Notes to a first time Mother – part one

So now that I’m well under way with Motherhood second time around, I’ve got a few insights into the first experience……Things I’ve done differently this time around……Things i wish i’d known the first time.

1. Being pregnant SUCKS. Well, mostly anyway.

009Forced smile….pretending this is such fun…

Yes you’re growing a human being and yes that’s totally amazing etc etc……but you feel like crap. Most. Of. The time.

2. Labour is fine. Stop worrying about it. Baby has got to come out at some point. And no you’re not gonna die (hopefully…).

003He came out!

3. Baby needs to sleep. All. Of. The time. Don’t underestimate this. Let him, or help him to, sleep. A Lot. Or life will be very stressful for you both.

025Over tired = lots of crying = wheres the wine??

4. You need to sleep. All. Of. The time. But you wont be able to. Now where’s the justice in that?!

5. You will buy loads of STUFF for baby. Clothes (they’ll all get crapped on). Nursery decor (he’ll never sleep in there anyway). A cot (a COT!!!! What was i thinking???). Toys…. Don’t waste your money. He doesn’t need any of it really.

6. You will try to do too much. Stop it and sit down.

7. Your baby will be beautifully groomed and sweet smelling. You will look like crap. FACT.

8. Your house will look as if it has been ransacked. You will adjust your hygiene standards to accommodate this. Oh and poo will get everywhere….

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Poo – getting everywhere

9. 9pm will be a late night.

10. 3am will be party time – but not as you knew it.

11. But then this will happen:

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and everything will be more than OK.

 

Working from home

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I really don’t know how much longer I can cope with working from home.

By the time I’ve cleared myself a space, amongst the toys, and the bills, and the un-read newspapers, hung out the washing, made the beds and put away the dishes, there’s barely time to sit down and think through where to start.

My husband is incredibly kind and happily takes off with the kids for the day so that I can get cracking. But I really struggle to focus, when I’m sat amongst books, toys and teeny tiny underpants.

And it doesn’t help that there’s this staring at me too

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I’m guessing I might need to start hoping and praying that some bargain studio space comes my way……and soon!

Natural sun protection

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Some oils are known to have a natural SPF –  you don’t necessarily need to reach straight for the thick white lotion.

Here’s a recipe for a pre-sun protecting oil blend, using some oils said to have a reasonably high SPF.

Raspberry seed oil 55ml ( 28-50 SPF)

Macadamia nut oil 30ml (6 SPF)

Avocado oil 10ml (4 SPF)

Vitamin E oil 5ml 

 

For more on how to look after your skin naturally through the summer, see my article in the latest issue of The Mother magazine.

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It’s harder than it looks….. A new business on its way

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All of it is harder than it looks. 

How do you ensure that everyone is happy, and that everything is done?

I’m waking every two hours through the night to feed my baby.  I’m helping my eldest son deal with the adjustment to sharing my attention with his brother. I’m keeping a marriage going. I’m running a business. I’m updating my hydrotherapy training. I’m training for my lifeguard renewal.

I’m also starting a new business. Again. I’m going to be running workshops for children with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder, using my Occupational Therapy background and skills.

I just hope I can do it all. Meet everyone’s needs.

Its harder than it looks……

The big eczema secret

When my first son was battling eczema, the solution seemed to be so out of reach.

I tried different products – dozens of them.

i researched different ingredients.

i drove myself insane trying to find a way to end his suffering.

It consumed me. Day and night. (Yep I became quite a bore! My poor husband…..)

So son number two has been showing some signs of the dreaded eczema too. But I’m on it like a hawk.

My ingredient of choice is Shea butter. 100%. I love the stuff. My baby butter is rich in the stuff and my baby is lathered in it All. The. Time.

 

Because you see, I discovered the secret of heading it off at the pass. Or keeping it under control if you’re already it it’s clutches. There’s no magic remedy for eczema. No special magic ingredient. No one thing that works for all. It’s just incredibly simple really. Apply, apply, apply.

I expect my first son’s skin was somewhat dehydrated. I thought I was doing enough. Body butter in the morning. Body butter at night. But now I see the results on baby number two. I’m covering him, massaging him, stroking his skin with my delicious baby butter over and over again. Repeatedly through the day. And I seem to be winning this battle this time.

 

Find your product of choice (or mine!) and just keep going.

It really is that simple.

Paying for success……

So an ‘award’ is simply a recognition of quality goods or services right?

Not necessarily so……

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Last year i won a couple of ‘awards’ for my natural baby skincare range.

I submitted products to a panel for review. It was free to enter, and it was such an amazing accolade – to receive praise/recognition for the products i had created.

Following this, i thought ‘i like this awards thing…..I’m going to see what else i could apply for’. So i started looking at the popular baby ranges of cosmetic products, and looking into the ‘awards’ that they displayed on their labels. ‘Great’ i thought ‘ I’ll contact all of these other organizations’ naively believing that it would be as simple as sending in samples of my products for further review.

So it turns out, that for most of the largely recognized magazines and branding organizations, there’s a fee to submit for ‘review’. And that fee is pretty hefty for a small sole trader like me. We’re talking around £100-150 per product.  That’s a fee just to be reviewed. No guarantee that your product(s) will be in line for any sort of ‘award’. No guarantee that you’ll ‘win’ anything.

