Updates from the coalface...

Pippa loves Millie

My lovely friend John has been a font of parental advice. When I fell pregnant with Millie, he told us in all honesty 'The first three months were utter crap for us. Everyone tells you the first six weeks are hard, but they lie. It's the first three months.' And he was right. At 3am when I'd be trying to feed Millie and it was hard and it was cold and I thought the world was ending, Mr S would say 'Remember what John said? The first three months. And we're halfway there. Hang in there. Here, have a sandwich.'

We met up with them again in March this year, when I was newly pregnant with Pippa, constantly seasick but not saying a word yet, he commented that having two kids was not doubly harder than one, it was harder again. 'You can get one off to sleep and the other wakes up. You spend the time when they're asleep thinking you should be sleeping, or relaxing or doing something for YOU, but the reality is you're resetting the house for the other kid to wake up and trash it.' It's true.

We are at the six week mark now. It's gone so quickly, I can't quite believe it. I've settled into some sort of routine for the day, which saves my sanity to no end. I've also set my standards for what gets done in a day quite low, and my priorities have shifted. I have sewn two seams since Week 39 of pregnancy - and I felt like I'd run a marathon. I baked a batch of cupcakes yesterday and I needed a lie down. I'm not quite sure what's going on there, I imagine it's quite taxing for my addled brain to switch between full on parenting mode to other pursuits right now. What do you think?

I have never done so much washing in my life. Pippa is super colicky and super vomit-y, so I'm washing towels, linens and clothes daily. This morning she coughed and wiped out herself, two towels, my outfit, two pillows and our bedsheets & underlay. She's since then wiped out another two Wrap Me Up swaddles & two towels. Crazy, huh?

My days literally consist of putting washing on, dishes, washing out, washing on, feeding everyone, washing in, washing away, dinner on, dishes, Mr S home, we eat & bathe the kids & bed. I'm typing this with one hand, Pippa in my arms, Millie asleep.

Mr S asked me how I was feeling about being a full time Mum. I love it. There are hours of the day when I really want all kids to stop crying (5pm anyone?) so I can curl up in a ball... or immerse myself into a vat of wine, but I really love it. I love being busy & I love being able to spend this time with my girls.

This weekend, I'll pick up the car keys and try driving again. I'm also petrified of taking two small kids out of the house by myself... wish me luck!

What I've Learned This Week

In lieu of regular, in-depth blog posts for which I have no mental capacity nor can I manage to prioritise any time for, I give you my learnings for the week...

I've learned to pick my battles... and I was pleasantly surprised.
She was stoked that she could drink from a big glass, and I was stoked that she didn't
spill any of it nor smash the glass.

