed and I’ve had to think on my feet for content but I’ve loved it. It was totally out of my comfort zone but with each week completed I knew I was on the right track for what I wanted from my future career. The other challenge is of course life happening at the same time; I’ve been pregnant for pretty much my entire course, we’ve moved house and of course had weeks where we had 0 childcare but this is what happens right?

In terms of the future I’m planning on building my own social media consultancy, working with the incredible small to medium local business we have to help them connect more than ever with their audience. It’s something I’ve never done before but the new skills I have teamed with my experience as a coach marry up well.

I would recommend anyone even thinking about the Digital Mums course to give them a ring to see how it can work for them. It’s been challenging, stressful and at times nauseating (running a food campaign is not always the one when you’re in the first trimester!) but I’m finishing the summer feeling very proud of achieving something that I didn’t know would be possible at the beginning of the year.

In the meantime watch this space for updates on my new chapter, new baby and a new business!

Thanks for reading,

Em x

 

 

 

18 Summers

The past few weeks have seen a beautiful spell of warm weather, light evenings and gorgeous sunshine and one of the things I have seen circulating quite a lot on social media is this picture around how you only have 18 summers with your children.

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Now I’m not one to rain on anyone’s parade here and I understand that this is only my second Summer as a Mumma, but I’m calling bullshit on this one.

Do we really need another quote or post on social media to add to the pressure that is parenting? What about all of those people out there wishing they could even have just one more day with their child let alone a summer? What about all of those who were wishing they could have a baby and not even in their mind dividing up that time to seasons?

A huge majority of parents have to work and divide up their annual leave to spend time with their children, some of which only get a week with their children…. are all those hard working parents only looking at 18 weeks and not 18 summers?

For parents that stay and parent at home, the summer doesn’t necessarily break up what can be the monotony of day to day life. The summer can be long and glorious but also not every day is going to be ‘insta’ worthy or look like something from a Pinterest board. You will still have days, like any other time of the year where you are counting down to bedtime and popping on Peppa Pig for some peace and quiet and that is totally normal.

I know that in reality this is only a picture that’s turned up on Instagram and the sentiment behind it is probably intended to be sweet but we should savour all of our lives, not just the summers with our children. It’s about Christmases as a family, Easters with friends who feel like family and all those summers past our ‘allocated 18′ when we do spend time with our children, and then their children.

When I look back at my ’18’ childhood summers I’m really lucky to say I have some beautiful memories that I will always cherish but they’re with family and friends, especially after the age of about 15. Does this mean my Mum didn’t make the most out of my childhood? Of course not! I’ve spent weekends away and holidays abroad with my Mum in my 20s and 30s and I really hope I will be able to say the same one day with my own children.

I think what I’m trying to get across is more along the lines of this quote (there’s a theme here);

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If you saw that first quote on social media and it made you smile then that’s wonderful but if you made you feel afraid that you’re not making the most of every summer or moment then please give yourself a break. We are all trying our best and we all should be a bit kinder to ourselves.

Thanks as always for reading,

Em x

 

 

A letter to New Mum Me.

It’s going to happen, you’re going to be a Mummy. It’s what you’ve been waiting for and praying for a long time now.

The rush of love that everyone tells you about is true. You’re going to place her above everyone else you’ve ever known and you’ll understand what it’s like to love someone with every fibre of your being. But there are some things we need to talk about first….

She won’t arrive on her due date, she’s going to be here 3 weeks before which will throw you off and she’s going to make you work for it. Labour is going to be painful and long and exhausting but it’s going to be worth every second and you won’t care about your birth plan or any ridiculous expectations you’ve set upon yourself or you feel others have set on you….. because that’s all bullshit and the only thing you will care about is welcoming her safely into the world.

The first few days and weeks are going to be tough, you’ll feel like she is made of glass and you’ll find out that she isn’t. It’s going to feel like everyone is on your case from midwives to health visitors to family and friends and this is because you’re going to be more tired than you ever thought was possible. You will spend the whole day looking forward to getting some ‘sleep when she sleeps’ but when it comes to it you’re just going to sit there and stare at her. Watch her little chest fall up and down while she breathes and you’ll marvel at how astonishing she is to you.

At some stage and at least once, you are going to feel like you’ve failed her / yourself / the world. It’s only natural because what you’re doing is completely new. There are no manuals or instructions and you’ll be trying to operate on sleep deprivation and chocolate but if you are trying to do a good job then you will be. Please be kind to yourself and understand that this is one of the rare times in life when you will get out what you put into this.

