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!

Glenroe Farm (maybe Austin’s a bit too young but I loved it!)

Biddy's cottage, apparently, for anyone who remembers the show.
Biddy’s cottage, apparently, for anyone who remembers the show.

Today was cloudy and a bit drizzly. Yesterday was the same and we spent the day snuggled indoors, only venturing out to walk the dog. I love those lazy days inside – sneaky movies, a bit of cooking (more on that this week) and lots of learning to crawl and pick things up with this elusive pincer grasp I keep reading about.

But we had enough of the house today and decided to head out to Glenroe farm for an hour or two of fun before nap-time. Because it was a bit chilly, I wrapped Austin up in his warmest hoody and double-socked him so he couldn’t kick them off (literally his favourite thing to do!).

 

No Factor on the baby so of course it blasted sunshine while we were there!
No Factor on the baby so of course it blasted sunshine while we were there!

Glenroe is a farm in County Wicklow that was the set of an Irish soap opera some years ago. I only have vague memories of the show but the farm itself is just gorgeous. There is a small shed for the littlest animals; bunnies and chickens and even a little field-mouse that didn’t make me want to scream and run away. (Believe me, when you find one eating the dog food in your kitchen, they are significantly less adorable).

Austin having a staring match with a chicken on our last visit.
Austin having a staring match with a chicken on our last visit.

There are two area’s for the larger animals and a huge pen for some beautiful deer that Austin absolutely loved…

Huh? Who's Bambi?
Huh? Who’s Bambi?

Once you have seen all the animals and tried to sneak them old fridge carrots on the sly (don’t tell on me!) there is a massive playground with a huge array of different slides and swings and monkey bars. Austin can only use one of the little bucket swings at the moment but I really can’t wait to see him running around the place with the other kids when he gets a little older.

After the playground we had lunch at one of the twelve or so picnic tables, which was perfect because it suddenly brightened up so we felt like we were on holidays for our spagbol and fromage frais. Then we went back around the pens again so Austin could have a chat with the donkeys and Mama could nearly pee herself laughing as they actually brayed at each other!

Give me Carrots! No! You give ME carrots!
Give me Carrots! No! You give ME carrots!

Just before nap time we got a yummy latte to-go in the Glenroe cafe, which was a lovely little shop that, crucially, only charged 2.50eu for a frothy coffee instead of the fiver I pay at Starbucks.

As this is only around the corner from where I live, I’ll be heading here often in the future. If you’re a little further away, it’s still well worth the trip for a lovely family day out, especially if you’re on a budget. Entry is 6eu for anyone over two and a family ticket will set you back 22eu. Here’s a link to their website if you’d like to take a look.

I’m still finding my feet in terms of lovely places to take Austin while he grows up so if you know of other good days out in Wicklow and South Dublin, I love to hear your comments.

PS. This is not a sponsored post – we just really liked it and thought we’d share!

On How it All Goes Too Fast

Everybody told me. I was fore-warned every day of my pregnancy. Maybe that was the problem –  I already knew those baby days would be over in a flash.

Day three and terrified to cut off the hospital tag!
Day three and terrified to cut off the hospital tag

Two minutes ago he was born, to the sound of my Monday morning iPhone alarm bells and a room full of laughter, a digital age baby. His first strangled, short cry was the most amazing sound I had ever heard in my whole life.

Day Two he got the hiccups, like he’d had every day for three months against my ribs and I videoed him for his Daddy – our first Bauer “in joke”.

 

Today, he frowned at me and said “Dadadada” when I took his toy off him at lunch. He may as well have called out,

“Give that back to me, woman!” His intent was that clear. And that’s when I noticed that he could talk to me. He could process what was happening and express his displeasure about it, coherently.

How did that happen? How is the time passing and constantly catching me off-guard? Where the hell did those seven months go?

I know I didn’t miss it. I was right here, smiling and teary for almost every second. I recorded half those seconds for Dave while he was working, texting like spam every time Austin did something remotely different.

How was I not more prepared, when everyone had warned me about it?

He’s not a tiny newborn anymore. He is a small baby now and I am shocked and, I’ll admit it, scared. In another minute he’ll be at school and then college and I’ll wonder where it all went.

  

Majoring in digging

Everybody tells me that’s the way of it and part of me wishes I could throw things at them and make it all stop. Then I’d have all my days with him just like this – pick-up-able and sleeping through and full of half laughs and half cries and hard-won giggles.

But the moral is – it does go so fast. And no matter how many times you are told it you will never, ever be prepared for the change of clothes size or the first pack-up of baby toys or, I suppose, college.

