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the sleep thief's mother

surviving life with a new baby

The top 10 most useless products to buy for your baby!

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So probably like all expectant mums, I wanted my baby to have everything, preferably the best of everything too! But as we all come to realise, if the product is for a baby the price tag doubles and let’s face it, you really don’t need or use half of the crap you buy and baby crap is no exception. So in the interest of saving my bank balance if I ever have another baby and also helping any other mums from falling into the same pitfalls as me, I’ve put together a list of “don’t bother buying it” products.

  1. The Door Bouncer

Apart from putting Seth in his twice to take a few cute photos and one cute video, this was a total waste of time. It amused him for about 12 seconds at a time, took the paint off my wall and required 2 fully trained ninjas to get him in and out of it. Pointless.

2. Baby socks and scratch mitts

Seth was born in December and I was convinced his tiny toes would somehow suffer instant frost bite and drop off if I didn’t have 50 thousands pairs of socks for him, not to mention what he might do to his face if his baby talons were not contained within mitts at all times! In reality your baby will kick their socks and mitts off just for fun and pretty much all babygrows have feet and scratch mitts built in! Job done, don’t know why I bothered.

3. The famous Bumbo seat

Other mums swear by it! I only swore at it. You need skeletal fingers to reach the straps and clasp once the baby is in the seat and even when they are in there safely all they want to do is get out! Sitting still is not your baby’s aim in life! Why fight him? Ours gathered dust for 9 months, then was sent to family with a new baby to gather dust at their house instead.

4. Approximately 75 multi coloured plastic weaning pots.

If I ever see a mother in the supermarket perusing the baby aisle for weaning pots I wont be able to stifle my scream of “just buy Tupperware!!!” It’s great to make homemade weaning food for baby, well done to you, me and every mother who manages to find time to home cook for baby instead of buying baby food! In reality I used home cooking at home and bought baby food when we were out but once he turned 7 months all the weaning pots I bought were too small so totally useless! Plus they cost a fortune compared to Tupperware.

5. Breast pump

I am not anti breast feeding or pro bottle feeding. I am pro a mothers personal choice! Just had to get that in before I explain this one.

I’ve heard of so many cases of women who wanted to breast feed and baby wouldn’t latch on or their milk didn’t come in – it happens all the time and it happened to me. Before baby arrived I’d convinced myself that I would boss breast feeding like Mother Earth herself so I bought a very expensive pump which was then completely redundant and without being graphic, any product that touches someone else’s bodily fluids doesn’t really hold it’s resale value if you know what I mean.

6. Bibs

Not strictly a useless item as I use them every day, but put it this way, I use around 10, I own 48 billion!!

7. Swing crib

This is a personal choice thing, but we had a cute wooden swing crib instead of a Moses basket in our room. Seth would not sleep in it at all and we couldn’t use the swing function to rock him as he would roll all over the place. After 2 nights we used the flat pram which came with our travel system until he was 3 months and grew out of it.

8. Full price toys and equipment

I cannot stress enough how many ways there are to buy cheap toys and equipment. Facebook swap pages, charity shops, pre loved websites and shops, it’s endless! Seth’s baby walker is worth £35 and cost £3.50 from a charity shop, it’s in mint condition! Amazing. Let’s be honest, it’s all plastic tat you’d rather not have cluttering up your house so it adds insult to injury if you’ve paid out a small fortune for it!

9. Baby cot bedding

I spent hours trying to find the perfect bedding for Seth’s cot bed, even contemplating ordering the perfect set to be handmade by some random woman in America at a cost of about £250 – seriously mental behaviour, I blame the hormones! Anyway, back in the real world, your baby will probably be swaddled in baby blankets and then progress to a sleeping bag until they’re about 12 or 18 months at least, leaving your beautiful bedding folded in a drawer, the same as mine.

10. Over the head sleep suits

So if you’re anything like me you probably waddled around mothercare looking like Pavaroti with a sweat on when you were heavily pregnant, oohing and aahing at all the lovely sleep suits without a second thought for how they do up! That is until you get to the hospital and try to dress your fragile little bundle in an over the head sleep suit. Which basically involves a novice parent wrinkling up what feels like miles of fabric and placing them over the new baby’s face while trying not to suffocate them or snap their tiny little necks. Cue a racing heart and a mild panic attack. It’s a situation better avoided until you’re a confident parent of a 6 month old in my opinion.