  • Blue crayon will come off the iPad screen using, funnily enough, iDevice screen cleaner. No toddler lives were lost in this ordeal.
  • I am exceptionally happy that I am a rule follower for iDevices and have screen protector film on all devices.
  • There are several books in my collection that I can no longer loan to anyone, after a tiny newborn made us all proud with projectile p-... you get the picture. The books are clean, but I'd still never loan them lest anyone comment on the colour of some of the pages.
  • A toddler wearing crocs and repeatedly climbing on you and sliding off not only hurts, but wears one's patience very quickly.
  • Doing endless loads of washing is not as tedious as I imagined. It turns out I quite enjoy hanging it out, bringing it in and folding it. Putting it away is not as fun, but I can get through it.
  • I still hate choosing what we're going to eat for dinner.
  • Pip's talent for awakening due to starvation as I pick up a utensil to eat remains uncanny and quite impressive.
  • If Millie doesn't eat her dinner, she goes to bed without dinner. She still sleeps through the night. Amazing.
  • If I do not eat, I do not feel hungry. Instead I feel depressed and teary. It took me a few days of "OH MY GOD I FEEL DEPRESSED AGAIN OH MY GOD." and then eating something and feeling sunny again. Rock on ridiculous blood sugar, rock on.
  • I can't wait for my iPad keyboard to arrive. I've written four draft posts and haven't got the energy to sit up at my desk and finish them. At least with the iPad keyboard I can finish them in bed, or on the couch, or on the deck. This is why my blog will never be as good as those who actually take the time and prioritise the blog above other things. Right now, priorities go Baby #2 and Baby #1, food, water, sleep, housework, The West Wing, sewing, blogging, returning phone calls. Oh man. Sorry, blogging, it's not you, it's me.
  • ABC2 is my friend. Scratch that, you're more than that. Without you, ABC2, I'd be lost.
  • Our deck is THE BUSINESS. We spend most sunny days out there, and it's totally childproof. No longer do I fear my children running on to the highway. Mr S has worked his cute bottom off and our yard is safe. Hoorah!
  • To pick my battles. Millie, you want to wear your swimmers in the lounge room at 6pm? Sure thing. Want to pick the unripe plums and play with them in the birdbath? Ok. Shall we make a pillow fort? Groovy. Want me to wrap you up swaddle style so you're not jealous of Pippa? Great, go get a blankie. (FYI, a toddler wrapped, burrito-style in a giant polar fleece Dora blanket is pretty darn cute. The Dora blanket is not cute, but that's another story.
  • I've learned that cloth nappying two kids isn't harder than one, so far. I've only used cloth with Pip a handful of times, and Millie is in cloth during the day aside from a certain time of the day, and at nighttimes. I'm doing 'nappy' loads every day anyway of Pippa towels and washers, so having nappies in as well is easy. 
  • I've just realised I can touch type this post with my eyes closed. Wonderful.
  • I'm trying to feel ok with the fact that Pippa will not usually go to sleep if you hold her. She'll doze then pop a sneaky eyelid open. But, pop that kid in her bed and walk away... she's sleeping before you reach the door. Weirdo.
  • The biggest thing I'm learning is that I'm ok. I'm doing ok. I've been keeping an eagle eye out for signs of anxiety, and so far, nothing out of the ordinary. I've been proactive this time and I have lists of things we can do, including Millie craft activities (by the way, most fun ever!) and friends to ring and chat to, places we can go once I'm driving again, meals we can eat. I also keep a standard daily routine of really basic stuff, like having a shower, washing on, breakfast, washing out, cutting up fruit for our snacks and veg for our dinner, etc etc. Inane, but it gets me through. At the close of the day, everyone is clothed, bathed, fed and watered. Job well done.

What have you learned this week?

What I've Learned in the Past 14 Days

This post could also be entitled 'Things I'd Forgotten About Having a Newborn'.

