Rough and tumble babies – How it never stops! Guest Post from Dave Freed

Your first newborn is tough to look after. And not because of the sleepless nights, feeding troubles, and poo explosions. It’s because nothing in life had ever prepared you for these things, and their constant wearing away at your normally well rested self. You’re sub-consciously wondering when your weekend will come, or if the baby has an off-switch. When will you get to sleep! When will you shower! Then you clock that it’s only been a week (felt like a month), and you’ve got the rest of the next 20 odd years to do… at least.

Fast-forward 8 months into parenting… It starts to feel like you can do this, and it’s getting pretty fun. It’s like you tasted your first pint of bitter (beer for non-Brits) 8 months ago and it was disgusting, but now it’s turning out pretty refreshing and has become your drink of choice.

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A few months back I noted how amazing it was that your unresponsive little potato of a newborn becomes a practicing yoga master in such a short space of time. Well, no surprise, it gets even better. Not to say he’s easier to look after, no. He’s now more than a full-time occupation.

The little trolls have a habit of doing away with one problem and then quickly giving the poor unsuspecting first-time parent another one. When will it end! The tough stuff like battling colic and being terrified of breaking the baby goes away, but you get some new things. Little Bear now has some serious opinions. Not just that all solid food is disgusting, but he now demands that Pappa never leaves his play area, and continues to read the same book again and again, or hand him balls to bounce.

[I say ‘Pappa’ I’m now being referred to as ‘daddy’ despite our attempts at only talking Swedish… Who am I kidding, he calls everything daddy, and I’ve been called ‘baba’, ‘mummy’ and fart noise in the last hour]

Me: ‘Stop chewing on that coaster Little Bear’ – LB: ‘Stop cramping my style!’
Me: ‘No you can’t eat the DVD’ – LB: ‘What else is it good for? Oldie’
Me: ‘I’m just going to make myself a coffee’ – LB: ‘NO! Come here! Make me fly! NOW!’
Me: ‘Stop trying to get through the gate’ – LB: ‘Why are you always following me? Get a life… Looser’

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I was hoping I’d get till he was a teenager before this started.

His newly discovered mobility means that the second his nappy’s off he must attempt a gymnastic vault off the changing table. Holding him back from such a plummet prompts some surprised shouts and stamping his foot on the table. The only solution is to make fart noises on his tummy as giggling is better than a vaulting. But somehow the foot is always strategically aimed at the fresh poo in the old nappy. Not that his foot is the worst of him by this point after the wriggling.

Wriggling… He wont stop. It started when we were in Sweden a few months back. Whatever soft play area we’d make for him, he’d fidget and wriggle his way straight to the hard floor on the edge (way more fun as grown-ups keep pulling him away from it). By the time we got home, his once perfect jungle gym which could keep him content on his back for what seemed like hours, became the object of destruction.

First it got a baby-rage attack, with a bear growl his strong little arms managed to tear of the toys, with dolly and robot being innocent casualties in his Incredible Hulk moment. Shortly after, he rolled out of the jungle gym, and began dragging it across the floor… Ok, so it was time to upgrade his play area.

The new play area I built took up half the living room, and has since expanded to nearly the whole living room as he scurries around hiding ball-pit balls in various places for Pappa to step on. It temporarily expanded to the dining area and the kitchen, as we watched him make a b-line for the robot-hoover, switch it on, then attack the fire-extinguisher and finally head for the stairs… A fence was erected an hour later.

He shuffles all the way over to me from the other end of the living room to bite my feet (I think this is him trying to tell me he wants to be held). After a giggle and two seconds in my arms, he then fidgets round and continues his gymnastics practice from the changing table and tries to dive head first into the coffee table, only to find himself put back on his mat and start the process over again. You’d think he’d tired of this level of activity, but he just starts giving bad attitude rather than falling asleep.

I feel like this is the toughest and most fun stage of a baby, but then I thought that about when he was newborn too, and I’m pretty sure I’ll think that when he’s trying to walk, and when he’s a toddler. Simply because it’s new, and you quickly forget about the tough stuff you went through in the past.

Head bumps, getting stuck under the coffee table, attempts to escape from his pushchair, but he’s getting all the more fun to be around. I don’t go very long without thinking, ‘crap, how did he learn how to do that!’ Wouldn’t miss this for the world.


Introducing Dad’s Turn, Raising Little Bear – Dave Freed

In my early 30s and normally working in the energy sector in London, I’m sharing parenting equally with my wife for our first kid, The Little Bear. I’m from London, but my wife is from Sweden, and we’re planning on bring up the baby in both languages. It’s now my turn to take Shared Parental Leave and look after the little guy. Little Bear is now 8 months old and growing fast.