So there we have it, my top or rather bottom, ten purchases not to make! Hope it helps.

xx

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Parent shaming – bite your tongue!

So, a recent Facebook post concerning the harmful effects of the “cry it out” sleep training method has got me thinking about the rise of parent shaming in our culture.

Parent shaming is the act of passing judgment on how someone else raises their children, something which has probably taken place for centuries. However, not surprisingly, with the rise of the dominance of social media platforms in all our lives, other peoples views and opinions are more accessible and more vocal than ever. And with now around 1.85 billion children in the world, that’s a whole lot of mums with a whole heap of opinions!

I get that we should all have an opinion and a voice to stand up for a child who is being neglected, hurt, ignored or abused. I get that young children can’t speak for themselves when they’re being mistreated – I would like to think if I ever saw that happening to any child I would shout about it somehow! But do I really have the right to judge another mother just trying to get by or do her best? Hell no!

For example, there was a recent media shit storm surrounding the Beckham’s 4 year old daughter being pictured with a dummy – commenters went as far as to say they were neglectful, bad parents! Get a grip people! If little Harper Beckham wasn’t feeling great and wanted her dummy for a bit then what’s the issue, get over it, she’s not going to have it when she’s 25 is she???

Judging other people is what we as human beings do, but perhaps we need to stop for a second and remember how hard being a parent can be. Hell, I’m not perfect, I’ve seen kids at soft play and play group and thought

“why doesn’t that toddler have a coat on, it’s freezing?”

“why is that mother leaving a 3 month old to hold it’s own bottle, doesn’t she know it could choke?”

“I would never allow my child to sit in a restaurant glued to a portable game console!”

The truth is we all judge, everyone has these thoughts, it’s human nature. But it’s also human nature to want the best for our children and to make them happy and well developed the best way we know how. So if people see me out and about or look at my social media and judge the things I do with my child, let them! Dummies have worked for us, cry it out has worked for us, bottles not breast have worked for us, solid food at 5 months worked for us. And by us I mean my whole family, me, my partner and most importantly my son. We’re a happy, together unit with a happy healthy baby and I feel no shame in our methods.

But I will be reminding myself of the hard days, when I see something which makes me judge a parent in the future.

They’re just trying to do their best, just like me.

My perfectly imperfect family holiday.

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We’re currently on holiday! Our first ever family holiday! The first time I’ve taken the baby away for the night (4 nights actually) and had to have everything he needed! Yes, I am responsible for an entire human being, a defenceless dependant who can’t remind me to pack enough nappies and wipes or to take a spare sleeping bag – I had to think of everything! And I mean everything! The only reason I didn’t pack our kitchen sink is because we’re in a caravan and I knew they had one (although at one point I did panic that maybe the sink would be too small to wash bottles! What the fuck would I do then?)

Anyway, my point is that apart from the dog, I’ve never been responsible for anyone before, so this is a huge step in my life and as such I really, really wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my little family to come away with lasting, magical memories of our first holiday as a trio. So I did what I’ve been doing since the day my little boy was born, I put loads of pressure on myself to be perfect.

The reason I’m writing this post is to remind myself (and others, if anyone’s reading!) to not worry so much. It’s our last night of holiday tonight and looking back through the photos (like the one at the top) made me see that life is never perfect. It’s not a picture postcard. The funniest and lovliest moments of this holiday have been the mistakes, the bloopers, for want of a better word. I’ve taken about a million photos, 99% of which feature the side or the back of my baby’s head! Not because he’s being naughty but because I want to take a picture of him in front of a beautiful seascape or sunset and he just wants to look at it and experience it! That’s what I should have been doing! Experiencing it with him, not taking more fucking photos!

So, because of this one terrible photo which made me laugh and remember that moment with him, I’m going to take away more memories than photos in the future. I’m going to realise that my family love me when I’m relaxed and drinking in the moments with them.

