#JanuaryJoy: Make some Health and Fitness Goals

Well, it wouldn’t be January without talking about those new leaves we all turn over in the shadow of the Christmas excesses and lethargy, now would it? As we’re discussing it at almost the end of the month already, I’m curious, did you make any health or fitness goals that you’ve broken already?!

It seems a long time since I made a fitness goal and in all honesty, I’m not that motivated right now to change that. Perhaps because when I say ‘fitness’ I think of sweat inducing cardio and strength work. What I’m really interested in is getting my body somewhere near to where it was.


Top ten at home workouts

I’m going to talk about this in more detail in the future but I won’t lie, the first few weeks and months after having Bea was hard in terms of my self esteem. I felt like a goddess when I was pregnant, even if I didn’t always look like one. ;) Afterwards, I felt… ruined. 6 months on I’m happy to report everything is slowly getting back to where it should be but I do have 2 big aims for 2015, as it coincides with 6 months having past since I had Bea and that seems like a sensible milestone to be tackling things:
1. I need to lose weight. Cliche I know, and I’m not talking about anything drastic or sudden, just continuing the steady weight loss that has been happening without too much effort over the last few months. I’m currently about half a stone over my pre-pregnancy weight, but that was another half stone over my ‘happy’ weight, so there’s some way to go.
2. I need to tone up and rediscover my abdominal muscles. I’m really enjoying conditioning fitness work right now like yoga and pilates but I know I should be thinking about some cardio soon.. maybe one of those 5k in 30 days challenges you see on Pinterest?! I’m just not that motivated to leave Bea just yet…

I’ve heard some women say they couldn’t even tense their abs after having a baby, they were so stretched and fortunately I don’t feel like that, but they certainly have changed. When I look at my body in the mirror these days (or more specifically my mid section,) it’s not the weight that is causing my new shape, but the lack of tone in my abs. Sure I can tense them and/or suck them in to make things flat again, but they’re not staying there. I did start a post-natal exercise DVD a few months ago which was great and very gentle to get things going, but I’ve just moved onto something a lot tougher which I think will be much more effective. Honestly, it’s only 6 months on that I’ve felt able to do serious abs work post c-section. Look out for the DVD reviews coming soon.

Diet wise… well, I’m not really ready to give up the cake biscuits chocolate hot cross buns just yet, although I have cleaned things up a bit which is helping with goal 1 above! I’m going to see how far I can get with just sensible eating and staying active before I start any diets.

Now it’s your turn readers. Have you made any health or fitness goals for 2015? I’d love to hear if you’re sticking to them and how they’re going? And if you happen to be a new mum or have had a baby in recent tears I’d love to hear if and when you got back to exercise?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. I’m sort of thinking about doing the Manchester 10k again… maybe. (I’ve done it twice before.) Maybe we should do a FF group run?!

#JanuaryJoy: Make something with your hands

I’ll ‘fess up now and admit, this isn’t the ‘Make something with your hands’ prompt I had planned to share but what d’ya know, January has whizzed by and instead of feeling it has passed me by, I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed all of it with Bea. :)

This is however something I have been planning to do for ages. I’m a huge scented candle fan and often buy them or am lucky enough to receive them as presents. What always bugs me though is that last centimeter or so at the end when the wick runs out of lovely scented wax. I’d always wanted to do something with it and now I finally have. I melted down each of them and layered the wax with a fresh wick and made ⅔ of a new candle with the leftovers from just 4 other candles that would otherwise have been binned!

So, you’ll need:

  • An assortment of old candles (scented or otherwise)
  • Some new wicks (I bought 20 from Amazon – 10 Pre Waxed Wicks For Candle Making)
  • A clean, dry container for your recycled candle
  • A medium sized saucepan and a small plastic pot
  1. Use a knife or something sharp to scrape the candle ends out of the pots
  2. If you are using scented candles then you will have to melt the wax individually and layer the scents, but if it’s just old wax, then you can melt the whole lot together. This is similar to melting chocolate for cooking, so just bring a pan of water to a simmer and float your plastic pot with the old wax in it on the water until it all melts. Keep an eye on it, it’s usually quite quick, and you don’t want the pan to boil dry and melt your pot to the pan! ;) The wax will melt clear and you’ll see the old wick floating around. Remove the wax from the heat and fish out the old wick carefully – it will be hot!
  3. Centre your NEW wick in the clean and ready container for your new candle – you might want to balance it against something (like this knife in the photo) to keep it centred, which is important otherwise your wax will melt unevenly as it burns. Then pour in your wax and allow to cool.
  4. Repeat the process for each separate candle and scent, allowing to cool between each layer.
  5. Finally trim your wick to about 1cm long then light and enjoy!

