Deciding to stay home after maternity leave, my YOUNIQUE experience!

This has been one of the biggest decision of my life. Deciding to put my career as a corporate lawyer on hold to stay home with my daughter. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly and I knew that in making it, I would need to find ways to supplement our income and help support my family. What would I do? What would become of my career? Would my education go to waste? Would my daughter suffer for not having the experience of socializing at nursery school everyday? These were all questions running through my mind. It was not going to be an easy decision…

After months of thinking about it and speaking to everyone I could think of that would have insight into life as a stay at home mum, I made the decision to put my career on the back burner and stay home with my daughter. I decided to enroll her in as many baby activity groups as possible that she and I could attend together which meant we could both socialize with other mums and babies regularly. This has been great as I have not only made great friends, but Izzie is getting used to other babies and I find she is learning to be less possessive of me. 

In terms of my career, I am very fortunate that I had this as an option as I know many mothers out there would love to be able to stay home but for whatever reason cannot. I also know that there are many women out there who are grateful for the respite and adult socialization that their career provides them so they choose to return to work. For me it was definitely a toss up, I love being a lawyer and I LOVE being a mum. It was not easy. I would still need to earn a supplemental income to help with our monthly outgoings and I needed to figure out how I was going to do that and fast.  

Once Izzie and I had settled into our routine, I began thinking about all the ways I could contribute to our household income. I spent a lot of time focusing on home based businesses and asking all of my friends their opinions on the different possibilities. It needed to be something I could do in my spare time when I wasn’t chasing a little one around, feeding, changing and bathing her.  I have focused a lot of my time on researching home based businesses and I am even looking into the possibility of developing on some of my entrepreneurial ideas. It’s been a lot of fun exploring all the possibilities and coming up with my list of options. What have I chosen to do?! Well, I have decided to put my business mind and entrepreneurial spirit to good use and start my own businesses! Yep! That’s right! business(es!). My main source of income at the moment in my business with Younique Cosmetics and Skincare. I absolutely love working with and selling Younique! In addition to Younique, I am also in the process of launching a number of other businesses. It’s an exciting time and I love that I am taking control of my future and building my own dream rather than someone else’s. 

I never thought I would be able to do it. I have completely surprised myself and I am so proud to say that I am now well on my way to finding success in my own right. It’s amazing!

If you are interested in learning more about my YOUNIQUE journey, please feel free to contact me through my website: http://www.youniqueproducts.com/breejamiesonholloway

 

 

 

 

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GUEST BLOG: Going back to work after having kids

Before I became pregnant with Robyn, I had always thought that I would go back to work full-time, put my child in nursery, and be able to progress with my career as I had planned. But soon after I became pregnant and my research into said-childcare began, I discovered the ridiculous costs that would go into sending my child into the care of people I did not know and who would eventually spend more time with her on a weekly basis than I would… and I had a slight panic attack.

‘How will my one year away from work affect my career progression? Do I want to go back full-time? Can we afford childcare?’ These were only some of the questions running through my mind before going on maternity leave… and then something I decided to put on the back-burner once Robyn was born, as I had a few other pressing things to think about (like a new baby that I had absolutely no idea how to take care of!).

About six months into my maternity leave, I began to think about what I really wanted. I had launched into a home based business which was doing really well for mums that I knew, but I struggled to keep this going for myself. I originally began this venture to give myself the option of staying home with Robyn, and it really appealed to me. I wouldn’t have to pay for childcare, I would be around for all the major events in her life, and I wouldn’t have to worry about a commute into London.

Unfortunately, our financial situation dictated that I went back to work, and this led to a frantic search for childcare. The cost of child-minders and nurseries in my area is astronomical, and would not have been worth me going back to work. Fortunately, my mum-in-law who lived only 15 minutes away, was happy to take care of Robyn, and at a much lower cost than any other childcare option. It was a win-win situation – Robyn would get to spend time with her nan, and we could save money on childcare while also supporting my husband’s retired mum.

My first month of work was a struggle, both emotionally and mentally. Robyn was not used to being away from me so when I would drop her off, she would burst into tears, reaching for me… and the guilt I felt was almost unbearable. However, I needed to put that feeling to the side so I could get back into the swing of work things… and while some things I was able to pick up easily again, other things at work took a bit of a learning curve to get back into. I do not know if it was the fact that I was away for a year or if my mind was just preoccupied by other priorities, but there were certain aspects of work that were more difficult to grasp than they used to be. This then led to the feeling of insecurity, of whether I was still actually good at my job and whether I did deserve to be there… And after a day of work like that, I would then return home to my child who spent the entire day crying for me. Oh the guilt.

