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Thursday, 14 September 2017

10 Ways to Help Out a (New) Mum (or Dad)

In the last 4-5 months, I have struggled with being sick, Mstr E being sick, J being FIFO.. I've been tired, worn out, frazzled, depressed. There were a few angels who came to my rescue, and it got me thinking that these were the ones who truly helped me, when I didn't know how to ask for help, or what to ask.

It got me thinking of what they actually did, and these things (which could be small) meant so much to me and gave me back some sanity on days when I felt I couldn't do anymore. I thought I'd compile a list here, because it may help someone help a new/sick/tired/overwhelmed mum (or dad)!

Before I get to the list though, I found that I did not tend to ask for help from people who offer the generic "please call if you need help". As I mentioned above, I usually don't realise I need help until a particular moment and, in that moment, it is too difficult to pick up the phone and say I'm drowning, can you please come now and do x, y, z. On the contrary, when someone offers something specific, most often I will say 'yes please'.

1. Hire a Cleaning Fairy

I have dropped my cleaning standards a lot, and tried to ignore the mess and "enjoy the baby". But let me tell you, when you're holding the baby and staring at the tumbleweeds rolling past, it is very depressing. It's also near impossible to dust when you have a toddler in tow. An open bucket and a toddler do not mix.

Personally, though, I'd feel very awkward if you were my friend and you came to clean my house, or ask me what I need cleaning. I'd be so grateful though if someone hired me a cleaning fairy! I'm wishing that Santa brings me one for Christmas. /fingerscrossed

Or, I'd be so grateful too if someone could just entertain the toddler and/or watch the baby so I can scrub the bathroom or wipe the shelves. Or, just give me an extra hand with tidying a room.

The fairy tidied up the craft room and brought food! (See point 3.)

2. Bring Food

I think most people already know/do this. But, can I please just say, don't bring me food I still have to cook or give me "easy recipes". When I'm exhausted and starving, I want to eat now and I either:

(a) don't have the energy to cook,
(b) don't have the energy to do the dishes after,
(c) can't escape from the toddler/baby, or
(d) all of the above.

Please bring meals that I can just heat up or eat cold. I've had some fabulous lasagna and both J and I were so grateful on those nights when dinner was just sorted. (/burp) Thank you! x

3. Bring Takeaway or Snacks or Afternoon Tea

Whilst on the topic of food, when you do visit, could you please bring me takeaway or snacks or afternoon tea?

Sometimes I'm just craving that soft serve or that burger. Sometimes I just need muesli bars, chips, chocolate or fruit to keep me going through the day. And it would be nice if you brought afternoon tea for us to enjoy with our cuppa, than me stressing about what to serve when you visit.

4. Do a Grocery Run

Also, when you're on your way to my place, could you please ring and see if I need bread or milk or toothpaste or nappies?

Or sometimes, please offer to do a grocery run for me. I do try and do online grocery shopping when I can't get to the shops, but sometimes I miss the cutoff and my pantry and fridge are empty. Then, it's usually a mission dragging the toddler (and baby... eek) to the shops, and even then, it usually ends in failure because I'm just not very good at grocery shopping with a kid in tow. Or, please babysit while I get some groceries and put them away!

5. Take Visiting Family Out

My mum stayed with me postpartum for about 6 weeks to help with the baby and around the house. As she didn't have a car and didn't know her way around Perth, and I wasn't cleared to drive, we were essentially housebound. That got me really guilty and stressed that she was bored and going crazy (though she wasn't). One day I arranged for her and my mother-in-law to go out for a lunch and movie. I think that gave everyone a nice break.

If anyone has family (especially from overseas), please offer to take them out or offer them some company. Or even take them to get groceries! (I'm sure my mum would've liked to get groceries more often to be able to make certain meals.) I think the new parent(s) and the family member(s) would appreciate the break.

6. Build Furniture

This is an unusual one, but I think so incredibly helpful. With a new bub especially, there is a spike in the purchase of furniture, and so often, they're flatpack! Some require 2 people to build and move them, and with a curious toddler or new baby, usually Mum or Dad, or Mum and Dad just cannot get it done!

An extra set of hands, or two, would be very handy (ha!) to get that room sorted.

E's new chest of drawers.

7. Do the Sheets

I think I've got the hang of doing laundry (little people have a lot of washing). But, when it's time to change the sheets and we've had a week of rain, that pile drives me a little bit mental. When there is finally sunshine, I can't seem to catch a break to put the wash on, or hang it out, or bring it in.

(whisper) Maybe you wouldn't mind taking it away with you, and bringing them back laundered and folded?

Ok. I don't think this one is gonna happen.

8. Babysit for Facial or Massage or Haircut

I'm sure a lot of mums, like me, crave for a bit of pampering, or need that little bit of pick-me-up so you feel like you can look in the mirror without cringing. But, it's near impossible to get to a pamper session (and enjoy it) if you've got a toddler and/or baby in tow.