Bogan Baby Fist Pump for Bogan Baby Ugg Boots.
  1. You will be tired. You will sleep more soundly and in larger blocks than when you were pregnant, but you will be significantly more tired. This is known as the Unfair Effect.
  2. The poo. You know it's been a good nappy change when you find yourself soaping up to your elbows. There will never be any pictures of newborn poo on this blog or anywhere I'm involved. Take heart.
  3. You will relax your rules about screen time and start handing M the iPad whenever she points at it and says hopefully 'Ipa?'. This is partially because you find it cute (and concerning) that she's learned how to say iPad, but also it means you can lie in bed and she will sit with you and you both watch Play School.
  4. You will also find yourself continuing to watch Play School long after she's left the room.
  5. Breastfeeding can hurt. But the difference is that this time, so far, it seems to be a lot easier. Aside from...
  6. Mastitis. I started getting mastitis the day before I was planning to come home. Thankfully due to my history of getting Mastitis I was on a course of antibiotics before I could blink and feeling MUCH better within half an hour.
  7. Appetite. I have never eaten so many meals that I've proclaimed to be 'Best. Food. Ever.' and I go to bed with a 1L water bottle, a box of crackers, a banana and muesli bar. Most gone by daybreak. At this rate I will never lose my pregnancy weight.
  8. You will feel vindicated about how bloody huge you were at the end of your pregnancy. That is because there was a bloody huge baby occupying your stomach space.
  9. People will question your birth choice, regardless of your birth choice. Although, I don't imagine many people have to answer the question 'Why did you have a vaginal birth?' as opposed to the amount of times I've been asked 'Why did you have a C-Section?'. The majority of people mean no malice behind their question, but I've certainly felt judged.
  10. You still look pregnant. When we leave the house I like to hold Pippa, it makes me feel less like someone will ask when I'm due.
  11. The newborn cry will melt your face off. Not in the 'I'm melting from the cuteness' but the 'Oh god, it sounds like everything bad in the world.' It's okay, they're meant to sound like that.
  12. Some days everything is too hard. It's okay to hide in the bedroom with the blinds closed, but you will feel much better if you take your newborn, a cup of coffee and go and sit in the sun.
  13. This is the glorious time when caffeine does not mess with your ability to sleep. Fed the baby? CUP OF TEA. I've FINALLY finished a cup of tea I made at 3.45pm, and remade at 4.30pm. And I will still sleep soundly. Hurruh!
  14. My babies have an supersonic sensor for food. Perhaps it's universal, but your soundly sleeping baby will sense the spoon being raised to your mouth and wake up, immediately hungry themselves. Every meal.
  15. Nobody is reasonable at 3am. It took us a month or so to figure it out when Millie was a newborn, but Mr S and I have realised that we are both highly unreasonable in the middle of the night, so we take care to be kind to each other. I find this difficult when Mr S cannot wake up to change a nappy, despite him saying he's about to get up, but I try my best.
  16. You will be tired. I know, I already said this, but it's true.
  17. Newborns smell delicious, and their cheeks feel like tasty tasty steaks.
  18. When in hospital, your street grade narcotic painkillers will make you feel like superwoman. Then you will come home without the Tramadol, and the Panadeine Forte will run out. The days when this happens suck, but the next day is better. Soon you'll be pain and painkiller free.
  19. The TV is your friend. It doesn't care if you have baby spew on your shirt, haven't put socks on in weeks (can't reach down there!) and always has something to watch. Even if you've downloaded it or are renting multiple movies on Apple TV. 
  20. The time you spent stashing meals in the freezer and making a Freezeventory, then sounding like a meanie and not letting extended family raid your freezer? Time well spent. Pat self on back. Everyone has gone home now and no one in your family (i.e You and Mr S) feels like cooking. The day Pip was born I made my mother a list of things to do, and asked her to make two banana cakes. One for now, and one cut up for the freezer. This was also a winning idea of mine, and a winning action of Mothership's.
  21. Babies have wind pain. And they sometimes cry, a lot. I also have wind pain. Pippa's is from guzzling at the milk bar, mine is from a surgeon rummaging around my insides. It certainly gives me empathy for Pippa's wind pain.
  22. A Good Partner is worth their weight in gold. Mr S spent my time in hospital treating me like a princess, bringing proscuitto, brie and dips to my hospital tray, wine with my lunch (mixed with painkillers, natch), running to the shops for trashy magazines, and now we're home, running to shops for Lady Things, painkillers, snack food and generally Taking Care of Business. I'd be lost without him. He says he'd be lost without me. Go Team Us! He also changes nappies in the night. No, you can't have him.
  23. Breastfeeding Hormones are Ace. I didn't experience this with Millie at all, but one feed with Pip and I'm all 'Oh man, I love you guys!' and Pip's all 'Oh man, I jus' wanna say, wait, wait, I jus' have to tell you... I loveyouguyzzzzzzz.' It's lovely and makes feeding feel a bit better and less 'Open your mouth wider, wider, big mouth now, milk's going everywhere...'
  24. Being a second time parent rocks. It's hard work, but we feel like we've got a tiny idea of what's going on this time. I feel so much more confident with Pip. My midwives in the hospital kept remarking 'You're such a confident mother!' and I kept wanting to look behind me to see who they were talking to, but I couldn't move because of all the effing pain, so I assumed they were talking to me.