Any expectations you are feeling have probably being placed there by yourself….the house can stay a mess, there can always be another deliveroo ordered and who cares if you don’t shower until bed time? Nobody minds, everyone wants you to do well and if you don’t shower for a day and remain covered in sick then guess what….the world will still turn.

This is going to be a really tough one for you, please try not to blame yourself. If she cries non-stop, if she doesn’t settle, if she won’t latch on. These are all things part and parcel of her finding her way and you finding yours, in the same way you wouldn’t dream of apportioning blame onto her you should cut yourself some slack. You will both find your way together and that journey should be full of learnings and blame free. It’s no-one fault it’s just your new life as a family finding it’s way.

Limit the amount of fucks you give to the things that really do not matter as you’ll end up giving yourself a hard time over this. She is your daughter and you are her mother, if you want to give her a dummy then give her a dummy. Likewise if you don’t want the hassle of the under 1s group when she is 4 weeks old then don’t go. You’ll only use the pressure of being there as another weapon for beating yourself up when you turn up late and the nappy explodes and you don’t know any of the words to wind the sodding bobbin up. You’ve got so much time for that in the weeks and months ahead, right now all she needs is you to cuddle and feed her.

Everyone will give you well-meaning advice, all you need to do is nod and smile. This sounds easy but your hormone cocktail can make this tricky, but just nod and smile. Take on some of the advice and don’t worry if it’s not for you. Remember that generally people are basing this on their own experiences of their own children (which is usually a maximum of 3 or 4) and one day you’ll find yourself doing the same.

Lastly but by no means least, just go with it. Every late night, every awkward or painful feed, every time you both get through more outfits than you thought possible because theres a stain and you can’t recall in your sleep deprived mind if it’s pooh or sick. Just go with it, keep at it and know that if you’re sat caring about whether you’re doing a good job then it pretty much means you are.

 

Love,

Em xx

 

The Blame Game

So it’s no mystery to anyone around here that we had to try for a long time to have Holly and I was delighted when we welcomed her into our lives. Here’s something that not many people know; when Holly was 4 days old she slipped from my arm onto the floor whilst I sat breastfeeding her. It makes me feel so uneasy sharing this but I know I’m not the first new parent to do this, it was a total unfortunate accident but I completely blame myself for it.

When it happened I was in a state beyond tired, I never knew that level of exhaustion existed before I had Holly and within a split second of letting my eyes ‘rest’ she slipped and landed on the (thankfully) carpeted floor still all swaddled up. It’s hard for me to explain how I felt in that moment but it’s one of the worst places I have ever been. Of course I immediately scooped her up and checked her over whilst waking my husband for help, once I could be as certain as I could have been that there was nothing desperately wrong with her I threw a hoodie on and we jumped in the car to head to A&E. On the way there I spent the journey sobbing, for some reason I was convinced that she would be taken away from me. That we would walk into A&E with a huge sign above my head reading ‘AWFUL MOTHER’, something would be wrong with her and it would be entirely my fault for ‘not being able to cope’ with the long and sometimes unforgiving nights with a newborn baby.

The nurse and Dr we saw within those 4 hours could not have been nicer, they checked everything was fine, reassured me that these things happen and I wasn’t the first, nor would I be the last, to have an accident like this. They recognised that I was tired, hormonal and effectively distraught over what had happened. I remember the Dr telling me that both Holly and I had been through much worse only 4 days beforehand and we had coped with that but for some reason this seemed worse to me, because this was my fault, my failure in parenting.

We had spent years trying for this baby and then within 4 days I bloody drop her!

Once we were home I couldn’t bare to sit in the feeding chair, night time feeds happened downstairs sat bolt upright with a cold glass of water to keep me alert, I took every chance I could to sleep to avoid any other accidents and focused on all of the other wonderful parts of our new life as a family. But whilst Holly’s sleep improved mine only became worse; to begin with it was almost every time I tried to go to sleep and then it decreased to affecting my main sleep only but pretty much every night and now it’s every now and then.

It’s always along the same vane, I have Holly in my arms and then all of a sudden she is not there, usually she has disappeared in the covers and despite searching through them frantically I can’t find her. At it’s worst I’ve woken up in tears / screaming but now it’s just a sad jolt that my mind is still back there reliving it.

