It's been a rocky road to get to this conclusion...
IT'S OK IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PREGNANCY!
My first pregnancy was pretty stock standard. I was feeling nauseated and vomiting daily for the first 15 weeks or so, felt pretty good for the remainder of the second trimester and had many aches and pains in the third trimester. Doesn't sound too bad, right? I still hated it. It honestly felt like no-one understood how I could dislike such a miracle, that I was ungrateful for not enjoying the time I spent growing my son.
When my son was born I felt instant relief! I think I was just so happy to not be dealing with the discomfort and "trapped" feeling of pregnancy that anything in comparison would have been enjoyable. My partner and I worked as a team, we faced hurdles, overcame them and really listened to each other. The newborn period with Teddy was one of the best experiences of my life to date.
Despite this positive attitude towards being a parent, my partner and I were always very back and forth about the idea of adding another to our family. We enjoyed Teddy so much that parenting felt easy, why risk ruining that by adding another little person? Ultimately, it came down to whether we wanted Teddy to grow up with a sibling, whether we wanted the responsibility of being all the family our son had each day. 18 months after birthing our first baby, we decided to go for it, but I couldn't help but feel incredibly anxious about going through pregnancy all over again.
We were very fortunate to have no issues conceiving once again (I know many people who have had to struggle to have a family and will ALWAYS feel grateful I have not had to worry about this). I started feeling unwell at around 3 weeks - much earlier than my first pregnancy. It escalated very quickly and at 4 weeks I had my first trip to emergency for fluids and medication. I hadn't been able to keep a thing down for 2 days straight but I still felt like I was being a hypochondriac. The following 20 weeks were by far the hardest of my life so far. My partner was away for work for 3 months, COVID-19 resulted in no daycare and no family assistance with my 2 year old son and I experienced constant nausea and vomiting - broken up by frequent hospital trips for fluids. The nausea calmed down a bit at 25 weeks allowing me to come off medications, but I definitely still have my bad days now at 36 weeks.
The worst part of the entire experience was the extreme guilt and loneliness I was feeling. It felt impossible to keep dragging myself and my son through each day and I considered abortion often. It felt like no one understood, it felt like I was being judged, it felt like I was a terrible mum. Many times people told me that it was just morning sickness and would pass, it was in my head and I just needed to think positive and push through it, I should be enjoying my last pregnancy.
When I was finally diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum a weight definitely lifted. I still felt awful and people still didn't understand how I couldn't just snap out of it, but I was able to be easier on myself for not getting anything done in a day.
I was able to connect with other women who had dealt with this before or were currently struggling alongside me. Knowing I was not alone was everything!
The point of this is not to share my sob story and get some sympathy, it's to reach out to anyone disliking their pregnancy for any reason and let them know IT'S OK! It's ok to struggle with the nausea and fatigue, it's ok to dislike the bits you're meant to like (like your baby kicking your bladder for hours each day). You are not alone, you are not a monster and it does not mean that you will dislike being a parent.
If you ever need to vent, I'm here to listen! Never hesitate to reach out to people when you're struggling to get through x
The struggle is real! Finding a balance between home life and work life is a real juggle, but I do have some key tips on getting through the day to day of it!
I'll be the first to admit though, I find these tips great but I don't always remember to follow them. We're all human. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. When I'm overwhelmed, I sometimes forget what works for me, so having it written down somewhere is just what I need. Take this as your reminder to sit back and take stock.
1. Create a space you want to be in!
OK...so I'm a very visual person, but this was a big one for me! In order to work from home, I had to have a dedicated workspace that I wanted to spend time in. I didn't want to be waking up in the morning and dreading the day. I didn't want work associated with anything negative (if I could help it!) so I set to work creating my own space. I decided to place this area in our living room. This was essential because I needed to keep an eye on Teddy while working and I hate being shut off from the hustle and bustle of day to day life. I purchased a simple but sturdy desk from Ikea, kept my favourite design books and magazines on hand and styled with my beloved Louie Luxe print received on the Revie Jane purpose tour in Sydney. Keeping items close that bring me inspiration and joy has been incredibly important!