It was that constant battle – trying to be a great employee while at the same time trying to be a fantastic mum. And if I succeeded at one, it was at the expense of the other. How exhausting… It is true that mums do go through a lot of guilt going back to work. We feel guilty putting anything else above the priority of our families, but at the same time, we try to be the best at work, but feel guilty when we have to leave right at 5pm to pick up our child.

The first few months (well, really the first year) back at work was a struggle. My team had increased in size so I was supporting double the amount of people and work than before, the pace of work was much faster, the amount expected of me was much more and I was not meeting expectations… and to top it off, I was struggling with a toddler who was having problems sleeping through the night, trying to get housework and a social life and time with my family all squished into three days…

My struggles at work definitely impacted my home life. I would come home in a terrible mood, and I hated the way I was with my husband and daughter. I was not liking this person I was becoming…

But eventually, Robyn settled in with my mum-in-law, her sleeping habits became regular (or else I became accustomed to interrupted sleep), work began to get better… and life began to have a bit of balance.

Would I ever give up work to be a stay-at-home mum? I see so many of my mum friends who love staying at home and are so grateful that they are able to, and I am happy for them. For me, personally, I do like having a job to go to where I can use my brain and have time dedicated to thinking about things other than, ‘What activity should I do with Robyn today? How can I keep her occupied? Why isn’t she eating today? Why is she having such a tantrum today? Can I get five minutes to myself?’

I feel that I have achieved (or on the way to achieving) that balance of work and life. I am now at a new job working closer to home and for only three days a week. I have a job where I do feel appreciated and acknowledged and challenged. I am so much less stressed than at my previous job, and even my husband has noticed how much of a good mood I am in nowadays. I get Mondays and Fridays with Robyn AND the weekends, and I get to indulge her in things like JingleBops and Baby Bear Ballet as well as playdates (which I truly enjoy and cherish), and still get time to clean the house (obviously this is never going to be 100% perfect but it’s the effort that counts!) and see other friends.

I almost feel bad saying I need time away from Robyn, but all of us parents do think it. We do need some time away from our children in order to recharge ourselves and our sanity. We were adults and individuals before we had children, and it is important to be able to keep hold of at least part of that. And now, because I do have that time away from Robyn, each moment I do spend with her is that much more special. I pick her up from her nan’s and we cuddle on the couch at home for a half hour before I bathe her and put her to bed, and she tells me about her day (as an almost three-year-old can do).

And I do feel grateful that I can have the best of both…

I’ve become one of THOSE mothers!

I would NEVER give my child a dummy/soother.

I would NEVER feed my child from a jar or pouch.

I would NEVER let my child cry.

I would NEVER let my child leave the house in her sleeper.

I would NEVER leave the house with messy hair and no makeup just because I have a baby.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Prior to having Izzie I had a million preconceived notions of what I would be like as a mother. In my mind it was all wonderful  and I never had a stray hair or a bad day. I was just happy because I was going to have a baby and to do anything wrong would mean I was ungrateful for that gift I was being given and it would mean that I was not a “perfect” mother (inconceivable!). I would find myself walking in public actually judging other mothers in my mind for all the things they were doing “wrong”, I would NEVER become one of THOSE mothers. I was even guilty of doing this with my nearest and dearest and thinking back now the fact that I ever had those judgmental thoughts is really shameful and frankly quite naïve and pathetic.

Becoming a mother for the first time is daunting to say the least. You are on the steepest roller coaster and learning curve of your life and no matter how much advice people give you, ultimately you end up just having to figure it out on your own. You end up doing what works for you and usually those are the things that make life easier – “anything for an easy life” I can hear my husband saying. After all, why complicate matters. Isn’t it about doing the very best for your children and having a lot of fun doing it?!

The thing is, I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. I have had numerous very honest conversations with other new mums who have openly admitted to having been just as judgmental. I’m sure that some of you reading this will be internally acknowledging that this was or still is you. The lesson we ‘judgers’ all need to learn is that being a mum is hard work. Judging each other is so counterproductive. We should be each other’s biggest fans! I’ve never been able to completely understand why we as woman always seem to have an opinion about what others are doing wrong. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a primal instinct in that we are all innately fighting to be the most “perfect” woman, but perhaps it’s a simple as jealousy and envy as so many say it is. Whatever the reason behind this judgmental nature we seem to possess, we really need to work to change it. Why shouldn’t we be each other’s biggest fans?!

