8 ways to help new Mums

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Before having children I didn’t ever know what to do for people who had just given birth. It is such an exciting time for lots of reasons but it can also be a hectic time, as the family adjust to their new addition. I know first hand how amazing it is to have the help and support of family and friends after giving birth, but it can be difficult to know what to do, particularly if you don’t have children of your own. I’ve put together a few ideas that hopefully you will find useful.

1. Timing

Don’t just turn up – always check it is ok to visit. Don’t be surprised if it is a random time window, if your visit is cut short by a fussy baby or if they say no.

2. Meals

My sister brought me loads of tasty healthy M&S ready meals which was honestly the best thing ever. With a new baby it is often a toss up between eating and sleeping…for me, sleeping always wins. It really can be hard to remember to eat, or it can just seem too much effort. Another option is cooking them a meal and dropping it off.

3. Food

My Mum brought me a massive basket of fresh fruit and vegetables. We tend to have a stock of staples in the cupboards, so it meant we didn’t have to think about shopping for a while.

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4. Entertain

Offer to look after the older child if you can – overnight or take them out for the day. My Mum had Winston for 3 days after I gave birth and I felt like we’d been on holiday!

5. Help

If you’re anything like me you find it hard accepting help. Rather than saying to people: “Let me know if I can help”, say: “I’ll cook for you next week, which day would you like it?” Make it definitive and non negotiable!

6. Do

When you’re visiting (particularly if it’s a few days after) don’t let the new Mum do much. Everything can be a little sore after giving birth and getting up and down can be quite an effort. If you’re offered a drink – always offer to get it yourself. Don’t put any pressure or expectation on the host.

7. Play

If you’re comfortable with older children – play with them and pay them lots of attention. Winston loved playing with all the visitors we had.

8. Jobs

Ask if they need any little jobs doing, such as a visit to the Post Office, a few bits from the shops or even a bit of washing up.

…and of course enjoy the lovely new creature!

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Major wardrobe declutter

I really don’t look forward to getting dressed at the moment, and recently I’ve been wearing some pretty random outfit combinations, that I never would have worn when I worked full time (!) I can never decide what to wear and I end up getting quite frustrated. Plus, as I’m feeding Rufus I am further restricted by practicality. Don’t worry, I do realise that there are FAR bigger problems in the world than Esther deciding what to wear!

Every morning I stand in front of my wardrobe having a conversation with myself: “I can’t wear that because it’s too short to wear with that”, “I can’t wear that because of that”, “I don’t have a vest top to go under that”. It is SUCH a waste of time. I decided to have a massive wardrobe declutter and have been really strict with what to keep and what to throw away. It also occurred to me that I don’t own any basic items. I don’t own a plain black t-shirt, a plain white t-shirt, a nice vest top or a pair of blue jeans. I have nothing to base my outfits around and I need a few more lazy items that I can just shove on and go. When I’m pregnant I tend to stock up on shoes and coats, because shopping for jeans and tops can get quite depressing.

Here is what I did:

- Removed all of the things that need mending.

- Removed all of the hideous tops with tiny holes, immoveable stains on them, stretched or of rubbish quality.

- Removed all the things that don’t fit properly or don’t suit me and listed them on eBay.

- Charity shopped lots of accessories…at times like this I love it when you get charity bags through the door. SO practical.

Since my Uni days I have become much better at buying things that last longer, are more versatile and most importantly good quality. I used to be drawn to fashionable items and cheap items that would lose their shape, or be out of fashion in a few months time. It’s so worth spending money on basic tees if they are going to keep their shape, colour and last.

Removing so many items from my wardrobe has left quite a hole; as in, I actually have spare coat hangers! I’m using the money from selling items on eBay to fund my new ones. So far, I’ve made £71 which doesn’t sound much, but on eBay will get me all sorts.

My tips for buying on eBay:

- Buy things that are new, or have been worn once or twice.

- Save searches so items are much easier to find.

- Only buy items from shops you know fit you.

- Be strict with yourself and stick to your budget.

- Write a list before you start looking, otherwise you’ll get carried away!

- If you really want something ask the seller if they will consider a ‘buy it now’.

- Look for a good deal. The variance in price that the same thing can go for is huge. It is so worth being patient.

- Only buy from sellers with excellent feedback.

Here is my eBay shopping list:

1. Good quality basic tees and vests – starting with grey, black and white. All of which I need. As if I don’t own a plain black tee? I am not buying cheap ones that go short and square after a few washes. Tips people? I’ve heard Gap is good.

2. Jumpers – I have a few thick jumpers, but could do with a couple more. I am loving Cos jumpers at the mo and you can get much cheaper on eBay. The colours are perfect, the quality is great and the shapes are classic. Lightweight sweaters are also on my list. I just bought an Oasis one from eBay for £5. I love the faux leather neckline. The Urban Outfitters ‘Je t’aime’ one was £4, which for some reason I really loved.

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3. Blouses – I love a good blouse. They are so useful and fun patterns are easy to find. The button front is practical for feeding, they’re longer than tees; so bending over and moving around isn’t a problem, and they’re not clingy. I love Zara for blouses as they usually have an extra detail on them – always from eBay of course. This one was £3 and had only been worn once.

zara14. Skinny jeans - Miss Selfridge, H&M and Topshop Leigh jeans are the ones that fit my shape best. I’ve bought three pairs of Leigh jeans in different colours for a total of £36 from eBay. Bargain. Acid wash, indigo and black – they are SO soft and comfortable.

