Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sure Start Future Unsure

I’m saddened but not surprised by the news this morning…250 Sure Start Children’s Centres could be forced to shut their doors within the next twelve months leaving a massive void for the families they serve. I know, because I am one. Over the last month Freya and I have played, laughed, sung and chatted at our local centre at least once a week, if not three times. So we will miss the company, fun and support they offer if our local one is forced to close.

The role they provide is huge. How? The grandparents-turned-full-time-carers who have a place to take active toddlers to let off steam. The mums and dads who find the four walls of their home just aren’t enough for their energy-filled babies all day long. The children who play with paper and crayons, playdough, trucks and train tracks, the centres give them the invaluable chance to interact with other babies of the same age. All of these people not only enjoy their local children’s centre but often, they use it as an important crutch which gets them through each day.

But it looks like they could be becoming a thing of the past… a story in the Telegraph this morning has revealed charities believe not only could 250 children’s centre’s close within a year, but 2000 more will be forced to provide a reduced service, staff at 1,000 risk losing their jobs and in total 60,000 families could lose access to their local centre, because of cuts to local council budgets.

As someone who regularly queues up at my local centre because it’s too full to get in – I know this is going to have huge impact. I know these are cost-saving times but just last October, George Osborne said they would be protected in cash terms, and in December David Cameron praised the work they do. So why do they have to go?

No Freya!

We may have to wait until Freya has learnt to talk before we find the location of the telly remote. This puts a whole new pressure on the speed of her development. I don’t care that she’ll “do it all in her own time” I want to change channels from my sofa! I joke…kind of.

But this week I have come across a very serious and very new baby-issue. Freya has suddenly got naughty. Not only is she secret squirrelling important household objects, she’s also deliberately flouting the rules. Where before she would put her hands on her lap and shake her head if I told her no…or jump if I caught her doing something naughty…now she smiles cheekily before heading straight for the plug socket/bin/breakable object.

Where before I could kid myself she didn’t mean to smash apart my charcoal Clarins eyeshadow on our cream carpet…now her eyes are teasing me as she does so! And what do they say? Obviously it’s a guess, but I think something along the lines of: I’m going to do it anyway/ ha ha this is fun/ this’ll take a half a can of Vanish Carpet Mousse and a good hour to clean. Probably not as vindictive as the latter…but I can’t help but get frustrated.

Friends and relatives have told me to tell her No…but also that she’s too young for serious reprimands and probably won’t understand them. But at the same time I’m a bit scared my baby has the upperhand right now..or is that how it’s supposed to be? Today I simply wanted to hoover the front room, but as soon as she discovered the on/off switch – well she just had to have autonomy over my afternoon task. And everytime I told her no…she giggled!

So, now, as a reminder flashes up on the television screen for a programme I did not set…I can’t help but smile at the thought of my little baby sleeping in her bed. She has had a busy day with that remote and I love watching her little personality grow. But, I would welcome any suggestions on how to show a one-year-old you mean business…

Prima Baby On Sale Today

I’ve just picked up a few copies of the February issue of Prima Baby, and I’m quite excited because I wrote a piece on Birth Tips – From Mum’s Who’ve Been There! So it’s great to see it in print. For the feature I spoke to nine new mums about the things they wished they’d known before they went into labour. Pick up the magazine today to see their advice, and you’ll see Freya and I in there too!

Picture Perfect

I can’t get over how beautiful and rested Miranda Kerr looks so soon after having her baby boy. She describes Flynn as her “little ray of sunshine”, as she breastfeeds him in an intimate picture on her online blog.

I think it’s a refreshing change to see the couple share their baby joy with the world by releasing such a beautiful newborn picture. And why shouldn’t they show off? It looks like Miranda is a natural at this mummy business, she even revealed that she gave birth her 9lb 12oz bouncing boy completely naturally. She seems to be such a positive beacon of happy mummyness! I wonder if she’s going to set a trend for the celebrity baby boom we’ve got coming this year?