When E wasn't able to go to daycare one day, my SIL came with me and watched him while I enjoyed a massage and facial. There was a bit of guilt at the start, but it was massaged away pretty quickly as I sunk into bliss. Grateful was an understatement.

Can't wait 'til my next visit!

9. Take the Toddler

I'm planning on keeping E's routine as much as possible after bub arrives. To do that, I will have to enlist someone's help in dropping him off / picking him up from daycare, and take him to playgroup. I'm sure he'll love it as well if someone can continue taking him to playgrounds, or just out in the backyard for outdoor play.

Mum (aka me) will love to be able to spend some time with just bub too.

10. Let Mum and Bub Visit or Invite Them Out

When E and I have been in the house for too many hours and played with all the toys and watched all the TV, we both get bored and a bit stir-crazy. Sometimes we just need a bit of company and many times we've just popped in to see his aunty/cousins. Just being able to do that brightens him up considerably (and in turn, gives me a huge sigh of relief).

Similarly, we look forward to meeting up with friends as it breaks up the day, and gives us both company and a bit of sunshine. A very thoughtful friend let us crash her picnic / BBQ with family friends so we wouldn't be alone one long weekend while J was away. I was struggling that weekend, and that helped a lot in getting us through the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

How I Ended up Paying Double for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

If you're a Harry Potter fan, you would've been anticipating the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - the playbook about Harry Potter's son - last Sunday (31st July 2016).

When I first heard about the upcoming publication back in February, I placed a preorder for the book straightaway.

The few days leading up to Sunday, our local Big W and Dymocks (and the library) were promoting the release. As I had preordered, I didn't take too much notice.

Sunday morning - Walked into Big W and saw a huge shelf full of the book but again, didn't pay too much attention. Big W were selling it for $15 on the day only.

Sunday evening - Checked my order status and it still said awaiting publication! Now usually when I place a preorder on a game, I would have the game on the day of release or sometimes a little bit earlier. I must admit I never really paid much attention to book preorders but I assumed it would be the same. I was quite disappointed the book wasn't already in transit. I was even more disappointed when I realised the same store has the book for less than what I preordered it for! I contacted the store and I'm very glad to say they were very helpful and processed a full refund.

Monday morning - The news were reporting that the book is sold out over the country and people queued up hours to get a copy. I was starting to panic a little bit thinking I might end up with no book! T_T

Tuesday morning - Went into Big W and they sold out Sunday and had no indication of when more stock will arrive. Thank goodness Dymocks has copies so I managed to get my hands on a book!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child $29.99
And here it is! As you can see, though, I paid $30 for it. /sigh

And that, my friends, is the story of how I ended up paying double for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

3 Things I Got Told That Were Not Helpful

I drafted this post in my last week of pregnancy. It has been about 8 weeks since then, and with hindsight, I stand firm that these 3 pieces of advice are not very helpful. 

I was/am very blessed that I was/am surrounded by many supportive and sensible friends (and midwives) so received invaluable advice and tips. But, as anyone who has been pregnant will know, suddenly, anyone and everyone offers advice and unfortunately, try to push their experience onto you.

There are 3 things that I heard a few too many times and started to really irk me.

1. Don't buy too many newborn clothes. Babies grow so quickly.

Yes, I understand babies grow quickly. But I didn't understand - how many was too many?

I ended up not buying a single piece of clothing until after my baby shower at 35 weeks. I bought 3x 0000 pyjama coveralls, 1x 0000 outfit, 9x 000 singlet/underwear onesies and about 10x 000 outfits, and was frantically washing and drying them.


When Master E was born, he was quite little so really needed 0000 size clothes. Luckily, my neighbour had given us some hand-me-down 0000 singlet onesies. Those onesies and the 3x pyjama coveralls saw us through the hospital stay.

And then what happened? Poor J had to go to the shops sleep deprived and buy a bunch of clothes, and we then frantically washed and dried them.

We did try putting Master E in the 000 clothes but he was just too small and was too cold in them. We have also since discovered that a winter baby needs some outerwear like a cardigan or jacket as well, especially if he is going to be outside his capsule or pram on a day out.

Don't make the same mistake as I did - your baby needs clothes. I wish I had found this guide from Babylist earlier.

2. Oh, you're just nesting, but you should rest.

We'd just moved house and I finally started my maternity leave, which meant I finally had time to concentrate on unpacking and sorting things.

Ok I get it. There's a nesting instinct, which is a good thing because it gets the house ready for when bub arrives. But, regardless of the fact that we had just moved and I was going to do all the tidying up, everything I did was put down to my "nesting instinct". What I was doing felt devalued whenever anyone said "oh, you're just nesting", not to worry about it, and I "should rest".

In hindsight, I really should've pushed more and ticked more things off my list, because now, the tasks are virtually impossible to complete with a newborn (a fact which the same people failed to mention).

