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Mylittle colorful life

Learning through the different shades of life

Back to Work

My first week back at work reminds me of the first day I started with my company, the only difference is I know my way around and I’m less scared. I came back to my role still filled with my maternity cover so it’s been more of an ease back to work situation rather than a deep dive. Which I guess should be okay, but I’ve officially come to accept I love the pump and pace! Until I’m in it, all I want is some calm, lol (The human mind and our constant need for what we don’t have). Nonetheless, I’ve come to appreciate it.

So far I’ve found going back to work pretty okay – I haven’t been consumed with mummy mushiness of missing my little person and I’m pretty excited to get my teeth into something new and get consumed with work (I can so feel my workaholic self). To be honest work has come to be my little escape and I’m loving the time away. Zoe starts crèche in 2 days and I’m feeling a bit guilty leaving her with strangers for 10 hours during the day. I know I shouldn’t , I know she would settle in and love it, but I guess is that feeling of protectiveness and mummy love that always wants her close by so you know she’s okay at all times. Well, there isn’t much I can do so I’m marching on and embracing this new life totally and figuring the right balance which is the skill at having it all. If there is one thing though that makes my day worthwhile, is coming back to her and the pure joy and excitement on her face when she sees me walk through the door – for one week now that has been my moment of Zen!

My first week has also been full of forgetting stuff, it’s like I’ve forgotten how to properly pack for work; from failing to pack the suction part of my breast pump and having to express with my hands, to forgetting my glasses and having strained eyes all day and constantly forgetting my work pass. I swear something’s never change; while on maternity I was always forgetting stuff when packing for outings. More and more each day though, I’m beginning to realise a key part of slaying working mum has to be effective prepping and I have to truly ace this (in my own way of course).

Aside from forgetting important stuff, the commute has been truly gangster. Its takes me 2 hours from door to door, which is taking me awhile to get my head around it. To give a bit of context, before baby it took me 50 mins door to door from our former place to work so you can see why I feel the way I do. But I hear commuting is one of the true mark of a Londoner – so I guess I’m earning my stripes! So far I’m trying to look onto the positives; more time to catch up on my reading, morning devotionals, podcast and some comedic satire on American politics but I still feel the bite if I’m totally honest. I guess a time is coming where I won’t even think about it at all, I salute all the experienced commuters. I’ve thought of driving, (as I just passed my driving test, Yippee!) but honestly I don’t think I’ll like that either. I love the comfort and freedom the train gives me to relax before I’m thrown into world of work. Let’s see how it goes, I might feel otherwise after a while.

It seems I’m off to a good start and I’m enjoying using this chilled out time to catch up on what’s been happening since I left but also being inspired on what limits the external market is pushing. I feel like a new person, hopefully I don’t lose it. I need to protect it and see how much growth I can cramp in before baby no 2 🙂

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The End of Maternity Leave

I’ve got a little over 24hours left before I resume back to work and I can’t believe it’s time already. I took 8 months off and at the start of my leave I thought it was going to be bloody long, well this has definitely been the shortest 8 months of my life. I had a plan of how prepared I would be ahead of resuming. I was to give myself a good pamper a week before; nails, massage, hair, shopping the full works but that has so not happened, not even top 3 priority! Phew.

I just spent the last few hours rummaging through my wardrobe trying to find something that fits and would do justice to my post baby tummy by giving it a good cover up. Nothing seems to work and with me still breastfeeding, mummy boobs isn’t making it any easy. I can feel that sad, too fat thought creeping in to take over a prime position in my mind. I hate this and I’m not about to get myself down & blue. So I’ve decided to make myself a cup of coffee and pick up my gratitude journal to write down what I’m grateful for because I sometimes forget that and get all hung up on stuff.
Fact: I gave birth 6 months ago and I haven’t gotten around to loosing the baby weight as much as I would love too and that’s okay, doesn’t make me less beautiful or sexy. Hopefully with me going back to work I can get back to my healthy routine. 

