Reaching out to Refugees.

The plight of the people fleeing Syria has been in the news for months, years even. This weeks pictures of Aylan Kurdi, the 3 year old boy drowned attempting to escape with his family really brought it home to me, as the world is finally starting to see past propaganda stories about benefit seeking immigrants and focus on humanitarian relief for the affected people. As you probably know, his mother, brother and 9 others in that boat alone died.

Before this picture it was some particularly brilliant news coverage that had got me thinking about their devastating situation. I have often in the past thought that if Britain were facing war and my family at risk, I would leave at once. I am a Doctor, I would find work elsewhere, we would be safe. Listening to the devastating stories that are emerging it is clear these people are also families, with professions and skills. There is nothing to distinguish between us other than location and circumstance. Seeing Aylan Kurdi’s little body on the beach just broke my heart, all I could see was Bea and another families anguish.

So I thought this weekend I would share a few ways you can help. I can’t sit and do nothing any longer, hoping the European governments do the right thing. At a time of year when we are planning house improvements, new clothes and holidays it all seems futile when whole families would give anything for safety, food and shelter. Here’s a few things I am doing, and if you have any direct ways of helping I would love for you to share them here.

  • Donate to the Red Cross
  • I was also directed to a group called Kos Kindness. The group was set up a couple of years back to help Greek families in poverty due to the economic crisis there but are now also inundated with refugees. There are several ways you can help. There’s a crowd funding page to help with delivery and an Amazon wish list that is kept up to date with what is required. You can buy food from a local supermarket and get it delivered online (the delivery address for Kos Kindness is on their Facebook page.) I’ve seen people are talking about sending shoeboxes full of practical items like toothbrushes, nappies, clothes, shoes and soap.
  • Many of the national newspapers are also publishing advice and links for practical ways you can help. Here are some from The Independent and The Guardian.

What are you doing to help?

Love, Rebecca.

PS. Some of you may have noticed the blog has been down for a few days – it’s all sorted after an administrative error so we will be posting as usual next week. Thanks for bearing with us.

Garden Party Get Up…

We held Bea’s Naming Ceremony in our garden this last Sunday and as one of the reasons we chose a Naming Ceremony instead of a Christening was because we had no personal relationship with any of the local churches, it was important to us to hold it somewhere of significance. Our family home and newly finished garden seemed the perfect place to celebrate and start creating memories. Of course, I wanted to decorate too so I thought I’d share some of the inspiration behind the decor in case you are looking to decorate for any kind of garden party or celebration soon. It was all really simple and easy – mainly because I bought the decor in rather than making (most) of it and I’d recommend that approach for busy mums rather than aspiring towards unrealistic expectations!

I didn’t really have a theme but it is summer and I just wanted everything to look happy, fun and celebratory, so we went with bright colours.

DIY celebration flags // Mexicana fiesta bunting
Confetti Sprinkles Cake // Tags for wishes // Thumbprint tree

Of course, I collected some Pinterest inspiration, then found all the necessary supplies. Our celebrant Janet Lopacki provided us with the tree for a thumbprint guest book but the same one is available to download below. As another memento I cut up coloured paper (from TK Maxx) into tag shapes and left a stack for people to write a message for Bea and we got some lovely ones to keep for her. My intention is to make a scrapbook with the wishes, fingerprint tree and copies of the readings. The flags were a last minute idea to give to the children to wave through the ceremony, also made with the co-ordinating paper. I spotted the decor in John Lewis and made a note of their brand. Theres a much more extensive selection on their own website and I ended up buying it from them via Amazon which was cheaper. I happened to find some in TK Maxx too, although not in the colours I wanted.

(Free printable) DIY fingerprint tree: One Fab Day // Paper decor and fan strings: // Ink pad: Hobbycraft // Paper: (From TK Maxx)

At the end of the ceremony we also arranged a balloon release. I’d do this differently in future, because the message got a bit lost while people removed the strings from the balloons, but the idea was explained by Janet like this:

I know that Beatrice will receive, and give, a lot of love to everyone she meets in life. Today you have been given balloons to release into the sky, the purpose of this in a symbolic sense, is that during the course of Beatrice’s lifetime, the thoughts, hopes and wishes you have for Beatrice today, will be carried through the wind and the weather systems, kept in by that ozone layer, and with each ray of sunshine and drop of rain, that love and those aspirations will steadily come back down to Beatrice.

We have had a few friends take photos that I’m just waiting to come back, but when they do, I’ll share a few here so you can see how it all turned out!


Behind the scenes…

Firstly, let me apologise for going AWOL last week. A little while ago we decided against a traditional Christening for Bea and opted for a humanist naming ceremony. We planned it for our newly finished garden, found a celebrant and invited our closest friends and family. As a consequence, last week was busy!

