Working Parents: Chloe

Chloe is a self-employed graphic designer. She lives with her husband and their almost-5-year-old daughter, who has just started school.

I worked for a local publishing group for 8 years prior to becoming pregnant, but after 5 years took voluntary redundancy from part of my job – so I went from full time to working 3 days a week. I’d learnt an awful lot from my colleagues but I’d always dreamed of choosing my own working hours and my own clients. I’m also quite an introvert. I like people, but working in a very large company in an open plan office made me quite stressed, so reducing the time I was there was the best of both worlds! My now husband was very supportive of my decision, and luckily we were able to afford it.

My daughter was born in 2013 and after a few months I found that I was able to maintain my existing clients thanks to slings – I got quite adept at working while swaying! The closer it got to maternity leave ending the surer I was that I didn’t want to go back. After a terrible experience with a childminder, our minds were made up! My high-needs child was clearly not ready for external childcare, and I felt confident that I could work a small amount while she slept, so I resigned.

It has got progressively easier to work as childcare has increased over the years, and now my daughter is at school I can get quite a bit done at last! Her school is only 5 minutes walk away so I am back from the school run by 9am normally and work pretty much continuously until I leave to pick her up at 2.50pm. I can sometimes get an extra half hour in while she chills out after school, and if needed I can work when she’s asleep.

I love the flexibility that working from home affords me – I can go to Stay and Play every week and school assemblies, it’s not a problem if she’s sick, and we can get plenty of special time in after school. I could definitely earn more by becoming employed, and the school day is so short that I tend to prioritise work over exercise, but it’s worth it!

I think you have to make a concerted effort to overcome the downsides. I’m getting a dog to make me take a break and get some exercise, and I’ve started a Facebook group of local home-working creatives to provide support. We’re aiming to meet up once or twice a month so we get to talk to real life adults occasionally! I sometimes really struggle with the transition between working and parenting, as the school day is just long enough to get my teeth into a project, only to have to stop mid-flow. I have to be quite mindful not to be irritable about it, but it’s getting easier as we settle into the school routine.

For me, the biggest downside is the school holidays. I’m now working enough that I can’t just stop during the school holidays, but my work is unpredictable enough that booking holiday clubs in advance is not especially helpful. My ideal solution to this problem would be a hot desk/studio space like Ziferblat, but with on-site childcare.

It’s not perfect, but I really think flexible working is the right choice for my family – I am doing fulfilling work, and I can give my daughter the support and attention she needs. It’s pretty satisfying!

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: Lindsay

Lindsay is a 38-year-old married mum of 5. She makes and sells beautiful hand-dyed items at All The Small Things.

My husband and I have 5 children, aged 15, 13, 10, 7 and 4. We also home educate our youngest. I run All The Small Things, where I hand dye things – mainly clothes and fabric, but also baby wraps and slings, and other bits and bobs as custom orders. I specialise in tie-dyes, ice dyes, but also have an interest in wax resist work, which I’m starting to explore more.I stopped work after having Niamhy, our second child, mainly because of child care costs, and at the time we thought if we could manage it, I would stay at home with the children.

When Iris, our youngest, came along I decided that if I was to make any money, it would most likely be doing something that meant I could work from home, especially because childcare can be so expensive, and asking others to look after 5 kids would be taking liberties.

We knew Iris was to be our last, and honestly, though I loved being a stay at home mum, and running our local sling library, I wanted to do more. My husband had recently changed his job, and also hours, which meant that we would be spending less time as a family than we were used to, so this needed to be considered too. Though I discussed this with Rob, the actual decision was mine. Rob made it clear that whatever I decided he would support me.

I opened All the Small Things, a small, online shop, selling work-at-home-mum (WAHM) made items, mostly baby/child related, made by other people. I’m very lucky that I knew several talented makers who were happy for me to be stockists for them. Iris was 5 months old when I became self-employed.

