Solve Your Sleep Woes With Our New Workshops

Are you struggling with sleep deprivation? Wondering why your baby doesn’t love sleep as much as you do? Frustrated with ‘expert’ advice that doesn’t work for your family?

Or perhaps you’ve got a non-sleeping toddler and thought your sleep woes would end with the baby stage? Are you feeling beyond tired? Have you run out of ideas to try?

Our new ‘Understanding Sleep’ workshops are designed to help parents like you. During the session, you will find out about normal infant sleep development, develop coping tools that work for your family, and understand what to expect at each stage.

We are running two sessions in April, for parents of babies up to 12 months, and for parents of toddlers from 1-3+ years. Both sessions will be led by Lindsay Snow from Understanding Kids. Places on each session are very limited, to ensure attendees get individual time and attention from Lindsay.

Book now

Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep

Understanding Your Toddler’s Sleep

About Lindsay

“Hi, I’m Lindsay Snow and I specialise in helping adults understand kids’ behaviour. This includes what’s driving the behaviour, and how to confidently and compassionately achieve a balance between the adults’ needs and those of the kids’.

I run private and group sessions for parents in Sheffield, give talks at conferences and events, and deliver training to other professionals. In addition to my work with parents, I am an associate trainer for the How to Thrive charity that delivers Resilience training to schools and youth organisations across the UK.

Without a doubt, the bulk of my private work involves kids’ sleep.

Before we become parents, we are warned about sleep, told what (not) to do and that we’ll damage ourselves and our kids if we get it wrong (whatever ‘wrong’ means)!

After our babies are born, the comparisons start. Blame and guilt weigh heavily on our minds. Stress goes up, and sleep goes down. We soldier on, sometimes trying to ride it out, often buying increasingly expressive products to try to ‘fix’ the problem.

Unfortunately what we parents are less likely to spend money (and time) on is ‘learning’ about sleep.

After all, we need solutions! But without an understanding of a problem, what little energy we have left will be wasted chasing solutions that may or may not be necessary or effective.

For example, have you ever noticed that while you are trying to settle your kids to sleep, it is that very moment when you are distracted from the task (when you zone out thinking about something else) that they (finally!) drop off. That’s not a coincidence. What it demonstrates is that if we are stressed about naps, bedtimes, night wakings or early risers, we will be compromised in our ability to help our little ones fall asleep.

These workshops will give you the understanding you need to feel in control of your child’s sleep.

This will reduce your stress levels and allow you to shed any guilt or lack of confidence you feel. It will help you accurately reflect on your family’s situation so that you can identify where you could make (usually small) tweaks that will have a positive impact on your quality and quantity of sleep. I don’t fix families’ sleep issues for them. (That would only serve to bolster my confidence, not yours!) I give parents the knowledge and strategies they need to do it for themselves, and in particular, to adapt and adjust their night-time parenting as their kids get older or circumstances change.

Review: The Positive Birth Book

Alex reviews ‘The Positive Birth Book’ by Milli Hill. This post contains affiliate links, marked by a *.

I first heard of this book when newly pregnant with my second child. Having had a
‘good’ birth experience last time around, I was keen to maximise my chances of
replicating this second time around and hoped it would help, which it certainly has.

What is truly wonderful about this brilliant book is its accessibility. It gives readers a
huge amount of information, much of which they might not get otherwise during
pregnancy, in a concise and chatty format that keeps your attention while telling you
all you need to know. Somehow Milli Hill has managed to communicate this in ordinary,
day to day language, without losing any of the necessary context or detail from some
fairly complex concepts. The short sections, even in long chapters, make it very easy to dip into the book when short on time, or when looking for something specific.

The tone used in the book is that of an extremely well-informed, impassioned friend,
whose only goal is for you to achieve the birth you want, regardless of what that birth
might look like. It is refreshingly honest – it does not promise that birth will be easy,
nor does it shy away from the fact that things might very well not go to plan. The
chapter “What If…?” takes a realistic yet positive look at what that might mean and
how to deal with unexpected, and often unwanted, changes of plan without
becoming a passive observer of your own birth experience. The main focus of the
book is the importance of planning and urging mothers to be to avoid the trap of
“going with the flow” on the basis that birth is unpredictable, emphasising that this
does not mean that a birth plan is not absolutely essential.

