I’ve been a parent for all of twenty-three months, so I don’t ever profess to being a pro in this business. Who is? Parenting is all down to experience. My daughter could be fifteen years old and I still wouldn’t think I was a professional. I think we look to anyone with a child older than our own and think they know it all. Someone with a twelve month old might think that about me, no matter how much of a novice I think I am. One thing I will preach being right about, no matter how old your child is, make sure to take some time to be YOU.
I can’t deny that parenting my daughter hasn’t been too difficult. Those early days were tough of course, where everyone was trying to get settled into a brand new way of life. A baby, living out of a warm, squishy waterbed, and a new mum who felt like she was sitting on razor blades for the first two weeks, too scared to even go for a wee for fear of searing pain… other than that, it was lovely… I have a big family, and my parents were always on hand. In all honesty, I think it was two months before that ‘ohmygodilovemybaby’ feeling kicked in. I do feel bad about that, but that was just my own mental state at the time. I combatted that by sticking her in the pram and going for long walks with her. Personally, it was a great therapy. A new baby in winter is tough. It is dark ALL the time so you don’t feel like you’re seeing any daylight. But, I’m telling ya, mid morning, I just wrapped her up in blankets and we went for a wander. She slept whilst I took in some fresh air. Soon enough I was doing a few miles a day and the baby weight fell off which was a bonus.
Getting a routine with a baby is tough. You no sooner settle into one and suddenly another milestone hits and you’re changing again. Before you know it, you’re arranging for them to start nursery as you’re due back at work. But no matter how much you get paid, how much the Tax Free Childcare contributes to nursery fees, how much of a good deal you have for your new part time hours, you will never have a day off again.
Now, I understand that is part of being a parent, as our Grandparents would tell us, but times have changed! Women aren’t all about staying at home anymore. Some women have careers. Some women are trying to better themselves by studying. Some women don’t have a choice and HAVE to work. Me? I had to go back to work. Childcare takes half my wage, but we need the other half of that wage, unfortunately. I am also studying part time, and trying to build a career as an author. Ideally, I would love a day where she is in nursery for a full day so I can focus on the writing side of my life, rather than waiting until the evening where I should really be studying, or reading, or showering, or watching Love Island/GBBO/I’m A Celebrity… there is so much to do now. Not to mention the general house stuff. Now winter has returned, the laundry piles up as I can’t take advantage of hanging it out to dry. I also wash up a ridiculous amount of times every day. But, due to the cost of nursery, we can’t justify a day of her being there with me sitting at home.
Time passes so quickly. I can’t believe she turns two this month. It won’t be long before she is in school full time and I am pining for the days it was just me and her at home. I know I will miss it, of course I will, but before then, I need to make time for myself.
Today was one of those ‘me’ days. My brother and his wife took my daughter out for the day. With my husband at work, it was just me and the cat. I had loads to do, but I didn’t stress about it. I got all those niggly little jobs done that you can’t do with a toddler about. I prepared our tea for tonight. I watched something on TV which WASN’T Peppa bloody Pig. And, I was able to sit at my laptop and get some writing done. It was a perfect day. Apart from feeling good getting some jobs done, I felt refreshed. After a while, you forget what it is like to have your home to yourself. To have control of the TV remote. To leave a cup of hot coffee on the floor and not worry someone was going to knock it over. To eat a packet of crisps and not be forced to share them. It was nice!
My advice as a parent is, (if circumstances allow – I know not everyone will be able to do this), if you are given an opportunity to have a day to yourself, take it. If a relative wants to take your child out, let them. Don’t feel guilty. Not only is it rewarding for the child and creating memories for all, it is giving you the break you rarely get to have. My daughter isn’t a naughty child, I can’t say she exhausts me. She still naps through the day and is in bed asleep by seven every evening, but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate some me time. I may only work three days a week, but that doesn’t mean I get four days off… Parenting is a full time job!
For the last twenty-three months, I’ve lived by the phrase ‘happy mum, happy baby’. I am definitely happy, and that is mirrored in my child.
*Please note, it is not all as bliss as I make it sound. Yesterday, she threw her juice bottle in my face and bust my lip… I have a toddler. As lovely as she is… she is a toddler.