We are approaching 7 weeks in to our family of 4 and I feel like we are getting into our new rhythm and routine. I know that if I don’t have a shower pretty soon after waking up then it will be late morning (or the following day) before I manage to get one. I know that if I don’t get Woody dressed as soon as he wakes up, when he is still in a slightly sleepy state, then getting dressed will become an argument and take forever! And Arlo is still working out his routine, but he definitely knows the difference between night and day and has proven he can sleep for 4.5hrs straight. He doesn’t like to show off this new skill too much though!! It feels like Arlo has been here forever which is nice, and his big smiles and coo’s are just the cutest. Woody continues to smother him in kisses and pronounce his love for him!
Part of our routine is Woody being at nursery 3 days a week – and me getting him there on time in a morning!! Trying to decide how many days Woody would do at nursery whilst I’m on maternity was a really big decision. I settled on 2 days to start with but after more thought this increased to 3. 3 days felt right for many reasons. Firstly, he was used to 5 days and reducing this too much would take away what he was used to, enjoyed and got a lot from. Also, having been at nursery 5 days a week for over a year meant he had certain expectations about how occupied one can be kept during the day and I worried about how I could live up to this. 3 days a week felt right and so that’s what we settled on. It meant I would have 3 days alone with the new baby and Woody at home for 2 (and the weekend of course). This of course came with a nice dollop of mum guilt- I was going to be at home, on maternity leave, with our new baby but not Woody. If I was going to be at home then should I not be looking after both my children? Keeping them occupied, playing, educating etc etc… is that not why I had them? Well, nearly 7 weeks in and I am feeling a lot more comfortable with the decision we made. Woody has 3 days at nursery where he plays with his friends, learns things (The Montissori way!!), and enjoys himself- his time where it can be all about him in an environment he is so very comfortable with. On those three days I can sit and cuddle with Arlo and not feel guilt, meet friends, do washing and ironing, make calls and do other home admin and not worry that I am neglecting Woody. It then means on the two weekday days we do have together we do things- we go for picnics, to toddler groups, to the beach and other exciting things which are Woody focused. We also just sit on the sofa watching films (toy story and the good dinosaur are firm favourites in our house!!). I feel the patience I have on these days with him, I would not have if we were together all day everyday. Dealing with toddler tantrums and the constant use of the word no can be draining, but I try and keep really patient with him on our 2 days as I know that time is ours to enjoy and not argue. I don’t feel the mum guilt so much anymore, I feel comfortable with the decision we have made.
Continuing on the mum guilt topic though, when Woody was 6 weeks old we had already begun a baby massage class. Throughout my maternity leave we also did music classes, swimming lessons, trips to the sensory room at soft play and plenty of play dates and lunches. Unfortunately for Arlo I have not done as much research into all the baby groups, and am not sure I will. I really loved doing them all with Woody as it kept us busy and social. I knew I was only going to be taking 6-7 months maternity leave and wanted to cram in as much as possible with my new baby. I think I ran myself into the ground a little at one point as I wasn’t just taking the time to rest- we were always on the go! So Arlo will definitely not be doing all the classes as I don’t feel the desire to keep super busy, but I will be doing the ones I really enjoyed. Swimming is top of this list- I have always loved water and want my children to too. I’m not at all ‘sporty’ but swimming is something I am good at and has kept me fit in the past. I loved the swimming lessons I did with Woody, and although we didn’t do them for long, we took the things we learnt and practiced them when we took him swimming and I believe it has contributed to the him enjoying and being confident in water today. So this is my must for Arlo. I may also look into a music group I did with Woody, but this will probably be about it. I do feel a bit bad that he won’t be exposed to as much, but we have been going to a few toddler groups on Woody’s non nursery days so hopefully over time Arlo will take something from these. I did take Arlo to parent and baby cinema the other week to see Beauty and the Beast- he may have slept the whole way through it but maybe this counts as baby socialising!?