There is no judgment or bias to be found anywhere in this book, which is impressive
and frankly unusual. Milli doesn’t shy away from giving statements of fact, but solely
to give women the evidence on which to base their own informed, and personalised,
decisions on the type of birth that they want to aim for. There is no hierarchy of birth
preferences advocated – no presumption that c-sections are a last resort, no
advocating “natural birth at all costs” – and the accompanying visual birth plan icons
bear that out by encompassing all possible decisions so no mother to be is left out.
There are sample birth plans, from actual couples, along with real-life and varied
birth stories, and a chapter on “birth of a mother” for those early days post-birth.
This includes a fourteen-page section on breastfeeding which, again, manages to be
both informative and thorough without judgment. There are top tips from Emma
Pickett and a huge number of resources cited for further information.

This book fills a very much needed hole in the market for pregnancy education –
empowering women with the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions
and to advocate for their rights. It sets out how to challenge health care professionals
respectfully but firmly on the risks, benefits, alternatives and supporting evidence for
a proposed course of action, which many women don’t even know they are allowed
to do. This book sets out how to do it in a non-confrontational but unapologetic way.
Every pregnant woman, expectant partner and birth professional should read it.

Buy The Positive Birth Book on Amazon.co.uk*

Ask the Village: How Do I Introduce My New Baby To Older Siblings?

Lots of parents worry about how their older child/ren will handle a new addition to the family. There are a number of children’s books on the topic, and the approach you take may well depend on your older child’s age.

We asked our Villagers what worked for them when they had second, third, fourth or more children! Here’s what they had to say.

Communicate and listen

“LOTS of talk. Talk about why the baby is crying, why the baby needs milk, why the baby sleeps lots, why we hold the baby the way we do. Assume that there are a million questions inside their little minds, that they aren’t quite sure how to ask, and answer them.”

“Definitely lots of talk before and after birth.”

“We talked about the baby loads before she arrived but then actually tried not to make too big a deal about it once here and all chilling out together – so that all the fuss/attention wasn’t suddenly on the baby rather than the toddler.”

Consider involving children in the birth

“Not always possible but the opportunity for my eldest to be around / involved in the birth seemed to really help the transition for us.”

“Homebirth. Obviously not a choice that everyone would/could make but the fact that I didn’t go anywhere to have the baby, baby joined our family at home and eldest was the first to meet the new baby definitely eased the transition.”

Don’t blame the baby

“We read an article that suggested being aware of not ‘blaming’ the baby for parents’ unavailability. For instance, eldest asks to play Lego, the parent needs to sterilise bottles, this is framed as “I just need to wash up then I’ll be right there” rather than “I need to wash baby’s bottles”…mummy/daddy is busy but it’s not just because of the baby. The rationale was to prevent eldest from seeing the baby as the sole reason for mummy/daddy not being able to do things right away. It seems to have worked well for us.”

“Avoid pitching her as competition!! So I never say ‘I can’t do x with you because of the baby’ or compare them in any way.”

Give the sibling/s opportunities to help

“I told my eldest about breastfeeding when I was pregnant so he understood why mummy had to feed the baby while daddy put him to bed in the early days. He enjoyed helping by bringing me a drink or the remote when I was stuck under a cluster feeding newborn!”

“Asking the toddler for help. She loves doing things like passing blankets and wipes to me for her sister.”

Nurture your connection

“As soon as it was possible I spent one on one time with my eldest. I think I was maybe 3 weeks in…baby had a big feed and fell asleep. I left the baby with daddy, and we went to throw a frisbee around in the park behind our house. It was a very special trip just for an hour in a very ordinary place but he seemed to absolutely relish being the centre of my attention and I loved being able to focus on having fun with him.”

“For me, it was about the little things I could do to show them they were still loved – like kissing them on the top of their heads whenever I walked passed them or sending random unsolicited messages to their iPads whenever I remembered.”

Nurture their connection

“We always framed the new baby as being for the older. So, from the start of pregnancy, it was ‘we’re making a little brother or sister for you’. Our older child took it on board and ended up referring to the new baby as ‘his baby’.”