Of course you can also clean up the empty glasses and containers that the other candles were in (I just use hot soapy water after melting the excess and wiping them out with kitchen roll,) and use them as vases or pots around the house for pencils or make-up brushes. If you’ve got any you really love you could even buy some wax chips online and make new candles so you can keep enjoying the decorative pot.

Did you ever make candles when you were younger? I had loads of DIY craft kits for candle making – it was fun to do it again in a grown up way!

Have you made anything this January?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Beetroot Soup and #JanuaryJoy roundup!

One of the things about starting to wean Bea is that it has made me re-evaluate my own diet. That and New Year optimism made me think I should be making more soups and when my friend Jess said she had made beetroot soup I thought I’d give it a go too, fascinated by the idea of the colour it would come out. I really enjoyed it and as they say it’s good to include a variety of different coloured vegetables in your diet, I think this will cover pink and red for a while. ;)

Adapted from this Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe

Makes 1L soup

4 large beetroot, cut into chunks
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
500ml low salt stock
1 can of plum tomatoes

1. Chop the beetroot and throw into a roasting tray with the garlic clove and some olive oil. Roast at 200 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft.
2. Dice the onion and soften with some oil in a large pan.
3. Add the beetroot and garlic, then the tomatoes and stock.
4. Simmer for ten minutes
5. Blend or blitz to a smooth consistency before storing in the fridge or serving with crumbled feta cheese on top or a dollop of creme fraiche.

Let me know if you try it! Now lets recap #JanuaryJoy so far…

So far I have done:
(Another) new recipe (for Gingerbread!)…
Talked about a few of the smaller projects I plan to tackle this month/year…
and I have embarked on learning a new skill with the Pen and Peplum #52handlettered challenge.

Erin also talked about your style updates for January (see how she’s wearing them here,) and Esme shared how she gets organised as a working mother.

Other posts from around the web:
Sarah from Glasgow Mummy set some health and fitness goals
Sian from Little Star & Me captured the memories with a round up of baby books.

How are you getting on – please do leave a link to your #januaryjoy moments (- even if they are just photo’s, it doesn’t have to be a whole blog post!) Or tell me about what has been making your January Joyful in the comments box!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Get Organised

So often, ‘get organised’ New Year prompts are about diary management – something I’m always keen to improve… I must double book myself at least once a week. The thought of returning to work and having to plan not only where I am but where Bea is on a daily basis, frankly terrifies me and so I will be fascinated by todays post and all your comments. I’d love to hear how all of you (working mum or not,) balance your life and various commitments and any pointers you have! Over to Esme…


Have you read Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please? In it she talks about how motherhood changed her and some of the things she finds hard, and she suggests a mantra for mothers to use that I really like: “Good for you, not for me”. She calls us all out for saying things that, at first, sound supportive, but are actually us being judgemental over someone else’s choices or working patterns. She tells us that we should support each others decisions, even if it’s not what we would do. Taking this advice into account, it’s difficult for me to offer advice for how to regain balance in your family life, because maybe you want to make very different decisions from me. If that is the case then I hope that you will respect my choices, just as I would respect yours.

At the beginning of 2014 I decided to set myself up as self-employed in order to stay at home as much as I could with Freddie, while still bringing in some money. “It’ll be a really good balance,” I thought to myself and told everyone who would listen, “Once I’ve got a good set of clients and regular work coming in, Freddie will go to nursery for a couple of slots a week and I’ll work around him. I’ll have time for everything!”

Best laid plans, and all that. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t get enough work, or that Freddie didn’t settle into nursery, it was that after doing a temporary freelance full-time post in an office I realised that I wanted the structure of an office job again. I was very lucky to find a part-time job somewhere I wanted to work very quickly, and, suddenly, we had a very different routine to work out. Since I went back to working structured hours, I’ve been trying to work out the conundrum of being part of a family with two working parents. The only thing I can conclude is that there are not enough hours in the day to be able to do everything you would want or even need to do. Being a working mother and the ‘issues’ and the guilt that entails is part of the struggle (but not the subject of this post, so I won’t dwell on this), but really it’s about trying to find a way not to let anything slide. It is about finding a balance, a balance that works for your family.