Since having Izzie my perspective has definitely changed. I feel I have in fact become enlightened to the trials of motherhood and it’s almost never easy! I have found my mummy friends to be my biggest supporters, I absolutely adore listening to their differing opinions and approaches to every aspect of child rearing. They have helped me to be confident in establishing a routine that works for our family and I know I always have them to bounce ideas off of. I am definitely their biggest fan and I can honestly say that in becoming a mother, I no longer look at another woman and judge her for how she chooses to raise her children. Instead I think about the things she is doing which I should perhaps try. Guess what?!? Sometimes, she’s right! I for one have proudly and quite intentionally become one of THOSE mothers.

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Sleep deprived mama – How do I put a stop to the Boom, Boom, KABOOM?!

I’ve not had much sleep recently… but not for the reasons you might think. I’m lucky in some ways -my daughter has been sleeping through the night since she was about 3 months and my husband doesn’t snore or toss and turn. The reason for my lack of sleep lies in the boom, boom KABOOM! Every night Izzie goes down at around 9 and for the first 30 minutes she persists in banging her legs down on her mattress. Eventually this stops and she drifts off. This isn’t such an issue because we generally don’t go to bed until a couple hours later so we let her get on with it. It seems to sooth her.

The problem arises when at 3am I am in a beautiful deep sleep until BOOM BOOM KABOOM! I am jolted out of my lovely dreams to the loud bangs coming from my daughters crib. BOOM BOOM KABOOM! I leap from bed waking my husband and knocking over everything in my path. I’m barely awake, you might even say I’m practically sleep walking when I approach Izzie’s crib to find she is sound asleep banging away. It’s as if she is dreaming that she is competing in Olympic hurdles or triple jump!

Now you would think after a few weeks of this I would learn that there is no need to jump to attention at every boom, but come 3am when you hear a boom, you jump.

This nightly routine of Boom, Boom Kaboom has meant that in the past few weeks I am once again walking around like a zombie. Not fun!

Now I’m not complaining because like I said, I recognise how lucky I am that my not yet 6 month old sleeps through the night, but how do I stop the sound of an elephant herd coming from my daughter’s crib every night?!

 

 

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Flying to Canada with a 3 month old. Terrifying? Not when you’re flying British Airways (BA) and your air hostess is called Katie!

I recently flew to Canada with Izzie on British Airways (BA) so she could meet my family. As she was born in London, no one from my family other than my Mum had met her yet.The idea of travelling with such a young baby terrified me so much that I started planning our adventure 2 months ahead of time. I was adamant I needed to know everything about flying with an infant, especially considering my husband was staying behind. I looked at every website and blog I could find to ensure I knew exactly what I was allowed to bring on board with me etc. Being a notoriously heavy packer, I knew I had to somehow consolidate my clothes and toiletries, the plan was to stay for 3 months so that meant I somehow needed to fit everything in, including Izzie’s extensive wardrobe of 3-6 month clothes.  I finally managed to fit everything into two suitcases weighing 23kg (EXACTLY) each and shoved everything else into our 3 carry-on bags including her bottles. I knew I would not be allowed to carry large amounts of formula through security without having to open the sterile ready-feed formula bottles to taste them, so I opted to purchase all of the Aptamil I needed, plus some, from the Boots through security at terminal 5.

Getting to the airport was easy. My husband took us to the check-in counter and carried our bags. I chose a back pack, my Storksak nappy bag and the bag that fits on the front of our Stokke Xplory pram, as my carry-on bags as they all attach to the pram so I knew I would not have to carry anything and balance the baby as well. We figured out a way to wedge the car seat under the pram seat so it stayed put and off we went through security. The tricky bit started when we arrived at the gate.

What they don’t tell you when you are travelling BA is that if your need to take a bus to your aircraft, you first have to collapse your pram. This presented a problem as my pram was holding all three of our carry-ons, my baby and the car seat. There was no way I was going to be able to manage it all on my own, in addition to carrying my collapsed pram and pram seat. I started to panic. What was I going to do?!?!

No, I said to myself, I will not panic, I will  become supermum and pull this off. It was fine, really, I’ll just balance the baby, one bag here, then put the seat under that arm… oh crap! I was royally screwed!

Except, luckily, I was flying a BA flight with a superb crew that day!

As I was collapsing my pram, a lovely lady working at the desk offered to hold Izzie while I sorted everything out. Another gentlemen offered to carry my pram and car seat onto the bus for me.  Great I thought, but how do I get it all off again?!?!  No problem!  I don’t know why I was worried, I was flying BA.

