At the moment I regularly listen to two podcasts: Giovanna Fletcher’s ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’, and Alistair and Grace Campbell’s ‘Football, Feminism and Everything in Between’. Contrasting choices one might say, but then that’s the key – serve the different parts of your brain, keep those neurons firing etc.
‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ appeals to the part of my brain that needs parent chat, and to feel part of a community when you are spending the majority of your time alone with a child. You might have some mum and baby dates, and sporadic chat with other adults, but it’s usually when paying for something or getting on the bus. ‘I don’t need the receipt’ and ‘thank you’ is not proper chat.
Compare your life now to the one you had before, did you sit in the office whinging about being sat in the office? Remember all that chat and gossip? Popping out for lunch with a colleague, those boring meetings – wouldn’t you kill for that now? But blah blah blah, the grass is always greener…
So combat your mumliness – my new hip portmanteau of ‘mum’ and ‘loneliness’ – by listening to Gi!
Added bonus: You stop your partner from wanting to strangle you for being so hyper and needy when they get in from work.
‘Football, Feminism and Everything in Between’ is hosted by father and daughter combo Alistair and Grace Campbell. Campbell Sr is known to me from the heady days of New Labour in the late 1990s. Aged thirteen, I remember going with my Dad to the polling station in 1997 and being told that he was voting for the Lib Dems as a protest even though Labour were expected to win by a landslide (and they did).
In my mind he was always New Labour and the war in Iraq and nothing else. But then Charles Kennedy died. I loved Charles Kennedy, a wonderful and witty person who tried to do good, but then I discovered he was friends with Alistair Campbell – so he can’t be all bad right?
Campbell’s obituary discusses their friendship and the mental health issues they shared. As well as being moving and warm, it really reminded me how multifaceted we all are, and how we really should try to not judge on first impressions.
As with ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’, each episode is an hour or so chat with a celebrityor ‘known person in their field’, and both podcasts introduce you to people and/or a topic you may be unfamiliar with.
IMHO, it is always wonderful to learn, and to see things from a different perspective, and in a world of Donald and Boris, this is a key skill to keep developing.
Another podcast I must start listening to is ‘Wonder Women’ by musical theatre actresses Celinde Schoenmaker and Carrie Hope Fletcher. Topics include female hysteria and cartoon women and I’m very much looking forward to a good listen.
I would also recommend either of James O’Brien‘s podcasts and Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd‘s ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’. I’ve not listened to them in forever but they are great. I blame my child.
We did our best to not over prepare while I was pregnant, and given that we were trying to move from a flat to a house at the same time, minimal preparation seemed sensible.
However, I did do a lot of research, I love researching, it is pure joy to me. But we did have rules: I was only allowed to look up pregnancy and birth on the NHS website, and random Googling was reserved for the husband alone. The research mainly consisted of “what shit shall we buy for a baby”, but I did a bit of reading along the way as well. So here below is a list of things we bought, and things I read.
Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna (Gi) Fletcher is a lovely first person account of how Gi is raising her children (two out of three at publication). I discovered her via McBusted in 2014 and gradually got hooked on McBusted and McFly and then the YouTube channels of the Fletchers (Gi, Tom and Carrie Hope). She’s a very unfussy straightforward kind of person, and does not claim to know anything more than her own mind – and she will freely admit she does not always know that either. Bravo.
Entering the world of motherhood was something I could not discuss with my own mother, and whilst I am close with my mother-in-law, her book was a lovely introduction into a world I didn’t know and made me feel comfortable and excited about trying for a baby in 2017.
Her book led to a podcast titled Happy Mum, Happy Baby (well duh), and it is now into its fourth series. I love listening to it, you feel part of a community without having to go anywhere or arrange anything, and I love that men are on the podcast as well – it’s great to hear their opinions!
She also has a YouTube series called Mumdays, and whilst it hasn’t been updated since August (how dare she!), I also looked forward to these videos for a window into another mum’s world.