When I became a mother I kept trying to work out whether I’d changed or not. Was I the same person as I was before? Had this new person coming into my life dramatically altered me? I came to the conclusion (and still think this now) that being a mother simply became another part of me, an addition to what was a whole person before. But if I used up all of my time being an employee, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger and a woman, how could I possibly fit in another incredibly time consuming role?

We haven’t got it all worked out. I don’t have it all, not even by a long way. But we do have something that resembles a balance that we’re happy with. The key for me has been realising that I had to find a new way of working things out, making the things that were a priority for me an actual priority. I also had to let go of spending all day with my son if I wanted to work. I will never be able to see every milestone Freddie reaches, just as I can’t be there to hear about every achievement my husband has at work. I can’t be at work for every meeting because I don’t work on Mondays and I have to leave by 4.15. I have to balance the emotions about missing out with the knowledge that me working part-time is what is best for me right now, and – by association – best for my family.

Making an effort in my marriage is important to me, so we ask friends to babysit and have even had our parents take Freddie for a night or two on more than one occasion. Having time to myself is important as well, so I say yes to meetings friends for drinks in the evening and book in the odd Esme-only Saturday morning to go shopping or just read in bed. I admit that my friendships have taken a back seat over the past almost two years, and I have to hope that those people who are true friends will understand and will still be there when I emerge from this period of having young children.

I work hard when I’m at work (and have been rewarded for it already in a small promotion in my current role), but I endeavour to always leave on time. This is partly because Tom’s job has long hours and quite a lot of travelling and so, between us, we balance the responsibility of dropping off and collecting Freddie from nursery and being the ones who see him in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes it’s both of us, sometimes it’s me every evening for two weeks. The balance isn’t always perfect, but we try. And when something goes wrong we just scramble together a temporary solution. There is usually an ‘exceptional’ day at least once a week.

This is our regular weekly routine:

Monday: My day at home with Freddie, Tom normally travels on Mondays and often leaves very early and returns late. I try not to do too many jobs around the house and concentrate on having a fun Freddie-focused day.

Tuesday – Thursday:
7.30 I leave the house and travel to work, arriving at 8.30
8:15 Tom takes Freddie to nursery and goes to work
4:15 I finish work, run to the station and travel home
5:15 I collect Freddie
5.45 Everyone is home.

Friday: Every other week Tom has Friday off and has a daddy and Freddie day, the other week my in-laws travel to look after him and Tom works a shorter day. If I have to work late, I make sure it’s on Fridays.

This year I’m going to work on being more relaxed about the routine, about finding the perfect balance. I want to say no to spending too many weekends away from home, but yes to sometimes pushing the boundaries of nap times, taking all my holiday from work to have adventures and the occasional ‘personal day’ or day with friends. Having reflected on the balance of work/family/relaxation we currently have by writing this post, I have to say that I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. Ultimately, we have a happy and healthy son who is developing well, and that is what matters. Isn’t it?

Because I’m nosey, I really want to know: how do you feel about your balance right now? Are you trying to readdress it?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or on Twitter @esmewwins

Found: Dot & Fox Print shop

Today it’s just a brief post to share a fab find I made over the weekend, Dot & Fox Print Shop. Set up by Joanna Brown, the shop is named after her son Beau Fox, (born shortly before Bea) and Dot, the daughter she sadly lost in pregnancy. The prints in the shop were taken as she walked in her local area following that loss, then the shop set up while she was on bed rest awaiting Beau. Although I follow Joanna on Instagram I didn’t know about her shop and so when I stumbled across it at the weekend I had to share it with you all. I’m always looking for prints for our house and am currently obsessed with photographic art so these are right up my street.


BOOM Neon pink A3 print

I can just imagine this huge neon print in our bedroom, and I LOVE this A1 giant print inside what looks like a botanic gardens glasshouse.


Urban Jungle A1 print

These two are particularly beautiful, almost like still life oil paintings, there’s so much texture…


Don’t tell the others but you are my favourite‘ and ‘Oh so quiet‘ Ltd edition prints.