Having my family was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m going to accept that I’m not perfect but that my best is good enough and my family are loved and happy. And if every photo from now on has someone randomly turning the wrong way, closing their eyes or sneezing, well…. that’s alright with me.

Reality Bites – How going back to work can really suck!

So it’s late afternoon, we’ve had a little play with various toys that baby has played with a million times before and he starts rubbing his eyes, so that’s my cue to grab a bottle. He chugs down 8 ounces like a trooper and I pop “In the Night Garden” on the tv and we cuddle until he looks a little drowsy, the same way we do several times every day and then it hits me….like a meteor out of the blue….

In a few weeks I’ll be back at work and someone else will be doing all of this for him – every day.

I won’t be there to smell his hair as we cuddle up. I won’t be there to tell him it’s sleepy time and cover his bare little toes with a blanky so he sleeps soundly. I won’t be there to kiss his chubby cheeks as I lay him down into his cot for a nap. Someone else will do all of this, someone who is, at this moment in time, a stranger to both of us.

I suddenly realise that all this separation anxiety I have been worrying about IS going to be a massive problem. I have been passing the baby round to friends and relatives, taking him to play dates, soft play, music groups and baby play groups to ensure that he’s confident, well socialised and not at all clingy. I’ve been planning ahead, trying to make the transition easy on him like all good responsible mothers do and holy fuck – I forgot about myself!

It’s me who is going to fall apart, it’s me who is going to miss him so much it hurts – it’s me for gods sake! How the hell did I miss this? No one tells you that!! In truth, I am what most people would refer to as slightly emotionally stunted and so I thought I would never be as attached to him as I am. But the truth is, I have forgotten to prepare myself. I don’t spend any time away from him, I never leave him with anyone but his dad and even then not for longer than a few hours, so I am more attached and in love with him than I ever thought possible. How dare reality come along and burst this beautiful little bubble I live in, just me and him all day long – it’s bloody unfair.

Ok, breathe. I’m going to have to woman up here!

I am going to remind myself why I am going back to work. 1) Great role model for working, ambitious women and I want my son to respect women’s equality to choose a career and be treated equally. 2) Oh god, I’m going to miss him! No, stay focused, ok 2) I enjoyed my job before the baby and need to have adult conversations and be challenged again. 3) Who am I kidding!

Pass the wine!

I’m going to enjoy the next 5 weeks with my baby, really enjoy them. In fact i’m going to make the most of them, make some memories and when I have to go back to work and reality, i’ll face it head on with strength and confidence.

But for now, I might just watch him sleep while I still can.

The baby arrived and shit got real.

As I glance up at my TV and realise that one of the many Barbie films on my planner is still playing, even though the baby is in bed (a note here to explain that my baby is a boy, not a girl, he just really likes Barbie…OK!!) I think to myself, tonight is the night. The night I finally sit down and start the blog I promised myself I would start when I was pregnant.

I’m not starting this blog because I want to make money and work from home, it’s not even because I think I’m nailing parenting and all should learn from my wisdom! It’s really just because this baby thing that I’ve been doing for nearly 9 months now is probably the biggest and most responsible thing I’ve ever done and I want to document it. Even if the only purpose of that is for myself and my partner to look back and think “we did it!” I still want to do it. I still want to write down all those wins and all those fails, to remember this journey. Maybe I’ll show it to the baby when he’s bigger and he’ll be able to see himself grow up through it.

So, that’s my motivation for clacking away on my laptop at 10.30pm when I could be getting some well-earned sleep.

I have found my transition to motherhood a tough one. I miss getting drunk…a lot!! I can’t stop swearing around the baby, which is really going to be a bugger when he starts to speak (if his first word is shit, my mother will kill me) I really miss sleeping in and putting myself first all the time. I basically miss my life….BUT, I’ve gained so much, I’ve gained tiny hands that grab my fingers and pull my hair, a little tiny mouth which has just learned to do kisses which basically means he dribbles on my face at close range a thousand times a day. I’ve gained noise and routine and busyness, bathtimes and bottles and laughter and so many things which make me immeasurably happy that I wouldn’t change him for the world.

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