During the summer months Holly was crawling around and face planted the coffee table, it was the smallest of bumps on her face but it bled and I once again my mind goes straight to this being my fault. Even though I had ‘baby proofed’ the lounge and I was next to her when it happened. Once again I found myself in the car on the way to the Drs surgery apologising for something that in all reality could have happened to anyone and I felt guilt while her little chops recovered.

This week has seen the sickness bug visit our house and it started with Holly on Tuesday night, whilst I was looking after her and getting the sheets washed at a speed that only a desperate parent knows, I was running through my mind what I had fed her that had made her sick. The next morning I called her nursery to explain that she wouldn’t be in and they informed me that a sickness bug had been going around the baby room that week, I got off the phone and realised I had been blaming myself for this too.

So in an attempt to retire from the blame game I wrote a letter to myself as a new Mum and it’s been cathartic to say the least. Writing it down and then reading it back to myself, trying to understand that I would never be this harsh with anyone else so I need to start being a bit kinder to myself. It doesn’t need to be a well put together letter, a sonnet or even make sense as long as I am ‘spring cleaning’ this self blame from my mind I know I’m going in the right direction.

Thank you for reading,

Love Em xx

Love, Love, Love

It’s Valentines Day once again folks, the day of a cheeky card, a soppy romcom and the M&S meal deal. I know there are some non-believers in Valentines that think that the day was invented by Clintons and that’s cool if that’s your bag but I love ‘love’ and therefore I’m a fan of Valentines.

We’ve always celebrated Valentines Day in pretty much the same way, Rob cooking me a delicious meal and enjoying a decent bottle of wine avec candles and lurved up playlist. It’s something just for us and we love our cosy night in. Because of this we haven’t seen much of a change in the way we celebrate it since having Holly so therefore the way that I feel about the day shouldn’t have changed much either, but it has. I feel different towards Rob because I love seeing him being a great Dad, balancing out a demanding job and being home for as many bath times in the week as he can. In some ways I respect him a lot more and appreciate the time we have together.

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The other thing that’s different is my heart, it no longer has any barriers around it that I had put in place for self-preservation purposes. Holly arrived and smashed all of those down with her gorgeous big eyes looking up at me and her tiny chubby hands wrapped around my fingers. There’s no agenda or pretence with her and I have no control over my feelings for her. People told me that having children is like nothing else and they were so right, it’s overwhelming, all indulging and beautifully simplistic.

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Having Holly in my life means I love in HD, my heart is full and everyday I feel like the luckiest Mama alive.

Because of this going forward I’m going to spend Valentines celebrating with my little Holly during the day, listening to some songs about love, making a valentines card and me basically cutting all of her food into heart shapes…. Predictable yes, unoriginal yes and I will be like a little piggy in poop all day. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, she completes me. Because of her my heart will always be huge and my arms always open.

She is a love that brings me pure joy. She doesn’t care if I’m tired, having a bad hair day, have a to do list the size of my arm or if I didn’t get the right starter from the meal deal. She just loves me (don’t worry I’m not about to get all Gwyneth) and makes being crazy in love with her the most natural thing in the world.

So however you are celebrating Valentines and whoever you are with I hope you are feeling the love in some way. Be it a night out on the town or just a nice relaxing bath with no interruptions. Enjoy lovers!

 

Love Em x

You and Me, always and forever.

Just before Christmas I decided it had already been a long winter and that me and my husband needed some time away from it all. It’s so easy when you have a baby for the relationship to change in its dynamics; instead of talking about your day, current news and mutual friends, your communication with each other slides into the competition of who had the least sleep and who has changed the most nappies.

I think this has been made even more obvious with us after I didn’t go back to work. I’m spending longer at home with Holly (massive win) which I am loving but it has meant that I’m having less adult conversations day to day as my ‘Mummy tribe’ have gone back to work. I feel like when Rob asks me about my day all I can give him is an update of what the day has entailed for Holly. We used to talk non-stop for hours endlessly, I just don’t know where that person is anymore.

So in the quest to rediscover if she was still in there I booked us a weekend away and arranged with my Dad to have Holly. Booking it made me feel excited and nervous all at the same time but I knew we needed some time as ‘us’, Rob works incredibly hard all week and we hadn’t had any quality time in what felt like a long time. As selfish as it may seem to some, this was going to be just what the Dr ordered.

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We drove off on Saturday morning full of hope and anticipation for what the next couple of days had in store and arrived at our beautiful hotel an hour and a half later with only 1 call to Grandad and a couple of messages under my belt. We had a leisurely lunch and a glass of wine, neither of us checked our phones and our conversation was only interrupted by someone letting us know our room was ready.