I hope you like them readers – Joanna also donates 5% to Tommys charity for every print sold if you are interested. It’s always a bonus to support a good cause whilst shopping ;) Do click over to the Dot & Fox Print Shop and have a look around – these are just my favourites.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Clear out your wardrobe

I’m not using this prompt to give you a prescriptive list of methods for clearing out your wardrobe. (We’ve done that before and if you would like some pointers read michelle’s detailed post here.) Instead, I’m using it as an opportunity to share with you my experiences of my capsule wardrobe. I started it in September but only blogged about it in October, inspired by Caroline over at Unfancy.com and driven by my post-natal style wilderness.

Before we start, if you want to read about my original choices, here is a link to the AW14 capsule wardrobe reveal post. I’m going to take you through what I chose now and what I actually wore…

Starting with the tops. As you can see there was a lot that went unworn here or I didn’t wear much. As I bought a lot of cheap stuff there was a lot I didn’t wear because of the quality – that top left t-shirt from Forever21 was dire, and the top middle sweat I wore quite a lot and still love, but hasn’t washed well and has gone out of shape. The big sloppy oversized tee’s were a real winner. That happens to be a style I like and was super-forgiving on my changing shape. I must have worn that wine coloured Zara TRF number (all links in the original post,) twice a week for months. The Superdry sparkly logo top (bottom left) was a surprise winner too – it had a bit of sparkle to cheer me up but was a flattering weight of waterfall and longer in the body, also a bit more flattering. And the cream v-neck zip front top was great for feeding and looked a bit smarter if I was going out.

The things I didn’t wear were for 3 main reasons. 1. They were too fancy for the occasions I had to get dressed for ie. there weren’t many occasions I needed to dress up for in this time period. And 2. The weather really scuppered my plans – I didn’t wear the pink cashmere Whistles jumper at all as it was too warm and only wore the other knits a couple of times, but I haven’t marked them ‘worn once’ as it wasn’t a failure on their part or mine in choosing them, just circumstance with the weather. Lastly, reason number 3. was that I didn’t need them including in my capsule in the first place but I panicked and thought I ‘ought to have’ a chambray shirt, for versatility, for example.

Moving onto the bottoms… I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, lest of all me who lives in jeans, but I basically wore the boyfriend jeans everyday, then moved onto the skinny jeans as soon as they were more comfortable and as the weather turned too cold to bare my ankles. The joggers were a surprise favourite again – probably not that stylish, but great for bumming around the house in and just being super comfy. I hardly wore the skirts or dresses – I think they were optimistic in how I would feel about wearing that style given my new shape. And the black skirt was an error. I never wear black and I bought this because I couldn’t find a striped or grey one anywhere. Error. Oh and that khaki jacket? I wore it every day that was dry. A brilliant buy for the transitional weather.

On the shoe front, I LIVED in those trainers. I know they’re not for everyone, but I love them and I’ll definitely be including fun fashion trainers in future capsule’s. The over the knee boots I would have loved to wear (and tried to for a dinner out,) but amongst the extra stone of weight I was still carrying at that time, some of it was mysteriously distributed on my calves and I feared for my circulation so gave up. Sad times. ;) I didn’t wear the leopard flats as much as I could have because (again, online shopping error,) I settled for a cheaper pair I didn’t fit very well and they feel too big so I always reached for the trainers first instead.

So, what have I learned from the whole experiment? Before you ask, I didn’t cheat. I went all the way through to Dec 1st (probably further,) without dipping into my stored clothes (barring my holiday when I had to wear different summer clothes obviously.)

1. I DO NOT NEED MANY CLOTHES. Really. I knew I could get away with a lot less than I had, but really, out of the 35 pieces, I could probably have lived with about 20-25 pieces. That’s the moral of this exercise for you all to think about… how many of the items in your wardrobe do you actually wear? I suppose that could seem wasteful given the amount I purchased and that bothers me more ethically than financially as they were low cost items on the whole. But a lot will be worn in future, it’s just not right for now. And that may not apply when I have to incorporate work clothes into my wardrobe again.

2. Quality over quantity is a worthwhile investment. I know, I know; Lots of people baulk at spending £100 on a pair of jeans. But if you wear them 5 days a week, why the heck not? Equally, you could spend £20 and save the rest. That’s up to you, I’m just saying that if you remove all the unworn/hardly worn items and the money you spent on them from your clothing budget, think what you could get for the money…

3. Do not settle for quick fix items. A lot of the items I didn’t wear were because they weren’t right in the first place. Often I had something in mind but struggled to find it and settled for something similar that ended up being something I disliked, precisely because it wasn’t what I really wanted.