02E18EBLC_large5. A few accessories to keep things fresh. I’m not sure what this will entail yet but I’m keeping my eyes open.

Nothing ground breaking I know, but hoping I will have a core of useful, practical items that will last. We’re going to Centre Parcs in a weeks time, so I’ve also had to do the dreaded swimming costume shop. Thankfully Asos had a keeper and with free postage and free returns it is so practical.

Happy eBaying!

E xx

‘Football Training’

I must confess that when my husband announced that he would be taking Winston to his first football session a mere 6 days after he turned two, I did have a minor major laughing fit. I can’t imagine anything more pointless than a room of 2-4 year olds attempting to ‘play’ football. Would they even kick a football?

The two of them took off together dressed in their sports gear and equipped with water (somehow I managed to find an England shirt for W to wear in the back of his drawer? Not sure who planted that). I loved the thought of the two of them having something that I’m not part of, as I tend to take over (not on purpose) when it’s the four of us, and I absolutely love it when Winston comes home and has lots to tell me.

Apparently ‘football training’ included lots of drills – picking up the ball, lying down, standing up, running, picking up cones, clapping and jumping. I’m not convinced that it will help Winston become the pro footballer Jared wants him to be (!) but certainly good for teaching Winston how to follow instructions, learning new ways to use his body and gaining physical confidence. Jared said it was one of his favourite ever experiences with Winston, and they shared an after training treat which is just so special. I have warned Jared that he is not allowed to be disappointed or pushy if W decides football isn’t one of his interests as he grows up, but I do hope they have a passion they can share, even if it doesn’t turn out to be football.

I’m still not even sure if they kicked a football? Must find out.

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E xx

Moby slinging around

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One thing I am finding indispensable with baby Rufus is our Moby sling. It is priceless. It has made tricky situations…less tricky. I do have a double buggy which I love, and use for our missions into town, but a lot of the time a sling and a fold down buggy is so much easier; particularly when Rufus is still so small and light. I use it most days and paid £14 from eBay including postage and packaging. Bargain. Quite often I put it on before getting in the car, so I can pop Rufus straight in when we reach our destination.

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Here are some scenarios I have used it for:

- An impromptu train journey is possible when you see the absolute horror (you would have thought Thomas the Tank Engine had been murdered) on your toddlers face as he realises he is not getting on the train with his Dad…so we all got on. The two boys and I had been on a train ride, into town and returned home by 10:30am! Thank goodness I was organised that morning – certainly not the norm. I never want to see that look on his face ever again. He looked absolutely broken.

- Food shopping with two (or one) is so much easier if I have two hands free and can guarantee Rufus is settled. All Winston needs is a punnet of blueberries or tomatoes to keep him quiet. I don’t consider that bribery.

- It makes the London Underground manageable…although we won’t be doing that again for a while! It was rather mad and you do get strange looks.

- At the park when you want to supervise your older child and don’t really want to leave your baby miles away in a buggy.

- When you’re there at the soft play area solo, because you didn’t think through the practicalities of going alone with two. I must admit there were a few awkward situations. Needless to say I won’t be going alone again. Let’s just say the sling meant there were far fewer awkward situations.

- Rufus sleeps for much longer in a sling than he would in a pram, which means it is easier to stick to his routine when we’re out and about.

- We’ve used it at night time to settle Rufus to sleep if he’s been particularly wakeful.

- Dinner time can sometimes stressful – both boys are hungry so quite often I cook with Rufus in the sling. I’m not sure it is recommended but it works a treat.

- When Rufus is in it, he keeps me so warm!

Yes – it is just a long piece of thick jersey fabric but it is seriously brilliant. I wish I’d used one with Winston – the things I could have done! I love it so much that I’m thinking of buying another to keep in the car. I’m scared one day I will forget it and I’m not sure I want to deal with the consequences…

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E xx

New hair

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I’ve been determined to grow my hair super long for as long as I can remember, but recently I’ve secretly been flirting with the idea of getting it chopped. I say secretly, because I have moaned so much over the years to my husband about how I wish my hair would grow faster: “Oh, just two more inches!”, over and over again. Ignoring the fact that it was hard to maintain and tired looking. Not to mention impractical for feeding, baby wearing and bag carrying. It seemed to get trapped everywhere and be Rufus’ face all the time. I like to wear it down to prevent my frizzy baby hair from taking over.

I bumped into a hairdresser friend a few weeks ago and arranged an appointment with her. I told her to do what she thought needed to be done (which was rather brave of me)…and this is what I came out with:

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She has given it a good chop (so much hair was on the floor afterwards), some subtle highlights and used a toner to take all the orange/yellow tones out that I hated. I have dyed it with all sorts over the past few years when I’ve had a random urge for a colour change whilst food shopping at the supermarket (!)

It’s shorter than I expected, shocks me every time I see it and will take a while to get used to, but it is certainly way more practical, so much healthier, happier and far easier to wash and manage. It dries so much quicker. For some strange reason shorter hair is making me feel more fun, and on occasion is reminding me of my Mum!

Meanwhile…how hard is it to find a picture of oneself? After looking through about 300 of my children, I found a few. It seems my children will never know what I looked like or what we did together. Going to try and make sure I’m in a few – don’t have one with me and Rufus since the day he was born. Whoops.

E xx