And this got me thinking about the ‘ethics’ of it all. And that thinking made me feel quite sad.

Are these ‘awards’ really a recognition of a quality product?

I’m not so sure.

Maybe they’re more a reflection of the size of the business owners bank balance. 

Maybe we shouldn’t be so trusting, and so awed by these apparent ‘awards’ on the labels of our baby shampoo and nappies.

It seems that your little business can be really super duper successful, if you’ve got the cash to pay other folks to ‘big it up’. If i was born into a wealthy family, or had a high earning husband, my little brand could be out there competing with the big wigs of the baby industry. My products could be sitting alongside huge names on the shelves of Boots – if i could ‘afford’ it.

How depressing.

I recently featured in a book, and was followed up by a PR company – who enthusiastically told me that i could (and should) be showcased in some national magazines and newspapers – ‘getting the brand out there’ further. ‘Wonderful’ i thought ‘Lets get started. Oh and by the way, whats the fee for your help?’  £500 per day came the reply. I nearly choked on my herbal tea.

So the question is not – ‘ how good is your product?’ 

but ‘ Give me the cash and I’ll tell the world that your product is great’

I think I’ll opt out of that.

I’ll be submitting to The Green Parent magazine again this year. And hopefully to Juno magazine. Neither of which charge for review, and both of which are wonderful, ethical, natural parenting champions. Just the target audience i look for.

I don’t really fancy Boots anyway……..

 

Stress in pregnancy

In June last year (2012), the Royal College of Midwives published findings that “almost half of eczema in babies is due to stress during pregnancy”.

I experienced a great deal of stress during my first pregnancy – and sure enough, my boy suffered terrible eczema. Whether that was as a result of my ‘state of mind’ during the pregnancy, or whether it was simply unlucky, is impossible to tell.

And so here i am, pregnancy number 2. Armed with those ‘findings’ and wondering how will my next little one be?

And the ‘findings’ really are a double edged sword. Is this another way of making mums feel ‘guilty’? If your child develops eczema, might you think ‘oh i should have relaxed more/attended more yoga classes etc etc when i was pregnant’. In other words, might you think ‘its all my fault’?

Unfortunately, i expect so.

i’d love to have a stress-free, blissful, 9 months. Growing my baby. Rubbing my tummy. Practising yoga. Going for massages. However, in reality, this aint happening……

I’m sorry in advance baby number two. I’m trying my best. Now pass me that Lavender oil……..

Who do you trust…..?

Its very difficult to know who to listen to when you’re caring for your precious baby.  Theres so many people witnessing your tentative steps into parenthood. Most folks are very quick to offer you their advice – wanted or unwanted. Does it help? I’m not sure it does.

And then when you have a baby that has additional health problems………where do you look then? Who’s the expert then? I found most ‘unqualified’ advice about how to look after my son’s skin very unhelpful. It felt like a crticism. ‘How can he bear it?’ ‘Poor thing must be in agony’ ‘Havent you tried x, y, z?’. Yes!!!!!! Of course i bloody have!!!!!!! What do you think i am?!

Anyway, i digress. The point i want to make – is that running this small business is a very similar journey really.

I started without any experience of business. Nought. Zilch. Nada. And i’ve learnt as i’ve gone along. I’ve taught myself. I’ve made mistakes. Much like parenting.

It has been amazing, and challenging, and tiring, and difficult, and (occassionally) stressful – but also wonderfully liberating. The world of ‘business’ doesnt seem quite so exotic now…..quite so alien. I am starting to understand how it works. And i cant say i really ‘like’ it too much – but i LOVE making my natural products, and sharing them with others, and i just cant keep doing that unless i face the business world.

Now there’s a lot of folks that are very quick to offer you their advice (sound familiar?). And its very difficult to consider handing over your ‘baby’ (business) to those people’s care. Those folks havent shed the blood, sweat and tears to get the business to where it is now. They havent grafted week after week, month after month, without pay. They havent wondered where you’ll find the money to pay the next month’s studio rent. They haven’t studied and crafted and created. Its a true labour of love. Nothing less.

And suddenly there are folks so quick to tell you what to do next. What makes you so qualified? Where were you in the beginning when i really did need your help?

Who do you trust with your ‘baby’? Its a minefield……

 

Swimming with baby eczema

My boy LOVES swimming – but in the past this was always limited by his skin. Pool visits made his skin red and sore and itchy. And we always had a very unsettled, scratchy, night at home to follow.

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It all seemed so unjust, since i am such a water-baby myself. And i agonised over whether this would see a life of ‘dry side’ spectating for him – when i longed for him to be an ocean loving, swimming, surfing, sailing, lifesaving water-lover like myself.

We just did what we thought was best. He often asked to go swimming, and so we tried to accomodate that wish as much as we could. I found that applying a good layer of body butter to him before we enterred the water, and then again after we left, seemd to help – it created a ‘barrier’ of sorts, and the water seemed to ‘run off’ his skin rather than saturate it.

Luckily, his eczema is virtually non-existent now, and we are regulars at the local baths.

For those of you still battling with the same issue, theres a great article here:

http://www.scratchsleeves.co.uk/parenting-plus-eczema/great-things-to-teach-eczema-babies-kids/eczema-baby-swimming/