    It's difficult to not let the anxiety I felt when M was born creep back in, where every newborn scream made me feel like I'd NEVER work it out and she'd NEVER stop crying. As Mr S keeps telling me 'We got this.'
Yep. We got this.

The Final Countdown

So here we are, at week 39 + 5 days. There's a very real possibility that I'll be holding a newborn within a few days. It's really quite a strange feeling. I look at Millie, and our life as is, and to suddenly throw another child in the mix? It's doing my head in.

My in-laws arrived yesterday and have spent the morning cleaning my spare room out, putting things under the house, entertaining Millie and baking banana muffins for M's playdate. I have been... well, essentially freaking out.

How will Millie cope with the new baby? How will I cope with Millie and the new baby? Will I ever sleep again? How will we ever eat meals again? What if I can't feed the new baby? (I know the answer to that one, duh.) What if? What if? What if?

I know it'll be fine. Because aside from every reassurance I can give myself, it will have to be fine. We will muddle through sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums and crayon on the backs of chairs and milk everywhere and we'll be fine. Better than fine. We'll be awesome.

So I leave you with this...

But tell me... what are your tips?

Baby Br... Wait, what was I saying?

In the last few weeks I've:

  • Forgotten my name (this happens regularly)

Tried to check Twitter with the device in my left hand...
the television remote.

  • Forgot how to use my eftpos card this week, and when the very nice man at the post office corrected me, I said somewhat indignantly 'I know!' and he said 'Do you? Really?'. Bastard. He was right.
  • Tried to put my tea cup in the bathroom sink.
  • Walked into countless rooms and forgotten why I was there.
  • Used iCloud's 'Find my iPhone' feature more than once to locate my phone. Only to find it next to the mousepad where once clicks the mouse on 'Play Sound on iPhone' in iCloud.
  • Wandered the house to find my phone, only to realise it's in my pocket.
  • Told someone that I worked at '<business name> in Huonville'. They said 'Isn't that in Hobart?' I said 'No, Huonville.' 'Huh.' 'WAIT, I said Huonville? I meant Hobart. They both start with "H".' Just kill me now.
  • Trailed off mid-sentence with absolutely no idea of what I was saying in the fir...
  • Reminded myself that I actually need to take M out of the car when we get home, and not just wander inside myself.
  • Forgotten to check my diary to see what I've written down to do so I don't forget. Yep. I know.

Sent a fantastic sewing tutorial to someone on Twitter. Sans link. Cringe.
I can't believe how badly baby brain has affected me this pregnancy. I hope it'll go away after the baby's born? Maybe?

How's your baby brain? Please tell me I'm not the only one?

GIVEAWAY - Coles Comfy Bots Nappies

image from www.coles.com.au

In the Smyth Household we alternate between disposable and cloth nappies, depending on what we're doing, how much washing needs to be done, whether or not we have an inside toilet and whether or not someone (ahem, me) has been lax in assembling the cloth nappies.

When I was contacted and asked if I'd like to try Coles Comfy Bots Nappies with a giveaway for you guys, I jumped at the chance. Once we'd found a brand of nappies that worked (i.e. did not leak!) we've tended to stick to that one brand, although others are cheaper. Coles Comfy Bots Nappies had been on my 'Oh wow, that's a great price!' list for a long time, but there's not a Coles nearby here, so we'd never got the chance to try them.

For starters, let's talk about pack size. Millie fit the Toddler size, and there was 50 nappies in a pack, which retails at $12.00. That's 24 cents per nappy. Bargain! Other brands we use were anywhere from 30-48 cents per nappy.

I sent a pile of them to Daycare with Millie for her carer to use and give me some feedback while she was there, and had absolutely no complaints. We accidentally used one overnight, also with no leaks. The sizing is a little different to what we'd usually used so they were a bit bigger than the existing ones we were already using. I'm certain this helped with the dry overnights.