It will always be too fast.

All you can do is video the hiccup and take as many photo’s as your iPhone allows. Print them. Go to the park. Lie in bed and play peekaboo in the sheets. Play as many baby games as you can find on Pinterest. Don’t hide the tears when you pack away their too-small clothes and you go right ahead and spam people with their insignificant, wonderful updates.
So, for all the mom’s of Day Two babies – Don’t be afraid.  Fast is amazing too and there are so many more awesome moments to come.

uh-oh, yer one is getting alll emotional again…

Sunday’s Christening

Posting this again as it dissappeared last night…

Baby Scratchings

This Sunday, a very famous and important baby was baptised…

Check out these dapper fellas Check out these dapper fellas!

What? There was no other Christenings of note that day, right? Well, even if there were, this one was my favourite!

Torrential rain and an extremely reluctant and disorganised mum, couldn’t take away from my wonderful family’s excitement at our little baba’s big day. We had a lovely service in our local church and a beautifully decorated reception at our local hotel, thanks to the efforts of Austin’s Godmother Emma, who swept in at the last minute and festooned the room with hand-made banners! She’s a keeper, that one!

The Godparents - my wonderful little Bro and amazing Neice/Therapist! The Godparents – my wonderful little Bro and amazing Neice/Party Planner!

Austin didn’t know what to make of all the fuss but he was good as gold in the Church and considering how he had been testing his voice all morning, that was a little miracle!

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Fun with Spaghetti

In keeping with yesterday’s post about distracting Austin from his frustration at not being able to crawl or walk around just yet, today we decided to play with coloured spaghetti for some fun.

Here he is, not knowing what to make of it, at all.

It's floppy and stringy and red - am I playing with worms??
It’s floppy and stringy and red – am I playing with WORMS?

All you do is over-cook a little spaghetti in water, with a drop of food colouring, if you like. Then drain and run it under the cold tap to cool it. I waited until it was dry (about five minutes) and I fluffed it two or three times in case it stuck together. Then, I plonked it into his lap – and on his head, and on my head and on the dog – whatever got a laugh.

You put the worms on my head?
You put the worms on my HEAD?
Wait, that's pretty funny!
Wait, that’s pretty funny!

It’s cheap as chips (you don’t even need the food colouring), it’s great for their fine motor skills and it’s good for at least ten or fifteen minutes of MT (“Mama-Time”) so we will definitely be doing this again!

If you have any similar games you’d like to share, please feel free to comment…

 

How to Ruin your Child’s Christening in 4 Easy Steps!

OK, so Austin’s Christening was not really ruined – in fact it was a really lovely day. It was full of cuddles and praise for Austin (I’m not sure who enjoyed that more, him or me) and lots of adult conversation and Champagne for Mommy. YAY!

Oil does not stick to a baby if you slather him in eczema cream - take note people!
Holy Oils will not stick to a baby if you slather him in eczema cream beforehand – take note, people!

But, boy, can I make a holy show of myself when I get nervous – there will come a day when Austin won’t allow me to accompany him to school events and, given this weekend, I might actually have to agree.

Here’s how to make a complete spectacle of yourself while Baptising your kid…

  1. Be late to church because you cannot stop peeing from nerves. It also helps if you do no preperation the night before, change your mind about the outfit baby will wear at least eight times and insist on cooking a breakfast you then don’t have time to eat.
  2. Get the pram stuck in the door of the Church – yes, you could have checked to see if it would fit earlier in the week but who has time for that?
    Preparation
    Preparation

    And yes, you might have stopped trying to ram the wheels through when everyone turned towards you and glowered dissapprovingly but what if someone ran off with it if you left it outside? Don’t forget to hide your beetroot face when one million old ladies on walkers cannot squeeze past  it up the aisle (where you left it because there was no room at the back). Just hide – the problem will fix itself.

  3. Concentrate so hard on trying to remember the prayers you have long since forgotten, that you fail to listen to the priests’ directions on at least three seperate occassions. In fact, why not forget the requisite shawl you were told to bring for the baby while you’re at it – everyone loves a good laugh, right?

    IMG_1351 (2)
    Austin is not happy with the borrowed Shawl and lets everyone in the Church know about it.
  4. Finally, drink way too much champagne at the reception and forget which relative you left him with for several frightening moments where you feel like these lovely parents… he’s seven months old for goodness sake, you have to cut the apron strings at some point!

For the highlights of our baby Bauer’s big day, and a pic of me in an outfit I can only class as “I refuse to buy an outfit at this size-chic”, see this post!