The next 48 hours included walks without a buggy, sitting in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a book (DURING THE DAY!), and a swim….with no baby, no swimming songs and just the beautiful Somerset landscape overlooking us.

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Did I miss Holly? Of course I did, it was like not having my left arm, but she was safe and being fantastically looked after. We talked and talked and talked, not about the sleep pattern of the night before but about our goals for the year. What we wanted to achieve this year both individually and as a couple and how we planned to do it. We reminisced on the weekends away we used to have, we slept like logs with no baby monitor in the background and enjoyed tea in bed without fear of a hot drink being grabbed by a gorgeous little hand.

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I felt more relaxed and chilled than I have in a long time, of course it’s easy to have the patience of a saint when you’re on a weekend away but little things like having time to get ready, having a bath on my time and not needing to worry about waking in the night has left me feeling rejuvenated. For us we’ve come away feeling more connected, I even found a couple of things out about my husband that I never knew before… which after 9 years together is pretty impressive! I actively listened to what he was saying, no cosmetic listening while I feed Holly and get our dinner ready.

With a busy family life like so many others its easy for the edges to blur in the day to day life but this time we have spent together has reintroduced the definition to our relationship, not as Mum and Dad but as Husband and Wife. I hope this is something we can do every year, its special time together that counts. Where you’re not having to ‘share’ each other, you’re not checking the time until you need to get back to a babysitter and you rediscover the things that made you fall bat shit crazy in love with each other in the first place.

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Love Em xx

Aspirations vs. Reality

 

Whilst I was pregnant I spent a lot of time dreaming about what it would be like when the moment came and I would finally meet my little girl. I dreamed about what she would look like, how she would look at me and how we would have that intuitive bond that you can only imagine having with your first born baby. I hoped that when it came to it I would be able to anticipate her needs and I’d be able to answer every one of them.

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The reality of when Holly arrived was slightly different, aside from the issues we had with breastfeeding she had terrible trapped wind. Something that so many of us experience with newborns and trying to calm and comfort her through all of her tears was heart breaking due to the hormone cocktail of being a new Mum and the feeling that the reality of my parenting skills wasn’t quite matching up to the expectation of it all. After trying all the techniques recommended I ended up trying a dummy one night and the cries instantly became little whimpers. It was amazing, relieving and a little bit disappointing because I was using a dummy, something that I pre-baby I said I would never use. Yep, you’ve guessed it folks, I was an amazing Mum……before I had a baby.

Before I had a baby I made decisions on how I would parent. These decisions would be both conscious thoughts like when you start to decide how you’ll feed and where the baby will sleep, to the sub-conscious ones. The ones we make when there’s a kid behind us on the plane kicking our seat, when we’re in the supermarket and it’s kicking off in aisle 8 because a toddler can’t have that fruit shoot. Right. Now. We tell ourselves that our children would never do that because we wouldn’t parent like that (I now know that these public meltdowns have very little to do with parenting and more to do with timing, logistics, sleep, boredom, the list goes on…).

If I’m being really honest, sometimes in when I was at my lowest, I would use these situations to comfort myself, ‘well at least if we REALLY can’t have a baby then I’ll never have to be that Mum in the middle of Sainsbury’s with a toddler who is losing their shit’.

The truth is when I envisaged my hypothetical children they never had a dummy, they slept like logs and never once threw a strop or cried uncontrollably. They only ate healthy snacks and all meals were entirely homemade by me. But then why would I envisage otherwise? Why would I imagine the pooh explosions, the wriggling strops, the vomit? Nobody does, it would be like imagining what it would be like to win big on the lotto and then straight away considering the tax implications.

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So when it does happen how do you get through it? Like all Mums I’ve gone through the uncontrollable screaming in public, the poohnami nappies that go up the back and over the shoulder and being stood there whilst having a homemade fish pie thrown back at me. That took me an hour to make all under the duress of crying because I was focusing my attention on about 3 things at once. You get through it because this tiny little bundle is your favourite person, you prefer them hands down to pretty much everyone else and would do literally everything and anything to make them happy.

Yes it’s hard and exhausting and unlike all your previous jobs that you have sailed through in the past there is no appraisal and very little feedback.

So now when I make it through the supermarket shop without incident but see another Mum who isn’t, I give her a smile that lets her know she is not alone and it makes no difference to me how much her child is crying as long as they are both ok. We’re all in this together, our expectations battling against the realities of the wonderful whirlwind of parenting.

 

Love Em xx