3. Don't go back to work so soon, and don't decide now.

Whenever anyone asked if (and when) I was returning to work, I would answer truthfully (5 months). Then they'd all get all judge-y and tell me how much I'd miss my baby, and I won't understand until the baby is born, etc etc.

Well, I sure don't need to justify why I'm going back to work then, but believe me when I say I have thought about this many many times, and have weighed up many many options, and I did not make my decision lightly. And yes, I have talked it through with my husband as well, and we both agreed on the rough date.

As to not making the decision until later, well, that doesn't work. I've told my employer when I expect to be back at work. Sure, I may change my mind or circumstances may change, and my employer is supportive of that. But, it's respectful to at least have a planned date and let your employer know so they can make appropriate arrangements.


Another thing people may not realise - it takes a long time to get a spot at childcare, especially in the CBD. When you register to go on the waiting list, you are required to state the desired start date and days. So, yes, the decision does have to be made fairly in advance. We've been on the waiting list for a few months now, and we have our fingers crossed that we'll get that spot!

So, please, next time you ask, please don't judge me. Instead, some empathy and support will be most appreciated. 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

If You're Wondering Where I've Been

I haven't caught up with a lot of people lately.

Partly because I've been very busy. In the midst of moving and trying to sort out tradies for the new place and trying to patch up the old house, my family arrived for our holiday, and we had another family member stay after that for a little while.

I'm sorry if it feels like I have been avoiding you.

Well, I have been avoiding you.

I've been hiding from everyone. I've been baking a little bun and I've been hiding the oven, so to speak.

I hear you ask - but WHY!? Lots of people get pregnant and have babies. I don't really know why, except that I've been quite anxious throughout this pregnancy. I was waiting for the 12-week mark, then the 20-week mark, then the next milestone and the next and the next. At each point, I still didn't feel right about making an announcement.

I did, of course, tell my family. And I did tell a handful of friends, and work (because it was pretty hard to hide the fact that I was sick in the early days, and that I was getting bigger and bigger).


So, why am I doing this now? Today I went to a hen's, and later this month I'm going to the wedding and having my baby shower (thrown by my amazing girlfriends!), so it's getting harder to hide. So, I figured it's about time people find out.

If you're wondering where I've been, I've been growing a Little Clapson.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Hand Lettering

Growing up, I was always creating.

Before there was Pinterest and before it was cool, I was repurposing empty tissue boxes, soft drink bottles, tins, etc.

I was making cards out of manilla card and scraps of wrapping paper, Wordart, Clipart, and later, when the Internet arrived,  awesome (at the time) jpegs!

When I moved to Australia, I discovered that there was a world of actual scrapbooking and cardmaking and they actually sell pretty stuff.

I no longer had to cut out pieces from big A1 manilla card and save wrapping paper! (Actually, I still collect wrapping paper, but that's another story.)

-----

I was also always doodling. Writing quotes, drawing inspirational words, practising script.

I have not stopped doodling - numerous meetings and training sessions provide many hours of doodling. But for some reason, I never developed it into something more.

It wasn't until recently that I discovered this whole world of hand lettering, typography, modern calligraphy. And there is so much inspiration, so many tips and lessons out there in magic internet land.

Here are just a couple of examples that I am just in awe of:

by Pauline Ibera
via Skillshare.com - Introduction to the Art of Modern Calligraphy
Manhattan Darling Typeface
via CreativeMarket.com

Today I'm embarking on a new hobby, project, passion - hand lettering.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

I Turned 31

Today is New Year's Eve and day 2 of our cruise in Halong Bay in Vietnam. It is also my first day of being 31.
I had a great birthday yesterday. The holiday in Vietnam and scenery in Halong Bay were enough of a birthday celebration, but there were some unexpected extras.
The hotel in Hanoi (Hotel de L'Opera) had left in our room tarts and chocolates along with a card the night before. The crew on our private boat surprised me with a birthday cake and a bunch of red roses.
Cruising Halong Bay is a beautiful way to celebrate my birthday and NYE. Halong Bay is absolutely breathtaking. The grassy rocks that just rise out of water are incredible, the air is fresh, the sunset is beautiful and the stars are bright.
The quiet and calm out here is an opportune time to reflect on the year that has been and wonder what is in store in the year to come. 
2014 was a challenging year. We had family crises at the start of the year and again at the end of the year. I also did the hardest thing I've had to do in my life - I quit my job.
It was hard because I wasn't ready to leave. I didn't want to leave my friends who are now family. We spent 8 to 10 hours each day, 5 days a week. We laughed, we joked, we grumbled; I shared my hopes and dreams with these guys. We will always be in touch, but it will never be the same.
With 2015 just on the horizon, I can't help wondering what my new job is going to be like and how my path and relationships will change.
I'm a little bit hesitant and there is still quite a bit of heartache, but I'm letting go and I'm moving on. I will welcome the new year with an open heart and with a glass half-full.
Bring on 2015!
Happy New Year, everyone!