Staycation Spring 2017 Masthead 2
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HerBaby Turns One

Bronwen Stead

AKA Where did the last year go?

I have a one-year-old. I am a mother of a one-year-old boy. I am a parent.

WHAT?!?!

All of the above still feel so odd to say, and yet at the same time, I can not imagine life without him. The last year has certainly felt like the fastest of my life and also filled with the most change. It is crazy now to even look back on photos from those first few months, or really even just two months ago! HerBaby George changes so quickly!

He is the most active little guy, his crawl has some serious pace to it, he loves to pull himself up on anything and cruise around all the furniture. He is not yet walking and is starting to get frustrated that he can’t, so I imagine it will happen soon (he was the same with crawling, got really annoyed that he couldn’t do right before he set off). Because he is so active he is long and lean, and we are always working on trying to get him to put on some weight.

His favourite foods are Dad’s toast, Mum’s porridge and custard anytime anywhere. He currently thinks that lights are the most fascinating things, even when they are switched off, and dislikes open doors and will close them whenever he can (sometimes shutting himself into a bedroom!).

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Because this time does fly by so fast, combined with the fact that I get less time with Georgie now I have returned to work, I try hard to make sure that when I am with him I am really present, switched off from distractions and the online world (except when snapping the 1000 pic of him being cute).

Sometimes this is easier than breathing, watching him play and explore can be a complete delight for me. Other days all he wants to do is bang the same toy (or kitchen container) into the nearest surface all day long, and I’ll say it, sometimes it can be boring. But then after what feels like hours (days, weeks) of the same activity, he will suddenly do something new, and I’ll be so glad that I was present to witness it.

Returning to work has been interesting

We started Georgie at his childcare several weeks before I was due to return to work to ease him (and me) into this process. I felt fairly neutral about returning to work – I wasn’t dreading it and I wasn’t looking forward to it, it was just what needed to be done and bills needed to be paid. I still feel a bit mixed, some days I really wish I was home with my baby but other days I look forward to adulting and getting to use different parts of my brain. What I find interesting is the automatic assumption that I want to be at home ie “Oh do you miss him?/Is it hard being here” etc well yes of course I do but I am also enjoying engaging in meaningful work, and have had other parent friends return to work early, while others have extended their leave.

What I find interesting is the automatic assumption that I want to be at home ie “Oh do you miss him?/Is it hard being here” etc well yes of course I do but I am also enjoying engaging in meaningful work, and have had other parent friends return to work early, while others have extended their leave.

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One of the biggest changes I have noticed over the last year is a big change in myself and my outlook

I don’t know if it is a result of tiredness, conserving energy or just a maturing perspective, but, the things I, let’s say, give a “care” about, have seriously reduced. I have no concern about leaving the house with no makeup, in my trackies and hair up in an inelegant mess to walk around the street or the shops just to get Georgie out of the house (he is such a sociable little guy that this is often a sure fire way to keep him happy for hours, whereas if we were to stay home he would be bored in seven minutes).

I do not care about shamelessly dancing in public in order to distract him. Hell, I will even do it just to get a grin or chuckle out of him. I talk to him all the time and often narrate what we are doing to the bemused look of others. I often forget to check if my clothes are covered in snot/weetbix/random baby goop, and when I do notice, my response is a shrug and think “ahhh, #parentlife”.

I won’t ever be that elegant mother who always looks as though she has had a full eight hours, has washed and blow-dried hair and immaculate makeup, but it really doesn’t bother me. It also doesn’t bother me if that’s the sort of mother you are – high five to you!

I have also become clearer on the things that really do matter to me

As well as family time, I love my friends dearly. I don’t know if it’s because I am an only child, or because I am adopted, or if it’s because as my husband puts it – I am somewhat extroverted (ok, he says extremely, but hey I get to edit this right?!), but my relationships are really important to me.

Finding the right balance between family time and social time is definitely a challenge and I don’t think we really have it yet, or maybe we won’t ever have it and it’s just something we (I) need to adapt to. When we do spend time socialising as a family it can be challenging as I feel my brain is always split in two – part trying to connect and engage with our friends but the other part is eyeing off George and making sure he doesn’t tumble down the steps/eat the dog food/pull someone’s hair.

On the rare occasions we get to socialise without him I try my hardest to ask about my friends and their lives, and not wax on too long about Georgie’s latest achievement/development/sleep habit or food preference. Thank you to our friends and family for being supportive through this transition.

Another challenge, that is also a delight, is that George is always changing! You think you have got a handle on something, and he moves on to the next thing and it is a whole new ball game! I have found it so helpful to have other parents to talk to about this – these people have often had the best advice and tried and tested methods. What works for one person/family/baby may not necessarily work for you, but it may also be exactly what you need. Again, with the things I give a care about – pretending to have it all together is definitely not one of them, especially in the moments when I really don’t.

The saying often goes it takes a village to raise a child, but really right now I feel like it takes a village to raise a mummy.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this experience, we can’t wait to continue to experience the delights of parenthood!

Bronwen Stead

Bronwen is a Social Worker and is working as a Mindset and Wellness Coach with Nutrivolve and The Physique Coach supporting people to achieve their physical goals. More about the Author

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