My Baby Makes Me Sick!

Ha! I thought that title might get your attention. 😆 He actually did make me sick though…

In my last post I talked about a big, dirty, emotional secret that ended with Austin feeling poorly and me giving him big snuggles for the day. (BTW, I can’t tell you how much better I feel after hearing that other moms experienced similar fears and guilt on returning to work. Sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment on that post).

However, it turns out that letting your 9 month old rub his snotty face on your neck when he’s picked up a bug might actually result in you picking it up too. Clever Mama.

For two days, Austin has been playing with Daddy and toughing it out like a Boss while his weak-ass Mama milks it for all its worth in bed with a steady stream of Lemsips and hot whiskeys.

This is when you know you have married the right guy.


Dave garnished the soup with basil leaves and brought it to me in bed and kept Austin entertained for the evening and put him to bed and watched Fear the Walking Dead with me even though I was a sweaty, shivering mess. And he only commented once on how Austin was handling being sick better than me.

We’re feeling a little better now and I’m taking a random blogging course I bought on Groupon, so I will be back posting in no time – maybe with some improvement! But for now I will continue milking it for a day or two while the Carrier Monkey and I recover…

See you soon!

Why I’m Devastated that my Baby is Enjoying DayCare

Yesterday, I picked Austin up from the Childminder. He was flying along in his walker with his Batman cape fluttering behind him. He cried when he saw me and put his arms up for me to lift him, but he couldn’t fool me – he had been smiling. Without me.

At first I was delighted, he had been having a great time. The Childminder told me that she was surprised at how quickly he was settling in. He didn’t cry after nap time much any more and he was eating his food like a horse. He was loving all the older kids and followed them everywhere, trying to get in on the action. I was pleased as punch as I drove him home.

But the more I thought about him being happy with the minder and her kids, the more I realised there was a small part of me that wanted to curl into a ball and cry until I threw up.

Two weeks ago I was terrified that he wouldn’t settle. I worried that he wouldn’t eat if I wasn’t there to play Airplane or sleep without me singing a lullaby first. I focused on organising the house like my life depended on it, because it helped me stop crying.

But he is ok. He is doing fine without me. He is even smiling and having fun. As I pulled into my driveway yesterday, I knew that I should feel nothing but relief and happiness about this.

But I didn’t.

Part of me wondered if he wasn’t bothered by me leaving him because I just wasn’t a very good mom.

Part of me is loosing confidence as his routine changes and I can’t tell what he needs instantaneuosly anymore. Part of me is so angry about having to leave him every day that I want to tear the walls down and scream until the whole world is covering their ears. Part of me wants him to scream and cry until the minder tells me that I will just have to give up work because my baby needs his mommy.

And part of me, the very worst part, finds office work a little easier than being at home with him. I don’t have to be ‘on’ every moment of the day. I can take a break without fear of a collegue eating something off the floor or pulling the dog’s tail or sticking a finger in a socket. Maybe if I do it long enough, I won’t want to spend all my days with him any more. And that is my dirtiest and most secret fear.

But Today

He got the sniffles. All he wanted was cuddles and backrubs and to have a good cry about feeling rotten. He rubbed his snotty little nose on my neck and roared directly into my ear and I thanked my lucky stars that this was my day off so I could sing lullabies at nap-time and play Airplane when he wouldn’t eat.

I’m almost certain there are other mom’s out there with these awful secret thoughts and I reckon the only way to beat them back is to talk about them – to laugh them off. I was upset that he was smiling without me but I am not a bad mom… I’m almost certain…

Mess-Free Baby Weaning

I weaned Austin onto solid food when he was 5 and a half months old. He wasn’t yet sitting up without support so feeding him could be a messy job – here’s a video of his first taste of avocado, which we will call Exhibit A.

 

At the start, we fed him in his bouncy chair or just in our arms. That led to stains that had to be soaked out in every wash. Have I ever mentioned that I hate cleaning?

I do – but I also hate to see the house looking dirty so I find mess-free alternatives for almost everything. Here are some of the things I did to cut cleaning time while Austin learned to eat:

Start with a Bumbo-style seat

I found these little seats brilliant when he couldn’t support himself. He could splash and blow his food on it and all I had to do was wipe it down or tip it into the sink if there were a load of crumbs.

The public health nurse advised that I should have placed it on the floor for safety but I kept mine on the table because I found trying to feed him at ground level impossible with the dog.

However, if you are using a Bumbo style seat at a height you really do need to keep an eye on them as the baby grows because they can be moved if the baby’s feet push off the surface it’s sitting on.

Fooooooood!!!!!

 

Cover the baby completely during meals

I found all bibs were laughably small when weaning Austin. His clothes were constantly covered in food and everything had to be soaked or thrown out.

