Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Dreaded Diaper Bag

I think it’s time for me to retire LLC’s diaper bag / baby bag / whatever you want to call it.

Is there a curse women are particularly susceptible to around overloading bags? I must admit I’ve often referred to my work handbag as a Mary Poppins bag as it seems to magically expand to accommodate my wallet, keys, phone, book, makeup pouch, lunch, shoes, etc....but my diaper bag takes the Mary Poppins bag concept to a whole new level!

Since giving birth I’ve been toting around a monstrosity of some sort filled with diapers, wipes, a changing mat, a muslin cloth, a change of clothes, sometimes a bottle, now a cup & LLC snacks, some toys, some diaper cream, plus my own array of most of the bits from my work handbag.

I started with a Bababing bag that we thought would suit Chris too (which I used through last summer but found horribly heavy, even without all of the above in it), then traded that in for a lighter weight, non-baby bag satchel that I retired at Christmas because I was wearing it out by stuffing it full and now I’m back to a Skip Hop diaper bag purchased in NY.

It is very handy having everything in one place and I still obviously need to have diapers and wipes to hand for LLC, but her days of needing outfit changes or frequent muslin wipes are now behind us. Yet still I carry this big bag, which I seem to fill to the brim and that regularly weighs me down!

I’m ready for a cute, lightweight, summery bag that I can pop LLC and my bits into as needed. One that doesn't scream baby bag!  I preferably need something that zips. Can anyone offer suggestions? How long did you haul around a diaper bag? Or did you opt out of one altogether?

For me there was definite benefit to having a roomy and durable bag when LLC was smaller but I’m now asking myself why I haven’t changed bags sooner. Particularly as I have a small food bag and portable changing mat with wipes/diapers that I can easily pop in LLC’s stroller basket or my car. 

Diaper bags are yet another “hot ticket item” for new moms and many cost and arm and a leg. They have lots of intriguing pouches, now often a special one for dirty diapers and are easy to wipe and clean.  But do we really want to encourage ourselves to haul so much crap around?  And isn’t their shelf life relatively short as baby grows to toddler?

What have you found, fellow moms/mums/dads?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Not Throwing Like a Girl

Often when I take a shower, it’s like target practice. Forget a cascade of warm, soothing water. Insert a barrage of yellow plastic ducks. That’s the way my showers go these days when accompanied in the bathroom by LLC.

I recently read an article in the Sainsburys Little Ones magazine on gender stereotyping and whether as parents we treat boys and girls differently. I’ve also read some great blog posts within the spectrum of this topic, such as Hey, Mummy Mummy’s discourse on pink.

My two cents on the topic, is when it comes to throwing balls, our little lady defies gender stereotypes. She may like to brush her hair and wear my sunglasses, but seriously, does she know how to throw a ball! Tennis balls. Soft balls the size of a grapefruit. Big lightweight plastic balls. She loves them. All she has to do is see a ball, and she’s pointing at it or pursuing it. I’m not saying she pitches like Randy Johnson, but for a 14 month-old she’s got some heat.

Now maybe she’s inherited this sporty gene from me, soccer player for many years (but ironically with a particularly poor throw in). Maybe it’s been drilled into her by Chris and his love of sport. All I can say, is that there is no girly throwing in our house right now. In fact, with LLC’s tendency to now throw more than just balls (toy giraffes, her water cup, my keys) we probably need to curb some of the throwing before somebody gets hurt.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Milestone. Maybe?

I’ve gotten used to people telling me that “LLC looks like a little dolly.” She is still small and relatively light for her age, though now she is filling out a bit.

But LLC has a new party trick that draws attention by the masses, and it’s got nothing to do with her petite physique. It has to do with her knee walking.

Yes, knee walking. As in she speeds around with arms swinging at her sides like a wind up doll pounding the pavement with her knees! They get red and a little sore but she doesn’t mind. Maybe she just enjoys all the attention that she gets by passersby? Maybe it’s her kind way of saving us the dilemma of finding shoes that fit her size 1 feet if she was properly walking?!

I keep thinking I should do a vlog (video blog for non-techies out there) of this to share with my readers who haven’t witnessed her in action already. Unfortunately I’m pretty non-techie myself.

Meanwhile people keep asking if she has learned to walk yet. Ironically, she took her first steps several weeks ago but hasn’t progressed beyond several steps at a time. Most of the time, she prefers knees all the way. So we answer, “Well yes, errr, just a bit, kind of, she’s really do more knee walking....”

We keep trying to encourage her to practice proper walking but she’ll only do it when in the “right mood.” And when this “right mood” does strike, she like to be rewarded every couple of steps by claps. She gets up, toddles, stops and stands, claps and looks to us to clap, and then maybe takes a couple more steps. Or falls. And then starts knee walking. 

Milestone in the making?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Dad’s on Duty: Extended Paternity Leave for UK fathers now in effect

So it’s now official – UK additional paternity leave (APL) is now in force and will allow employees to take up to 26 weeks' leave to care for a new baby, on top of the previous two weeks of ordinary paternity leave.

The Federation of Small Businesses disputes this “one-size-fits-all” approach as being detrimental to small firms, not because it is expensive (this BBC article quotes the estimated annual cost in Britain at £3-15m in total) but because of the extra administrative burden of processing claims and arranging paternity cover.

I see the point here – maternity and paternity leave will now potentially affect more employees and SMEs may be less equipped to deal with this. But in our progressive world where men and women both work, I think increased flexibility that allows parents to share time off work during their child’s first year is a positive step forward. And compared to the USA with its lack of statutory paternity and maternity leave policies, APL only sets the UK further ahead.

What I’m interested in your view on, is how many dads will actually use APL? Will new moms choose to return to work earlier knowing their partner can look after their little one? Or will they want to maximise the time off they get in their baby’s first year to bond, breastfeed, play, mix with other mums/babies rather than hit the office earlier? From a financial standpoint, APL certainly seems more favorable to households where the woman is the primary wage earner. But what if the man is – would taking APLF financially add up?

Women work, stay-at-home dads are now a norm. Traditional barriers are long gone and I applaud this. Still, my honest, selfish, mama instinct tells me I’d be inclined to stay at home as long as I could rather than trade in my maternity leave early for Chris to stay at home unless we really couldn’t afford to do otherwise.

How do you feel?