As the kids got older, I wanted to do more. I’d always done tie-dye, mostly for family and friends, so when friends suggested that I do some for the shop I thought why not. At first, it was just as and when I could, then as custom orders, and before I knew it, the hand dyed items were my most popular, so I made the decision to focus just on that.

Most weekdays, we get up at around 6 am – animals are sorted, sandwiches packed for lunches and then I answer any messages whilst having a coffee, whilst the kids have breakfast. Rob goes out to work at 7.30am, until about 6-6.30pm, so then I concentrate on seeing kids off, helping the younger ones, having a quick tidy up and school runs. I’ll check in a few times a day to check for messages, or uploading/sending photographs, invoicing and the like, but I just fit this in around other things.

I tend to dye (with all the associated washing and rinsing) between 3 and 5 times a week. I try to get the bulk of it done at the weekends when Rob is about, but sometimes I end up dyeing once we get back on from the afternoon school run. I usually set the younger kids up with some craft, maybe a film to watch, get them settled and then go and do my stuff in the kitchen. The kids know where I am, I can hear them and they know where to find me if they want me. We have our own little rhythm now which seems to work quite well.

Mostly, I think the children like that I work from home. They like that I can take them to school, pick them up, go to open days and such. Though my eldest will often tease me about being a ‘hippie’, I think they are quite proud of what I do too.

When I’ve had a particularly busy period for whatever reason, the younger ones have told me that I was doing too much work, so I have to stop and take a step back and explain to them why, but that’s not a regular thing thankfully, as the guilt is awful. And it’s as frustrating as hell.

The best thing is that I can still (mostly) raise my children in the way that I wanted to, and that the effort I put into my work makes me feel proud, and actually, that I can contribute financially too. Not that who earns what has ever been an issue, but it still means that me doing something that I love can help pay for school uniforms, the occasional treat, that sort of thing.

I love dyeing things, I love the artistic freedom, and the fact that it can genuinely make people happy, it makes me feel that I’m more than just everyone’s mum. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I was needing more, for me.

If you’re looking for more flexible work, do what works for you. There isn’t a right or wrong way, everyone has things that work best for them. If something isn’t working, change it, things don’t need to be set in stone. Try to look after yourself a bit. This is something I struggle with. It’s easy to get burnt out, but surround yourself with people who will support you and who aren’t scared to tell you that you need to chill a bit! It’s very easy to get caught up with it all.

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

9 Ways To Get More Rest In The Fourth Trimester

Having a baby can be amazing, and amazingly difficult. One of the most common questions we hear from the new parents we meet is how to get more sleep, or at the very least, more rest. We talk about this a lot in our Fourth Trimester Course, because looking after yourself is so important – especially when you have a newborn baby.

We asked our online community how they carved out more time to rest when their babies were born – we hope this list gives you some inspiration!

Rest when you can

“Don’t try to plan your day – just rest or sleep whenever / wherever the opportunity arises.” – Lucy

“Rest! all the time! as La Leche League say – never stand when you could sit, never sit when you could lie, and never lie when you could sleep.” – Lyzzi

Keep expectations realistic

“Redefine ‘rest’.” – Alex

“I found this time that realigning my expectations has vastly improved my mood.” – Vicky

“Relax and go with the flow. Don’t plan the day or have any expectations- just see where you end up, and if you’re showered/dressed by tea time – awesome, if you’re wearing the same pyjamas that you’ve been wearing for 3 days – so what!?” – Nikki

Huddle down…

“Ban visitors completely for a while and just be a new family for a week or so. Longer if they are energy drains. For us, it was so important both times that we had time to enjoy our new babies before family started traipsing through. If you feel the same don’t feel you can’t say ‘no visitors please until x date’.” – Alex

…Or throw open the doors

“People talk about banning/minimising visitors but actually I love that side of things but I would go to them. It meant a) the house didn’t need to be tidy b) people wait on you much more in their house c) I could get up and leave when I/baby had had enough! Oh and d) being around people relaxed me!” – Nichola

Invite ignorance

“Don’t look at the time during night feeds! When I stopped doing this and adding the hours up that I’d been awake for every night, I felt so much better!” – Angela

