They say that children grow up fast or you might have heard parents say "it only feels like yesterday they were that small" or "enjoy them now because they don't stay little forever" and I am discovering it is so true! Time is whizzing away from me. My daughter is coming up to 4 months, I am a third of the way through my maternity leave and it just feels like yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital. My still,quiet bundle is now strong, smiling, noisy and teething!
When I was working I used to submit weekly reflections to share my thoughts on the week. What was my highlight, what went well, what had I learnt? When my boss (Neil) suggested that I might want to do the same during mat leave and send him a weekly text with how things were going I thought it was simple enough to do. I didn't imagine that the odd text would lead to me now writing a blog about my learning journey.
As a new parent you are constantly learning and I was surprised at how easy it was to relate my parenting experiences back to my working life. Taking just a few minutes to reflect each week helped me to refocus on me. What had I learnt, what was I achieving (other than changing 15 nappies a day), how could I stay in the learning mindset that I enjoyed so much? Writing one text a week, brought me out of my mummy bubble for a moment and back into Esther the business woman. This was something for me, back in my safety zone, an area I found comfortable and natural; far more so than monthly weigh ins, feeding, mother's groups or nursery rhymes. Although I was talking about my baby (who I love dearly) I found I was keeping my mental well being in check because it wasn't all about the baby. I was talking about me, what had I learnt, how had I succeeded. So often as a new parent people go straight for the baby, asking how she is and wanting cuddles and your very existence becomes focused around them. My developing family is my world but Neil being interested in me and my perspective was so valuable. I am Esther first, then a mum and wife and so to be able to share my thoughts (which are insightful and valuable) was really empowering and it enabled me to look at my relationship with my daughter in a whole new light and appreciate it all the more.
It only takes a couple of minutes but I encourage you to stop on a weekly basis and think, what have you achieved this week? What milestones have happened or new learning taken place and jot them down or share them with a friend or colleague. My husband also liked to read them as so often he misses things when he is at work so it encouraged him too to read what we had been up to.
So I want to share some of the texts with you that I sent to Neil because my learning may just help you too.
10th January 2019
Well my key learning for this week is for me to stay hydrated as I had to cancel plans yesterday due to a headache. My biggest triumph this week is that I haven't needed to give baby any top up formula milk for the last two days. Also I have been using a baby sling during the day which she loves, she is sleeping on my chest and means I can do work around the house at the same time. So good week
17th January 2019
Learning for this week... do something daily. I thought I would sleep when baby sleeps and get things done when she was resting but babies are unpredictable. I practically wasted a day on Monday as I didn't manage to keep her (almost) regular routine of feeds and naps which is often helped by visitors or being out and about. It seems even babies need a today plan. Hope you've had a good week.
24th January 2019
Learning for this week: baby likes to sleep swaddled. We put her in a Grobag with free arms for a few nights and she didn't sleep as well. We put her back in a swaddle for sleeping and she was back to her good sleeping patterns. I am sure there would be a good work analogy for this somewhere... giving those you work with complete freedom isn't always successful managing they need to feel secure and know you are going to check in on them from time to time.
7th February 2019
Hi Neil, hope you've had a good week. At the beginning of the week I was getting frustrated as the house was a mess but I saw something on Facebook that said your house will be tidy again but you won't get cuddles with your babies again. I'm therefore going to enjoy my baby now and not stress. I have however discovered Marie Kondo, she is on Netflix and has changed my whole outlook on home organisation. I am beginning to only be interested in things that #sparkjoy :)
21st February 2019
We have had a couple of challenging weeks. Since baby's immunisations she hasn't been herself. She now has a cold and is extra clingy so having to give a lot of cuddles and love and can't do much else. My husband has been off this week though which is great and means I have been able to do a little bit of work for church. Made me realise if you are without a support system the only choice you have if you want to work is to pay for childcare. I get nothing done when baby is with me. But she is worth it. Hope you are well?