Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Friday, 9 April 2010
My son started walking a few weeks ago. He'd taken his time with it, even though he'd been cruising throughout the house for months, he needed to get a bit more confidence for walking 'hands-free'. What started with walking from one side of our living room to the other soon progressed to walking all over, in and out of any room he liked and then outside. It was exciting for us to see him walk and he looked so pleased with himself too!
This week, we've been getting plenty of practice in. We've walked to our local shops, just around the corner from where we live and on a quiet road. We've walked in the park too, on the path and also in the playground. It's still quite new to him so he walks very slowly and it gives a whole new meaning to a leisurely stroll. He looks up at anyone we pass and gives them a big smile. I get ever so slightly annoyed if the person doesn't look at him and misses out on his sweet smile! Strangers stop and talk to us, usually other parents or grandparents, and this brings out even bigger smiles from my son. He slows down to look at pebbles in a driveway or a particular stone in a wall and everything is so new and fascinating for him.
Maybe you'll tell me the novelty will soon wear off, but I have been enjoying our slow walks. I'm naturally quite a brisk walker so it feels funny to be taking steps at such a slower pace. The way I look at it, is that I have the time to take my time. I'm not rushing off anywhere, I don't have to be at a certain place for a certain time. Whilst the pebbles in a driveway may not have the same fascination for me as they do my son, I am taking in other things that I'd otherwise not be looking at or noticing if I was walking at my usual speed. I'm taking in all the beautiful blossom on the trees and seeing so many more trees than I'd previously been aware of. I'm doing more people watching than I ordinarily get to do and being more conscious of the warm sun on my face or a slight breeze in the air. It's really quite enjoyable and relaxing.
When I think back to when I was working, (pre-baby) such a slow pace in my life didn't exist. I was always rushing somewhere, or hurriedly getting work done to meet tight deadlines, cramming in the gym after work, meeting friends in an evening, going out.....Even though I got to walk through a lovely London park to get to and from work each day, it was never leisurely, always a means to get from A to B. Walking in busy central London during rush hour with all those other people, pushing and shoving as everyone's wanting to get somewhere fast is a horrible thought to me now.
Not that my life has now turned into one long slow stroll and I never have to rush to get things done, but I'm realising that taking a bit of time to consciously slow down can be beneficial. I always urge my husband to get out of the office even for just a few minutes on a nice day. A change of scene, feeling the sun on his face and getting some air can only be a break well spent. Getting wrapped up in everything that's going on in our lives, feeling like there's always something else to be done, or somewhere else to go can leave us little time to purposefully stop for a minute or two. Once we make the effort to slow down our pace, it can help both to relax and reinvigorate. It can clear all the busy thoughts in our heads and reawaken our appreciation of the here and now.
Do you find it hard to take time to slow down? If you are working, are you good about taking a breather from the office and getting outside for a break?
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
I decided to make some food to take over for my friend. I'm making a lasagne for her and husband to have for dinner one night and will bake some cake in the morning to take to her too. I remember how hard it is, those first few weeks especially, when you are trying to throw some dinner together after an exhausting day and usually around the time the baby gets particularly fussy too. Parenting magazines and books recommend you cooking and freezing food for dinners before the baby arrives but let's face it, not all of us are that well organised and even if we are, those supplies will soon run out.
The same magazines and books tell you not to worry about looking after visitors when they come to see the baby. If they offer to make you a cup of tea, do some of your ironing and if they bring you food, accept all this great help! That's what I remember reading but it's definitely not what happened when our friends came to visit! Maybe that's because not many of our friends here in London have children. Our family certainly helped out with meals, washing and lots of other household chores during their visits.
The ideas themselves are good though and as a mother now, I have a greater appreciation for these types of gestures and how helpful they really are for tired, fraught parents. Here are six suggestions for ways to help out a new mum (or dad!):
- Look after them in their own home when you visit. Make them a cup of tea and bring some biscuits or cake to have with it and as a treat for the mum. Generally try to avoid them waiting on you in any way.
- Offer to watch the baby for an hour or two. Even a short break can be wonderful for a new mum so they can have a lie-down or enjoy a long soak in the bath.
- Bring food. It's one less thing for them to think about. It could be a meal or a box of delicious, healthy foods you know they'll enjoy. A friend of ours once emailed a bunch of friends suggesting we all made a contribution to some take-aways or other meals for some new parents (friends of ours) whose twins were in hospital for a long time and who were consequently having a tough start to parenthood. As they lived in a different country to us, this meant we could help out in a small way.
- Offer to help with domestic chores. Can you put on some washing for them, fold some clothes that are dry, do some washing-up or load the dishwasher?
- Encourage a bit of relaxation. Bring some magazines or a movie over for a bit of light entertainment while the baby is sleeping. I got a lot of reading done whilst breastfeeding for the first couple of months and it felt like a real treat for my husband and I to watch an hour or so of a movie in an evening whilst our son was asleep.
- Be there for them. On the end of the phone or in person, let them know you'll do what you can to help in any way. Maybe they want some company on their first outing with the new baby or for you to pick up some nappies for them so they don't have to leave the house. Having someone to turn to in their hour of need is invaluable.
The same things apply to anyone with a new baby, whether they themselves are a new mum or whether it's their third or fourth child. Those same needs are there and more experience with babies doesn't mean the parent can't benefit from a helping hand - maybe they need it all the more!
Do you have other ideas to add to the list? Were there things that your friends did when you first had your baby that really helped? In retrospect, can you think of things you wish people had done to help you out?