To reduce laundry, I tied a muslin loosely around his neck and pulled the sides back over his shoulders. You can use pegs to hold it in place of you need. Once I rolled his sleeves up, only the cloth needed washing.

When he got older I bought the IKEA jacket bib which I found brilliant for food and messy creative play.

Start with shallow spoons

If you have a spoon with a little trough in it you might find that half the food drops off at each bite. Use a shallow spoon and take your time with it. Baby is only learning so incy-wincy bits are all that’s needed at the start. This results in much less droppage to clean up. Score!

Ban cushioned highchairs from your home

We got a loan of a cushioned Mothercare highchair from my brother when Austin was big enough  but I found it really difficult to clean. Maybe I’m a little germaphobic (even though I hate cleaning!) but I pulled it apart every night for a week. I bleached the straps and pulled off the cushion to scrub away the dirt that accumulated in the crevices. Then I dried it and put it back together again. The whole process seemed to take forever so I could only really do it once a day after his dinner.

On day three I called Dave and told him I was going to IKEA. There would be no talk of budget or waiting for one to come up on Adverts.ie.

This conversation is over.

Go for a hardwood or moulded plastic highchair

go ahead, drop all your lunch!!

Here’s a  short review of the IKEA Blames Highchair we bought for Austin.

Pros

  1. I can wipe it clean in less than a minute after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. It’s a lovely red colour that brightens up my pale-ass neutral kitchen (It comes in Black too).
  3. It’s small enough to fit where a normal chair would against my kitchen table.
  4. The legs holes are big enough to fit a two year old if you remove the tray and pull it against your table so it will last a while.
  5. It’s kinda funky and hipster in design.
  6. It only cost 55 euro so it wasn’t crazy money. (It also helps if Nana buys it as a present!)

Cons

  1. It’s a hard wooden chair so you have to buy a cushion to pop between it and the baby’s back.
  2. If you try to put a cushion under the baby’s bum, they tend to slip and cause the baby to tilt forward.
  3. You cannot fold it away like most of the cushioned chairs so you will need to remove a chair from your table.

I see the last Con as a Pro really because I am lazy and could not be bothered putting a highchair away after every meal.

Austin is nine months at the time of writing this and only learning finger foods and self-feeding at this point. I’ll update with any more mess reducing tips as he gets older…

I hope you find this advice useful and if you have any mess-reducing tips you’d like to share, this lazy mama would love to hear them!!!

Jeepers Creepers! 

Austin has been crawling for a few weeks now. At first, this was amazing. I was so excited and proud of him. I set up little crawl-courses for him in the living room and tempted him further distances with toys.

But now he crawls constantly. 

All. The. Time. 

 

Get me to the nearest hazard!
 
When I put him down, he will immediately make a beeline, at lightening speed, toward the most dangerous, unhygienic thing in the room. Most especially, the edge of the bed.

On Friday, my second day at work after maternity, I was having a really tough afternoon. Someone did something really lovely for me and I got to see Austin an extra hour. But even that could not deter me from the depressing thought that I only had two days with him before I’d have to leave him again (sob!).  So I, very maturely, got rat-ass drunk on a bottle and a half of really good wine. Yum!

Saturday morning, Dave took Austin into bed with us and let him watch a film while we snoozed.

When I’m hungover I don’t move – not at all. I lie still and wallow. But in my semi-conscious state I felt the baby crawl across my legs toward the edge of the bed.

I shot up, spring-like, with a proper yell. I grabbed the little creeper and pulled him into me to save him from falling. Super-Mom.

Until I heard Dave laughing so hard the bed shook. Then I felt fur. It was the dog. 

Austin was sitting in daddy’s lap looking at me with his bunny hanging out of his mouth. Gizmo was half wiggling to get away and half pleased about getting any attention at all. Super-Eejit. 

 

What on earth are you doing?
 
The morale of the story is, you cannot drink with a crawler. They will either fall off the edge of the bed or you will make a complete ass of yourself. 

Anyone who wants to leave a similarly embarrassing story in the comments will receive the good karma of making me feel less stooopid! 

What the first day back at work after maternity is really like. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m lucky. I have a good job with paid maternity and I have spent 8 months with my gorgeous little boy. But going back to work after having a baby is hard, no matter what your circumstances.

Here is what I have found to be the Pro’s and Con’s of Day 1 – Back in the Office:

Con’s

  1. You will cry. Bring extra make up and avoid mascara unless it’s seriously waterproof. If possible, have daddy drop the baby into childcare. I found Austin settled better that way and I cried a little less hard on the drive to work.
  2. Seriously… you will want to cry a lot. Try to really focus on getting back up to speed and keep your mind off the baby. It also helps to tighten your belly muscles when you feel like you might burst into tears – weird tip, I know, but it really does work… mostly.
  3. You will forget something – passwords, cabinet keys, co-workers names or in my extreme and mortifying case, laptop. Laugh it off and work around it as best you can.
  4. Everything will feel familiar but different. I wasn’t sure if I left yesterday or just dreamed my ten years in the company. Ride it out and ask as many questions as you need to. People will surprise you in their helpfulness.
  5. Everyone will want to know about the baby and how you are finding it being back. Which will make you want to cry. See points 1 and 2 above.

