Baby Basics - Change Your Scenery
Ah, it’s good to talk. That said, sometimes it’s also good to just sit in the corner, rocking back and forth, quietly relishing the sight of other, adult humans. Once you rediscover the simple pleasure of having time to brush your teeth in the morning (this can be any point from week 3 as a new mum, to when your little one first starts school) you may feel the urge to venture out into actual public with your new arrival. The first time I went into town on the bus was a Carry On-style epic farce involving the pram space already being occupied by an immaculate mum with baby and toddler, a blind lady with her golden retriever, an over-familiar nun and a sympathetic gent in a wheelchair who kept leaning over to anchor my buggy each time an acceleration sent it flying down the aisle. I was traumatised, but it taught me that while public transport is grossly over-subscribed, people can be rather lovely in the face of adversity. To illicit maximum sympathy during your outing, I recommend putting your top on backwards and wearing odd socks.
Once you begin to establish a bit of a routine around the schedule (read: punishing grind) of naps and feeds, there are a number of brilliant (and sometimes free) baby-friendly activities you can get involved in. Shy or gregarious, sporty or crafty, there’s sure to be something that you will both enjoy. Here are some of my favourites so far:
Bookbugs – Free half-hour nursery rhyme sessions at the library. I found myself hiding behind a display of Hairy Maclarys for the first couple of weeks, but now I can belt out an over-enthusiastic “Wind the Bobbin” with the best of them. The groups are usually split into under 1s and over 1s, so it affords the opportunity for a lovely casual pow-wow with the other mums while the babies merrily eat each other’s bogies.
Find a Bookbugs near you here.
Swimming – It’s a common misconception that you must wait until your baby’s immunisations are completed before going swimming; truth be told you can go as soon as you both feel ready. Ideally if you’re going to do classes, you want to get started before the 6 month watershed – beyond this age, babies start to lose their “mammalian dive reflex”. In a nutshell, their ability to respond positively to being dunked diminishes as they get older. Lots of gyms and hotels have offers to encourage new members, so see if you can find somewhere offering a free trial and be sure to check how warm their baby pool is before you commit!
Pottery – I can’t lie, when I received a voucher for my birthday, I was skeptical. The venue declared itself ‘baby friendly’, immediately conjuring up images in my mind of toddlers in rubber aprons throwing milk jugs. In reality, it’s really rather clever. The ceramic goodies are already made, all we had to do was choose our weapon and personalise it. Given the festive timing, I selected pottery baubles to win some gifting brownie points with the parents and grannies, and settled down to bring out my inner Tony Heart. Achieving something aesthetically decent is no mean feat while holding a wriggly baby, so thankfully a member of staff was on hand to assist us in decorating the ornaments with reindeer hand prints. Lola was not entirely convinced (read: furious), but I was assured that most young babies react like this, becoming more confident in time. I’m really looking forward to going back when she’s a wee bit older and can get more actively involved.
There is sure to be a local offering near you, we went to Doodles here in Edinburgh.
Working Out – I love the idea of the gym. I love the idea of wearing exorbitant clobber from Sweaty Betty and putting my hair into one of those immaculate ponytails, penduluming back and forth as I frolic for 10k, without the slightest smudge of an HD brow. The theory is there. Sadly, my enthusiasm is not. The beauty of taking advantage of some of the mummy workouts available, is that you will be surrounded by friendly like minded folk who empathise with your 40 day manicure and unwashed pineapple hair. Furthermore, these activities rely on the involvement of your precious cargo, which negates the need to arrange babysitting. Hurrah! There’s just no guarantee they’ll stay awake long enough to enjoy the class..
Successfully making a baby isn’t easy. Neither is baking it, birthing it or raising it. Nothing in life prepares you for the emotional roller coaster that is being a parent. Today I may be happy and content, but yesterday I was frantically trying to rescue the sopping electrics of Lola’s vomit-soaked Jumperoo, and it doesn’t mean that this time tomorrow I won’t be on my 5th cup of coffee because Lola decided that 3am was a good time to cut her first tooth. There will be days when you manage to put on winged eyeliner, just as there will be days when your baby has to go to the supermarket in their “Mummy’s Little Flower” pyjamas because everything else that currently fits them is covered in poo. Enjoy your new job as a mum, but remember to allow yourself time to still be a friend, a daughter, a sister, a partner. Surround yourself with real (and digital) people who encourage and support you. Most importantly – give yourself a break. You’re doing just fine. Promise x