6 thoughts from 6 months

Six months (185 days) in. This time 6 months ago, I was sat next to Lucy on the maternity ward, having spent the previous fifteen hours getting to know our little girl. Grandparents had driven hours to say hello, the nurses and midwives were absolutely superb and we’d been running on that feeling of pure adrenaline that all parents are all too aware of. At this point, our baby girl didn’t even have a name. All that mattered was that our tiny (well, average) daughter had arrived safely into the world and our journey as a family could begin. I was completely in awe of the pair of them. All the build-up, anticipation and meticulous planning was over. Our lives were changed, and have been changing ever since.

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Early posing for the camera – think this was in the first couple of weeks

I thought I’d celebrate this post with a mixture of musings and memories from the last 6 months that I hope other parents can relate to. As always, the downsides of parenting (basically all the repetitive messy stuff) are taken as a given on here. We’ve had our fair share of public poonamis and we’re currently working out how best to treat some pretty mean eczema. Today’s not the day to talk about those!

Thought #1:  Do the reading

Once I knew we were expecting, I came back from the library with a couple of books, ready to go. If I’m really honest with myself, the need to do this came (a tiny bit) from that scene in Knocked Up where he has a bit of a meltdown and doesn’t read up on anything. I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ so I made sure I read up on things. I can’t actually remember which books I read now, which is a bit rubbish. I do remember that it left me feeling less terrified about the months ahead and excited to see Beatrice develop.

Thought #2: You will become addicted to Google.

“What age do babies blink?”

“Do you need to brush their gums?”

“Which cafe has the best changing facilities (so far it’s our local Sainsbury’s)?”

“How long are they supposed to sleep?” Hopefully this is followed up with ‘Should I let them sleep longer if possible?” (to which the answer is always yes!)

“What do you do when they start staying awake for longer?”

All of these are some of the millions of thoughts you and countless other parents have had. They range from the practical to the absolutely ridiculous, but be careful- there’s a high chance your baby’s first words could be “Ok, Google…”

Thought #3: Be Fearless

And no, I don’t mean go on extreme hikes with your all-natural baby wrap on day one. However, you’ve no doubt had a whirl on the travel system, the change bag has probably been packed for a month or so and you spent a fair whack on the car seat. Use them! Lucy and I took Beatrice out for a quick walk in the pram, then ventured out in the car a day or so later. After we’d got it sorted once, it was so much easier to head out for cake. If that’s not an incentive in itself, I don’t know what is!

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The smile I get home to every day!

Thought #4: The rewards come thick and fast, so keep up!

I’ve been amazed at how quickly things have moved so far. The phrase ‘they grow up so fast’ is particularly true at this early stage. I find myself regularly looking through photos and she has changed so much – she’s far more robust now, and sitting up! There have been so many little moments that have surprised us. Her first chuckle will be a very long-lasting memory in particular.

Thought #5: Prioritise your priorities

I’ve made sure that every evening possible, I’ve got home and spent all my time with Bea until she’s asleep. It has changed my attitude at work, made me more efficient and bizarrely more practical around the house. However, all of those things are to allow me maximum time playing, ‘chatting’ and giggling when I’m home. I got spoilt in those first two months!

Thought #6: Teamwork

It’s all about teamwork. That’s not just mum, dad and baby, but the wider network too- friends, grandparents, and workmates are all there to support you in loads of surprising and generous ways. If you’re a dad, remember that there’s a lot you need to be doing. It’s even better if you remember to do it without being reminded to…and make sure you get a day with your child from time to time (I know Lucy’s had some good days out when I’ve had my daddy/daughter days!). It also pays to be grateful to your other half for letting you get addicted to this blogging thing…

Feel free to leave any other thoughts for the next six months in the comments, and I’m going to try and get some regular features up and running in the next couple of weeks or so. I’ve also dipped my toe into Instagram, you can find me/us here if you like that sort of thing!

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Best Summer Ever (Part 1)!

So tomorrow I go back to work. On day 61 for those that are still counting (see here). Whilst I love my teaching job, and am somewhat looking forward to having a bit of a routine, I am seriously going to miss spending so much time with my little girl! It’s been a real privilege to see her grow and change so much. Those moments will be a bit more spread out now, but it will definitely make me a much more efficient teacher so I get more free time at home (see, always looking at the positives!).

I’ve been meaning to post about the summer and some of the unforeseen perks of being a dad it brings – and should apply to all those on paternity leave too- but haven’t quite managed it. Because of this, I’ve had to split this summary up into two, possibly three posts. This one focuses on how to make the most of your paternity leave, and the next will focus on about that first overnight trip away…

Onto paternity leave then. I can only recommend taking the full allowance if you can. Obviously people may have various (and valid!) reasons for not doing so, but if you can, it’s a fantastic time to get to know your newborn, and more importantly know what your partner will be dealing with when you go back to work!

The other serious perk, which is what I took full advantage of, is you have two weeks of time to not worry about sleep (I won’t be one of those bloggers that goes on about tiredness, but will naturally end up referring to it from time to time!).

But the best bit about the leave? You have two weeks where you don’t really want to cook or sort things out. So…that means cake (well, it did for us). It also meant a few nice meals at the hospital cafe for a couple of days. Lucy (my wife) doesn’t like staying in the house for too long, so we were out every afternoon for tea and cake (helped by the fact Beatrice likes an afternoon nap!). Honestly take advantage of this as there’s probably loads of places you’ve fancied going to but never bothered. Whichever partner is going back to work, it’ll also provide them with a nice variety of places to head out to and meet up with other people.

Don’t like cake? We went to the North Norfolk coast a few times, which meant ice creams, crab sandwiches and fish and chips if you so desire!

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So my number one tip for paternity leave that you probably won’t find anywhere else? Eat out, explore and just go for it- you’re still in control, you just need to be prepared! We’ve had the public ‘poonamis’ (on a park bench) and a range of other little hiccups, but nothing is impossible. Start small, just a little walk to the park or shops, then get out in the car. Remember also to laugh stuff off. Your baby has no idea how embarrassing or ridiculous its behaviour can be, so don’t take things too seriously!

I’ll finish off with a few photos of our outings…second post to follow later today!