The nappies felt quite flimsy, but held up to 4-5 hours use with no problems and no wet rash, including one day when heavily pregnant Mummy forgot how long it had been between changes, and it was 6 hours. I know, I know. Call the Mummy Police. However, no wet rash and no leak throughs. I did find that a super heavy nappy seemed to break apart a little bit within the nappy lining itself, but not through the lining at all.

The Nitty Gritty

Would I buy these? Yes.
Would I recommend Coles Comfy Bots Nappies? Yes.
Am I pleased that you can win a month's supply of Coles Comfy Bots Nappies? YES.
Would I like you to also send me some chocolate? The baby wants some... YES.

Enter using the spunky RaffleCopter widget and I'll be contacting the lucky winner within 48 hours of the competition ending!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a pack of Coles Comfy Bots Nappies to try and review. No payment was made, and all opinions are most definitely my own. Pass the M&Ms. Unfortunately this giveaway is for Australian residents only. Apologies, my international friends!

The Busy

Or is it just a nicer way of saying 'I live in a bubble and all of my friends are in my computer'?

As this pregnancy progresses I think about what was happening this time around with Millie. I certainly left the house a lot more. And I slept a lot more. I also ate a lot more and gained a lot more weight.
I had a friend who lived 600m up the road and I rarely spent an entire weekend at home. 

I was still playing gigs 2-3 times/week so I saw my band a lot, as well as speaking to people at gigs. I worked 4 days a week too.

This time around things are different. I was about to say quieter, but that's not true. Millie makes enough noise for ALL of my previous circle of friends. My friend moved to town, I don't play gigs any more (or should that be right now?), and I work 15 hours/week over three days. The quantity of face to face human interactions is less, but I have a sturdy support network a phone call, email or tweet away. That's right folks, I just said I have friends on twitter. And at 21 weeks pregnant... man, I'm TIRED. There are entire afternoons when M and I sit on the floor, play with blocks and watch Project Runway.

As first time parenthood loomed I was so unsure of myself. I surrounded myself with friends who had children and they all kindly helped me find my way. And post-birth they were amazing, and helped around the house and advice about breastfeeding and that indeed, it can be devastatingly normal for your baby not to sleep. Then I found my way, and realised that my way was different to theirs. This can be a hard place to maintain a friendship, and seemingly, we've all moved on. No fall outs, no harsh words, just neither of us taking the time to call up and make plans to catch up. Suddenly it's been almost a year and... well... I'm okay with that. 

The friends Mr S and I have now are mostly parents too, and people we don't get to catch up with very often, but when we do it's glorious. What I love the most, is that they understand. They understand The Busy, they have it too. 

But non face to face friend-wise... I'm blessed with many. I'm so glad for iMessaging, because otherwise my phone bill would be enormous from epic conversations with Sarah, and Melina. My sister is a new mother too, and we talk every few days, and we've started FaceTiming once a week. My nephew is the cutest little boy I've EVER seen. I have an online mother's group, and that's 38 ladies who are always around when you need them, with kids exactly the same age as Millie. I'd be lost without them. Our friendships extend beyond the realms of Facebook, and I'm always touched to receive a 'Just to say hi!' text from one of them every now and then.

I'm pretty bad at leaving the house with Millie. I spend three days per week shuffling M to daycare, racing 45km to work, working for 5 hours, racing 45km back to the Valley, picking M up, getting home and then dishes, dinners, baths and bedtime. On our days off I desperately need some semblance of 'Me' time and spend our days pottering around the house, sewing, reading books with M and generally not doing housework beyond the bare minimum. I like home.

My hesitation to leave the house with Millie stems from the early times when she hated the car and screamed for high heaven every time we went in it. Sleep deprivation and a screaming sad baby do not a happy car trip make. However, she's a bit older now and not too bad. We tootled around town all day yesterday and she was ace. She naps in the car as we make our way from A-B, but I think I'm a bit selfish. I really like when she naps at home... time by myself driving somewhere isn't quite the same as creative time by myself.

There you have it. My name is Amy, and I have The Busy. I live in a bubble, and I like it.