You can find Dave on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Making mum friends when you have foot-in-mouth syndrome

I am going to blame the zodiac for one of my biggest shortcomings. I’m a Sagittarius, and we tell it like it is. In the words of astrolibrary.org ‘Sagittarius is honest to a fault, to the point of bluntness’. Or in the immortal words of Lady Gaga:

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This quality has done me a massive disservice in my quest to make “mum friends”. Before I had kids, I was working all week and didn’t make a lot of friends in my local area. Most of my friends were people I’d meet up with in London. The local friends I did have were drinking buddies I met down the local pub. When I had my first baby, I found that I needed to find a whole new circle of friends. The London friends were too far away and we just couldn’t spend so much time down the pub, sadly enough.

But I found it incredibly difficult, and still do, to successfully talk to other mums and make friends with them. I have a few like-minded friends now, but I’ve found it very hard to know how to relate to other mums and how to say the right thing. All these baby groups and what-not are well intimidating.

So if you are a new mum, or even a slightly less new mum, like me, who desperately wants a few people to like you, here are some of my tips to make it easier on yourself. These are learned from my experiences – and mistakes.

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These tips might sound like I’m judging other mums for being sensitive, but far from it. I was sensitive, they were sensitive – we’re all sensitive. We were all dealing with a huge life change and a serious lack of sleep. My tips are to help other people feel at ease and make them like you (hopefully).

Just don’t even talk about feeding, because everyone is feeling insecure.

Seriously. No matter what your feeding choice is, it seems like it’s so easy to put your foot in it when talking about feeding. Even if you’re both formula feeding or both breastfeeding, you’re bound to be doing it differently. I found that people don’t like to hear if you’re doing it differently. Just listen to them talk about what they’re doing, and agree that it sounds fantastic.

Don’t tell anyone how fantastic your child is, because everyone is feeling insecure.

If they ask how he’s sleeping, tell them you have ups and downs. If they ask whether he’s crawling yet, and he is but theirs isn’t, make sure you mention that every child does it at their own pace and it doesn’t really matter. If you can’t avoid honestly telling someone a positive thing about your child’s behaviour and development, then temper it by mentioning something they suck at.

“Sure he’s crawling, but he keeps me awake all sodding night.”

“Yeah, he sleeps pretty well, but he keeps biting me on the nipple.”

Don’t talk about yourself too much.

It’s tempting to tell everyone your birth story at great length. Just don’t do it unless someone very specifically asks. As a general strategy, just try to listen more than you talk. People will love you for it. When you get through to someone and become their proper friend, then you can tell it like it is. In the meantime, if you need to talk honestly and at great length, talk at your health visitor or breastfeeding counsellor or somebody else who gets paid to listen to you. Or your family – they have to listen too. Or call up an old friend who already knows about all your shit.

NEVER ask someone if they are going to have another child.

You don’t know what they had to go through to have the first child. They may have had many miscarriages, hyperemesis gravidarum and/or courses of IVF, or maybe they just don’t want more than one child. It seems a popular question to ask, but nobody wants to answer it. Don’t be the one who’s asking it.

If someone invites you round, bring cake or biscuits.

It makes me sad when I’ve invited someone round and they don’t bring some biscuits. I’m not the sort of person to stop being friends because of it, but just know that everyone will love you more if you bring food.

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Don’t be a judge-y poophead.

This is obvious, really, but in the words of the great JC, judge not lest ye be judged. My house is a tip – like, all the time. I’m sure that’s put off some potential friends. Don’t judge people on superficial crap like that. Judge on whether they are nice and fun to talk to.

Try not to take it personally when friendships don’t happen.

This has been a hard thing for me. There are any number of local mums who I know from baby groups. They are nice to me when we run into each other, but they’ve never been enthusiastic about spending time together. I don’t know why they don’t want to hang with me. It’s probably just that they already have enough friends. It’s best to just let it go.

Be the friendly one. Be brave.

If you see another mum at a baby group, sitting alone and looking a bit sad, bring that woman a cup of tea and talk to her. It will mean so much. The worst that can happen is that she’s a cow who would rather sit on her own and she won’t be friendly, but you can rest happy in the knowledge that you’ve done the right thing. If you are a mum at the school gates, be friendly to other mums you see standing on their own. It doesn’t matter if they don’t reciprocate – doing the right thing is its own reward.

Blog yourself confident.

I’ve only been blogging for a month and a half, but it has done wonders for my confidence. Talking to lots of other bloggers online has helped me practise talking to people, and I’m now finding it easier to talk to people in real life.

Seek help if you’re feeling down.

I suffered from anxiety with my first son, and a mild case of PND with my second. The difficulties of trying to make new friends can make these conditions worse. I was lucky that I had a supportive husband and some old (pre-baby) friends I could talk to. If you are feeling down and depressed or anxious, please talk to someone, and go see your GP for help.

Did you find it tough making mum friends? What are your tips for getting on with other mums?


Introducing The Mum Reviews

My name is Nicole and I blog at https://themumreviews.co.uk. I live in Surrey with my husband, 2 little boys (4 and 1), and a black & white cat. I started blogging to get the words out. But I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. Wine helps. Please follow me on Twitter and Instagram