It was such an amazing day and I’m so glad we did it. I’m going to come back soon and tell you all more about it but here are some pictures of the planning first. I actually enjoyed the build up and the day without feeling really stressed, probably because we did it exactly how we wanted it.

In the meantime, if you didn’t catch Erin’s post yesterday, do go back and have a look at how she wore June.


What I have learned… About being a working Mum

I’ve been back at work for almost 3 months now, my first day was 17th March and I didn’t write about it until now because I spent most of the first month doing a phased return. It wasn’t until after Easter that I was back to my usual 3 day week, so I’ve now done 2 months of that.

Some of you may recall that I was dreading my return to work. I cried the night before, partly because I felt like I was abandoning this little thing that had only ever known me being there almost 24/7. Partly it was purely selfish, I felt like I was missing out on watching her grow up and develop.

So I made it through the day without her… And this is what daddy daycare looks like…

A video posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

In actual fact, It’s been nowhere near as hard as I thought. Work is so busy (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a GP) that I didn’t get a moment to think about her all day. The first few times I left her she was with Pete, happy as larry, then later on with my mum, so that made things easier too. Coming home was amazing. When I started back at work, Bea wasn’t quite 8 months old so we weren’t quite at the stage where she was excited about seeing me again, but then as the weeks went on she started to get really excited when I came home, clapping and shouting and reaching for me. There have been crushing moments too though. The day I returned to work, Bea properly crawled, to the incentive of her expressed bottle that Daddy kindly put on the floor in front of her. Another day I came home and she had started clapping, (taught by my mum,) as lovely as it is for mum and her to have that experience and memory together, it still cut deep that it wasn’t me who taught her.

Being back at work has had it’s plus points though. I know after almost 8 months at home with Bea I was starting to take our time together for granted. There were times I needed to get some life admin task done or a bit of house work and she got plonked and shushed, inevitably towards the end of the day with a deadline looming and the witching hour underway. As she got more mobile that got harder and I got more frustrated. Now, as much as possible, the time I have with her I spend with her. When something needs doing, I plan to do it later… not much is getting done, but, whatever. I think I’m more patient with her too, being away makes me fresher, more ready to face the challenges a crawling, almost toddling, non-stop little minx brings with her. ;)

Objectively, now I’ve done both, I’m not sure how I feel. We just did our garden with the money that I earn – we use my salary at the moment to plough into the house and live more carefully on Pete’s. I’m so happy with it, but I hate that that essentially represents putting material things ahead of my time with Bea. I have more than once considered what it would mean to give up work, financial cuts we would have to make. I know I’d be as happy in a smaller house, so we could still afford holidays and the like, but with Bea every day. I’m pretty sure that if had had the option I’d have taken a career break, but there’s very little information about it available in my line of work and I do know that if you are off for over 12 months, there are retraining consequences. I’m also a partner and have obligations to my practice and partners. To some extent I feel I’ve made my bed and have to lie in it. Unfortunately I don’t buy the working woman positive role model argument… my Mum didn’t work and it didn’t stop me forging a challenging career, however I also don’t feel it influenced me in how I feel about being wishing I was at home with Bea either; I want to be home with her because I want to spend more time with her, not because I feel children do better when they have a stay at home mum (or parent) as a constant.

All those things considered, a lot of this is selfish rather than considering Beas needs. She is a happy little thing, doesn’t seem at all bothered by me leaving and copes really well with our days apart. Her relationship with Pete has blossomed. Although he was great with her before, its really gone to the next level and he knows her routine and quirks (almost) ;) as well as me now. She and my Mum also have a lovely little bond going on and its amazing seeing mum make her laugh or do things with her that I wouldn’t have thought to do.

Of course I know that there will be countless things she doesn’t learn from me, at nursery, at school, even at University (if she goes,) but its hard making the transition from being the lynchpin to all her new experiences. At times I have felt recently that she needs me less because she doesn’t see me as so central to her life now, she has had to reply on others as her touchstone throughout the day. And I know that its great that she has so many people around her, loving her, cheering her on and ready to catch her when she falls, but it doesn’t stop me wishing it was me. I also know I’m lucky to be able to work part time and I will say that 3 days is a reasonable balance but at the same time, more than enough for me.

I don’t think I’ve given any answers in this post, if you’re searching for them yourself, goodness knows I wish I had them myself, but I hope if you’re dreading returning to work it might help in some small way. I certainly found it was a bit like when I was pregnant and people would tell me that having a baby was ‘the best thing ever!’ – I used to think, ‘It might be for you…!’ and couldn’t comprehend how I would feel when she arrived. Similarly people told me the anticipation of returning to work was worse than the reality and it is, but I couldn’t see that at all when I was dreading my own return, until I had done it and it was fine.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, as always readers,


PS All these photos are from my Instagram account, you can follow Bea and I’s adventures here.