“Don’t time night feeds either (if breastfeeding) with apps like Feed baby or similar. There’s no pattern (or if there is it will change very soon). So don’t torture yourself, knowing this information is not necessary or helpful!” – Rachel

“If you have a Fitbit (other devices are available) make sure you take it off at night – looking back at the lack of sleep only makes you feel worse!” – Charlotte

Ask for (and accept) help

“Accept your partner can take a turn, even if baby is unsettled. It’s hard to not intervene and think you can settle baby better yourself… But your partner needs to find his/her way and mum needs a break.” – Emily

“Give partner a sling- my other half loved my little boy falling asleep on him from 2weeks old.” – Anne-Marie

“If your baby is unsettled, see if a friend/relative will walk them round the block in a sling/buggy – they’ll probably be happy to have time with the baby, the fresh air will help settle the baby, and you can have 10 minutes quiet time. ” – Nikki

Change your scenery

“Fresh air!” – Karen

“Go for a walk. Fresh air is wonderful.” – Emily

“Definitely getting out of the house every day for me, I don’t know if it is the fresh air or the change of scene but I sleep better and rest better when I’ve been out and about. I walked 8 miles the other day back from the soft play, stopping at parks, cafes and restaurants on the way. It was marvellous.” – Alex

“I always felt better after making it outside, even just for a ten minute walk with baba and loved carrying them in a sling.” – Jackie

Re-evaluate your sleeping arrangements

“Co-sleep or attach cot to your bed. We tied ours to our bed with cable ties and put a rolled up towel in the space. That meant much less getting up at night.” – Ruthie

“A safe bedsharing/cosleeping arrangement.” – Lyzzi

“A family nap has worked.” – Louise

[For info on safe bedsharing, check out the LLL Safe Sleep Seven here]

Talk about how you’re feeling

“Don’t be a martyr – rest when you need to, and admit it when it’s hard. Struggling doesn’t make you a bad parent.” – Nikki

Are you a new parent in need of more coping strategies? Check out our Fourth Trimester Course and Fourth Trimester Groups.

Working Parents: Ruthie

Ruthie, a self-employed photographer, tells us about balancing work and family. Ruthie lives with her husband and two daughters. 

I am happily married to Alex for almost 7 years. We have two daughters: Mia, 5 years old and Annabelle, one year old. I also have a 13-year-old dog. I live and breathe photography. I take portraits of people of all ages, mainly in natural light: Family portraits, individuals, babies, breastfeeding mummies (and any other kind of feeding), life at home and even fashion (which I absolutely love doing). I also do more arty kind of photography that looks great on canvas prints.

The job chose me. I always took photos, and always got great feedback from people about my photos. I come from a background in filmmaking so it was not a strange field to me. After I gave birth to my first daughter I slowly discovered what kind of a mother I am. I am a breastfeeder, which means that feeding a baby only I can do… I am a home cook, I care about the food we eat and that takes up a lot of my time. I am a have-messy-fun-with-your-kid kind of a mother. 

All that meant that going back to 9-10 hour shift a day kind of a job as a film editor was not going to work for me. Moreover, a lot of the work I was offered meant going away for a few days and I would not part with my daughter. Slowly I fell out of love with filmmaking while I fell in love with being a mother. I must admit I had a few very confused years, during which I did not know what I was and who I was, other than Alex’s wife and Mia’s mummy.

But I had an inkling that I should buy a good camera. So I did. It kind of snowballed from that.

I am building my business around mothering. Bearing in mind that with time, my girls will be less and less dependent on me, and I will be able to focus on my business more and more. Long distance planning is my game.

Having my second baby, I already knew what kind of a mother I am. So for the first year of her life, my business was put on the back burner, taking the odd job, and mainly taking care of my Annabelle.

Mia is now in school. Annabelle started nursery two mornings a week and her grandparents babysit one morning a week. That gives me 3 mornings of work. During this time I completely dedicate myself to work. That would be editing pictures, updating my Facebook page and website and getting in touch with people. Nothing else. No tidying, no cooking, no washing, no cleaning. I am like a horse with blinders – eyes on the target.