When we arrived at the aircraft, the bus driver, kindly took my pram and car seat to the drop point so it could be loaded on the plane. I then had to climb the stairs to the aircraft, this was by far the most difficult part of our journey as I did have to carry our 3 bags and my daughter up the stairs – bearing in mind 3 months of formula I bought at the terminal. Do not fret however, I was flying BA, it got easier. When I arrived at the door I was greeted by the most lovely air hostess I have EVER met, Katie (KATIE!). The air hosts greeting us at the door all saw we were struggling and Katie was the first to spring into action. She took Izzie and one of my bags for me and escorted me to our seats. Katie, promptly assisted me in getting everything I needed for take-off out of my bags and helped me get settled quickly and effortlessly. As I settled into my seat Katie kept hold of Izzie and reassured me that everything would be fine (did I mention I was a panting nervous wreck at the thought of flying across an ocean with my newborn?!?!).

Once all the passengers had boarded, Katie brought me Izzie’s safety belt and talked me through everything I needed to know to keep her and I safe, and comfortable. She explained I should feed Izzie during take-off and landing to help her ears and that I should leave it as long as possible before I began the feed. When the seat belt signs were switched off, Katie quickly got me a cot for Izzie and secured it in front of me so she and I could both rest comfortably. Throughout the flight she would check on us and would watch Izzie for me while I used the loo. She was wonderful!

When we landed in Toronto deplaning was just as easy. Katie assisted me in taking all my bags to the aircraft doors where my pram and car seat were waiting and she again held Izzie while I assembled it all. Katie went way above and beyond to assist me and make our flight as enjoyable as possible – A SAINT! Katie and the rest of the BA staff were absolutely wonderful and made my journey home with Izzie as easy and comfortable as I could have ever hoped for.

So from my experience I have compiled some of my top tips for flying with a newborn:

1)      If you are not exclusively breastfeeding, bring all your bottles pre-sterilised and pre-order ready-made formula from the chemist on the other side of security (click here to learn more).

2)      Use bags which attach easily to your pram as your carry-ons. This frees up your hands and gives your shoulders a break;

3)      Bring lots of baby wipes in your nappy bag. These come in very handy when your baby is touching everything and potentially picking up germs from all over the world that they are not immune to, but they also come in handy when the air pressure and altitude cause poo-plosions and baby sick incidents (trust me!);

4)      Sleep when your baby sleeps. This is especially important when you are flying long haul. As tempting as it is to stay awake and watch that new release, it is unlikely that your baby will sleep through the length of the flight and you need to re-energise to keep them entertained when they do wake up;

5)      Fly BA and ask for KATIE!

(HOT TIP: Unlike some airlines, when you fly BA with a child under 2 you do not pay a percentage of the adult fare if the child is travelling in your lap (this includes seats with cots), all you pay is the taxes.)

 

 

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Who knew that 20 minutes at the dentist could feel like a week’s vacation!? (There’s a new boss in town!)

DSCF1151Being a mother has been a dream come true! From the moment Izzie was born I’ve felt like “this is why I am here, to be her mummy”. As a newborn Izzie was amazing, she was so chilled out and relaxed, I felt so lucky. But if there was ever a time for the expression ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’, the time is now.

These days my little angel has become a terror who screams every time I leave the room or walk two feet away. She screams every time I try to hug another person (holding another baby is a horrific crime where Izzie is concerned) and squawks every time I pay attention to something that is not HER.

Oh yes! There’s a new boss in my house and she has me wrapped around all 10 of her fingers and all 10 of her toes. She knows what she wants and how she intends to get it all the while driving mummy insane! 24 hours, 7 days a week, this has become a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby and I am forever grateful for her but as of late, I find myself praying and willing the stormy days of this so called “5th leap” away. Am I the only one who feels this way?!

The other day I had a dentist appointment. If you know me, you know I hate the dentist and I was ever so tempted to cancel. My husband happened to be working from home that day and was happy to keep an eye on the baby while I went to my appointment. So reluctantly, I went.

As I walked out the door into the gorgeous sunlight, towards the evil dentist, the strangest thing happened… my shoulders dropped, my body relaxed and I could hear birds!!! I WAS FREEEEEE!!! All of a sudden I had the time to stop and LITERALLY smell the roses. I had time to walk leisurely and notice my surroundings, grab a coffee and think about what I needed to do for me. I found myself wishing for a lounger and mojito to appear at the side of the road. I mean it’s not the beach but it was sure beginning to feel like a vacation – a girl can dream! But compared to the week I’d had, the 20 minute dentist appointment was a treat! I got to lay on a recliner, under a bright light, wear shades AND fall asleep! I mean, come on how good does that sound right now?!?!

