Surviving and Thriving in the First Year

The first year with your bubba is certainly busy, tiring and so rewarding. It is when you realise what true love is and how much you love your children. I have asked Tayla from Gum Valley Glam Interiors who has 3 children under the age of 4 to  share some of her tips that has helped her survive and thrive the first year…

We recently celebrated our darling Dashell’s first birthday and naturally I started reflecting on the past year. While it has flown by in somewhat of a haze, I feel that I have enjoyed his first year even more so then that of our first two children. I guess you could say that by your third baby you realise how fleeting this stage is and you want to soak it all up. I have felt more confident and less rigid than I would have been with the others (mostly by default as things simply have to give or you end up tying yourself in knots!)

I won’t lie, when I found out I was pregnant with Dash anxiety kicked in; how would I cope with three (boys!) under four? My husband is a farmer so he works long hours and I was setting up a business. Immediately I went into crisis mode; what strategies could I put into place to make life a bit easier and feel as though I was taking back some control of the situation.

So here are some tips and products that have helped me keep my sanity this year and be the best Mum I can be. I would love to hear your tips too because by all means this list is not exhaustive. Here goes –

I can’t speak highly enough of Lil Fraser wraps. Large and stretchy they are great for swaddling in the early days and then for laying on the floor and clipping over the pram as baby gets older. They are available at From Baby to Kids www.frombabytokids.com.au

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I have been lucky enough to breastfeed my babies all past the age of one. My absolute favourite maternity bras are by Cake Lingerie. They wash and wear like a dream and are comfortable enough to sleep in.

I am sure that many, if not most, of you will have found that by laying out clothes and packing lunchboxes etc the night before the morning rush is easier to manage. I have on more than one occasion taken it one step further by sleeping in my comfy bra or breastfeeding singlet and yoga pants. That way you can jump up in the morning and without fuss to do the drop off. Or at least be clothed when someone knocks on the door (I am still baffled by the amount of people who just ‘drop in’ when you live on a farm and Murphy’s Law says you will only be half-clothed nine times out of ten!).

It doesn’t take long to get to the milestone of starting solids. The difference between my approach with child one and three was markedly different. Rafferty was by the book, slowly introducing new foods and doing lots of purees. It was a case of ‘quick he has made a mess’ and I would instantly wipe his hands. The third time around, I couldn’t let Dash feed himself fast enough! For making mealtimes both fun and a little less messy we stock the tried and tested Design Letters melamine tableware and sleeping bear ‘placies’ (placemats), both available here. I don’t love them because I sell them, I sell them BECAUSE I love them 😉 They are great under playdoh and arts/crafts too.

Having a gorgeous keepsake book to record milestones throughout that first year is essential. Some of the best ones are RhiCreative or Forever 3. Down the track both you and your children will love reading them. I will be the first to admit my digital filing is not the best but I do like to make photobooks using Blurb. It is very easy to use and excellent quality; if you sign up to their newsletter they regularly do sales of 30%-40% off so you can have your book saved and ready to print when the next sale comes out.

Rafferty is in Kindy two days a week and we have care for Jagger 3 days a fortnight. It is on these days I try to get my work done for my own business with Dashell in tow. When the big boys have been out for the day I ask them to share with me one thing that made them happy, one thing that made them sad and one thing that was funny. It definitely doesn’t happen every night but when we get the chance to chat it is a good way to take stock and make their feelings heard, I don’t think enough can be said for emotional wellbeing.

That goes for Mums too. Even when it is the LAST thing you might feel like doing, sometimes you just need to force yourself to get out of the house. Almost always you will come home feeling better for it. Go for a walk. Take the kids to the playground. Have a coffee with a friend while the kids play. And JUMP at any chance you can to get out of the house ON YOUR OWN! Don’t feel selfish about doing it – you can’t pour from an empty cup 😉

To add to this, have something on the side which you do for yourself, for some that may be playing sport, doing a hobby or going back to work part time. Even in all the chaos I can pinpoint that part of being able to cope better, yet having more on my plate, is that I am ‘ticking more boxes’ that contribute to my wellbeing. Having my business is something that I do for myself. It keeps me in touch with the world outside of being Mum and is something creative that I am passionate about. To help with trying to juggle it all, we have a cleaner come in once a fortnight which may sound ‘luxurious’ but it is not really. It is worth every cent and takes the pressure off. And I never thought I would say this but as a Mum, happiness at the end of the day is going to bed at night to the hum of the dishwasher and washing machine ha!. Staying on top of things and waking up to a clean kitchen makes all the difference.

My final parting words are when you get to the end of the first year – have a party to celebrate! And outsource, outsource, outsource. We kept it simple for Dash but still wanted to go to a level of effort that we did for the other boys. We ordered decorations from Fete Cartel and got help with the invites and cake. Ask your loved ones to bring a plate of food so you can sit back and take it all in. After all aren’t first birthdays more for the parents than the kids anyway? Cheers to you (& Me!) for surviving the first year. How blessed we are to have these little people in our lives.

Tayla

Images by One of a Kind-Alysha Sparks and Little River Love

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