“Another thing I found that worked really well is to acknowledge when things had gone to pot a bit (like on the days when they had to wear mucky school uniform, or I fell asleep while I was listening to them read!) but to say “thank you” rather than “sorry” (so I’d say “thanks for being such a big girl and understanding – Z is so lucky to have a big sister like you” or something like that) this meant that rather than them feel as though the baby arriving had wrecked everything, they got to feel as though they were superstars for rolling with it.”

 

 

Ask the Village: What’s Your Bedtime Routine?

Sleep is a huge topic of discussion among parents. How long your baby sleeps for, whether they sleep at all, how do you get them to sleep…it’s one of the things we are most often asked about at our drop-in groups.

Last week, we asked our Villagers what their children’s bedtime routines look like, and more importantly, whether they work. Here’s what they had to say.

Consistency can help

“We’ve had a ‘routine’ since our daughter was about 9 months, and it’s always been the same since (she’s now 2.5). Snack, bath, story, bed, story…sleep! She was about 18 months before she started sleeping any longer than 2 hours at a time, but we’ve always kept the routine the same…who knows if it helped!”

“We do bath about 6.30 (every other night or so), PJs, milk for littlest, teeth, story for both and then bed. Aiming for 7.30ish but usually closer to 8! To add mine are 3.5 and 10 months.”

“Bath, nappy, eczema creams, pjs, soft lighting and music, stories, nursing. No idea if it helps or not.”

“Generally on nursery/work days, we try to do bathtime at 6.30, then PJs, milk & stories with bed about 7 for little sis (11m) and about 7.30 for big sis (3y) but sometimes ends up earlier or later depending on what’s been happening during the day. We’ve done this from a few weeks old with both, albeit the actual bedtime part was later in the first few months.

Take it as it comes

On a good day: we rely on In the Night Garden on IPlayer and Z (12 months) sits in her chair to watch it with a bottle – which she insists on holding herself. Then we clean teeth and get her changed then put her in her cot for a story and one last cuddle and kiss. And leave her bouncing up and down, and stomping around the cot like Godzilla. Listen to her laughing and chatting (god knows who she’s talking to!) through the baby monitor for a bit, and once it’s all gone quiet, I go back into her room, untangle her arms and legs from the cot bars, collect all the dummies from the floor and cover her up.

On a bad day:  Just do whatever we can to survive the screaming until she passes out from exhaustion. Maybe pace the floor, force her to watch Gardeners World (I love Monty Don) or just let her run around the house naked.”

“I’ll be back to work soon and a house move is on the horizon which will mean a nursery commute so goodness knows what will happen to the routine at that point!”

Do what works for you

“We don’t really have [a routine], apart from changing into PJs and a fresh nappy, but it could be ages after that he goes to bed. I just let him decide when he wants to go to bed unless he’s still up when we want to go up.”

“11 month old has no routine yet, as her naps are different every day depending on school run/playgroups/sibling activities. 4 and 5 year old both have a bath at 6.15pm (every other night), then a cup of milk and banana, teeth, stories and into bed for 7pm, where we do prayers and say goodnight. Sometimes they fall straight to sleep and other night’s they will be awake for quite a while. They are both early risers. Eventually, the baby will slot into that routine.

“We don’t have one really, mainly because I’m not good at sticking to a schedule. Max gets a clean happy and sleepsuit around 7pm then he feeds to sleep when he asks. We did try a routine earlier on but it just ended up with us all feeling rushed and stressed. He’s 10 months.”

To learn more about infant and toddler sleep and pick up practical tips, check out our upcoming workshops.

 

 

Review: Fourth Trimester Course

Emily reflects on the first term of our Fourth Trimester Course.

As a second-time parent, I had thought I would feel (at least slightly) less clueless this time around. Becoming a parent for the first time had been exciting and surprising and overwhelming. Every day for the first few months I seemed to have 50 new questions that I didn’t know the answers to. I had attended a Health Visitor-led course, providing facts and information about topics such as feeding, sleep, weaning (which in all honesty, probably answered only a fraction of my questions).

During my second pregnancy, I felt that the excitement of the first time around had been replaced by a sort of foreboding for what I knew lay ahead in the first few months with a newborn. Perhaps I had a better idea what to expect, but I also now knew how valuable a support network can be. Many of my first-time mum friends were back at work, and I felt I was craving the company of people who were going through the same things as me. This is where the Fourth Trimester course sounded like a great fit for me.

