As Oliver reaches the three month mark and moves out of being a full time sleepy newborn, I have to admit I am starting to worry about what impact this never ending pandemic will have on his social development and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mum out there having these thoughts.
When his older brother Arthur was the same age my daily routine would inevitably involve either meeting up with baby friends in busy cafes or attending baby classes with chatting, singing and general sensory overload. We were never short of visitors and he was passed around and cuddled by everyone.
The 2020/21 baby’s experience obviously couldn’t be more different, especially during full lockdown periods. Here are my Top 10 tips to make each day a little brighter:
1. Wear your best clothes
You probably have one or two special outfits received as gifts for baby or perhaps a whole wardrobe full of gorgeous clothes you’ve not had opportunity to show off yet. Well, why wait? Brighten your boring Monday by dressing baby up their Sunday best and don’t forget to take loads of snaps – perhaps even a mini photo shoot in the living room – why not hey?!
2. FaceTime nana
Missing grandparents is arguably one of the hardest things about this pandemic for many people, especially those with new babies. When you’re feeling low or even just a bit bored, get on a video call, even if just for a few minutes. I find talking to my parents lifts my spirits and also its lovely for baby to see their grandparent’s faces.
3. Let the siblings loose!
I spend a lot of my day cringing at how loud and animated Arthur is around his baby brother, running around loudly doing ninja moves and jumping off furniture. However, it struck me the other day how beneficial this exposure to noise and another child in the house will be when he starts nursery at the end of the year. If it wasn’t for Arthur he would be living his first few months in a calm sanctuary of adult chit chat with Radio 2 playing in the background, going nowhere and seeing no one else but mummy and daddy. He would have the shock of his life starting in a childcare setting. So I say, if you have older children, let them loose to do their worst – they are the only social interaction these babies are getting right now!
4. Cheesy milestone pics
We all secretly sigh at the cheesy but mandatory milestone pics that crop up on Facebook and Instagram where new babies are involved – “when the hell did she get time to take that?” Well, now let’s embrace it – there’s not much else to do with them now – so let’s get snapping and get posting! Let’s just hold back on the “Slept through the night for the first time” one yeah?!
5. Baby classes on YouTube
A quick search on YouTube can bring up some cute little class videos, perfect for those brief moments when baby is awake and happy and you have five minutes to spend some one-on-one time with little one. Yesterday Oliver and I spent a good 15 mins watching and doing a baby yoga video which I swear must have been filmed in the early 80s it was so retro! We both enjoyed it nonetheless and best thing was it was totally free of charge.
6. Live baby groups online
We are blessed with so many wonderful baby classes here in the Cheltenham and most of them amazingly have moved over to an online platform for their weekly sessions. Although the experience is clearly not the same as doing it face-to-face, I have to say that actually being signed up for something does mean that you make time to do it and are can still feel as though you’re having a shared experience with other mums. Definitely worth doing once a week, even if just to have something to look forward to!
7. Chats with baby friends
Arrange an informal zoom chat with friends, especially those who have babies. At such an isolating time it’s vital we stay in touch with people as much as we can and seeing familiar faces on screen can make you feel socially connected again. Also, it’s very cute to see little baby faces held up to camera on screen!
8. Kitchen disco
I always feel SO much better after a boogie and dancing whilst holding a baby is a great workout! Music is good for the soul, not to mention the fact that it’s great stimulation for your little one. So whack on the radio or line up your favourite Steps track and get dancing!
9. Zone your home
This is my bread and butter when it comes to getting through the day with a baby. It’s all about creating different environments within your home in order for baby to essentially experience something different at each waking period. It’s as simple as having a different baby gym or bouncer in each room and popping them down in a different place on rotation. I have three different baby gyms in the house at the moment – one in the living room, one near the kitchen and one in our bedroom, all of which I’ve bought or been given second hand. This is a great tactic for minimising any ‘mum guilt’ associated with being unable to constantly hold your little one, or always putting them down in the same place – especially if you have other children to look after.
10. Walk, walk, walk!
Walking is a daily essential for me and I will always try to take baby Oliver out for his big nap in the pram. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of the house but blowing out the cobwebs even with a very quick stroll makes such a huge difference to the rest of the day, breaking up the monotony and getting those endorphins flowing!
Check out my Blog post My favourite buggy-friendly winter walks in Cheltenham for where we’re walking at the moment.