4. On the post-natal/breastfeeding front, I learned 2 things. Regarding the feeding, I didn’t have to modify my wardrobe much once I discounted my favourite item, the dress… those with buttons are ok, but the styles weren’t really me – I like t-shirt and shift styles that would have been tricky. Other than that, as long as a top is loose enough to lift or won’t pull out of shape if it’s stretchy, you can do the whole pull up thing to feed. The most discreet way is to use a vest underneath as many of you recommended but it was too hot for many of the months, so I just used Bea to cover my tummy and maybe a muslin tucked under her if I felt really exposed or self conscious. When it comes to post-natal style, I think I only really needed  a few really nice tops that were loose and comfortable, decent jeans that fitted and were comfortable, and flat slip on and off shoes that were comfortable – sense a theme there?!

So would I do it again? Yes. Definitely. I am doing right now and I’ll share my current capsule with you as soon as I have time, (it takes a while to compile these posts.) I’ve created a new winter capsule that I anticipate I’ll be wearing until the end of February at least, but whether I’d be so strict about a set number of pieces and a 3 month time frame, I don’t know. I think a one in one out policy is more sensible and infrequent shopping as our seasons are difficult to predict. Just think, if you had to remove an item from your wardrobe every time you bought one, either to store it for a future season or to bin it, would you think about whether the one you replaced could be reworked, whether it was worn out and really needed replacing, or whether the new item was worth losing an old one? I think it will really help me keep my purchases in check. I’ve actually enjoyed having less, spending less and shopping less! I’m having too much fun with Bea!

So what do you think readers? I’d love to hear if you did it, or if you’re inspired to try it – even if it’s just to pare back your own wardrobe.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Sugar and Spice… Gingerbread

It’s perhaps a little festive and in truth I prepared this post before Christmas, but this is a recipe that’s worth sharing and one I’ll undoubtably make again in January so I thought I’d share it. Until I tried this recipe I had never made gingerbread which is odd because 1. I really like it, (just an excuse for thick icing on top!) and 2. I’m also a fan of homemade biscuits. In fact, biscuits are one of my favourite things… apart from cake maybe. ;)

I used this BBC Good Food Gingerbread recipe and some cutters I’ve bought over the years at John Lewis with quite pretty details on them… I particularly love the houses. As with most recipes I feel are worthy of sharing here, this one was super easy. The dough came together quickly and although I think I over-did them slightly as I like gingerbread on the chewy side, they were really delicious. Particularly with that extra thick icing. ;)

I made them one afternoon before Christmas and spent a perfect maternity leave afternoon decorating them with a friend. Let me know if you give the recipe a go and tweet me a picture!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Would you: Do Baby Led Weaning?

It’s a big month for us this month. Aside from #JanuaryJoy (yes, it’s still going on and there will be more posts this week!) Beatrice turns 6 months soon and we’re thinking about weaning. It seemed the perfect time to get these discussion and sharing posts going again and hear your thoughts on weaning. Please do share your thoughts and experiences – both myself and the readers find these posts so helpful I know, so thanks in advance!


Image from Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food

So, weaning. I think I’ve said before that I live in quite a hippyish area of Manchester and I could be forgiven for thinking that everyone does baby led weaning. Before having Bea it seemed like BLW was just the thing to do but I wasn’t sure if I was fully on board with it – it looked messy and I wondered if it was just the latest middle class fad. Since having Bea my thoughts were that I couldn’t do BLW; I’m going back to work when she is 8 months old and as she has thus far been exclusively breast fed (and I have no plans to add in formula once she’s over 6 months,) I’m aware some of her milk feeds will drop, even if I express and that she will need to be getting some nutrition elsewhere.

So I bought the baby led weaning book, fully expecting to disregard it but I am strangely drawn to the idea now. For those not familiar, the book suggests allowing your baby to start eating soft but normal foods (like steamed broccoli for example,) anytime after 6 months that they show an interest. No purees, no spoon feeding, just let them feed themselves. The catch is that the first couple of months or more are very much about learning and playing with food. Babies don’t know how to chew food or pass it back to their throat to swallow initially, but then slowly learn and improve. Milk feeds remain the vast if not entire basis of their nutrition which on reflection actually makes more sense as breast or formula milk is way more nutritious than a bowl of pureed carrot or apple will ever be.

