Adjusting to Motherhood

I wrote about my start to living an eco-baby life a couple of months ago. It is still going really well, and I am continuing to pick up tips and tricks and apply them in my own way, as I adjust to my newfound role as a mother.

The journey of motherhood is one that never ends. Having someone that all of a sudden depends on you to survive can be a lot of pressure, and a lot to get used to. The feed, sleep, play cycle can get very repetitive and leave you with little time for anything else.

I was recently made aware of the term “Matrescence”, the developmental transition to motherhood; the idea of a mother being born. This thoughtful article by Lauren Hughes, a Child Health Nurse, explains the term is used to describe the emotional, physical, mental, social and psychological process a woman goes through when she becomes a mother. Lauren describes it as a “change that launches us into a new phase of life with an evolved and expanded sense of who we are.”

There is a lot going on in a mother’s life before, during and after pregnancy and so much to adapt to, as well as new concepts and rituals. Unfortunately a somewhat negative term that is commonly used as an excuse for apparent vagueness is “baby brain”, when the mother (or father) has a lot going on, and may be unable to find the words for adult conversation, or make questionable decisions.

Baby brain is a stereotype that new parents (including me) fall victim to. When I’m having a conversation and can’t find the words, it must be baby brain. When I forget to shut the front door behind me, it must be baby brain.

Stereotypes aside, a lot of mums might struggle with their new identity, or be confused and unsure where their old self has gone, as the term Matrescence acknowledges. There are books and other resources that focus on this topic in an effort to normalise it which can help us to recognise that people adapt in different ways, whether rational or not.

Right now I think it’s ever important to make time each day to do something for myself, even if it is for only 10 or 15 minutes. Time is so precious when you have a little one on your hands, and so much of it is spent helping them grow. Your priorities may have changed but you are still the same person.

As I watch my baby boy drifting in and out of sleep, I know that I wouldn’t change a thing. Seeing his eyes light up and his gummy grin as I read him a story, sing him a song or turn on his mobile is simply delightful. Life has certainly changed, and I am embracing everything that comes with this amazing adventure, while remembering to continue to do the things I enjoyed doing before, in smaller doses. Not because I have lost my sense of self but because I am not my main focus anymore.

Living the eco-baby life

I know I said it would probably be a while before I published another blog post, but I have learned so much in the past month I couldn’t resist!

In an ideal world, many people would prefer a natural birth with no drugs or interference and a labour that is not particularly lengthy. This is what I also hoped for but as my due date grew closer, I was readying myself for anything.

After being told I may need to be induced early, something changed for me. I was ready and understood that the baby was ready to come out!

So, my birth didn’t start off going to plan but after being induced, having my waters broken and a couple of hours of contractions, out he came.

Our beautiful baby boy is now with us and we are loving every bit of the journey. We are learning so much every day, and instead of feeling constantly overwhelmed, we are enjoying it as much as we can and I am focusing on expanding my knowledge because there is just so much to learn!

Being the eco-conscious person that I endeavour to be, I ordered a bunch of both cloth nappies and biodegradable bamboo nappies before the birth. I had heard that cloth nappies weren’t the easiest on newborns, but I was keen to eventually give them a go and planned to use the bamboo nappies in the meantime.

After returning home from hospital, we got to work on our eco-baby routine. Bamboo nappies, check. Bamboo wipes, check. Biodegradable nappy bags, check. We were set and it felt really good. But I felt like I could do more, I mean I had enough cloth nappies for part time usage and a heap of old school terry towelling nappies too.

It’s like people tried to put me off, telling me cloth nappies aren’t easy, and that I wouldn’t last long using them, especially without a dryer. But I am pretty determined, and I don’t mind cleaning a bit of poop here and there. The biggest issue I am having at the moment is with the fit. Once he is a bit bigger I think I will find them more useful and won’t need to change the sheets so frequently! But I have decided that a little bit of extra water usage in the interim is better than a mountain of waste that will take a lifetime to break down. I know that even biodegradable nappies take a while to break down, but their environmental footprint is better than that of non-biodegradable nappies.