Cast your vote…

I’m sure there’s some unwritten rule of blogging somewhere that says, ‘don’t mention politics.’ Tell the truth, I’m not much of a political animal, feeling sometimes that policies and manifesto’s are so far removed from the day to day realities they are trying to tackle and more recently becoming more and more disillusioned as a frontline member of the NHS. For the first time however, I’m really undecided on how my vote will be cast and I wondered what you were all thinking*.

Front and centre of my thoughts and mind is of course the NHS. The Conservative government has brought the NHS, particularly General Practice, to its knees during this government, and morale hasn’t been lower, nor workloads higher, in decades. However, the economy seems to have been a triumph for the Tories and do I trust labour or The Lib Dems with the NHS either? Personally, I think they all want to dismantle the NHS and Labour and the Lib Dems are just keeping quiet about it. So should I vote for the best for the NHS or take everything into account, even if it’s not great for my personal career situation?

It feels tactical voting this time too. I don’t want to see another coalition. Voting for the ‘wrong’ party might mean UKIP take more seats. On a personal level, I cannot stand Ed Miliband. Should it be about ‘liking’ a possible future PM? I feel like they are all so coached, smooth and trained, that a gut feeling on personality and morals might be the only way to decide.

I’d love to hear a bit of Election chat from you this Monday morning. Perhaps the issues that are most pertinent to you and influencing your vote as the NHS influences mine? Feel free to disclose who you are voting for but it’s not at all required!


*I appreciate this can be a sensitive and personal issue. Please feel free to comment anonymously – just check your browser doesn’t autofill your details when you comment and remember if you have a Gawker picture it’s linked to your email not your name. :)

Back to work Blues…

I’ve put off writing this post for weeks, in a classic example of head in the sand denial. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work.

A bit of context first. I’m going back 3 days a week and doing a phased return, so only Tuesday this week and then 2 days a week for the following 2 weeks before doing the full three days after the Easter weekend. Bea isn’t yet 8 months – she will be on the 21st. Why am I going back now? Financial reasons. I’m technically self employed and have to employ someone to do my job while I’m on Mat leave. The funding for that is only for a set period which ran out some weeks ago and the cost of paying for a locum is prohibitive to do for any longer than I have done. Because I’m going back earlier than I would like, I’ve managed to arrange that Pete will do one day of childcare, and my Mum is doing the other two, then Bea will start in Nursery for at least 1 day a week from being 12 months. That may be more difficult than starting her now on reflection, but thats a topic for another post.

Housekeeping out of the way, how am I feeling? Well thats one of the reasons for not writing the post. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I don’t want to leave her. Until now, I’ve left her for 4 and a half hours max, and a total of about 5 times in those 7 and a half months since she was born. I haven’t wanted to leave her, I love being with her so much.

I can hear the former me and the judgements I made pre-baby ringing in my ears. Having no understanding of how I would feel, I thought women who didn’t want to go back to work just didn’t want to work. Work doesn’t really feature in my thoughts, except that it will be the cause of me leaving Bea. I thought women who never left their babies (like I haven’t) were… I don’t know, like a shadow of their former selves. Why didn’t they want to go out and do the things they did before? Because it doesn’t compare to spending the day with your little love. Why did they suddenly lose interest in their careers or job? I never expected to be desperate to get back to work, but I didn’t think I would feel so strongly that I didn’t want to go. I suppose it’s an evolutionary thing. After all, if it were easy to leave our babies, mothers would have left them in years gone by and helpless offspring would have come to all kinds of harm.

I’ve heard so many friends and acquaintances tell me the reality is much worse than the anticipation. And I know that in months to come I will probably welcome some time to myself, when she’s a full on toddler and every moment is exhausting and full of ‘why’s’. Or maybe I won’t. Right now, every bone in my body feels that leaving her is wrong and I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

I’m terrified I’m going to miss out. I’m terrified she will miss me and feel abandoned. All I can think is that she might need her Mummy and I won’t be there. That I should be there.

So I may or may not be around for the next week or two. I can see I will want to spend time with Bea instead of blogging, but if I do find myself at a loose end there me be a post or two on these pages. Bear with me, and I’ll be back once I’m on an even keel again.


#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

The Big Autumn list

It’s the 21st of September this Sunday, the date I always regard as the first of the new season and so my thoughts are well and truly turned towards log fires, fruit crumbles, falling leaves, bonfires and fireworks. Even though its more Indian Summer than crisp Autumn weather it’s fun to plan so here’s my big Autumn list of things I want to see, do, make and experience, and I hope you will join in with yours in the comments.