I have a truly supportive partner who is happy to take care of the girls when I have photo shoots on the weekends. Luckily he works for himself so he can be flexible with his time during the week. Therefore I can ‘steal’ an afternoon if I have a midweek photo shoot.

I also work weekends and sometimes late nights. Luckily I love it. The rest of my time is dedicated to my family.

The best thing for me is that I discovered my true professional passion in life. I enjoy every stage of the process. I enjoy learning new software, new tricks, honing my craft. I love getting to know new people and new places on the job. I love combining my talents, likes, and passions. And I love the fact I work for myself and can still be the mother and partner I want to be.

My advice to anyone wanting to balance work and family would be to first understand the parent that you are. How long are you happy to be away from your children? How much can you afford it?

Secondly, after becoming parents we will never go back to be the same people we were before. So if your job has too many demands, rethink. Maybe you could be amazing doing something else?  Maybe you can do the same thing but differently?

Also, if you can afford it, it is ok not to work while you rethink. If you take time off to think about it all, do not feel guilty. I did, and I am sorry I did. Taking care of your children is so much harder than any job. Do not feel guilty.

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: Tamsin

Welcome to the first story in our Working Parents blog series. Tamsin co-runs Firespiral Slings, Morecambe Bay Slings CIC and Sling School, and The Honeycomb Loom. She has three children.

Hello, I am Tamsin. I have three children, aged 8, 6 and 4, four businesses and a husband who works from home on something completely different!

My businesses are all related (and are all part-owned by other people), with Firespiral Slings being my main and ‘full-time’ job. Next up areMorecambe Bay Slings CIC and Sling School (the sling library and training school which I am co-director of) and then there is The Honeycomb Loom (a joint project with Baie Slings where we manufacture and retail ‘cloth for carrying’).

My children are aged 8, 6 and 4. The two older children go to a local primary school. My youngest hasn’t started school yet – he is a summer born child with dwarfism and we made the decision to delay his start at school by a year, so he will go to school in September 2018 when hopefully he will be a little taller and much more emotionally mature.

Before children and after studying Architecture at university I had many different jobs. I decided that I didn’t want to be an architect, but I had no idea what I wanted to do so I flitted around from one thing to the next, not sure where life was taking me. When I became pregnant with Natasha I was working for a bank, I was on a path for management, working on projects and secondments well above my pay grade and was very much career-minded. Pregnancy changed my situation massively – I was pulled from the secondments and was not successful in a promotion that I had been told was going to be mine – the interview was to have been a formality. At the time it was a big disappointment, but I told myself that it was probably best for me not to be ‘pushing myself’ during my pregnancy, but now looking back it was obvious sexual discrimination.

Before I was pregnant I knew that I was going to breastfeed, co-sleep and sling my future baby (I had seen a tv program about it and it resonated strongly with me), and that’s what I did. I took an extended maternity leave with Natasha, returning to work when she was 15 months old and I was pregnant with my second child. Thomas was born just before Natasha was 2, and shortly after that a sling library opened in my local town and I had suddenly found my people! I fell down the woven wrap rabbit hole very quickly, and a conversation with one of my new-found friends turned into a business plan and Firespiral Slings was born!

I worked hard during my maternity leave, returning to work part-time when Thomas was 12 months old and continuing to work on Firespiral during evenings and days off ‘real work’. At this time my husband was working away in London for 3 nights each week, so working in the evenings was a way to stave off the loneliness. We didn’t know what Firespiral was to become at this point, it was something fun and something we were both passionate about. About 6 months after I returned to the bank after my maternity leave with Thomas I fell pregnant with Arthur, and he was born in the week that our first woven wraps were shipped out to customers.