Pro’s

  1. You will find that there are nice things about being back – this might surprise you and make you feel a bit guilty about liking anything about being away from the baby but focus on those things and they will help you get through the afternoon.
  2. Warm coffee – really warm, not lukewarm. And no one screams for attention or pulls your hair in the middle of it. Enjoy.
  3. Catching up. If you’re lucky you will have co-workers that you love to talk to and hear how they’ve got on. Go ahead and distract them but do try to be considerate.
  4. You will find that you remember more than you thought you would. This is encouraging and will go some way to making you feel like you can be productive again soon.
  5. Lunch break – admittedly you might use a few minutes to call and check up on baby, but the rest is yours. Bring a book or a magazine if you’d rather not talk and do your very best to make it Mama Time. I am hoping this becomes a new habit.

To be really honest, I found the evening hardest. In a blink, it was Austin’s bedtime and I was devastated that I didn’t have more time with him. Make sure that you are prepared the night before and have a little plan to do something together so it feels special. Today we played blocks and I didn’t think it wasn’t fun enough so tomorrow I’m planning on yoghurt painting!

I’d love to hear how other moms coped with the first few days back in the office after maternity leave so please do share your experiences and tips in the comments below…

Mom-Guilt vs IKEA (Mom-Guilt Wins) 

Earlier today Austin went to the childminder for three hours. It was the longest we have been apart since he was born (while he was awake, at least).

How could anyone not wanna spend all day with this little cutie?
How could anyone *not* wanna spend all day with this little cutie?
Dave is dropping him off in the mornings to save my colleagues dealing with a splotchy, teary mess first thing in their working day.

I am ashamed to say, I never thought about it being hard for him to do the drop-off (my good-wife days are over!) but he found it really tough to leave Austin there.

Rather than spend the childminding time buying lotto tickets so we could afford for me to stay home, we decided to use the three hours to make a run out to IKEA and pick up a replacement lovey for Austin and maybe some baby-proofing gadgets.

 

This one is his favourite
 
This is the haul we came back with.

 

We bought EVERYTHING
We just kept buying things. It was like we couldn’t stop. They had sold out of his favourite toy (sob!) so “He’ll like this” became a mantra we kept repeating on every aisle. Usually, Dave stops me from overspending in IKEA, Penny’s and Heatons (anywhere relatively inexpensive is toxic for my wallet!) but, today, he was just as bad – Dad-Guilt.

When we went to pick Austin up, his voice was hoarse from crying and suddenly I didn’t care that parent-guilt had bested us in IKEA. We gave him his new toys and I felt just a little better seeing a small smile on a splotchy, teary face.

 

New Stuff!!!

Preparing for Returning to Work after Maternity

Before I had Austin, I spent weeks preparing for his arrival. I researched the best products to buy and spent hours decorating his room. Dave even built him a wardrobe!

Dave looking super-manly as he DIY's the crap out of Austin's room
Dave looking super manly in his work gear

Back then, I found a million posts about preparing for a baby – getting your home ready, steeling yourself for birth and living with a newborn. Every topic you could imagine was out there waiting for me to read it. But now that my maternity leave is ending and I am heading back to work I have found myself unwilling to even think about preparing.

The most that I have done is to finally sort out childcare that I am reasonably comfortable with.

But, having spoken to a few other parents about returning to work, it sounds like just as much preparation, if not more, is required. People have told me that I will be exhausted for the first few weeks and that it will take time to adjust and develop a new routine. Several of my close friends have warned me that leaving Austin with the childminder will be the hardest thing I will ever have to do.

This is about how comfortable I am with leaving my kid!
This is about how comfortable I am with leaving my small baby with someone I don’t know…

So for the next week or two I will be focusing on making this transition a little easier.

First up will be making a good few weeks worth of freezer meals so I don’t have to spend time cooking in the evenings or give up precious weekend time for a big shop. I will organise Austin’s room, including clothes, toys and creams, so that they are easy to find in the mornings. I’ll also be interviewing some working mothers to see how they managed their return to work and I’ll look further into the pro’s and cons of Au Pairs, Childminders and Creches.

In the interest of helping others, I’ll be sharing my findings here so I hope you find this series useful.

As always, if you’d like to leave any tips that you found worked well or just share your experience, please comment!