Okay weight issues aside I think I’m now ready to go back to work (largely due to the fact I’ve finally settled childcare – which needs its own post). I’m looking forward to getting back to my own thing, doing what I’m good at and gearing up for the next phase of my career. The only thing I’m not sure of yet is how I’ll manage with missing my little person – I’ve spent every moment with her for the past 6 months and now a full chunk of my day will be without her, I sense it will be a tough one and I’m so not looking forward to this part of going back. 
Another thing I feel a bit unprepared for is potentially expressing at work, not sure if I have too yet, but most likely will as Zoe has refused formula and I need to provide milk for the nursery. I’ve started expressing and storing in the freezer to create a little bank for her first few weeks. I’ll see how that goes, might mean I still need to wear my breastfeeding tops come to think of it. Yoh! The things you get to worry about in this new amazing life.
My Apple Watch has just reminded me to “Take a minute to breathe” – perfect timing ….. I’ll take a deep breath now and just chill because it’s going to be alright. 

If you’ve got any tips to share on going back to work after maternity I’d love to hear from you x

Six Months of Motherhood; The Journey so far

It’s been six months since my little one was cut out from me and I can’t believe how fast time has flown. Motherhood has been this amazingly crazy phase of my life and I keep having to remember this is for life … this is living now! Zoe is now at the stage where she can clearly show me how she feels; throw a good enough tantrum when she doesn’t get what she wants and we’ve finally nailed a routine that works most of the time. It’s amazing how far we’ve come, and through the ride I’ve learnt a couple of important things;

  1. This journey is not a sprint, it takes time to get good at being a mum and the definition of what that is changes through the different phases of growth. I’ve been hard on myself previously for not realising quickly when something was wrong, forgetting to take a change of clothes/diapers, not being better planned or any good at getting her to sleep. But I’ve learnt there is always another day to do it over, to get it right – it’s a life journey and you only get better.
  2. There is always more than one right way. The great thing about babies is that they are not all the same, so no need to get hung-up on doing stuff a certain way and getting stressed when it doesn’t work out as you thought it would. Simply try another way and another, till you find what works best for you and baby. Don’t get me wrong, professional guidance is important and really helpful, but sometimes your ‘mum instinct’ goes a long way in making life easy.
  3. Meltdown days are totally allowed! It’s crazy how you can be deliriously happy some days and extremely tired and empty on other days. There are days when trying to find the right balance between mum and wife leaves me drained, and all I want to do is hide and not been seen. I’ve come to appreciate a good let out rather than keeping it all buried in does much good. Find your perfect outlet for those crazy moments and let it all out so you can breathe easy and have space to refuel and move on.
  4. Crying isn’t all bad for baby. As long as Zoe is fed, dry and in a safe space it’s totally okay to let her cry. Previously I couldn’t stand her crying, so I’d always go to her and cuddle and keep her entertained; which meant I had little time for anything else. This in turn made me stressed because I had lots of undone chores. I soon learnt to let her be and get on with stuff while teaching her to enjoy her own company and chill out with her toys.
  5. Your personal routine matters – don’t get lost! I have learnt to create a routine for me that compliments hers and gives me time to be about me. Hence I started exercising; 30 mins every other morning just after her breakfast (while she’s still full and happy). It gives me the time I need to get energised, plus a panting and sweaty mum is good entertainment for her. I’ve slowly started introducing more things for me into each day and I like to think I’m less cranky.
  6. I’m not alone in this. Last I checked I didn’t get myself pregnant there’s a dad in the picture and I’ve learnt to allow him take on more stuff I know he may not do it the way I want it to be done (which is the perfect way of course) but so what? I doubt a not so clean bum will scar Zoe for life! Letting go and allowing others to help is golden especially when you have a family that cares. Lean in and share the load.
  7. Somethings are not worth being stressed about! Babies will be babies and they would always have one thing or the other. Learning what you can control and what you can’t, helps put things into perspective which can greatly reduce your stress level.
  8. Give yourself a break and a huge thumbs up. I used to get consumed with all the things I’ve done wrong or I haven’t gotten around to doing and I forget all the great things I’ve done. She’s healthy, happy and alive that’s very important to remember and I’m learning each day to give myself a break and celebrate me – I’m a great mum no matter what the day looks like.
  9. Most importantly enjoy and bask in the realisation of knowing that you mean the whole world to your little person with all their love and affection aimed at you – my heart always skips when she beams with happiness at seeing me

The Sleep Palaver

I’ve been a mum now for 6 months and I honestly have forgotten what it feels like to sleep through the night. I’ve been waiting for when I get to sleep uninterrupted for a while and I’m hoping it’s sooner than much later. My sleepless night started during pregnancy which means for almost a year now I have had a broken sleep pattern – first to indigestion and Zoe kicking the crap out of me while in my tummy and now it’s to rocking, feeding and chatting/playing depending on what she feels like. I know I should have paid more attention to all the sleep training stuff but how was I to figure all that out while still trying to understand this little being? I found it tough but I can’t complain too much I see the flicker of light in the distance, hopefully not too far and all thanks to CARBS!