I was on maternity leave again from the bank, but I had no maternity leave, as I had a blossoming business to tend to. My memories of the early days of Arthur’s life all involve him being attached to a boob and semi-balanced on my laptop whilst I worked. I had relocated to a new are in the weeks after he was born too, so had lost my support group. Life was a roller coaster at this point, three young children, a new area, my husband working away, and so very much work to do with a new business that was very successful from the off. I don’t think I stopped for breath.

At this time I discovered my new local sling library, and it was looking for someone to take over due to the owner going back to work after maternity leave. I did so with pleasure and am so pleased that I did, as it has provided me with some wonderful friends and the chance to step away from my computer for half a day each week to do something that without doubt fills my emotional cup. When my maternity leave with Arthur was coming to an end Firespiral was doing well enough for me to tell them that I wasn’t coming back. It was a decision that was both terrifying and exhilarating. What if I was making a mistake?

It has been nearly four years since I handed my notice in, and although it has been a tough four years, the work that I do now is so much more meaningful to me, and I have learnt so very much. I can’t imagine working for anyone else again. Working for someone else is easier in so many ways though, getting a lunch hour where you don’t have to load the washing machine but can sit and read a magazine sounds blissful. The call of my workroom and a long to-do list is there all the time, calling to me first thing on a Saturday morning, or on a Sunday afternoon when the children are watching a movie.

When I found my mental health was suffering I imposed some personal rules – no working from my phone in the evening when I have worked all day being the main one! Finding balance was hard at first, but I really think I have it now. In the last year before Arthur starts school I have put aside a few hours on a Friday for us to do something together each week, and I am so proud of myself for this. I find it too tempting to put him in front of the TV whilst I work. I then work and feel guilty that I am not giving him the attention he deserves, and at the same time, I am not fully focussing on my work. He is going to nursery for 3.5 days per week this year too – again something I felt guilty about initially, but now I know that it frees me to spend quality time with him on a Friday.

Working from home means that I am here every day when my two older children come home from school. I usually work after they come home too, but at least I am around. They tend to be more than happy to play together, or watch TV and play games on their Kindles. I take my eldest to piano lessons, and we cook a meal together. They often ask me why I have to work all the time, and I tell them that if I worked in a ‘proper’ job that they would be in after school care and I would be at work still…

I think the best thing about working like this is the flexibility. I can run a sling meet every week, and take my child swimming or to soft play with friends, and pick my other children up from school whilst fitting in my work around that. I think the worst thing about it is the overwhelming responsibility and commitment that owning a business forces upon you. It is so difficult to take time off mentally as well as physically. I often think of it like my fourth child, it needs as much care and attention as the real ones do, and I am so very proud of what it has become.

My advice for anyone looking to work in this way is to find something that you are passionate about doing, and that you can do well, as you need to be very committed to success to get a business off the ground. Make sure you have a support network, as often your network will give you your first sales and join local networking groups too for business support in your area.

For information and support on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, visit Pregnant Then Screwed.

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 : a new blog series

Introducing our new blog series – Working Parents.

Recently, there has been a lot of coverage in the media about how difficult it is balancing a career and a family. Research suggests that women especially are held back in the workplace after having children.

We do not think this is acceptable.

More and more parents are building careers around their family lives, so they are not sacrificing advancement at work or time with their children. We believe it’s important to have the freedom to choose what is best for you and your family – whether it’s working in or outside the home, flexible work patterns, part-time, remote working, etc. Raising a family full-time is work in itself, but if parents choose to also work outside of the home, they are often not free to explore the type of working patterns that would best suit their families.

This series will showcase stories of parents who have eschewed the traditional 9-5 and made their jobs work for their families. We hope it will demonstrate how parents add value to the workplace after having children. Perhaps it will even inspire you to make your career work for you.

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







The best sling

Lots of parents come to our groups with one question – what is the best sling for me? I have good news – I am finally going to answer your question and tell you what is the best sling for you! Not just you, but your partner, mum/dad, friend, and even your neighbour!

The best sling for you is…

the one that best meets your needs. It’s that simple!