And now I don’t know what to do. I think I want to do BLW. It seems right for Bea and for us. Everything we have done so far has been based around listening to her – her sleep routines and so on but is that because they suited us? Some passages in the book liken giving purees to force feeding and make it sound awful, when like many other baby methods in various books on sleep or behaviour, millions of children have been brought up like that without damaging lasting effects. I don’t really buy into the theory that BLW makes kids less fussy and choose healthier options in later life – surely fussiness is natural toddler behaviour thats inevitable as they get to exercise some choice combined with a bit of boundary pushing, and once a child is exposed to sugars etc, won’t they need some parental moderation of those things naturally? I do however like the idea of her self moderating her intake, just as she has whilst BF. On the other hand with pureeing Bea would eat what I gave her, I wouldn’t have to worry about the salt or sugar contents as I’d be making it and she would no doubt progress easily to being less milk reliant as I go back to work. I still plan to keep feeding her as long as expressing, feeding when I’m home (which is going to be 4 days out of 7 after all,) and my milk supply allows. I wonder if my leaning towards BLW is partly emotional attachment to BF – I do feel guilty that my return to work may impact on her feeding even though I know I should hold onto it as long as possible given the benefits to both of us. Many people tell me that their BF baby just has water or initially some expressed bottles when they are apart, then BF as usual when they are together, but is that me being selfish and hanging onto it, when she might actually really miss it or be hungry in my absence?

So, there’s lots of food for thought there and I’d love to hear your experiences, particularly around your return to work. In case it’s relevant, she won’t be at nursery initially but with my mum at our house or with Pete, so whatever we choose will be easy to continue in my absence.

Wade in readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

5 months with Bea

Morning readers! Apologies for the lack of posts this week, I’ve had 2 and a half days of my internet being down for some unknown reason and Erin is having the same problem. Today it’s back, hurrah! So here’s an instalment of life with Bea for you all today. Thanks for bearing with me!

When I last wrote about life with Bea, things were pretty much rosy. We had just got back from Florida, I’d transitioned her into her cot in the day without any problems (Hello smug face). For about a week after we got back she was the perfect baby then bam! It all went south.

4 to 5 months was tricky. It was probably also the hardest time I’ve had with Bea. Before then, bad days had been just that, days, not weeks but in early December (around 19 weeks) something happened with her naps… er, what naps? For 5 days Bea napped steadily less and less. She had been having about 3 hours in the day and day by day she went from 2.5, then 2 then at the worst only 1.5hrs. Those with babies will be feeling my pain already, those without, let me just tell you there’s a very fine line between a very happy well rested baby and the cliff top drop over the edge into over tired, distressed angry screaming baby. Nuff said. After about 5 days she improved slightly and the nap times started to go up again. But they only made it to about 2 hours and that’s where they stayed for that month, on a good day.

It was really hard. Hard because there is nothing more soul destroying (for me anyway,) than pacing around rocking and shushing in a darkened room for 45 minutes trying to get a baby to sleep. You emerge shell shocked, only for them only to wake up 30 minutes later. It was heartbreaking watching her so desperate for sleep that she was banging her head onto my chest and crying with frustration. And hard because amongst all this I steadily beat myself up that I was creating bad habits (rocking her to sleep because it was the only thing I could do or feeding her to sleep,) poor sleep associations and emotional scars if I ever left her to cry for a few minutes to see if she would learn to sleep by herself. The latter was a particularly useless tactic as eventually I always caved and went back, only to rock her to sleep anyway; Cue more beating myself up for letting her cry and for reinforcing that if she cried she would get what she wants.