Last Autumn I made this list and then everything changed as I found myself pregnant and asleep most of the time on the couch. I’m hoping for a much more active and productive few months this time around!

  • Getting back into Autumn cooking with pies, roasts and crumbles
  • Shopping for a fireplace to kickstart our Lounge renovation
  • Kicking the leaves on autumn walks
  • Wearing my new capsule wardrobe and seeing how it works for mummy life
  • Our first family holiday as we head off to Florida to celebrate my Mum’s birthday with Bea
  • Meeting new people and making new friends at Baby and Mummy groups locally.
  • Celebrating 1 year in our ‘new’ house – 4.5 rooms done, 5.5 to go!
  • Slowly reclaiming my body with some dedicated post-natal exercise.

Make a list or share just one goal you have this season – I’ll be looking for more inspiration for mine!


PS! Need more inspiration?
Read my previous Autumn lists here and here.

Becoming a Mother…

Day 2

This post has been a difficult one to write, in fact I started drafting it as ‘2 weeks with Bea’ and got not much further until now. I haven’t yet written about our new arrival, other than to introduce her because it has taken me time to find the words. How to start? To put my words into context, I would never have described myself as maternal – I don’t get ‘broody’ and I would even extend that statement into my pregnancy. I had very real fears that I wouldn’t like being a mum, or that I might resent my baby for the inevitable changes that were about to take place in my life. That probably sounds like I wasn’t ready to have a baby at all, but I had come to realise (much earlier, before we tried to get pregnant) that I would probably never ‘want’ to give up complete freedom to do what I wanted, lazy beach holidays cocktail in hand swinging in a hammock, regular dinners out or last minute plans. But I knew I didn’t want to go through my life without being a parent and building a family with Pete.

First Bath time // Day 5

So it has taken me by surprise just how different I do feel, now that I have a daughter. I should have seen it coming I guess, as everyone always says they fell in love the minute they set eyes on their child, but equally, some of my more honest friends admitted that becoming a mother was a shock, not least due to the physical ordeal and that it took them days or weeks to fully bond with their baby – I suspected I may be the same. In fact the change in me when I first saw Bea was seismic. I finally found the words yesterday when I realised it was like The Big Bang, everything changed in an instant. A whole new universe began and Bea is my Sun.

Now I look back at times I have offered well meaning baby sitting duties to friends with new babies, just to give them time to sleep or shower and they have refused. Now I understand that maybe they didn’t want to be without their baby, even for a minute. I remember trying to reassure chronically fatigued friends that expressing or topping up with formula so their partner could give a bottle while they sleep wasn’t a bad option if it helped them function better. Now I know how they didn’t want anyone else to comfort their baby if they could, even at the expense of their sleep. It shocked me how primal the urge is to hold her sometimes, how much it upsets me when she cries. If I sound crazy, I feel like it at times! I fell hopelessly in love with this little person before I even saw her, the second I heard her cry.

Even now, having written what is here, words fail me. No statement is powerful enough to express how I feel about her or how content I feel with Bea in our lives. I wanted to share these thoughts not just to hear from all the other mothers what they felt in those first heady weeks of becoming a mother, but to reassure those of you who (like I did,) wonder if they will ever be ready or willing to take that unimaginable leap into motherhood.

Tell me, do my words resonate with you or remind you of how you felt? Or do they make you feel more positive about a family in your future one day?


Note: This post is not meant to patronise those of you reading who have never wanted or do not want a family in future, merely to describe how I feel and speak to those who might feel as I did weeks, months and years ago about children in my future.

Capturing the bump…

I never planned to do a ‘bump shoot’, thinking I would have lots of selfie style bump shots to suffice and Pete would have taken plenty too. Whilst the former is true, the latter hasn’t been – we have been far to busy in the house to be anywhere worthy of dressing up and taking photos of late. Maybe it’s also the looming end to my pregnancy that has made me cherish it more, I will certainly miss this bump and shifting baby inside, but I hope the reality in my arms will be infinitely better. :)

I had planned to have a newborn shoot, when baby is fresh and still scrunched up and small, to capture that newborn bubble the three of us will hopefully be in (read: chaotic, sleep derived blur,) and so at the last minute last week I decided to ask our good friends Laura and Peter Lawson to do a bump shoot too. They made us feel so at ease in front of the camera and I knew they would ‘get’ how blessed out together we both are just now, as they had their little boy Albert only 7 months ago.

I’m so glad we did it now and Pete loves the results too. This was too special a time in our lives not to make some memories to treasure and now I just have to pick some for the wall!

Have a great weekend readers, see you next week!