The husband and I also attended two courses: Red Cross First Aid for Baby and Child, and the NCT Essentials Antenatal course. Both were good, useful – and at the time seemed really important, but once you have the baby you kinda just get on with it – whether that is running round like a headless chicken or taking everything in your stride.
And as I was told by the friends who recommended NCT, the most important part of it is the parents you meet on the course. And I’m proud to say that I’ve made two really good friends out of the seven couples we met – that’s not bad going! And over a year later, seven out of the eight mums still message each other, and we have arranged giant pub meet ups for Christmas and for a first birthday play date. And as soon as we move (ha!), I’m intending to host a BBQ. Just got to get that Doodle poll going…
Now onto the purchases, there are definitely things we don’t use as much as we expected: BabyBjorn Carrier one – but we’ve used it enough, and things that were completely pointless: Ewan the Dream Sheep – not loud enough, just use YouTube for white noise, but because we spent a lot of time researching, we are still pretty happy with our purchasing a year later. Oooh, look at us. Superior or what! But of course we still bought him too many clothes, and were given too many clothes. Meh.
I learnt about the Finnish Baby Box after reading this BBC News story and I was in love. I’ve never been to Scandinavia but they all seem to know what they are doing so I was definitely getting one. The idea is a magical box with all the things you might need for your baby’s first year, and I wanted to not have to figure everything out in advance, and to then panic that our baby didn’t have a thing that they NEEDED RIGHT NOW.
The Finnish government gives a box to new parents and some canny Finnish Dads decided to set up the company for those in less enlightened climes. Obviously there is a cost and it isn’t particularly cheap at 399€ (thanks Auntie Jeanette and Uncle Ben), but if you live in Scotland you can get your own baby box for free.
We used the actual box for four and a half months before he got too long and we loved it. It now sits in the wardrobe full of clothes, but we hope to use it again. :-).
On the cheaper end of the spectrum at £10.99, thanks to a recommendation from my cousin-in-law Lorna, we bought a Milton Steriliser Unit for our bottles, breast pump parts and syringes. It is literally a fancy 5 litre bucket that you throw a 24 hour tablet into. It was a fantastic purchase and really appealed to the part of my brain that hates buying overly complex expensive gadgets – paying £100 for a breast pump that broke in under three months was annoying enough (replaced for free thank goodness).
And once we got into the ‘travelling with a baby’ groove, we stopped taking the bucket with us and just threw the sterilising tablets (currently £1.53 for 28 on Ocado) into a bowl wherever we were. The things you learn…
Talking of travel, I love our BabyBjorn travel cot. You could definitely spend less, many many cheaper travel cots are available, but, it is amazing and so easy to put up, take down and carry about. We also don’t have a room for our special creature, a combination of not giving up the office, and hoping to move to a house where we can go mad and make the third bedroom his.
So, the travel cot replaced my desk but not the husband’s, and it is the only bed he has. It goes anywhere we go with the car, and it is great when we go to the in-laws as they don’t have to sort a bed for him (for a few years at least). Highly recommended.
My final recommendation is our buggy, we have a BabyZen YoYo+ and I don’t just love it, I love love love it. We didn’t have any preferred brands in mind prior to pregnancy but I wanted something for buses, trains and planes, and a buggy that would be easy to carry about in central London.
Our friends Eleanor and Matthew had already purchased a YoYo+ so we got to have a good look at it, and then try it out with their little Sam a few months later. We were given the buggy itself (£369 – thanks Mummy and Daddy Coles) as well as buying the newborn pack (£175) with the aim of only ever buying one buggy for him. So far so good…
It is very light to use, fits through tiny gaps, can be folded down very quickly, and popping it back up is even simpler. We’ve taken it on planes as hand luggage and wheeled it over all sorts of surfaces, and I still carry it on my own at 14 months – but I do ask for help more these days, he’s a heavy lump!
For the future, I plan to get the little seat accessory and will be trying that with the newborn pack. Out and about with two children sounds terrifying but I chatted to a mum who does the above with her YoYo+ so if she can do it, I can too.