How do I feel about it now? Well, like I said in my end of the year post, a few days do not a bad habit form. Bea went from going down with no fuss, awake for at least 2 or 3 of her 3 or 4 naps a day, to needing rocking or feeding to sleep for every single one and guess what, for some unknown reason, she is now back to going down without fuss for most of her naps in the cot again. Every couple of days I would try and after a few weeks she just kind of got over whatever was wrong. I’m able to beat myself up less now, but it’s always better with the benefit of hindsight. For whatever reason, she needed me. I did a lot of reading in these weeks about sleep patterns, needs and training and whilst I didn’t try to ‘sleep train’ her, I did leave her to cry a couple of times – more frustrated shouting rather than real crying with tears, wondering if she would settle herself in the ‘ten minutes’ or whatever some sleep expert recommended. A couple of times she did, but more often she didn’t and it ended up feeling like a wasted episode of crying as we achieved nothing. I definitely know more about the likelihood that she will settle now though by listening to her different sounds. She does sometimes, shout, chatter or cry before she sleeps, but it’s more of a whinge and it’s part of her dropping off, as much as her sucking her fingers is.

And why did it happen? Who knows. Do we ever really understand babies behaviour? Some would say it was the ‘dreaded 4 month sleep regression‘. I don’t really believe in sleep regressions as I read a blog post and it makes much more sense to me that she was simply dropping a nap. After all, babies sleep requirements don’t change in a day and throughout this period she would have 3 or 4 naps a day, whereas now she generally has 3. I found that site really helpful with info about bedtimes too and ideal sleep requirements. It makes much more sense to me to work around her sleep patterns, noting how long she is awake before she needs a nap, rather than prescriptively saying she should be napping at X o’clock. I also wonder if it was all made worse by the fact I was busy (more reasons to feel bad… the 5 month picture we have below is also her ’21 week’ photo as for the first time ever I forgot to take her weekly photo :( ) – things were worst at the beginning of December but the week before Christmas was also pretty bad, exacerbated by builders and tradespeople banging, ringing the door bell and generally taking my time up. There were times she was crying and they needed me to speak to them about something, and lots more times when I cursed them for being noisy and waking her from a much needed sleep. Or was it a wonder week leap? Who knows what it was all about, but it’s also over!

There were great things about 4-5 months too though. Bea learned to blow raspberries and bubbles, she’s laughing more and more and at 20 weeks she rolled over. In a classic moment, I returned from being out of the room to find her on her front when I had left her on her back.

Right now, we’re having a glorious 6th month and I’ll be back to tell you more about that soon. How are you getting on with your little ones? Does any of this sound familiar?!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea

#JanuaryJoy – Plan a project

Good morning readers!

I’ve left some of the prompts for this years #JanuaryJoy deliberately vague to allow as many people to join in as possible and whilst this particular prompt could encompass many things, for me it will be a house project. We’ve got quite a few things planned this year, big and small, from whole rooms to finishing touches. I’m keeping it small for now as I want to enjoy the remainder of my maternity leave dust and stress free, so I thought I’d share a couple of the projects I have in mind for this month.


Alcove storage // Peach and grey alcove

A Nursery wardrobe.
When we planned the nursery (which I will share soon, I promise!) I was convinced I was having a boy and didn’t give any thought to wardrobe space. We have a huge chest of drawers in there but since having a girl I’ve realised I need hanging space for dresses. The best place for the storage is in an alcove to the side of the chimney breast but it’s proving difficult to find a pice of furniture as it’s an oddly sized 66cms wide, so I’m having to think outside the box. I love the idea of being able to see Bea’s tiny clothes and so I thought some kind of open storage might work and hopefully won’t look too untidy as she doesn’t have that many clothes and I can still keep the majority folded in the drawers. Or do I do some kind of IKEA hack with something like this?

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Garden design by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Deck planting.
When we built our deck outside the kitchen last year we added some raised beds made of sleepers, half the height of the deck. They’re pretty big and the idea is to plant them with tall perennials that will surround the deck with foliage so it doesn’t seem separate from the garden. So the first job is to order some topsoil to fill them as they have stood empty since we built them, and secondly to plant them up with appropriate plants. I’m going for delicate drifting styles, in shade loving plants for one of the boxes on the north facing side and pretty flowers for the other west facing side which gets lots of sun.

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Bathroom via

Bathroom revamp.
Our bathroom is perfectly adequate and not on the agenda for change for quite some time… if we did change it, it would be part of quite a major reconfiguration of the first floor so we need to give that serious thought. In the meantime, I think I can make it a lot more us, with some simple additions. A new mirror, new light fittings, a bit of paint and some new hooks should make a big difference and it’ll be fun to change a room without all hell breaking loose in the house for a change. ;)

So what projects are you planning this January readers? (It doesn’t have to be house related!)

Love
Rebecca
xo