So experts say by 3 months babies are capable of soothing themselves back to sleep … really? Mine hasn’t figured out that super power yet. By month three I was just finally enjoying breastfeeding and learning to bathe her among all the other things I can’t seem to place my finger on that eats up all of my time to get into the precise sleep guru space.

I took it for granted that babies would sleep once they’ve eaten, which I soon learnt as not always being true. I’m not sure how she knows once she’s been placed on her bed. I mean she’s still sleeping and all but once you lay her down she would wiggle turn and start screaming. But immediately you pick her up, she would fall right back to sleep – it totally drove me bonkers. I probably should have left her to cry it out a little and hopefully learn to self-sooth, but the first time mum love and compassion wouldn’t let me. So I would carry her, rock and sing her back to sleep. Like a shrewd master, she demanded it every time!

By 4 months and with grandma gone, we decided to stick to a routine but the poor girl wasn’t having any of it – lol! I was determined to see it through but it wasn’t easy and I soon gave up. I was spending my whole evening trying to get her to sleep; changing her, reading and feeding her. But once I place her down she stays for 10 mins and starts screaming, and I start all over again with the rocking. Until the golden moment after a couple of tries when she finally goes down and sleeps for 3 hours then wakes for a feed. That’s been my life until now all thanks to weaning. I can still hear my friend screaming into my ears, give that girl some carbs so she has the strength to sleep for longer. I finally did! I got some carbs into her diet and she’s loving it (my girl is a massive foodie I have to say). A bit of Potatoes, butternut squash and Cerelac is finally coming in handy and paying off. It hasn’t magically stopped her from waking up the initial time you try to lay her down but its cut down the time drastically and has also reduced her night feeding. We are currently down to 2 feeds from 4 during a 10 to 12 hour sleep. I hope I don’t jinx it by rejoicing too early 🙂

If I had to do this again I most certainly will do things differently. Most importantly, I’ll try and get her into self-soothing early, start a routine on time (not a 100% sure though it would have made a difference), planning my time better as well because I was often tired by her bedtime and the whole going to bed routine is a piece of work on its own. But, oh well we are here and it’s been a heck of a ride and as I count down to resuming work in 3 weeks my focus is to get her to settle down more quickly and earlier to make life a little easier once work load gets added on.

I also have to say it’s not all been baby war with my munchkin, she has been a star with handling the move to her room and sleeping in her cot bed like a boss lady. Which has been much appreciated by husbandman and myself. Somehow though, I’ve started the tradition of morning sleep-in with mum and dad during the weekends and I’m loving it – snuggling up with two of my fav people still has its kick. Now I need to shut my laptop and  get some sleep before feed time xx

Less than 24 hours to Twenty-Seventeen

It’s almost the end of the year and what a full-on year it’s been. I can still remember the start of 2016, we were driving home to see my hubby’s folks and it was one of those sing-along, laugh and dote on each other road trip. It was pure bliss! My pregnancy sickness had subsided, we had a great Christmas celebration and I was looking forward to meeting my little munchkin. It was perfection all around.

Coming back to the UK and getting stuck into life as I know it, I was determined to have a fruitful year and try out new things. I remember saying “I will live in the now and not keep thinking of when the perfect future happens”; which is what my previous years had been – planning for the future and missing out sometimes on the now. Hence, it was about enjoying the process; good or bad. I like to believe I plunged myself into the year and slowly ticked off stuff from my list (yes I’m a culprit of the New Year resolution hype). The one thing I did not fully prepare myself for I would have to say is dealing with all the people drama came my way which made up some of my lows for the year. However the good thing about it all is that I got to realise that finding strength and having confidence in myself is critical (not that I didn’t know this, but I was reminded how important it is).

A major part of my year was spent on championing diversity, and I have to say it’s been the hardest thing I’ve poured myself into. Unconscious bias I’m sure would have been one of my most used words and I feel this journey has just started for me. I had to critically look at myself and address my own unconscious bias to be able to hold people for theirs, especially senior professionals you would think would have a hang of this by now. Anyway, the journey continues and the resilience to deal with the fall out is most needed next year.

I don’t believe I am the “captain of my ship” that’s God’s job, but I believe I’m the instigator of my future. So 2017 is all about growing me not just for me sake but for my daughters’. I’m realising each day I am responsible for this little one and how she perceives the world around her and how she fits into it.