2. Take it one hour at a time. Or half an hour at a time...or 10 minutes!
My point is, break it down. Don't tell yourself you have to sit down and hustle at the computer for 8 hours straight. It might be so daunting that you quit before you even begin (if you're an all or nothing type of person like I am). If you break the day down into time periods or even specific tasks, it can seem so much more achievable!
3. Write a list and break it down!
Writing a to-do list is a bit of a no-brainer, but a lot of people get carried away and write everything they can think of, and see it as a bit of a failure if everything isn't done. It's also hard to know where to begin with one huge list. My advice is to break your list down into three categories: 'must do' tasks, 'would be good to do' tasks and 'if I have time' tasks. This way you have priorities all ready and you avoid disappointment if you only get your 'must do' tasks completed for the day.
4. Clean a little every day, not ALL day!
When you're working from home, it's so easy to get fixated on your surroundings. There can be washing, dishes and all sorts of mess around you and it can be very distracting. My saviour has been a cleaning schedule! Another simple solution to make sure my mind is on what it needs to be focussed on. I dedicate time to cleaning in the day so that it is done and doesn't need to be thought about for the rest of the day. As I am doing small bits every day, it has helped me avoid saving it all for the weekend and then having to spend an entire day getting the house back to a respectable standard. I got the idea when I started following Just Another Mummy Blog, she has an amazing template (link) that I printed and laminated. I placed it in prime position at our Organisation Station and stick to it daily. James can refer to it and help me out once he gets home, it's been a life saver!
5. Take time to rest, take breaks and get outside!
You know the expression "you can't pour from an empty cup"? It's true. Take time out to rest and refuel during the day. I often schedule this time in or take it when I can feel my productivity dropping. Remember to be easy on yourself, it's ok to sit down and watch an episode on Netflix with a cup of tea in hand. Taking breaks isn't lazy, it often makes us even more productive than if we didn't take them! Just make sure not to over-do it. Set a time limit and stick to it.
Teddy is just over 1 and so far, is yet to go into daycare. This is about to change, but I wanted to touch on the fact that some mama's will have their kids at home with them and some won't. Some mama's will have some kids in care/at school and the younger kids at home with them. Whatever the situation, you're not alone and you can find a routine and method that works for you and your family. No two families are the same just as no two people are the same, so try not to compare your situation too closely with another's. You've got this!
What came first, the good sleeper or the routine? It's hard to know whether Teddy was born a good sleeper or if the routines we implemented from day one at home assisted him to be one. Let's call it 50/50!
When mum's are telling me I just got lucky and the next baby will be a nightmare, I do remind myself that Teddy went through some rough stages with sleep. James and I worked hard to create positive associations with sleep and develop his skill to self settle. We've always approached it with the philosophy that "we do the hard work now so that it's easier later".
A lot of people fall into a trap of doing what is easy in the moment, the bandaid fixes, and it ends up just dragging out the sleepless nights. Here is what Teddy's bedtime routine has looked like from day one and why I think it has been so successful.
I'll start off by saying, The Kind Parenting Company (previously The Sleep Mama) really saved me here. I purchased their programs before falling pregnant and after much research. Their program, social media and support team responding to any query I had were such a saviour for me!
There were certain routines that we implemented with Teddy from day one of getting home from the hospital. These were by no means harsh, cold tactics to get him to sleep through, he was a newborn baby! We simply wanted indications for him to know that bedtime was time for a different kind of sleep. It was a clear separation of day from night and I think this was the real beginning of our success.
Over time, things have come in and out of this routine as he has gotten older, but the general routine has stayed the same.
Get into sleep suit
Put into bed
Dinner (now that he's eating solids)
Bath or shower
Moisturise and massage
Change into pyjamas
Get into sleep suit
Read 2 books
Sing a bedtime song
Put into bed
He has always known that bedtime is time for a bigger sleep and I think that this routine really helped him to make that connection.
Over the first 3 months we implemented some things that we knew we didn't want to be apart of our long term settling technique. Teddy had a dummy at bed time to help him settle to sleep and the moment I realised that he was waking in the night only needing the dummy to settle back to sleep, I knew it had to go. It was no longer working for us. He was also waking at 5am every morning and a lot of light was making it into his room, I believed that this was the cause of the early wake ups.
We decided to introduce positive sleep associations and remove the negative ones. There is so much more detail about this and why it is important in the sleep programs.