Do you have a bubble? Do you have The Busy too?

When a Preggo wants beer...

I realised that since early 2010 I've either been trying for a baby, been pregnant with a baby, breastfeeding or pregnant again. There was a glorious two months at the beginning of the year when Millie wasn't feeding as much, and not at all overnight, so I began to slowly drink a glass of wine with dinner again.

Then I fell pregnant again. Are the two connected? I will never tell.

In my pregnancy with Millie I craved beer. I would (and still do) swipe sips of Mr S' beer but it was truly not the same. Let us not forget that even when I could drink beer, I wasn't really overly fond of the taste unless I'd just completed an epic hike and had a steak as well.

So, pregnancy beer craving it was, and is.

I mentioned this to Mr S Snr as we chopped vegetables for dinner one night this week, and the next day when Mr and Mrs S Snr went to the supermarket I asked them to pick up a can of Coopers non-alcoholic. Just to see what it tasted like. I'd never bothered previously... but I had the craving.
Bless Mr S Snr, he is a Very Good Man. (Clearly it runs in the family.)

The IGA did not have any non-alcoholic beer so he also went to Woolworths, but discovered that the Coopers had a low alcohol content. I would not have minded. He searched the shelves high and low, and brought home a six pack of Holsten Non-Alcoholic Malt Drink. Aka Preggo Beer.

Curious, I put one in the freezer to chill quickly and 45 minutes later popped the lid off. Non-alcoholic, saintly angels fully covered from neck to knee sang. Ice cold, this was comparable to a premium light beer. Or was it my lack of recent alcohol imbibing experience talking? Whatever.
I am Very Impressed and have enjoyed an ice cold malted beverage of an evening every night since. I proudly swig my FauxBeer and stir dinner, pretending that it's still summer and I'm drinking a Boags premium. Or a Cascade First Harvest 2005. Or a James Squire Golden Ale.

Well played, Mr S Snr. Well played.

Do you have a favourite non-alcoholic wannabe boozy beverage? Please share. There's only so much lemonade one can drink.

Refuelling. Or, it's the process, not the product.

I confess. I've been a grumpy grumpleston. For WEEKS now. Mr S keeps alternating between gently asking me what's wrong and making unsubtle hints that perhaps I could fix whatever's making me grumpy. Then there was this morning, where he said 'Can you please try to be happy? You have a very nice life you know. You know?' Between the gastro that will not die and Terrible-Twos-But-I'm-Only-One M... I need more sleep. I don't make time for more sleep. I need some craft time. I don't make craft time. This is all a product of my own doing.

But he's right - things around here are actually Very Nice. So I found some things to smile about (the gorgeousness that is M in a shopping trolley with her handbag on, swinging her feet and grinning) and bought some soul food (two varieties of hot cross buns and an unholy amount of Easter eggs), came home, lit the fire, put M to bed and forgot about the housework.

Well, that's not strictly true. I did the bare minimum of washing up and toys away whilst M was awake. Then it was ME time.

I've been reading a lot of posts about creativity and having 'me' time as a parent, and I thought I had it licked. I tried really hard to love housework and find some occasional time for crafty pursuits. I have a laser focus at times, and housework became my laser focus. Except I'm really quite bad at housework, so it kind of became my laser focus. I abhor cleaning the bathroom so much I leave it until the sink becomes a personality all on it's own and threatens to eat the hand towels... But I found myself pondering the best way to clean the light switches, with a nail brush or a sponge? (the jury is still out, I haven't tried a nail brush yet.)

But I forced myself to cut out a bag pattern and start creating again. I left it in full view on the craft table  but over this week it got covered in bills, and M's daycare bag and some craft books. This morning I put the already paid bills in the fire and M's bag on the floor.

I switched Radio National on because I'm old like that and started sewing. And kept sewing. M kept sleeping. I threw some more wood on the fire and kept sewing.

