As it’s the end of the year, and lots of bloggers are doing this kind of thing, I thought I’d do a little bit of reflection. So, here are my key lessons learned in 2015.
1. Giving birth doesn’t have to be terrifying
By far, the biggest event in 2015 was the birth of Samuel. After a long, difficult labour with Ben, which was frankly terrifying, I prepared differently. Hypnobirthing was a good choice for me, as was being prepared for a long haul. In the event, I felt really calm, and a huge sense of God’s peace. I will post Samuel’s birth story at some point, when I have time to write it up!
2. Both parents working full time is really hard.
I worked part time after my maternity leave with Ben, and enjoyed both my work and my time at home. When we moved here, I changed schools and had to work full time. This has been really difficult for all of us: Tim has had to do much more, especially as I’ve had so many parents evenings and twilight training sessions in the evening; it’s been too long for Ben to be at preschool, and by the time I’ve done my work during the evenings and weekends, there’s very little family time left.
3. 3 is a brilliant age
Ben has been an absolute joy this year. Once we got potty training sorted – never a pleasant task – he has been really good fun. He’s genuinely interesting to hang out with, and he loves playing games. The all-encompassing obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine has passed. He still loves screen time (what child doesn’t?), but Id much rather watch Toy Story than endless repeats of Thomas and the Fat Controller.
4. It’s okay to treat myself
This actually might be a consequence of working full time, and so feeling like I’ve earned the money I’m spending, but this year, I’ve been slowly replacing and updating things I’ve had for years. I haven’t really felt like I could do this since we got married due to paying off loans, then having a baby, then moving house. As a case in point, I’ve bought new glasses. I only usually wear them first thing in the morning and last thing at night, so they weren’t an absolute essential, but I now have a pair of glasses that I’m happy to wear out and about – and they are the right prescription!
5. Make up primer is a wonderful thing
One thing I’ve done this year is to replace some of my make up. Again, for some reason, I haven’t wanted to spend much money on make up over the last few years – it felt like a bit of an unnecessary indulgence, even though I wear make up almost every day. Anyway, I’ve had a few make up country makeovers, where they demonstrate their products, and I have come to realise the importance of a good primer. It makes your skin feel smoother, and makes your make up last longer. I can definitely tell the difference when I wear a prime under my make up.
The other real growth area in make up that I hadn’t got my head around is contouring, but I can’t say I’ve actually been converted to that at all. Somehow, shading just makes me look like I haven’t washed my face properly.
6. Caroline Hirons is the skin care guru.
Similar to the make up thing, this. I have discovered the joys of double cleansing, acid toners, and, most revolutionary for me, serums. Not just of older skins, wearing a serum under my moisturiser has saved me from the persistent flakiness that I’ve always had, especially in winter. Thank you, Caroline.
7. I really, really love blogging – and I’m not too bad at it.
Life by Naomi was officially launched in February, but the demands of work instantly kicked in – according to my ‘Year in Blogging’ report from WordPress, I posted twice in March, twice in April and not at all in May. Not so good.
Since the summer holidays, I’ve tried to commit a bit more to the blog. I’ve got involved in link ups, and have investigated some blogging opportunities. As a result, November and December have been my most successful months ever on the blog. Of course, this was definitely assisted by Samuel’s birth, but has also shown me that blogging with a preschooler and newborn is possible.
I’ve also been making contact with brands, and am planning to do more reviews, particularly of opportunities for families in Lancashire. I’ve been chosen as a Mums in the Know Super Blogger as well, which I’m thrilled about. Let’s hope this is an onwards and upwards trend!
8. My in-laws are amazing
We’ve had to rely on my parents-in-law several times this year, often on short notice. They’ve helped us out so many times, and in so many ways, most notably when Samuel was born and we needed childcare for Ben. I know there’s the whole ‘Mother in Law’ joke, but I am absolutely completely blessed by all of Tim’s family, and I want to acknowledge how brilliant they are.
To my own parents and sister – you’re brilliant too, just further away.
9. Going sugar-free is hard
At the end of the summer, I tried to really reduce the amount of sugar in my diet, by following Davina’s 5 Weeks to Sugar Free plan.
In some ways, it worked well – I became very aware of the added sugar in my diet and did manage to survive. But then Samuel was born, and the sleep-deprivation really kicked in. My sugar consumption went back through the roof.
I’m planning to limit both my sugar intake and my caffeine intake in January… Watch this space.
10. I can survive on very disturbed sleep.
Samuel is not a great sleeper. Ben would sleep in 4 hour chunks from day 1. Samuel wakes every 2 and a half hours, and often more frequently than that. It’s relentless, and exhausting, but I’m surviving. The brilliant thing about the second child is that you know that everything passes – the good stuff as well as the bad. So you know to savour those newborn cuddles and the first smiles, and you know that the terrible sleep will – mostly – pass.
10. Lancashire is a brilliant place to live.
Since I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve been discovering more and more great places to go with the children (I love writing ‘the children,’ by the way) around where we live. I know I must write about them more on the blog, because it’s a great record.
I’ve made some ‘mum-friends,’ for Ben to have play-dates with, and I’ve become more confident about getting chatting to other mums in the park or at nursery events. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to baby groups and things. Ben goes to pre-school 4 mornings a week, so it means I can get to baby classes with Samuel, which is lovely.
More recently, however, I’ve witnessed the community spirit of Lancashire where we live, with the flooding on Boxing Day. The streets next to our estate were flooded, and we were on high alert, moving all our belongings upstairs just in case. It’s absolutely devastating for all of those affected, but the response by the community has been brilliant. Volunteers have given up their time, and all kinds of necessary equipment has been donated to help the victims. It’s made me a bit proud to live in Lancashire.
So now I’ve looked back on 2015, I suppose I should make some resolutions for 2016…