Well, not quite, or there would be no need for sling and carrier libraries, resources and information, and sling educators. Working out which of the many options on the market will best suit your needs can be tricky, and there is a lot of information (often full of jargon) to navigate.

The ‘best sling’ is a unicorn…

it doesn’t exist.

There are so many options on the market, and there is a reason for this. Think about jeans, shoes, or even a baby item like prams. There is no one ‘best’ or gold standard – what suits an individual is very subjective. Slings and carriers are no different.

We are all individuals with differing desires and needs. Throw another small person into the mix and that’s a lot of desires and needs to consider! What is best for your friend/sister/dad/partner may not best meet your own needs, so beware of asking ‘what is the best sling’ of friends/family/Facebook groups (although you will get a lot of opinions in the latter).

Instead, think about what is important to you. To help guide this, here are some questions we ask parents at our groups:

What’s important to you?

Whether it’s for form or function, design or cost – everyone chooses products for different reasons. Make a list of your most important features or considerations to help narrow down the choice.

What’s your budget?

Slings and carriers vary hugely in cost. While it can be true that spending more equals better quality, there are lots of great options under £100. Setting a budget you’re comfortable with helps you know what to add to your shortlist.

What have you tried / seen / heard about?

Maybe you’ve found something you love, but feel like you should play the field a little more before you buy. Or you’ve heard a lot of buzz about a particular type or model of carrier. Telling us what you like and dislike so far helps us figure out what you’re looking for.

What will you use it for?

Long walks, quick school runs, or daytime naps. Some options suit particular purposes more than others. Deciding when and where you’ll use your chosen sling can help identify which choices may suit your lifestyle.

In conclusion…

We entirely understand that it might seem more helpful if we can just tell you what the best option is, especially when you’re figuring out everything else to do with parenting. However, it’s not possible for someone to do this for you any more than they could tell you which jeans or shoes to buy.

But don’t despair! Here are some things you can do to find your very own best sling.

  • Access quality information in a controlled way, for example speaking to a sling educator in person or online
  • Try out different options, for example at a sling library or via a postal hire 
  • Narrow down what you like and dislike, using the above questions

Good luck in your quest, and feel free to let us know how you get on!

Laura and her crying baby

Laura’s story: To the mum with the crying baby…

Ruby was a screamer. My midwife said as much when she was only a few minutes old. She screamed even more if anyone else held her (or looked at her!), so I got to the stage where I freaked out if anyone tried to take her off me as I knew she would cry. Unfortunately, she also cried in the arms of my husband. I basically just held her all the time, and I didn’t leave the house much either because she cried in the buggy, in the shops, on the bus. Anywhere public really. I couldn’t take the disapproving stares at the mother who couldn’t soothe her own baby!

She’s the reason I discovered slings – my poor arms couldn’t cope! She also
breastfed every hour around the clock until 4 months, and then every 2 hours until about 12 months. She never slept either. She took 20 minute cat naps, of which there were about 2 a day (which had to be in my arms) and then she woke all through the night. The epitome of sleep thief. She still doesn’t need much sleep, and she functions perfectly well on much less than the ‘experts’ recommend for a child of her age.

I had SO many suggestions from people who thought they could ‘fix’ her crying. I was breastfeeding her for too long (she was 3 months old at the time), I was ‘starving her’ and should have been giving her solids at 4 months (she was in the 98th centile!), I was holding her too much and making her needy, etc., etc., etc. It turns out that it was just her personality!

Laura and Ruby

Things started to change when I taught her baby sign language, and the crying decreased when she was able to communicate a little bit. Then when she started talking, it decreased even more. She was fully conversational by the time she was 18 months, shocking the nurses and health visitors who did her baby development checks, and she was much happier for it. She was generally just a ‘high needs’ baby. I don’t really like the term, as a lot of the behaviours are actually completely normal, but she definitely fit every bit of the criteria, and her personality is still the
same now! Some babies do cry a lot, and after having 3 children, plus 9 nieces and nephews, I have learned that it’s a variation of normal. Unfortunately, though, it’s a really tiring, sanity-stealing one.