And this appeared.
Teal Butterfly Clutch Bag, based upon Cuada design.
Whilst I love the butterfly fabric, this one's not for me. It's not really my style. Is it for you? Do you want it to be? It'll eventually wind up in my imaginary Etsy shop for sale. *

I felt a sense of completion and an amazing sense of calm. Relaxed and able. The rain is pouring, wind howling, but the house is warm and I can hear the radio in the background. A simple time. A quiet time.

Sewing isn't necessarily always about the product, but it's the process. It's the same as songwriting in a way, (which I've been doing a spot of recently too...), but songwriting is more a cathartic experience, to craft and tell a story. Something about sewing is more rote and mindless.

It makes me feel restored. I've had a brilliant couple of hours that has made me feel like I've stolen some time back and I feel a little more like me.

Tell me, how do you refuel? Is it the process or the product? Why is the sky blue?

*This Teal Butterfly Clutch Bag is $30 + $6.60 PH. Handmade with love. A brilliant gift.

Life with a newborn

So teeny tiny!
Our 'baby' year with Millie is drawing to a close. I can't believe she's almost one. She is such a joy to have around and cracks us up all day long. Whenever my friends said 'My baby is hilarious! You wouldn't BELIEVE the things she does.' I'd always smile politely and wonder what drugs they were on. But now, I am a convert. My baby is hilarious.
I digress. (Have I mentioned that I am also a baby bore?)
As our baby year with Millie is ending my sister's baby year will be beginning in the blink of an eye. And it's gotten me to thinking about our year with Millie, and how on earth we I coped. The big key for me was organisation. If I couldn't control anything else at all in our day (like eating or sleeping) I could control how things could pan out. It was the simplest things that my mother laughed at when I told her, but things that helped Mr S and I no end.

Change Area aka How To Avoid The Poo
There are no photos of this because this part of the lounge room looked like a bomb site a lot of the time. We have little plastic baskets under the change table. One had lotions, creams, thermometer, panadol, nail clippers in it. The other had face washers. Another had cloth nappies, another disposables. The bottom shelf had white terry square nappies and coloured terry square nappies. Wet wipes usually lived on the dining table next to the change table. We did not eat at the dining table for about six months, never fear. Also, now Millie is mobile the lotions & creams basket lives in the top of our pantry.
We had another plastic basket that I would often prepare in the afternoon for bathtimes. I'd stick a wondersuit, singlet, nappy and nappy rash cream in this. Seems overly simple (thus Mothership laughing at me) but 5-7pm used to be somewhat hellish in our house so it eased my mind to know that everything we needed for bathtime was right there and ready to go.
Mr S adds that his hot tip is to make sure there's always a clean white terry square on the change table to put the baby on to. As I've mentioned before we use white terry squares for the business end of the change table, and anything to do with bottoms, and coloured terry squares for faces, to place on the head end of the change table (M used to vomit quite a bit), keep around for feeding etc etc. Mr S also used to tuck a clean white terry nappy into his waistband with the other end laying on the change table. This protected him from... erm... explosive matters approximately 90% of the time. (The other 10% were well aimed and therefore one could only be impressed.)
Coloured towel for the head, white for business end.

See the blurry legs? This is what you get to deal with.

We started setting out our early morning kitchen things the night before, and it's a habit I still do now. For us it's coffee, tea, mugs and spoons. Let's face it, if you're up at 5am, it's a welcome sight to see your first hit of caffeine ready to go. Also fill the kettle up the night before for extra smiles. Everyone repeat after me, first cup of coffee.... ahhhhhh. Also, if your bub has bottles, boil the kettle before you go to bed so there's cooled, boiled water ready to roll in the morning.
I hate myself for saying this, because I am only a recent convert... but wash up. A lot. Like, after every meal. When there's only you and a baby home during the day, it takes approximately thirty seconds to wash your lunch dishes. I have found that if I do not do the dishes and high chair table after every meal, by dinnertime there's been some sort of strange party in the kitchen and the dishes have shared drinks and played seven minutes in heaven and there's far more dishes than before. It's a strange phenomenon. But yes, dishes, often.

