me-time
FEELINGS

Me-time (with baby)

Mother-of-one Tracey Quinn writes about the importance of me-time for all mums.

I think it’s important to get out and about as much as possible when you become a mother. It can feel quite isolating, particularly in those first few months. Being outdoors and seeing other families with babies makes you feel part of a community. I truly believe that it has really helped me gain confidence as a mother.

In the early hours when your baby is crying it can feel as though your baby is the only unhappy baby in the world. The reality is that your baby is not unhappy, but rather they are hungry or have wind pains etc. Naturally, we tend to point the finger at ourselves and assume that we are doing something wrong. In those moments of sleep deprivation, the world can seem like a dark place.

Time to yourself

When my son was a couple of weeks old, I began to understand the importance of me-time. It didn’t have to involve me being without my baby (which I didn’t really want to do), but it did mean taking the time to do something for me. In the early days, it could be as simple as having a bath. My partner would come in from work and after I fed him I would let Daddy take over while I relaxed a bit in the bath. I lit a few candles and lay there relaxing reading my favourite magazine. Something so simple and yet it profoundly affected my general well-being. Initially, I found it quite daunting to imagine leaving the house on my own with the baby. What if he roared crying? What if he needed to be fed?

I was breastfeeding and the idea of feeding in public terrified me. I imagined snarling looks and generally feeling uncomfortable. After some great advice from other women on a Breastfeeding support page on Facebook, I forced myself out of the house one day and in to town. I stopped at the first decent coffee shop I saw and I fed him. I remember a sense of calm and pride as I sat there feeding my newborn baby and drinking a beautiful cup of coffee. Of course, there was a cheeky piece of cake as well. It felt amazing to be out of the house. I people-watched, sipped my coffee, and gushed as people told me how cute my baby was.

Out and about

From that day on, we got out of the house as much as possible. We researched coffee mornings ran by Cuidiu, attended breastfeeding support groups, met friends for nice lunches and picnics, and we even attended the baby-friendly cinema mornings in Dundrum Town Centre. Me-time didn’t necessarily involve me having a break away from my baby, but meant me doing things that made me feel more social and less domestic. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it did wonders for my Mother-of-one Tracey Quinn on the importance of me-time for all mums me time mental health and it massively impacted the way I wanted to parent. Spending time with other like-minded people and seeing different approaches to parenting helped me find my ‘flow’ as a mother. I felt a sense of confidence in my choices and the way I cared for my son.

These days, my partner and I try to have one date night every month. It might be the cinema and an early dinner, a night out on the tiles, or perhaps just a night-in watching a movie and eating popcorn. It feels great to switch off, reconnect and enjoy some quality time together as a couple. Like most, we have a strict budget and are in the midst of the stressful Dublin rental market, so we understand the importance of being able to have a date night that doesn’t break the bank. My advice to any new mother is to move out of your comfort zone and try to get out there. The first year of my son’s life was pretty much spent in coffee shops and parks eating too much cake and talking too much. It was a wonderful time. Nowadays, a coffee shop or restaurant is not the easiest place to entertain a toddler, but we do what works. At the end of the day, it’s about making the most of what you have, and most importantly doing what works for you as a family.

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….