Real Life: Neutral Nurseries and How To Help New Parents
Back in June last year, Lauren kindly took us on a tour of her neutral nursery. Little Emlyn had yet to make an appearance so we decided to pop back and see how they've been getting on since his arrival a couple of weeks later. Read on to find out which of our products Lauren has found the most useful and also for her top tips regarding how we can all help and support new parents in those tiring first few months.
Hi Lauren, last time we spoke to you it was back in June and you were weeks away from giving birth. How have things been since then?
Amazing! Being a mum is a magical feeling that nobody can put into words. Despite the lack of sleep, constant nappy changes and not to mention baby brain (which I didn't believe was actually a thing until I went shopping in my slippers) being a mum is my most proudest achievement.
What has been the biggest surprise about becoming a mum?
How fast it goes. Everybody did warn me but I seem to have blinked and Emlyn is 6 months old already. Somebody sent me the quote "the days are long, but the years are oh so short" which I can only imagine to be so true. He's already sitting up and trying to crawl and I already question at what point I have to stop calling him a baby.
And what are you enjoying the most?
Watching him grow: he is changing and developing each day. I'm sure I've said "this is my favourite stage" with each developmental leap but I really am loving this age. He interacts so much more with me now: he giggles, lifts his arms for me to pick him up and his eyes are full of expression. I feel like we really know each other now, I know what he wants (most of the time) and he wants his mamma. In a room full of people he will watch me and it melts my heart.
The newborn days (and beyond) are absolutely wonderful but can be really exhausting, too. What tips do you have to help new parents through the tougher times?
Don't feel guilty for saying no to visitors when you need some rest. People forget that especially to start with, babies don't know the difference between night and day so you may have weeks of comforting a baby that doesn't want to sleep through the night.
Join a group. I was so reluctant to but 3 weeks in, joined a breastfeeding group. I have met some really lovely mums. We meet for lunch every week and have set up a WhatsApp group for us to message any time of the day/night whether it's a "does anybody fancy a coffee" or discussing a mums most popular topic: nappy contents. In terms of the group session, it's nice to just normalize things. When Emlyn was 4 months he started waking every hour. I found comfort in knowing all the other babies his age were waking too. A problem shared really is a problem halved.
Spend 10 minutes at night organising yourself for the next day. You might not feel like it but you will thank yourself the next day. There were days I couldn't put Emlyn down so making yourself a packed lunch is the best tip my midwife gave me and just making sure your changing bag is restocked with nappies, wipes, bibs, spare outfit just means you are ready to grab and go if time runs away with you.
What things can family and friends do to help support new parents, too?
Give them a break: In the early days, Emlyn had reflux which meant he struggled to get to sleep and then stay asleep so we really were exhausted. When my husband went back to work, my mum took Emlyn for an hour so I could have a nap which I was so grateful for.
Oh, and even when it's refused, take food when you go to visit. Anything providing instant energy. My mum brought chocolate brownie cake, grapes, scotch pancakes ... the diet can start later, your body needs the energy especially the first couple of days after giving birth.
How has Emlyn been enjoying his nursery?
He LOVES it! Babies love patterns more than colour so he often just admires his room from the star wallpaper to the zig zag rug, it all provides stimulation. All of his gorgeous books are on his bookshelf for him to choose one from at night time and I especially love his tomorrow's clothes rail. I loved it before he was born but I really enjoy putting his outfits together and hanging them out so that if his dad changes him, he is somewhat coordinated :)
Is there a particular product that you've found the most useful?
The long shelf storage unit with the basket storage. Who knew a baby needed so much stuff! I love being organised. I store his muslin cloths (yes a whole basket full), bibs, packs of wipes and bathtime things in a basket of their own and just pull them out when they are needed. When he's older, I'll be able to organise his toys in there.
And have you had to rush out and buy anything else?
Something for him to sleep in in our room. We had a rocking crib but he hated it, the mattress is hard and the crib was too narrow so he would hit the sides with his arms and wake himself up. We bought a 'next to me crib' making life so much easier and he sleeps so much better knowing I'm right next to him.
How can you see the nursery evolving over the next year or two?
We're looking at single beds for when he is older and I can see him loving an activity table and the On The Road car rug is a must. I had one as a child and it gave me hours of fun.
I'm so glad we went for the star wallpaper as it's a wallpaper that can grow with him over the next few years without being too babyish. And being colour neutral, if we were to have another baby it's perfect for either gender.
Finally, now travelling light is a thing of the past, what are the five things that new parents should never leave the house without? Not including the baby, of course!
A change of clothes for baby
Snacks for mum!
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