A group of both new and experienced mums, getting together to swap experiences, encouragement and parenting strategies. Once a week for 4 weeks, we were presented with evidence-based information and signposts to further reading, then the conversation was steered through infant sleep, coping with crying, feeding (breast and bottle), and self-care. This included a session led by an infant feeding expert. The course emphasises that there is no one ‘right’ approach to parenting; you find the best fit for you and your baby.

One of the most valuable things you can have on this parenting journey is the support and encouragement of other mums, and I’m happy to say that most of the mums I befriended on the Fourth Trimester course are still an amazing support to me, 4 months on (I really hope I am for them too).

Find out more

Fourth Trimester Course

Rachael’s story: reflecting on the fourth trimester

Parents’ Voices: Slings and Postnatal Depression

Ellie talks about how carrying her baby helped her to recover from postnatal depression.

When my eldest son was born almost six years ago, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. I had a traumatic birth experience and struggled with breastfeeding, and quite frankly I wanted to curl up and sleep for a week. It took a long time to ask for help and receive a diagnosis of postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but looking back it’s clear that the signs were there very early on.

He wouldn’t be put down

Our tiny baby wanted us to hold him all of the time. He was what some people call a ‘Velcro baby’ but in my experience is just normal newborn behaviour. I didn’t bond with him for quite a long time, and that made me feel even less competent. Every time I looked at him, I felt a crushing pressure that seemed more and more difficult to live up to.

I am smiling but inside I felt lost

When my husband went back to work two weeks after our son was born, I felt like the walls were closing in. I knew I needed to get out and find some support, but my son seemed to really hate the pram and car seat. I couldn’t even brush my teeth without him screaming to be picked up. I felt like I was losing myself and my sanity along with it. I didn’t really want to be holding my baby all the time, as it just reminded me how incompetent I felt.

Turning point

I can pinpoint the exact moment that things started to change: my husband’s cousin asked me if I had thought about using a sling, and offered to lend me her stretchy wrap. Watching my sister-in-law demonstrate how to tie it, I was very sceptical and didn’t think I’d be able to do it, or enjoy holding my son so close. I was desperate, though, and after watching a few instructional videos I gave it a try. He calmed down immediately and snuggled into my chest. It was the first moment I felt like I might be able to mother him after all.

Our first sling experience

The belated rush of love

Carrying my son with me in a sling helped him to settle down, which in turn increased my confidence in my ability to meet his needs. I also started to bond with him, and as I looked down at his sleeping face I finally felt the rush of love I’d been waiting for.

Non-optimal positioning but I was so proud!

Soon, I even ventured outside with the stretchy wrap and being able to walk to the local breastfeeding groups or just wander around helped me to feel better. I moved on from the stretchy to a gauze wrap, which was great in warm weather; then a buckled carrier; and more wraps. I also met other people who were interested in using slings and carriers, and some of us formed a group which eventually became a sling meet and lending library- my stepping stones on the way to setting up Cheshire Parenting Collective.

Road to recovery

My recovery from postnatal depression was a long journey, and our rocky start has stayed with me as my son grows up. I still feel a lot of guilt about how I was during his early months, but I also know that even when I didn’t feel a connection with him, I made sure his needs were met.

Ellie Didymos woven wrap
Wrapping gave us the closeness we needed to bond

Carrying him in a sling allowed me to fulfil his need for closeness, while doing things for myself – luxuries like going to the loo, or making a cup of tea! Carrying meant that he thrived while I recovered, and this had such a strong effect on me that I trained to help other parents and carers to safely use slings and carriers. I believe that I deserved a better postnatal experience and that eventually led me to set up CPC – now we work to improve other parents’ experiences and make sure they are supported in their children’s early days, and beyond!

My eldest aged 2 carrying his own ‘baby’

For help and support with postnatal depression, please visit

Poynton PANDAS: www.facebook.com/PoyntonPANDAS

Snowdrops PND support: www.facebook.com/stockportsnowdrops

Ask the Village: How Can I Fit In Self-Care?

We all know that looking after ourselves is really important – especially when you are also looking after children. However, we can also agree that this is incredibly difficult to do when you’ve just had a baby.