I have also been researching the best chemical free or chemically reduced options for things like nappy rash, sunscreen etc and have been asking anyone with a child what they did. I am now using paw paw ointment as barrier cream for nappy rash, which seems to be working well. Apparently nappy rash will be an issue with cloth nappies, due to moisture build up so I make sure I lather it on at least once a day!

I had to order of a different type of (still Australian made) biodegradable nappies, as the ones I started using decided to start leaking occasionally too. These new ones I have ordered claim to have a high absorbency and have been pretty good so far.

This is my life now and I am loving it! It has been such an important time of learning and we love watching our baby as he takes in the world and responds differently every day.

If anyone has anything they want to share, please leave a comment!

Blissful thinking

Almost one month in to 2021, and not much has changed. Australia was fortunate to have been in a pretty good place with managing the COVID situation across multiple states towards the end of last year, and as we entered 2021, things were much the same, with border closures and restrictions in place depending on the area you lived. It almost came as a shock that on New Year’s Eve my husband and I were required to wear masks when we went out to dinner but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, and we understand the importance of these kinds of mandates. After all, it was not so long ago that we were in a more challenging time, similar to what much of the world is still experiencing right now.

The year ahead

With desperate hopes for an effective vaccine and a fast rollout, the world is in limbo. It amazes me how adamant some people are to get on with their daily lives, as if nothing is happening, lining up immediately behind one another to purchase a coffee or cramming into the grocery aisle.

People everywhere are wondering; when will things go back to being how they were? Or maybe they have already come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be the same, and they don’t care, or just don’t want to think about it. I could say something about ignorance and bliss right here, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

As I said last year, I think it will be a very long time before anything is back to the way it was pre pandemic and as common as it may be to say it now, many of us are getting used to the new normal. We have just about had one whole year to become accustomed to the situation, so there is no excuse, right? Sadly, this concept of normality applies to climate change too; it seems that anything we don’t have a practical solution for falls into this category.

Time to refresh

This year brings no change to my working situation; I’m still at home, which I am happy about. But it is not easy making plans for the year ahead. Of course, we can stay at home as we did last year, and I am a bit of a homebody so wouldn’t mind this too much, or we can plan to get things done on the weekend, falling victim to our pre-pandemic lifestyles. It’s like a trap; we are so used to being all go, go, go, when the best thing we can do right now is stay put.

I have been thinking and reading a lot on the topic of wellness lately, which the more I think about it, the more I realise it is something that resonates with me. I want to take the time to learn yoga and meditation; to learn how to properly switch my mind off. I have just started using natural oils on my skin and am absolutely loving them. By ensuring my meals remain healthy throughout the day (breakfast of bircher muesli/granola is my all-time fave), and fitting in plenty of exercise, this is working well for me. Maybe that is what I should continue to focus on this year; health and wellness as a way of helping me to relax and unwind.

Change is refreshing, and with so much happening around us every day, now is a good time to take time to focus on what really makes us happy. Take the plunge and do something you’ve always wanted to; It doesn’t have to be a drastic commitment or promise; maybe a simple change of heart or new perspective on something is all that is required.

So go on, have a think about what you could do for yourself that will also have a positive impact on the people and/or environment around you and make it happen.

The vivid lens of travel

I love that travel really makes me think.

I’m glad we went to America when we did this year because it helped me see things for what they were. I had a fantastic three weeks away with my favourite travel partner – my husband. Our trip was action packed and we saw so many magnificent things.

On the plane over there I thought about my core values in life. After some time, I came to the conclusion that happiness, honesty and direction are what keep me going. If one of these is lacking, I feel off centre, and spend a large chunk of my time trying to regain my balance. I know that by putting in the effort and going after what I want, they can all be achieved.

In this post I’m going to break these values down and look at how taking time from day to day life to explore somewhere new affected my thought process and overall mood.