Even more sadly in 2016 are the lives lost; those nameless and those famous. I knew no one personally or was really into the art of the famous ones but my heart goes out to those hurting and mourning. They say time heals all things – I like to think it dulls it away and gets you preoccupied.

This year has truly been a bonkers year as well – I mean look at the world around you and all the stuff that’s happened, how did we get here. There is definitely more space for empathy and some honest conversations. However, I always believe that change (regardless of whether it is perceived as good or not) brings with it opportunity.

As I look into 2017, I still have weight loss on my agenda, lol! But more importantly I plan to have fun and scare myself with what I do. My daughter, Zoe will be crawling and walking next year – what a whole new world that will be. At the moment the girl tests every ounce of my patience, honestly it could be frustrating but I love her too much to send her back so she’s stuck with me. So I need to get some tips from the guru mums in my life to teach me their techniques to manage her energy. Also, getting my groove back is totally on the agenda. Pregnant, first-time, always busy mum needs to chill for a bit and let’s explore the potential of this new me.

Considering I can’t do much with a baby on NYE, I might end up having an “Olivia Pope” moment; a glass of red wine and a bowl of popcorn watching the manic firework display that I’m sure will erupt on my street. Whatever you will be doing for NYE, I hope 2017 blows your mind in a good way.

Cheers and see you in a bit 2017 xx

 

Judgement; Through the lens of a new Mum

Being judged isn’t a new phenomena everyone has gone through it one way or the other. I’ve been judged, misjudged and I’ve learnt to deal with it. Be it in regards to my gender, colour of my skin, how I choose to wear my hair, my convictions, etc. I’ve learnt to separate sometime not always successfully people’s judgment from who I am.

However, nothing prepares you for being judged as a mum and the decisions you take regarding your child. What I’ve come to learn is that everyone has an opinion when it comes to pregnancy and babies. Everyone feels they are right and have a good moral compass and would want to express that – sometimes vocally, other times through the iron steel silence and laser focused stares. I had read somewhere when I was pregnant about judgement especially from mums (the worst kind), so I was aware but never fully prepared I have to confess when I had my first experience. I’m sure mums who judge have also been judged so it’s a ferries wheel that just keeps turning. I’m no saint myself I’ve been critical of some mums I’ve come across but I keep it to myself and then go home and speak freely where I know I won’t be the blade that cuts deep into someone else (not saying that’s justifiable)

When family members pass judgement through their kind loving ways – I’ve learnt to sieve through quickly and take what’s needed because I know they are coming from a place of love I never doubt that. However, when someone else goes at me, what gets to me the most is the fact that it comes from a place of superiority and in my mind I just don’t get it – in my mind I go “have you seen yourself in 3D camera?” and quickly build my defence wall.

Mummy chat groups are the worst. I’ve seen other mums with the luxury of anonymity tear down other mums for the questions they ask, decisions they make and lord their beliefs and ideas as superior. I guess it hurts much because this is the one thing in your life that you’ve probably given much love and attention to and someone judges every action which for you is an act of love. Anyway, that’s how I feel.

What I’ve learnt in life, especially as an immigrant (expatriate, lol!) is this; my beliefs are not yours which is totally okay. I’ve come to truly appreciate we are all different not in a good/bad way but different in terms of how we’ve experienced life and that as a matter of fact shapes and influences how we view life and the way we decide to live.

I know I probably have a life time of judgements to experience when it comes to my parenting skills ( I’m definitely not your conventional mum) but I’m finally getting to that  point where I use those stares with heavy looks of disdain  and undercover questions for concerns as a reference point. To stop and make sure I’m doing the right thing, then I move on and not give a crap! I also need to remind myself daily not to be the blade in someone’s day – so keep your self-righteousness to yourself and only act in true love for both the mum/dad and the child.

Welcome to my Blog

I’ve always wanted to write a blog, just never got around to doing it. I felt someone else had something better to say and there were too many voices online – actually it was me hiding behind my laziness to take the time to sit, reflect and write and also the fear of putting myself out there to be judged!

Starting this new phase of life as a mum I realised this was a journey that’s forever going to change me and my life is no longer for me but for this little person I’ve brought into this world. At that moment I decided I never want to tell her to do stuff or believe in things I never did or was too lazy to pursue. Plus there’s so much each day with her is unbelievable how much you have to learn and keep up with. So I’ve decided to sit, reflect and write no matter how chaotic things are. I’m in the process of learning the fine art of balancing wife, mum and career but I’m confident I’ll get it right after a bit of tweaks here and there.