We asked our Villagers how they fit in tiny bits of self-care when they were looking after their newborns. Here’s what they had to say.

Self-care isn’t about grand gestures

“I think seeing self-care’ as tiny moments each day can help. It doesn’t have to be big grand gestures such as going to get your hair done or going out with friends but it can be having a slice of your favourite cake with a coffee, buying yourself the latest best settler to read during those early days mammoth feeds, or getting into a new box set on Netflix. Treating yourself to a moment of happiness every day can be a great way to care for yourself.”

“Small and often if possible! Mine was a guilty pleasure watching First Dates Hotel during lengthy afternoon feeds! And making sure there was always some chocolate in the house!”

“My self-care in the early days was eating yummy snacks in the middle of the night while feeding and catching up on trash tv – i.e. Love Island!”

Be creative

“Around 5/6 weeks I managed to get my hair cut! Husband wore baby in a stretchy wrap sling – they walked with me to the (very local) salon then he pottered around the village shops with her until she woke wanting milk….which was conveniently just as the hairdryer was turned off!”

“Hairdryer and the bouncer each morning while I have a shower!”

Lower your expectations

“For me 2nd time around, the very early days were very much about ‘take me as you find me‘. If people came to me I didn’t make anyone a cuppa but they were welcome to help themselves. My challenge every day was to get my big son to school and collect him and make sure I ate! Anything else was a bonus. In setting my bar pretty low I felt good about anything else I managed.”

“Trying to get out of the house once a day. Not immediately but once my husband had gone back to work and I had an almost three-year-old and a newborn I had to get us all out to blow the cobwebs out. The day was so much easier if I could.”

Use technology

I fully utilised my smartphone during all of those hours of breastfeeding. I found online parenting groups and social media. They were my lifeline to the outside world when I couldn’t physically leave the house!”

“When my eldest was a baby I quite liked watching lectures on interesting topics on the internet. It helped avoid the feeling that my brain was atrophying.”

Audiobooks and fresh air. I’d have my baby in a sling, put earphones in and walk for hours getting my fix of fiction! And lots of cake.”

Prioritise yourself

Not feeling guilty at taking 10 minutes for yourself when someone else (hubby in my case) has the baby and she starts fussing. Took me weeks to not feel like I was subjecting him to a screamy kid and that she needed me and having a shower/bath wasn’t as important.”

“I think if you can, it’s important to have at least one break a week from the children. I like leaving the children with my husband and going to a yoga class or religious service by myself.”

How do you fit in time for yourself? Share your ideas in the comments.

Working Parents: Lorette

Lorette runs the Slingababy school, training baby-carrying educators at various levels across the UK as well as abroad. She has two children. 

I have 2 children: a son born in 2010 and a daughter born in 2015. Their father and I separated when my son was nearly 3. He now lives 2 hours’ drive away and looks after his 2 older children from a previous relationship (on a 50/50 time split with their mother). This makes matching our timetables a bit of a jigsaw.

I started Slingababy before we separated and it grew from strength to strength which helped me with gaining independence when my situation changed. I felt compelled to start the school. There was something missing in the baby-carrying industry and I had a feeling I could bring it to life. A very dear friend encouraged me to take the plunge and I carry her words with me to this day: “give it a try. If it’s shit, nobody will come. If it’s not, it will be worth it.”

My typical schedule over a fortnight is as follows: Monday1: family time, maybe a little admin, Tuesday1: family time, Wednesday1: admin with my daughter in childcare, Thursday1: travelling or prepping my space for a course, alongside some family time, Friday1 to Monday2: teaching, Tuesday2: family time, Wednesday2: admin with my daughter in childcare, Thursday2 to Sunday2: family time, maybe a little admin, sometimes a 1 day course.

For the last year and a half, I had the privilege of bringing my children and a helper with me when I was teaching away from home. This is about to change and the children will now stay with their father. For a local course, my daughter goes in childcare and my son entertains himself.

I love what I do. Being my own boss means that I create all the rules. With trial and error, I found my perfect balance. I spend all my time either loving my job or loving being with my children. I feel blessed.