Rocking/cuddling to sleep
Blackout blinds (link)
White noise machine
Jellycat bunny - discount code from MissKyreeLoves
After these introductions, Teddy started sleeping 14 hours a night! I'm not saying that's normal, expected or you should aim for it, but it was a great improvement from 5am wake ups!
The only function of Teddy's bedroom is for sleep, he does not play in there at all. When we enter the room at nap time or bedtime, he begins rubbing his eyes. As soon as I put him down in his cot, he grabs a hold of his bunny, rubs its ears and falls asleep. He knows that this environment and these objects signify sleep.
We start daycare next week, but we believe all these things are transferrable to any environment. Stay tuned!
James and I (OK mainly me haha) began creating our organisation station in the hub of our home when our son Theodore was born, June 2018.
This is where it all started. I purchased the whiteboard so that we could list our daily tasks when they felt overwhelming. It really helped us to break it down and focus on one task at a time. It worked wonders for anxiety! The whole wall really built on from there. This whiteboard is from Officeworks.
We then added the weekly breakdown. Once James was back at work and we settled into that life a bit, we decided that doing his bedtime routine together every night was getting exhausting. Don't get me wrong - he is pretty breezy at bedtime really. We just wanted to be able to have nights we were either with him, or getting a decent (and guilt free) break from parent life. We started splitting the days up between us and doing his bedtime routine solo each night - we have not looked back! This concept would baffle some families, but each to their own, right? It works for us. Anyway, this is how we kept accountable and ultimately, saved both James and I from a lot of exhaustion!
We began adding our wish list items because all of our extra money was either going to items for the new baby or we didn't have the $$ because of our newly limited income. This is our favourite section because it feels like such an indulgence! We have found that we actually get more for ourselves now that we have this list because we have a really clear goal for our money. James gets one thing, then I do and so on! Everyone wins and everyone is happy and feeling cared for.
The activities section of the board is the latest addition. We are new to Sydney after moving here when I was already 7 months pregnant! We evaluated our time here so far and realised we'd seen very little of the city we were lucky enough to call home. Due to the nature of James' work, it's possible we will only be here for another 2 years. We don't want to find ourselves leaving Sydney and never having actually experienced it! So we came up with a list of things we want to get done both around our area in Richmond, as well as in the city, and set our goals high! We want to achieve these things not just for ourselves, but for Teddy, too. We want to create memories together as a family here and do not want to be leaving here one day feeling any regret!
In December 2018 I came across the 2019 Calendar by Write to Me.
I'm a massive fan of the brand as Teddy's Baby Book and my Recipe Book are also from the brand. I'd been searching for a calendar with sections that went above and beyond your average brand. There are areas for Birthdays, monthly goals and life admin, as well as your usual daily breakdown. As a designer, it ticked the pretty and beautifully laid out boxes. As a mum, the organisation potential was drool worthy!
Cleaning Schedule and To Do List
My favourite part!! A few months ago I discovered Just Another Mummy Blog and oh my, she's the ultimate! Not only is she serious organisation goals for all the cupboards in my home, but she provides some amazing free content to download as well! I have found that the weekly cleaning schedule is a game changer for our family. I was looking at the cleaning as one huge and slightly unachievable task. It was overwhelming and a lot of the time it got to the weekend and a lot of things still needed doing. This lead to James and I spending so much of our key family time cleaning and washing. We wanted something to change, we wanted time for the activities we were dreaming about and that's around the time I found this amazing woman!
I now look at cleaning as one task at a time, one day at a time. The weekends are no longer devoted to entire house cleans, but family time instead - that's a pretty damn good trade, don't you think?
If I don't feel like I can get the thins done during the day when Teddy is napping or exploring because I'm either working, resting or we're out, I simply do them once he's gone to bed in the evening.
So that's it - out home organisation station! We've got it located in the hub of out home so that everyone can see and access it, no excuses not to get things done!
It's saved us a lot of arguments, resentment, anxiety and frustration - I strongly recommend.
I'm a 30 year old mother of 1 (soon to be 2!) and freelance Graphic Designer - just working my butt off trying to find that work/life balance. I have passions for all things design, sustainability and organisation and I love to share what helps me on a day to day basis with general #mumlife.