Happiness

Traveling generally makes people happy. While traveling, we are constantly learning, challenging ourselves with our surroundings and keeping ourselves busy. We are trying new food, seeing how different cultures interact and opening our minds to somewhere completely new. It is a feeling of freedom that you don’t get at home, because at every corner, there will be something new and untouched. One of my favourite things to do is to try out as many different restaurants as I can because this is the perfect way to get a sense of the culture. And who doesn’t feel happy while eating a tasty local feed? No matter what the cuisine, each suburb, town or country has their own unique flavour that stays with you for a long time.

Honesty

Travel reveals an honesty to both yourself and to your travel companion, and in discovering what is around you. There is nothing more genuine than spending every waking hour (almost) with one person and learning more about them. Finding mutual ground can feel as though it might be a struggle but, this can be avoided by removing all barriers and opening up. We all have our moments, whether we are tired, hungry, cold, hot or confused, sometimes we are not the best version of ourselves. When you have found that travel partner or group that allows you to discover a new world in your own time, is when you have allowed yourself to experience a form of honesty that doesn’t happen at home.

Direction

Traveling makes you think about where you are headed to next. Usually, you go with some sort of a plan about what you want to see, what you want to do, and how you are going to do it. You may also be left considering your direction (or lack of) back at home. What are you doing with your life and how is it helping you achieve our goals? Are you happy? Is there anything immediate you can do to change your situation? Being in a new environment allows for a fresh perspective on something that you may not think about back at home. Are you happy in your current situation? Are you satisfied with the amount of time you spend with your friends and/or family?

These values have become increasingly important to me over the last few years, and I have been able to appreciate them through the vivid lens of travel. Without happiness, there would be no energy to put into my goals. Without honesty there would be no clarity. Without direction there would be no vision.

So think about what is really important to you and how this can be brought out because active thinking can help you in more ways than one.

Whether the best way for you to consider your core values is through travel or something else, I encourage you to find out as soon as you can.

The little things

The little things in life are often what makes us happiest.

Offering your train seat to someone in need, watching your dog run around for no apparent reason, reading a friendly comment on your blog post or learning something new from an article you read online.

None of these things are immediately life changing, but each of them involves another creature’s happiness. It is our interactions that make us smile, feel special and give us something to look forward to.

Last week on the train to work I gave up my seat to a woman who asked for it. I got up out of my seat straight away and she thanked me. She was older than me but didn’t look as though she desperately needed a seat, but what do I know? I watched as she took out her phone to play a game and wondered if she actually needed the seat or just wanted to play her game in comfort. Either way, I felt good about myself. Maybe a little bit cheated, but I knew I had done the right thing.

A pet brings a special feeling of joy to life. You have a special companion to come home to each day; someone who will listen to you without offering advice; someone whose mood may be lifted by something as simple as being let inside when it’s cold. Owners and their animals share a unique bond; a relationship of inspiration and encouragement.

Now I may sound a bit biased, but my dog is the best. I just watched him as he ran around our front yard, wagging his tail with his tongue flapping about simply because he felt like it. Or maybe he thought I was going to chase him. When I didn’t chase him, he didn’t mind, just went about sniffing the rose bushes and foraging in the mulch. Whenever we get the chance to take him to the beach, we run with him along the sand and he genuinely looks like he is having the best time in his life. His excitement is contagious.

It is always uplifting to receive a (positive) response to something you’ve done. Feedback is what keeps us going, keeps us energised and reminds us of why we do what we do. It propels us to excel and drives us achieve. Even negative feedback can be good, if taken constructively and used to shape future decisions or actions. If we don’t know what we are doing wrong, how are we supposed to improve?

I love reading, writing and thinking. Each day I am excited to learn what people are reading and writing about. I like to see what opinions are out there, so I scroll through my feeds and click on anything of interest (this usually takes some time). I like to see what people are doing with their blogs, what the latest ideas are, finding out who the next young entrepreneur is and reading all about their success. Reading is (obviously) engaging and allows us to view things from a different perspective.

I began by classifying these as ‘little things’ but now I’m not so sure that I would classify them as ‘little’. These actions and emotions are part of everyday life and should not be underestimated. To remain happy; to remain satisfied; it is important that we recognise the cause of our happiness, to ensure that we keep doing whatever it is that we are doing.

So, tell me, what are the little things in your life?