This 7 months I’ve been home on maternity leave, I come to conclusion that my job is not who I am, I know I will be great without it, but it is another layer to me that makes my life interesting, it’s an additional avenue to create impact and influence beyond my private sphere of life, plus it pays the bills

So I don’t intend to be a stay at home mum, except I start my own business. So I plan to grow in my career and truly explore all there is within the corporate world. But in my mind, I’m not taking for granted that it would be easy – but it’s a road many strong women with great partners (and sometimes without) have gone and excelled at so I’m sure I’ll be just fine.

This blog for me is a where to have a conversation with the broader world and share my experience as I go along on this adventure. I’ve debated on how honest I should be – but I believe so much in authenticity – so here will be #mylittlecolorfullife as a wife, mum and career woman.

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Hacks and Savings – My journey as a first time Mum

The night I found out I was pregnant was the most surreal and exciting night. It was a Thursday evening after work, I had been feeling a bit unwell for a few weeks and for some reason when I got home I decided to take the pregnancy home test. Looking at the hour-glass icon intently and waiting for the result which seemed to take forever made me drowsy. Finally it said “pregnant 3+ weeks” and everything in that moment stopped. I can still remember the song playing and the feeling of gentle realisation that swept over me. It was the beginning of a journey my husband and I had been waiting for and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Not too long, morning sickness or as I call it “all day sickness” knocked the sway from me and the thought of the financial implications began to sink in. I couldn’t believe the cost of child care, I’ve never bothered about that before – also the endless baby things/marketing on the internet did not help. Do I really need all this? Will my baby be missing out if I don’t buy all that’s out there and the very best – nothing less of course.

I wanted to be the best mum and for me that meant providing the best for my baby girl, I was ready to work off my fingers if that was needed. But so the joy of my growing baby took my mind of all my worries as I was totally in love with my growing bump and the gentle and sometime firm and rigorous kicks from my baby – I was experiencing another level of love and pleasure I rarely can translate into words.

As delivery day approached I was brought back to reality – my baby list was still full, a lot to buy I did not feel fully ready! We were also moving house which meant a lot more of household things to buy – it’s amazing how a 3 bed house feels empty when you are moving in your things from a one bed flat. Priority became my favourite word – I had to be practical and balance my idea of what the best was for my baby.

Below are a few hacks & savings I’ve made;

  • EBay and its hidden gems: hubby & I relentlessly searched through EBay and we found good quality baby items which cost less than mainstream retail outlets and the great bonus was we got them all new. Examples include our baby bassinet we got for £10 (the mum we got it from never used it for her little one as she ended up co-sleeping. We got our new Ergo baby carrier for £30 which was £50 to £60 cheaper than mainstream retail outlets.
  • Exploring alternatives: we already had a house full of different items we could use differently if we applied it correctly. I skipped getting a sterilising container and instead used one of my unused kitchen bowls to sterilise feeding bottles and toys. Used my Kenwood on-the go smoothing machine to puree my baby’s food and went for my blankets/duvet with pillows as hedges as a play area for my little girl – she rolls and enjoys tummy time with her mummy made toy island
  • Mastering the art of baby layering: my little girl was born in the peak of summer, so we got a lot of light baby clothing from friends and family. As it became a bit chillier I wasn’t about to change her wardrobe when she had about 2 more months before she grew out of the 0-3 months clothing. I started layering – finding the right balance of keeping her warm without making her feeling clogged in with fabrics
  • Changing my mind-set: It’s amazing how little my baby needs aside from me, diapers and wipes. I guess these are things you get to learn as you go through this journey. My new realisation meant I could pace my buying and focus on the core basic she needed at each stage to grow healthy. I wasn’t about to compare or feel inadequate because I did not have the latest gadget, toy or baby item all eloquently described to help with baby’s growth and development – I simply used what I had at home to stimulate and create a fun and exciting environment for her.

If you can afford to get all the cool snazzy baby gadgets, please do I’m sure it will be a total delight but if you need to prioritise then DIY as much as you can and find great savings on internet or baby group resale.

I’m five months and a few weeks into this journey of motherhood and I’m sure there’s much for me to explore and learn. If you have more hacks and saving ideas, please share and let’s make the process easy as much as possible for another mum.

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