Sometimes the strain of the relentlessness is too much. Sometimes I would like to be able to lean onto another adult. Luckily, my father had prepared me for life’s challenges with his wisdom: “when you don’t like things that you can’t change or can’t leave, just get on with it” I have found strength in this way of looking at difficult times whilst also repeating the parenting mantra of “this too shall pass”

To parents looking for flexible working, I would say: define your goals. Reassess your priorities. Reassess your need for material things. Take the plunge. Tweak what you resent until you’re working within a frame you appreciate. Enjoy life. Oh! And come do my course, I’m full of more wisdom collected over the years! Joke apart, I do want to branch out into organisation courses as it’s another passion of mine. That course, when ready to launch, will be a game-changer for many.

View all posts in this series. Are you a working parent? We’d love to hear your story – please get in touch to talk.

Working Parents: Lucy

Lucy is a life coach and hypnotherapist and also teaches antenatal preparation classes. She has two children.

I am married (it took us 17 years of being together before we got round to it! We finally tied the knot 6 years ago); and we have two children aged 9 and 7, a girl and a boy. I was a teacher for 16 years before I left to become self-employed. I worked with children with SEN, particularly Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It was great work, really interesting and inspiring. I loved working with the children – and staff – to help to develop their coping skills, resilience and self-esteem. It was really fascinating looking at how we learn, and how to develop emotional skills as well as academic.

When I was pregnant with our first child I was certain that I wanted to continue working as I am very passionate about the work I do; I was also aware of wanting to not miss out on my own child’s early years. My husband had started his own company, along with two other people, a few years before. The business had taken off far better than we had ever imagined, so we worked out that I would return to work part-time after my maternity leave, and my husband would also go part-time. We were incredibly fortunate to be in that position.

Returning to work was not as great as I had imagined, however. Teaching is not as family-friendly as a lot of people think; by the time our second child was born (I had a miscarriage in between them too), after lots of other internal difficulties that the school went through, I decided to accept voluntary redundancy.

This was an incredibly tough decision. I had trained as a hypnobirthing teacher during my first maternity leave and had been teaching hypnobirthing classes in the evenings at the same time as returning part time to my teaching career, but I still wasn’t sure I could make it on my own as a completely self-employed person. I was passionate about what I was doing – I had been so terrified of giving birth when I was pregnant, and learning hypnobirthing had completely changed how I viewed birth and also a lot of the negative thinking I had been prone to beforehand. It completely changed my experience of childbirth, and even though things really didn’t go to plan on the day I felt confident, empowered and really happy with the decisions we had made.

I realised that a lot of what I had learned through hypnobirthing had so much relevance to the work I had previously been doing, in supporting others to develop their coping skills. I decided to train as a hypnotherapist to complement my hypnobirthing work. Over the past 7 years, I have been on the most wonderful journey as the various parts of my business have grown and developed. I have done a lot of work with parenting and early years development, plus mindfulness training for children, and eventually have settled on my passion of supporting mainly women through changes in their lives; I work with my clients to help them find balance within the crazy hectic rollercoaster that is many women’s experience of juggling work, life and family.

I work part-time but that is spread throughout the week. I read a wonderful quote recently, that describes entrepreneurs as the only people to work an 80 hour week in order to avoid working the standard 40 hour week! This is so true, so I have to work hard to apply what I teach to clients – to find that balance between everything. I have ‘responsibility’ for the children on 3 days a week, and my husband takes responsibility for the other two.

Things are a little easier now they are both in school – we home-educated them for 3 years before they decided they were ready to give school a go. I usually have a really great balance between seeing clients, the inevitable admin work, my family and ‘me’ stuff – I love climbing, running, yoga, walking my dogs and working in the garden. Things are easily sent out of kilter when we hit those busy periods when too much stuff is going on all at once. It is particularly hard when my husband works away as we have no family support at all. I have come to accept those times and let some things slide in order to cope; I have also learned how to ask for and accept help from friends!

My children really take an interest in what I do. We talk a lot about the things I do to help others, and I teach them useful tools to cope with anxiety and stress too. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, of course, my own kids see me more as ‘Mum’ than ‘therapist/ life coach’. I do notice them using the strategies and language that I have taught them though, they are generally pretty good at problem-solving. I decided to start writing a sort of ‘family life’ book to guide families through helpful ways of communicating with each other, and the kids were so enthusiastic when I talked to them about it that they decided to co-write it with me. Watch this space!