My advice is to accept any help that you can (I didn’t for a really long time because of my own anxiety, and wanting to be the ‘perfect’ mum) and also accept that you are doing the very best that you can, but you can’t do it all. As long as you are sure that there’s nothing wrong medically, it could just be your child’s personality. And, I promise that it doesn’t last forever. Month by month, you’ll notice that they are happier for longer periods of time. You might still have a baby who cries a lot, but it does get better. And they don’t stay babies forever. I used to wish time away because I felt like it would never end, and all of a sudden, Ruby is nearly 7. Now we only face the occasional tantrum, usually over an outfit choice, or because she doesn’t want to go to bed – that issue is still with us!

Big hugs to you,


Vicky's newborn is sleeping, but she isn't!

Vicky’s Story: She Sleeps, But I Don’t!

Although Vicky’s newborn sleeps well, she is experiencing anxiety and worries over what is ‘normal’. Words and photo by Vicky Geary.

Vicky's newborn is sleeping, but she isn't!

I have an 8 week old baby who CURRENTLY* sleeps well at night and naps in the daytime *(I have done this parenting thing before and know better than to make statements about anything other than the present).

I have not done anything to make her do this, don’t ask me to write a book about it (!) she just arrived with an understanding of day and night and the ability to put away a serious amount of milk in the evening. I count myself very lucky that the newborn phase is, so far, not leaving me terribly sleep deprived.

I’m writing this because I found that the majority of new parents’ experiences differ very much from my current situation – the very normal experiences of babies who won’t sleep in the day unless in a sling/car/pram.

Help! Is my baby ‘normal’?

A lot of groups that I go to, courses I’ve been on etc both while pregnant and as a new mum reassure us that it is normal for babies to want to be close to their parents for security and to feed frequently due to their tiny tummies. Obviously this is correct and must be very reassuring to all the mummies surviving on little sleep. However, for me, this created anxiety (something I suffer with anyway) that my baby is somehow something other than ‘normal’ and instead of enjoying the much-hallowed hot cup of tea, I found myself fretting that my baby is sleeping too much/is possibly ill/won’t sleep tonight/isn’t forming an attachment to me because she’d rather be in her bed than on my chest.

The other, rather annoying, aspect of this anxiety is that it sometimes results in insomnia which means that although my baby sleeps well, I don’t always but find that I feel I don’t ‘deserve’ to moan about being tired when I’ve not been up trying millions of things to get my baby to sleep just staring at my ceiling wondering if she’s about to wake up.

Dealing with anxiety

This is something that affected me significantly with my first baby and I had some CBT which helped. Thankfully this time it’s not every night. While searching the internet for “is my baby sleeping too much” wisdom I didn’t find a huge amount other than “Lucky you! Enjoy it!” type replies and although they make a good point I couldn’t find anyone who shared or could validate the worries I had that my baby doesn’t love me or anyone who felt a horrible anxious sense of dread that the magical sleep must come to and end soon and baby would just stop sleeping as she’d crammed a year’s worth into two months.

I also felt that I couldn’t mention my anxieties at baby groups for fear of being pelted with biscuits by mums who were barely functioning due to lack of sleep. Fair enough. It was a bit of a lonely place to be though.

Feeling reassured

Since talking things through with health professionals and going on the great Fourth Trimester Course with Cheshire Parenting Collective I have learnt that the range of ‘normal’ is huge when it comes to baby sleep and as long as baby isn’t showing signs of illness it’s all good. Some babies in one review from the Infant Sleep Institute were sleeping for up to 20 hours in 24 and others as few as 8! All normal. So if you have a baby who just happens to like sleep, please do try to chill out and enjoy it. I shall endeavour to do the same. Until she starts teething…

If you are looking for information on normal sleep development, we like the Infant Sleep Information Source

Watch our BBC film

A BBC film crew recently visited our new social group, The Village. They interviewed some volunteers and parents, and produced a short film for the #mumtakeover event on November 28th.