As I've previously mentioned, we cloth nappy mostly during the day with disposables at night. We are inherently lazy so we assemble each cloth nappy right down to the liner placed inside and clip them up, ready to go. Then when you are wrestling a mini Incredible Hulk changing the light of your life's nappy, they are there, ready to go. Biodegradable, flushable nappy liners are mandatory. Cost vs spraying unspeakable volumes of poo into the toilet... I'm happy to pay that money. It means that instead of unspeakable volumes of poo, it's often just volumes of poo.

Around The House Basket
I've mentioned this before, and I'm fairly sure most of you looked at me with collective 'You're Such a Weirdo' eyes. I was SO tired and SO forgetful in the beginning that to save my own sanity I trotted a small basket around the house with me for the first few months. It had
  • My mobile phone
  • The cordless home phone
  • Spare breast pads
  • My notepad & pen
  • A muesli bar and
  • Hair ties

When I would be often pinned to one spot for an hour or so feeding, this was great. Everything I could possibly need quickly, right to hand. You could also add television remotes if you so choose. Vodka optional, potentially not the best idea before 4pm. (What? In winter the sun sets early here.)

Clothes Washing
Show me a baby that doesn't generate a bootload of washing and I'll call you a liar. I know it's the last thing you feel like doing at 3am, but let's face it, you're awake and up already so put a load of washing on. Then it's ready to hang out, and forces you to go outside, at least twice during the day. We are lucky that our laundry is outside our house so the noise isn't an issue for us. That said, even if your laundry is inside, put it on anyway. I think it's best everyone gets used to a bit of nocturnal noise. The other way to look at it is that if you're not sleeping, no one is. As for the hanging out and bringing in and folding... well, you're on your own. My most loathed jobs and I am exceptionally bad at it. The clothes have been known to stay on the line for a few days, and it's only when we are missing things ('AMY! HAVE YOU SEEN MY SOCKS?') that I remember I put the dryer on four days ago.

If you are a newly breastfeeding mama (I have no experience of non-breastfeeding Mamas, so excuse my ignorance please) you will be hungry. All. The. Time. My mother was wise to this fact and when she stayed with us after Millie was born she would provide me with food for all hours of the day and night. Mr S would help me get set up to feed Millie at 3am, then bring me a perfectly quartered egg sandwich tightly wrapped on a plate that my mother had prepared during the day and put in the fridge. Never has an egg sandwich tasted so good. If you're making a lunchtime sandwich, make two, and put one in the fridge for later. If you have an aversion to fridge cold sandwiches, think of it like a) hospital sandwiches and b) stop bloody complaining, it's food you don't have to make for yourself on the spot.
Ditto meals. Put one half of the dinner in the freezer. It's so much easier! Label everything in the freezer, and if you're extra organised, write a list for the front of the fridge with the freezer contents. That way, you can think about dinner in the AM, scan your fridge list, imagine it's like ordering takeaway, just with a 12 hour wait, and put your frozen meal on the bench to defrost. Dinner is done!

The Nitty Gritty
If you're way too tired to understand this, take heart. I understand. Here's the cheat's list of everything I've just said.

  1. Change Area: Nappies, Wipes, creams. A garbage bin close by is extra handy. Baskets to put all this stuff in is extra handy.
  2. Change Area: Coloured towels. White for bums, coloured for faces. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.
  3. Cloth Nappies: Nappy sprayer. Essential.
  4. Kitchen: Set up your mugs for morning coffees the night before. Boil the kettle for bottles. 
  5. Kitchen: Wash up. Often.
  6. Around The House Basket: Daily essentials, right at hand.
  7. Clothes Washing: Wash in the middle of the night. Stuff the noise.
  8. Food: Freeze meals. 
  9. Food: Prepare sandwiches for nocturnal feedings.
  10. Food: Label your meals and put a list of frozen meals on the fridge.
What are your hot tips to add here?