The best thing about my situation is that I know my boss appreciates me because I am my own boss! I choose what to prioritise and when, and I have the flexibility to be there if my kids need me. I take time off through the holidays and really enjoy that family time. I love being able to share these ways of thinking with other women and inspire them to make changes to empower themselves and enjoy life. I also love the baby cuddles I get with my birth work! Seeing couples move from apprehension or downright fear to confidence and empowerment, and hearing the amazing birth stories they share is indescribable. I feel so fortunate to be able to do the work that I do.

The most difficult thing has to be the lack of support we have had right from starting our family. I really believe that we’re not supposed to bring our children up in isolation, as the saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I have worked hard to find the support I need to get through the tough times, although I do also recognise the huge personal growth this has provided for me and feel really positive about the way everything has worked out. In terms of work, the most difficult thing is the huge fluctuation in monthly income; it seems so random, it can make financial planning much more interesting.

I would advise all parents who want more flexibility in their work to really work out what they want and how to make it happen. You make your own destiny, no one is going to provide all the answers for you! Collaborate with your partner, work out any financial issues – and remember that this will often be short-term solutions as your young children soon grow into older children. Ask for what help you need; go to your boss with solutions, not problems. Be confident, be brave – you won’t get these years again and it is a privilege to be able to enjoy them. And remember, in financial terms if you haven’t got it you simply can’t spend it – this mantra allowed us to really cut back on outgoings.

How To Prepare For A Child When You’re Living With A Disability

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

Preparing for a baby is a big job; there are so many details to think about and plan for that it can be a bit overwhelming, even if you have help. For individuals who are living with a disability, adding these plans to everyday struggles can be extremely stressful, and that stress can lead to anxiety or even depression.

It’s important, then, to consider your specific needs and think of the best ways you can make things go smoothly throughout the entire process. Think about details like handling the infant carrier, changing the baby’s diaper, cleaning, and putting the baby down in a crib or bassinet. Depending on your abilities and ease of mobility, these may be things that you’ll need to do a little differently than everyone else. As long as it’s comfortable for both you and baby, that’s all that matters.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for the arrival of your baby.

Garner support

One of the best ways to help things go smoothly is to garner support from friends and family. Having help during the first few weeks of parenthood will do you a world of good and will allow you to be at your best. You might ask someone to act as a pet-sitter while you’re in the hospital or have someone pick up dinner to bring over on your first night home. There are many different ways your loved ones can be of assistance, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Practice

It’s a good idea to practice as much as you can before the baby arrives. Whether it’s figuring out the carseat, learning how to quickly open up the stroller while also holding a diaper bag (and possibly the baby), or making up bottles, practicing now will help build your confidence for when the time comes.

Prepare your home

Getting your home ready for a new baby entails quite a bit of work, so planning ahead will help you feel prepared. Aside from setting up a nursery or area where the baby will sleep and can be changed, you’ll need to think about what your new schedule will be like. Having a newborn in the home changes everything, so making things as easy as possible is key. This might mean setting up a bottle station where you can prepare and clean them, or having an area near your bed that can hold tissues, a portable changing station, extra wipes, a water bottle (especially if you’re breastfeeding, as you’ll need to stay hydrated), and a baby monitor. Having all those things within reach will really come in handy when you’re up in the middle of the night for feedings.

Install a carbon monoxide detector if your home doesn’t already have one, and check all the smoke alarms to make sure they’re in good working order. Secure any large pieces of furniture – dressers, bookshelves, etc. – to the wall to prevent tipping. You may also think about the way furniture is arranged, especially if you require a wheelchair or other equipment. It’s possible to make your mobility a priority and keep things safe for the baby at the same time, but it might take a little planning. For some great tips on how to get started with babyproofing, head over to Redfin.com.

Make a packing list

Part of being prepared is knowing what you’ll need both at the hospital and for the trip home. Get familiar with the car seat and install it before your due date so you won’t have to worry about it. Make a packing list and include any medications or equipment you might need while you’re away, and do the same for your spouse or partner if they’ll be staying with you. Read on here for a baby checklist that will help you prepare.

Talking to other parents who are living with a disability is a great way to find support when you need it most, so look online for support groups or discussion boards, and keep communication open with your partner so that the two of you will be on the same page.