Surviving the first few weeks with a newborn baby

I thought I was prepared. The nursery was complete, and I was mentally ready. Oh, boy was I wrong. For starters, the baby was in our room anyway so the nursery didn’t matter a bit in those early days and I finally started to understand why everybody told me to ‘sleep while you can’ when I was pregnant.

For me, the first 24 hours were a blur. Honestly, I was so scared of leaving the hospital with this new little baby who was completely dependant on me. When Reuben and I got in the car at the hospital car park (away from both of our parents), I burst into tears. I was emotionally and physically drained.

I’ve broken this down into bite-size tips and know I would have most likely forgotten key things so feel free to add tips into the comments:

  • Accept all offers of help – this is one thing I didn’t do. I’m all Beyoncé, Independent Woman and I was absolutely shattered after a few sleepless days/nights. Accept offers of meals, breaks for you to shower etc.
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps – actually, do it, or it’s likely you’ll never sleep again. If you can’t sleep, at least lay down and rest, don’t worry about everything else you have to do (at least in those early days).
  • Have plenty of maternity pads on hand; steal the hospital ones if you can (they resemble a super king mattress). You will bleed, a lot, sometimes up to 6 weeks +, also invest in some Hypercal lotion for your lady bits if you have a natural delivery. I talked more on Hospital Bag Essentials here. I’ve also heard great things about Viva La Vulva.
  • Don’t forget to take your pain meds if given some, I was terrible and in a tired haze I’d forget and pay the price later.
  • It’s totally normal to cry in those early days. If it wasn’t my partner, or me, it was the baby.
  • Confide in a friend/family member or midwife (if not your partner) about how you’re feeling and doing, make sure you know the early signs of postpartum depression and if you feel like things are getting too much – seek help. It’s normal and more common than you think. I wrote about my experience here.
  • Look after yourself.  I know this may sound weird but try shower every day, even chuck on some BB cream, it would make me feel (and look) so much better. It is so easy to live in track pants but not looking after yourself is a quick way to start feeling down. You need to maintain good hygiene practices throughout this time regardless of how you give birth.
  • Learn that it’s OK to say no to visitors in the early days – while you’re super excited to show off your new baby, they’re more prone to picking up bugs in those early days plus you’re still learning. I was still trying to find my feet with breastfeeding and attempting to do it with an audience was the last thing I wanted. If you’re comfortable, go for it however, it is okay to say no.
  • Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster – more so than when pregnant. I would cry for no reason, other days I was on top of the world. Hormones are all over the show, it’s normal but we aware and no what to look out for.
  • Trust in your midwife – they are a hive of support and information. Don’t be afraid to ask them (or your GP) questions. It’s their job and I’m sure they’ve heard it all (and worse) before.
  • Prepare meals – I lived on easy things like toast/soup/pasta etc for the first few days. Accept the offer of meals and have them in the freezer ready for when you get home. It’s one less thing you need to think about.
  • Don’t feel as though you’re a burden to other people because you aren’t. I thought I could do it all myself and quickly learnt this was not the case.
  • Expect nothing – leave your expectations behind.
  • Drop your standards a little – this was hard for me. I tried to maintain a spotless house knowing visitors would come over while trying to find my feet as a new mum. It’s OK to not have vacuumed, nobody is judging you – plus, it’ll give your visitors something to do, haha.
  • Get somebody to show you how to bathe baby if you’re not sure – we had no idea and quickly realised this when it came to giving him his first bath.
  • Establish a routine early – this worked so well for us. For the first few days while we found our feet we just worked around the baby and their cues. Once we introduced a routine, it made all of our lives easier.
  • Introduce a bottle – I know this one will get some disagreement. I gave Baxter some expressed breast milk in a bottle early on to get him familiar with the bottle in case we ever needed it. He was able to go between the boob and the bottle with no fuss and it made our lives easier moving forward. It also meant I could take a break every now and then and that Dad could do the night feed.
  • Put baby in their bed when showing tired signs – this way they learn to fall asleep on their own and associate bed with sleep time. We were told this very early on (I can’t even remember who told us but this was SO beneficial for us. Sounds easy, but it really was. Rubbing eyes, yawning? Put them in bed.
  • Be calm – I was a big ball of stress and anxiety the first few weeks and Baxter picked up on this, as soon as I learnt to chill a bit, things became a lot easier and manageable.

Most importantly, enjoy the process. The days goes surprisingly fast and they’re only small for a short period of time.

A life update

My last blog post was on the 1st of Jan this year. If that doesn’t summarize how 2020 has been as a year then I don’t know what does?

So what’s happened in the last few months?