When I finished my appointment I took the leisurely 5 minute walk home, taking the long route (shhhhh!) just to prolong my ‘vacation’ a wee bit. Wow! What a difference 20 minutes can make. As I slowly (VERY VERY SLOWLY) approached my front door, I took one last deep breath of the fresh air and opened the door back in to my reality feeling rejuvenated and alive. I mean who knew 20 minutes at the dentist could feel like a week’s vacation!?

So as much as I love my new ‘boss’, I am reminded that we all need a little holiday every once and awhile, even if it’s just a teeth cleaning.

 

References:

The Wonder Weeks – http://www.thewonderweeks.com/gb/

 

 

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What’s your personal feeding style?

We have all heard the statistics and we all have our own style. What we want to know is: What’s your personal feeding style?

 

 

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Breast is best but formula feeding is fantastic too!

For 9 months during pregnancy I listened to midwives and doctors tell me that “anyone could breastfeed”, “breast is best” and “breastfeeding gives your child a far better start than formula”. I wasn’t worried however because I intended to breastfeed so formula feeding never crossed my mind. Anyways, they said anyone could breastfeed and they obviously know what they are talking about. Right?? WRONG!!!

The night Izzie was born I put her straight to the breast. No one assisted me with latch or made suggestions. No one offered to help me or asked if I felt ok with it. I just did it because as far as I knew, it was easy and anyone could do it. Or so I had been told. The next morning the midwife came in and said, “Are you ready to go home?” I was bewildered and thought; well I guess they feel I am ready so “sure”. That afternoon they discharged me with Izzie and we went home. For the first 3 days of her life I put her to the breast every couple of hours. She would appear to be eating for about 10 minutes and then stop. I thought this must be normal. We continued this way until on day 3 the community midwives came to see us. Izzie was yellow with jaundice and had been screaming night after night. She had lost almost a pound since birth and I was sent directly to hospital with her. Continue reading

Picking boogers is therapeutic and poos are a thing to be celebrated!

I am someone who appreciates sanitation, I am a self confessed germaphobic (sort of!) and I like clean surfaces and tidy rooms. I DO NOT like disgusting smells or the sight of bodily fluids and the sight of snot makes me sick! If you had met and asked me 6 months ago, this is what you would have heard. Things have changed…

Becoming a mother for the first time really changes you. Like all mothers I now walk around reeking of baby sick, with boogies up my arms and slobber in my hair. I have learned to accept these things as part of life, though I still carry anti-bacterial gel, Tommee Tippee anti-bacterial soother and teat wipes and Boogie Wipes with me everywhere I go!

I now take comfort in cleaning snotty boogies out of Izzie’s nose. After all I want her to feel and be clean. In fact the act of cleaning out my daughter’s nose has become oddly therapeutic (think Mummy monkey picking ticks out of the fur of their young). I feel devastated when I see children with crusty noses and messy faces. I find myself thinking: “If you wouldn’t leave the house looking like that why would you let your child?!?!”

Infant defecation is something I always thought I would struggle with. I hate strong smells and detest the smell of poo most of all! However, rather than feeling sick at the sight and smell of diarrhea and baby sick, I feel sorry for the poor little dear who has just defecated and vomited all over me. Often in my hands, face and hair!  When Izzie poos I want to call in a steel drum band and celebrate! It’s like a triumphant accomplishment each and every time. Never did I think I would be a mother who squealed with glee every time her baby had a poo! And get this… the looser the poo the more excited I become. No constipation here!

I now walk around proudly wearing baby sick and food stained clothes and sporting my new favourite scent “eau de Izzie”! I have actually become grateful for these things because they remind me each day of how lucky I am to be a Mummy.

 

 

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My three point new Mum style – clothes, hair and the perfect bag! Sophisticated and comfortable in 10 minutes or less.

photo 21)      Stylish options for a Mum on the go (my staple wardrobe items)

The wrap dress: This is probably my favourite. It is easy to put on, easy to adjust for breastfeeding and super comfy for those days you want to look presentable with little effort. The great thing about wrap dresses is, because they pull in your waist, they are flattering on almost everyone and they provide a level of camouflage over your stomach which is personally my biggest problem area since giving birth. Wrap dresses are a great buy and you can find them almost anywhere. No need to spend a fortune on custom designed nursing tops!

The stretch trouser: Most stores sell trousers with stretch, you will find them in different styles and fabrics. Continue reading