Part time parent…

Sorry for the radio silence. There’s not much free time now I’m juggling family life and working!

I’ve been back at work since last Monday following 9 months of maternity leave with my fourth (and final, ha!) baby. The last week and a half have gone pretty well, the children are happy spending time with their grandparents and cousins while we work, and have settled well into their new routine.

I thought mornings would be so chaotic but it’s amazing what getting up a bit earlier does for the morning routine! When I only had to get the big ones to school I would leave getting up until the very last minute and end up all stressed. Getting out of bed earlier is hard, especially after night awakenings, but worth it to have a calm and ordered start to the day.

I’ve enjoyed the last few days of getting back into work. I’m a part timer, on a 0.6 FTE contract, which I feel very grateful for. No way could I cope with the demands of full time teaching along with all my children! There have been ups and downs but, thankfully, the ups have outweighed the downs. Getting to know a new class has been fun, as has taking on a year ten class that I last taught when they were year sevens. They’re all so tall now! Catching up with all the changes that have taken place is hard though. So much has changed that I find I have to clarify everything, I feel a bit like the newbie again.

I feel awful saying it but it’s nice to have a few hours where someone else is looking after my children. I felt my mood sinking in the last few months and being back at work has allowed me to have a valid excuse for getting someone to take care of my children and let me have a break! That sounds mad. It’s hardly a break, going to work, but it’s a break from the endless laundry, the toddler tantrums, the teething baby and the repetition of it all.

Returning to work has given me a new perspective. I am enjoying my children again, excited to pick them up after work, and I’m seeing the world through fresh eyes…although they could still do with a few more hours sleep!

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Adventures in weaning

Baby number 4 is at that magical age where you get to try lots of new foods and try to capture their expression on camera.
My first two babies are now 10 and 8 and were born at a time when weaning at four months with baby rice and puree was the norm. I think the change in guidelines happened between them but I stuck with what I knew for number two,  and anyway, the health visitors didn’t really push the fact that you were meant to wait until six months! We progressed to lumpy foods at around 7-8 months and gradually onto normal food at some point during toddler hood.
Number 3 was born when our firstborn was almost 8, so by now I was well aware of the six month guideline. I felt like a newbie to weaning again as it had been a good few years! I was also aware of a new fangled weaning technique called baby led weaning (blw) and decided to read up on it.
I invested in the Gill Rapley book to learn about why this method of weaning was the way to go. As I was breastfeeding on demand, blw seemed liked the natural transition, going from one form of baby helping themself to another! My baby would be in charge of what he chose to eat and how much of it. It sounded perfect to me, no more faffing about blending up steamed veggies, no separate meal for the baby, no need to sit and spoon feed them while your dinner went cold! I do like anything that makes my life a bit easier so I was sold!
So, he hit “the middle of the first year” (I think he was 23 weeks) and he joined in with dinner. For a while not a lot went in but then the tell tale sign appeared that he was digesting some actual good. In his nappies. Nappy contents are fascinating when you’re a parent! That was it. One successfully weaned onto solids baby. (No, really, that is it! All you need to do is carry on offering a bit of whatever your eating and following their lead.)
Onto baby number four. As we approached weaning age I had mixed feelings about it. He was 10lb 8oz at birth and had breastfed, on average, every 3 hours, day and night, since he was born. Exhausted didn’t even come close! I was being maintained by Cadbury’s and coffee. So I was looking forward to him getting sustenance from other sources but also felt a bit sad that I would no longer be solely responsible for his incredible weight gain (now 20lb+…bad mummy hasn’t had him weighed since he was 6 weeks old, oops!).
I also hoped that being full of solid food would make him sleep longer at night. But as long as I was just breastfeeding, I could cling onto that hope…I was scared that the reality would be that his sleeping pattern didn’t change at all!
Another reason for holding off for as long as we could, I knew of the messiness that blw or indeed any weaning entailed. Having a dog is definitely a bonus here, I don’t have to clean much off the floor but the laundry… The volume of laundry! As if it wasn’t bad enough already with four children! 
At about 23 weeks I handed him a broccoli floret. He devoured it. He now devours pretty much any food he can get his chubby little paws on. The only food he pulls faces at are those that are spoon fed (this is where I’m a blw fail, he does grab the occasional pre loaded spoon but that’s more because I’ve been distracted rather than intentional!).
Of course, I do worry about him choking. Learning the difference between gagging and choking has helped me relax a little and knowing that he is less likely to choke if he is in charge of what goes in. If he does start gagging, I try to wait a few seconds before panicking as he usually resolves the issue himself. This is easier said than done though! 
Having tried both methods of weaning, I’m a total blw convert. It has the added bonus that we all eat more healthily because we can’t be feeding the baby salty, processed food. I love that I don’t need to worry about taking baby food out and about with me, he’ll just have something from my plate. This makes me think twice about what I order, so  blw has health benefits for both of us!