Daddy Daycare

It’s been a revolutionary day for mums and dads in the workplace! Today we saw the 9-5 future of new parents take on a 21st century shift…

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced changes to paternity leave with flexibility being the buzz word. Right now dads get a fortnight, but in April women who decide to return to work before the end of their year allowance will be able to transfer the rest of their leave (up to six months) to their partner. And he also announced a consultation on plans which could see men and women share their leave even more, with men able to take up to ten months off. If consultation goes well and the plans come into force in 2015, they could see parents divide their time off in chunks rather than one stretch of leave, or taking time off together as a family.

Here’s what he said about the current system:

“That’s an Edwardian system that has no place in 21st century Britain. Women suffer. Mothers are expected to take on the vast bulk of childcare themselves. If they don’t, they very often feel judged. If they do, they worry about being penalised at work. Children suffer, too often missing out on time with their fathers – time that is desperately important to their development.”

I’m happy Nick Clegg is so in touch with how a lot of working women feel right now and I also feel like my little family will have more options open to us if I do ever have another baby. Although, if I’m really honest I still can’t be sure I’d be able to hand over the nappy bag after two months, or three or four…in fact he might just have to fight me for it…

To wean or not to wean…

I am reeling in shock from the big baby news story of the day. No, not the one about Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr struggling to find a baby name after one week with their newborn – we were still struggling with Freya as we sat in the registry office a month later!

The one about new research which suggests perhaps we shouldn’t be waiting to wean our babies at six months – but in fact could be advised to start at four months.

According to a story in The Daily Mail today, a team of researchers now think solely breastfeeding babies until six months could lead to allergies and iron deficiency. See the end of this post for a link to the full article.

Now, Freya was always hungry. From the second she was born and literally growling for milk (honestly!) right up until the day she had her first small bowl of rice. I had been desperate to wean her, and the day she turned six months I might as well have punched the air with glee I was so happy I could finally start her eating. From that very first spoonful of rice, she transformed from a baby who woke up several times a night, to one who slept through from 7pm until 7am. Her love of food has only grown since.

By that point I’d spent months assuring both mine and my partner’s mother that the days of weaning at four months are long gone and it really is best to wait until six months however hungry the baby looks.

So, that’s why this story has shocked me. It feels like us mums are told everything in such black and white terms. We must breastfeed, we must lie our babies on their backs, we must wait until six months to wean. And I’ve been a stickler for the rules, I’ve nurtured my baby by the book, fearing the worst case scenario at the thought of ignoring what my health visitor or my doctor says. I waited until the right time to feed my baby food. But, could doing the “right” thing, have been wrong?

Freya loves vintage

I’ve always loved second-hand shopping, but when it came to my baby I never thought I’d go vintage. Part snobbery and part just-plain-silly, I wanted my precious girl to have the very best. And to me that meant new. Of course I was happy – and grateful – to borrow clothes from friends whose babies had grown out of them, but a stranger baby’s clothes? No thanks.

That was before I discovered she could be wearing Burberry, Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren!

We moved to Hither Green in October last year and discovered a little treasure chest right on our new doorstep. Love Me Again is a baby boutique, which stocks nearly new baby clothes. They’ll only accept quality clothing and they regularly have designer baby clothes. In fact, just before Christmas I found a yellow Burberry mac for £12, for Freya to wear in the spring. I’ve also bought her Zara baby dresses and skinny jeans. This very afternoon I saw a beautiful pale pink Burberry dress for £30, which would have made Freya look so refined – but I had to stop myself. Although I still might run back and buy it… it all depends upon my powers of restraint.

Of course it makes sense that as babies grow so fast, there are some treasured pieces which just don’t get enough wear out of them to warrant the bin. So what better way to do your bit for the environment than to recycle their gorgeous outfits? It made me realise it’s actually a very special thing for more than one baby to treasure an item of clothing.

So, to celebrate my new love of vintage baby shops, I’ve found a few links to help you track down a thrifty bargain!

The Netmums website has a great Nearly New section where you can scour your local board to see who’s selling baby bits in your area.

The NCT website has details of local nearly new sales which are going on in your area.

Love Me Again, baby boutique.

Cherish Baby has a selection of new and nearly new clothes, equipment and toys online.

Nappy Valley has quality baby clothes and equipment for sale.

Preloved is a website where members can post free ads selling second hand goods, check out their baby section.