Saturday, 24 March 2012

Conquering the Great Outdoors

My husband and I are keen fell walkers. To save cash and avoid the summer crowds, we're often found wandering the Lake District fells in the depths of winter, venturing out of the cottage when the temperature is firmly the wrong side of zero and returning to warm our mitts in front of the fire. With such a dubious idea of what constitutes an enjoyable passtime, we're no strangers to making a military operation out of leaving the house, which you'd think would prepare us well for life with our newborn. Ha.

But after 6 weeks of struggling with every outing, I've learnt that taking out a newborn is not so different from a day in the hills. Here's my mantra:

  • Take a map - It is a godsend to know where you can feed and change your baby discretely. My health visitor furnished me with a leaflet of all the places in my local town that have facilities for parents. After discovering that my local John Lewis has a great little room where you can sit in a quiet corner and breastfeed, it immeasurably changed my perspective of trips into town. 
  • Pack the first aid kit - Take a bottle, just to be on the safe side. Josh is the hungriest baby I have ever met (ok, I know I only have one) and the one thing that will really make him yell is not having milk when it's due! If I know there's nowhere I can comfortably breastfeed, I either express milk or make up a small bottle of formula. Sometimes it's just a safety net, but it's nice to know it's there.
  • Don't walk alone - Join some Mum & Baby classes. Not only does this give you a reason to get out of the house, you also have an environment where it's socially acceptable to breastfeed, change your baby or have a screaming infant. I admit I did run home at the merest grizzle from Josh the first few times that I went but I found the classes a great way to ease myself into getting out of the house. 
  • Know your equipment - A friend commented to me that a particular low in her time as a new mum was not being able to collapse the pram when she went shopping. If you're comfortable with all the levers, springs, handles, pockets and other paraphernalia, you're half way there.
A couple of times (so far) Josh has had a meltdown but, contrary to what every bone in my body was telling me, people have seen it all before. He's not the loudest child they have ever laid eyes on and they won't think I'm a bad parent if my baby is crying. I'm not all the way there yet but practice makes perfect I guess!

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