We’ve had a global pandemic (still amongst it), Lily turned 3, Baxter turned 5 and set off for school and today marks the end of our first school holidays. We also lost my dear Nana 🙁

2020 has been a mood and I’m not here for it. It’s tested every ounce of my being and I am settled by the fact that Christmas stock is starting to appear in stores meaning this year is almost behind us! I am taking a fresh approach on Christmas this year and I am looking forward to a new year!

For somebody who already struggles in social situations, the not seeing people/going out during lockdown didn’t take a toll on me as much as it would have with others as I am home-body anyway.

Home is my safe place, the kids drove me nuts (on top of working full-time) but we adjusted right, we had no other choice – we made it happen, we showed up (we couldn’t leave) and we got shit done and here we are thinking ‘did that actually happen?’. I was classed as an essential worker but was able to work solely from home which meant not putting either of my bubbles at risk. I managed to tackle some stuff around the house and made use of the extra time at home.

Lily turned 3 over some of the stricter parts of the first lockdown. Ensue panic.

I was lucky an amazing friend make a cake and delivered it to our door (adhering to alert level restrictions), we had a face-time party with our immediate family where we blew out candles and sung and her birthday gifts consisted of anything sold by businesses deemed essential – ha! And thankfully most supermarket stock a small number of gifts/toys these days.

Bax turned 5 and I’m a school mum now. What the actual? He had 4 weeks there before our first lot of school holidays which we’ve managed to navigate successfully. He is super excited to be going back tomorrow which is awesome!

I’ve been asked by lots of people to put a school blog together but truth to the matter is we didn’t look around, we’d heard amazing things about our local school and well, it’s 5 minutes from our house. Some of his old kindy friends are there and some of our local friend’s kids are there so everything has fallen into place perfectly. It’s on the way to Kindy for Lily so with some small adjustments it’s actually been a really smooth transition. Lily understands that Bax is at school now and she is still at kindy.

We’ve also seen HUGE improvements in Lily’s speech since Baxter has gone to school and is no longer answering for her or finishing her sentences. It’s been a really big change for the kids but they’ve taken it in their stride and both have really stepped up so I am super proud of them. It’s also made the changes a lot easier on Mum & Dad!

I’ve set a goal with myself to get at least one blog a week up so feel free to touch base if there is anything you want me to cover 🙂

GUEST BLOG: Preparing for school

written by Frances Mulligan

I am Frankie, Mum of three and wife of one. I started my teaching journey while pregnant with my now 11-year-old. Since graduating I have worked in mainly new entrant classes. I have loved my time as a new entrant teacher and supporting children and their families as they begin their school adventure. When my middle child started school I stepped back from my new entrant role so I could focus more on my own children. I am now working part-time in a special school and work full time as Mum to my three not so small people.

Check out her blog here or follow her on Facebook.


Starting school is a massive deal. Not just for you as a parent but for your new five-year-old too. Even children who have been in fulltime daycare struggle with the adjustment.

School is very different than day care/crèche/ kindy. It requires much more independence and self-care, even at a New Entrant level. School also involves a way of thinking that many children are not used to. Many parents don’t realise what a huge adjustment it can be and often wonder why their child is so tired and awful at the end of the day.

That is not to say that every child will behave the same when they start school. My three were all so different over those first few months. My eldest handled the adjustment well. She was fairly familiar with the classroom setting as she had spent time in my class during school holidays, weekends and after school.

My middle child was a whole different experience; he would get home from school at 3 pm and lie on the stairs crying and crying. Eventually, I’d make him a toasted sandwich and put him to bed. He would sleep from 4 pm right through until morning, he was exhausted! Our youngest was different again. He was so familiar with school and the people because school has been part of his life since he was born. However, he was a five-year-old living in a pre-teens world. Being dragged around to after school activities and often having dinner in the car as he wouldn’t last until we got home. He also didn’t do as much “homework” as his teachers would have liked.

So, with my experiences as a parent of three now school-aged children and an ex-New Entrant teacher (still a teacher just in a different role now) I have come up with some guidelines to (maybe) help you and your child have a successful transition to school.

I have already written an article about how to best prepare you, preschooler, for school (you can find that here). This is what comes next.

First things first, what to pack in the school bag. Every school will have their own requirements around stationary and book bags so best to talk directly to them in regards to this.