Reducing Household Toxins with Eco Mutt Natural Dog Shampoo

My little fella has severe eczema and keeping it under control can be a handful. To reduce break-outs, I’ve changed many household products to more natural and organic ones so he won’t regularly encounter harsh chemicals (that’s probably a good idea for all babies, regardless of skin conditions). I’ve even changed my own skin care and detergents to avoid contact rashes.

One thing I had not considered was our dog. When I read the ingredients on Gizmo’s shampoo, there was only one I could understand. I decided to try something different because Austin loves to pet Gizzy’s fur and they often sit together while supervised. Here’s a cute video of their typical “play”.

Eco Mutt, a local artisan company that makes natural grooming products for dogs, sent me a sample of their Rosemary, Lavender and Mandarin Dog Shampoo for review and to say I adored it is a huge understatement.

Eco Mutt Dog Shampoo Range

Firstly, there are six lovely ingredients, including Coconut Oil which is actually recommended for eczema sufferers.

Secondly, the smell was AMAZING. The essential oils aren’t overpowering but I could not stop sniffing her fur that night as we watched a movie on the couch!

Finally, it worked – really well. Check out the dirty paws in this photo!

Filthy!
I’m so dirty I’m gonna shake my head every time you try to photograph me!

Gizzy scrubbed up brilliantly and there was none of the usual face-rubbing after her bath so I think she loves it too.

Yummy!
Yummy!

The company itself is a small family run operation in South Dublin and they have a real passion for dogs. You can read about Jerry the Springer’s adventures and reviews of their products on their Facebook page. How fun is that?

This particular shampoo was one of their more expensive products at 12 euro but there is a range of products to choose from starting at just 2 euro so there is something for every budget. I’ll be buying the same shampoo again though. Because you don’t need much of it per wash, it will last – and, to be honest, I just loved the scent!

So if you have a smallie or two and want to reduce the harsher chemicals in your home while treating your pooch to a lovely bath, I highly recommend this brand!

 

Clean as a whistle and allowed on the couch!
Clean as a whistle and allowed on the couch!

PS. I am SO tempted to use this shampoo on my own hair – it felt nicer than my own and isn’t that how another brand got famous? I’ll update if I try it!

 

Disclaimer: I was given a bottle of Eco Mutt Dog Shampoo in exchange for an honest review and the company owner is known to me personally. These are my own personal thoughts on the product and the medical information related to eczema, while researched, should not be considered professional.

Days out in Dublin and Wicklow – Part 1 Dublin Zoo

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog for the last few days. Dave took some time off work so we could have some extra family time before my maternity leave ends so we have been off doing fun things every day and I replaced my writing with a lovely glass of red wine (my second favourite hobby!).

We went to a few different places but the best was Dublin Zoo – it was such a lovely day trip that I just have to write about it.

The fun started before we even arrived at the zoo – driving through Phoenix Park we came across some gorgeous deer having a little snack…

IMG_4784

At the admission stand, we decided that we would buy an annual ticket. We worked out that if we brought Austin here just three times in a year, we’d be saving money by buying the Individual Pass and I cannot resist it when Dave talks about saving money! The individual pass costs 115 euros and it means you can take one adult and two children (or two adults and one child) into the zoo for free as many times as you like. Bargain – just take my money!

The zoo itself was brilliant. Austin had a blast looking at the meerkats in the restaurant and I got to have a breakfast that I didn’t cook myself and I didn’t have to clean up after. Bliss.

Some of the animals were a little far away for Austin to see quite yet but he’ll love it once he gets a little older.

Baby Elephants! Austin had no idea what we were getting so excited about...
Baby Elephants! Austin had no idea what we were getting so excited about…

There was a lovely little farmyard which the baby was fascinated by and several playgrounds with picnic areas and vending machines – you literally could not have more facilities at your disposal.

Next up was the African Safari and feeding time for the Rhino’s.

I loved the monkeys and the lemurs.

Lemurs sound like every jungle film I’ve ever seen but only the monkeys could be caught on camera…

Fascinating to watch, I could have stayed for hours.
Fascinating to watch, I could have stayed for hours.

Austin’s nap time coincided with the end of the African Safari so he missed their antics – perfect excuse to take him back to the zoo asap.

Missing all the Fun
Missing all the Fun

A huge Silverback, taking a nap by the viewing window provided a lovely photo-op for the baby.

Are you sure I should be this close?
Are you sure I should be this close?

And of course, I couldn’t resist a funny photo.

Roughly the same hip size at present!
Roughly the same hip size at present!

We all had a pretty fab day out and rounded it off by getting a takeaway and watching a film in bed. I thought I’d let Austin stay up a bit later because he fell asleep in the car well passed his nap-time on the way home. But we had no sooner put him in his PJ’s when he conked out for the night.

Perfect end to a perfect day!
Perfect end to a perfect day!

Feel free to share your photo’s or experience of Dublin Zoo in the comments, I’d love to see them!