Well he appears to be thriving - with thighs of thunder, an eloquent vocabulary of gentle gurgles and murmurs and a generally sunny disposition. All good.
Mummy, however, could do better. With husband working very long hours, including weekends and evenings, and still no childcare in sight, the days are feeling rather loooooooooong. So I have a plan.
Time to apply for a list of boredom busters. I was trying to think of activities that are compatible with the demands of a small, albeit good natured, dictator, but are a bit less brain-achingly boring than the baby and toddler groups can be. We do lots of nice structured activities that do a good job of entertaining mummy, getting me out of the house and into some conversation, like baby massage, swimming, and baby college. But the places where you just go and drink tea and have inane conversations in a room full of toys and screeches can make me feel just as bored and lonely as if i was at home.
Before I went on maternity leave i had visions of catching up on some novels, baking delicious things, undertaking diy projects. I also feared, being a totally hyperactive person who can't relax and has the attention span of a dead gnat, that i'd be bored, but i assumed that overcoming this was simply a matter of finding another home-based tasks to do. Little did I reckon with the dictator, however, who is a beatific angel when out and about and meeting people, but who crushes inactivity with an iron fist. Or, indeed, any activity that is sufficiently immobile or unchanging to seem like inactivity. To be specific, he HATES me sitting at the laptop, or reading a book, or staying in one room for too long. So we're going out then.
Its not easy thinking of interesting, fulfilling activities that can be done with a baby. They have to allow you to break of at any moment to deal with nappy explosions, cranky moods and other unexpected interruptions. They have to be compatible with outbursts of noise, which rules out going to talks or public lectures.
Sadly, shopping is an activity i bet most babies enjoy, as lon as you don't linger too long in one place or attempt to try clothes on. But see post 'consumer parenting' for my views on shopping. I wanted to find things i can do that feel like they are actually making the most of the time i have, instead of just helping to pass it. I do way too much clockwatching. Time to seize this maternity leave before it slips through my fingers!
So here is the list;
- Do door-to-door collecting for a charity, such as the poppy appeal.
- Volunteer for a mother and baby play group - help to set up coffee, lay out toys etc.
- Visit sick (but non-infectious) people in hospital.
- Visit elderly people in a care home.
- Rattle a charity collection tin on the high street.
- Visit art galleries/museums.
- Go to the local library and read their books to your baby.
- Hang out at mothercare or a toy shop and try out the toys on your baby.
- Attend protests.
- Feed the ducks.
- Attend public/community meetings.
- Bake cakes/biscuits for charity events.
- Visit schools to teach children about empathy
- Go to gigs
- Go to festivals
- Visit friends
- Construct home-made toys such as shaker bottles (glitter + old water bottle).
- Walk round botanic gardens/stately homes.
- Compile a love-in-a-box christmas shoebox for a less lucky baby somewhere.
So, this week, I took bambino along to an event organised by AgeUK where the elderly come along to learn IT skills. Orson got ahhhed over and generally attended to by surrogate grandparents while I ate cake and explained to nice people how to upload photos from their camera, and how to make posters. Win-win!
Later on, I will help out at a university toddler group, and i've also signed up to bake cakes for oxfam and do a poppy box.
It's all very well changing nappies, reading the hungry caterpillar, singing wind the bobbin up, playing 'horsie horsie', rocking, tickling and waving rattles, but sometimes I feel as if my cognitive faculties, my academic soul is being gently but firmly smothered by a large stuffed panda. I need to be more than a milk machine/human prop. I need to be useful. World, here I come.....................