  1. A lunchbox is pretty important and a school lunchbox is a bit different from a daycare lunchbox for two main reasons. Your child needs to be able to open everything themselves and they will most likely only be given two 15 minute opportunities to eat. This is of course just a guide as every school is different but typically a school breaks itself into three blocks with a morning tea break around 10.30/11 am and a lunch break at 12.30/1 pm. Children are encouraged to sit and eat for the first part of break but once that time is up I guarantee your kid will be up and playing whether they have eaten or not. The best way to help your child eat a proper lunch in that short time is by giving them a variety of small things that will fill them up. Eg, yoghurt, fruit (chopped up), eggs, meat, nuts (check your school’s policy around this), small sandwiches etc. Your child is far more likely to work their way through these than they are to navigate a large filled roll or a whole apple in the time frame. While teachers/teacher aides will most likely be supervising eating time it is unrealistic to expect on a person to unwrap 20 sandwiches, open 20 bags of chips or peel 20 mandarins. If your child cannot manage these tasks themselves then help them learn these skills at home. In the meantime make it easier for them by not wrapping items and peeling/chopping fruit.
  2. A change of clothes (even underwear!). Most children are well and truly toilet trained by the time they turn 5. However, it is not uncommon for children to regress a bit once they start school, particularly with their toileting. This happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the toilets are too scary so they don’t go. Some children get confused around when they are allowed to go and the protocol around asking (make sure you talk to them about this with the teacher so everyone is on the same page). So, pack them a change of “easy to put on clothes” and let them know they are there (also include a wet bag for those dirty clothes coming home or the bag will stink!).
  3. A rain jacket and jersey! The weather can change so quickly and it is easy to assume your child will be inside if the weather turns nasty. This may not always be the case. For example, in an emergency, your child’s class may be evacuated. You don’t want them waiting to be collected in the rain with no coat (this happened to a couple of my students after a big earthquake, we, of course, gave them our coats and kept them warm but we couldn’t have managed if the whole class were without jackets).
  4. A wide-rimmed sunhat. This will most likely be in your child’s school policy. No hat, no play.

When sending your child to school it is very tempting to send them looking great in their best clothes. It is a better idea to keep those clothes for best and send them in easily washable clothes that you won’t mind getting messy. Also, keep in mind that your child is independent at school so make sure they are wearing clothes they can take off and on themselves. If your child can’t yet tie shoelaces then pop them in Velcro shoes until they have learned.

Expect the unexpected. You chill and happy five-year-old may turn into a tired monster after school. They are tired, they may not have eaten properly, they have had to manage new situations. School is hard! Most children tend to fall apart after school despite being complete darlings all day at school. The teacher may not believe you as they never see the behaviours your child is bringing home. Be patient and don’t expect too much from your child after school. If they are too tired to read the reading they have bought home, read it to them. The first few months at school are definitely an adjustment period. I also recommend not starting new extra-curricular activities in the first few months after starting school.

Most new entrants cry at school drop off. This can be very difficult as a parent to watch your child crying and clinging to you. I guarantee that they will be happy and playing with their friends only a few minutes after you have left. The best thing you can do to support them is reassure them they will have a good day and remind them you (or whoever is picking them up) will see them in a few hours. If your child continues to be upset after you have left the teacher will let you know. Remember that your child’s teacher experiences this every day and wants your child to be happy.

Finally, don’t compare your child to others. They all learn and develop at different rates. If the school has concerns about how your child is progressing they will talk with you. If your child is up for it then practising their sight words and reading with them is the best head start you can give them. Don’t worry if it isn’t happening quickly, your child is learning so many new things right now and it will take them a while to adjust to all the changes.

Am I spending too much time on social media?

Are you spending too much time on social media? How do you know when it’s becoming unhealthy?

It’s a digital high. We live in an extremely hyper-connected world and it is doing serious damage to people’s mental health. A lot of people don’t even realise how much they rely on the positive praise, the ‘likes’, the constant desire for new followers and insta fame is ruining people.

This blog is a bit ironic for me considering I can relate to SO much of the below but social media is my job (no, I am not an influencer – I manage Social Media for a large government organization) so I do think I am online a little more than usual. In my defence, it’s not all personal and I’ve made huge changes in the way I use my own social media.

If you can relate to any of the below then maybe, it’s time for a social media detox.

  1. You think in Facebook posts – I am 100% guilty of this. I do it all the time for work and I am generally pretty good at guessing what the theme of the commentary is going to be like. Something happens, you manage to capture it and you already know it’s going to be a banger on social. I mean hey, we’ve all been there – that’s exactly why I am writing this.
  2. You don’t have out with your friends offline – Sadly, guilty of this also. Because many of us over-share, we already know what our friends have been up too. While it is pretty damn cool, it can also be super damaging to real-life relationships. You know what I am talking about, that person your friends on Facebook with but didn’t actually say hi to in real life? Yeah, that.
  3. You’re stressed out – I mean c’mon, who isn’t? Social media ISN’T helping. Create positive habits to stop you from reaching for your device.
  4. You complain you don’t have time to do things – if you put down the phone down a bit more you’d be amazed at this newfound gap in your schedule. Do something useful with your time like smashing some fitness goals, meet up with your friends or actually be present in the moment with your family.
  5. You think you need social media to be happy – you were happy before social media existed, so you’d be fine without it.
  6. You think too much about what others think – I know that some of this is actually my anxiety, but it certainly isn’t helped by social media. We are quick to crowdsource ideas before thinking for ourselves. Social media can be instantly gratifying. Post that selfie and watch the likes roll in. Do you actually feel better though? Is it even real?

I was like tick, tick, tick to all of the above. Sad right? It is currently the way the world is.

Don’t get me wrong, social media isn’t all negative. It’s been my career for over 10 years so I do believe I am in a good position to comment on the negative effects. I have been there. I have been so consumed by likes that I failed to see what was going on around me. I needed the validation from people – it made me feel good. But only for a moment. I blog, I over-share but over the past 12 months, I have really limited the time I spend because I need to, for my mental health.

There is plenty of research out there that can associate social media with things like anxiety and depression, obviously, the results are only a correlation – meaning relationships exist between usage and health issues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the social media and technology cause it.

I have deactivated my pages so many times over the last few years, something I have vowed not to do in 2020.  If I can’t just not open an app then I have an actual problem. It is an addiction. The key here is limiting your usage.

In a world where we are doing it for the gram, food porn is an actual thing and adding dog ears to your selfie is totally normal now we need to make some healthy boundaries before it completely takes over our lives.

There are many good health benefits to picking up the phone less like:

  • Better sleep – I am SO bad for this. Mindlessly scrolling a newsfeed instead of trying to sleep. I have suffered from insomnia a large portion of my life and my phone is definitely not helping.
  • Healthier relationships – You will actually interact with people in person and have genuine feel-good moments. Do you lay next to your partner in bed or sit on the couch both on your phones? Yeah, there is something wrong with the fact we can’t just enjoy people’s company anymore.
  • You can’t have FOMO for something you have never seen.

Keep in mind, all of this stuff is just potential benefits. I am not saying social media is so bad for you and that you need to stop immediately – it pays my bills and I have no intentions to sacrifice my social profiles.

If you’re happy with your level of usage, then you do you boo. If you don’t then you may want to think about making some changes.

How to have a stress-free Christmas

I know right, we have children. Christmas is never going to be stress-free, but we can at least do a few small things to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that comes with the holiday season.

This year I’ve taken 3 weeks off work. I know right. I don’t even know myself. This is the first time in YEARS that I have taken extended leave and god do I need it.

It’s not what’s under the tree, its who’s around. I love Christmas because it is such a family orientated day. Over the last few years, we’ve lost family members and I really take for granted all those Christmases that I may not have been 100% present in the moment. Go see that family member you may not have seen for a while, drop a bottle of wine on a friend’s doorstep and just take a bit of time to appreciate the people you’re surrounded by. There are some people who are alone on Christmas and this hurts my heart.

Declutter before Christmas. I am only just jumping on this bandwagon this year but omg, what a genius idea. I’ve been talking for ages about doing a ruthless clean-up of the house due to the amount of constant anxiety it all gives me. Honestly, some would say our house isn’t even bad, but I know where it is, where it sits completely unused – it bugs me. I need to simplify and what better time to do it than before you get a bunch of new stuff.

Be realistic. If your kids are anything like mine, the life span of a toy is about 3 weeks if its lucky before one of them breaks it (generally Baxter). This year I am following the whole want, need, read, wear. They’re kids, c’mon. Every occasion where presents have been involved the kids get so overwhelmed and end up losing it too early in the day.

Budget. Have a think about how much you want to spend this year in total. How much per person? Having a budget can help keep you on track so you can hopefully spend less and save more over the holiday period.

Make a list and check it twice. Compile a list of everybody you want to buy a gift for or acknowledge (think Neighbors, Teachers, Sports Coaches). Nothing is worse than waiting until the last minute to buy something for somebody. Trust me, I know. I am running around at the moment trying to sort a couple of presents that slipped my mind.

Embrace the chaos. I got totally wrapped up in Pinterest and had the most unrealistic expectations on what I want my house and holidays to look like. You know what I mean, the gorgeous tree, the presents that have actually sat out and haven’t been torn open from what looks like a wild animal. Christmas is about the kids and they’re going to have a blast no matter what you do.