People were having babies before mobile phones. People were having babies before computers. People were having babies before rail travel or telephones were invented. People were having babies before we even lived in houses or discovered fire. That doesn’t mean though that developing technology isn’t welcome to make the first few months a bit easier. Here is my top ten list of the technology that has made the past few months just a little bit easier for me.
Handy for staying in contact with the world when you can’t get off the sofa because either a) you have a baby on you, or b) you’re just too exhausted. I discovered a whole new love for my smartphone during the endless hours of night feeds and cuddles. The BBC Iplayer app worked better than matchsticks at preventing me from dropping off (and consequently possibly dropping the baby off me). Then I discovered the Kindle e-reader app and actually got to read for the first time in months. I subsequently persuaded husband dearest that the perfect Mother’s Day present would be a Kindle Fire, which has superseded my phone for lots of these things, but without one or the other I know I would have really, really struggled.
This has replaced my smartphone as night-time entertainment since Mother’s Day. Much better than trying to read a book with a clip-on light in the dark (it kept falling off). Luckily I now don’t often have to sit in with Penny for more than a minute or two to settle her at night but it is still a great gadget for reading the books I want and I have found a few fun apps to give me a bit of down-time every now and then. I wish I had had one when Penny was newborn.
If I had to sit down at a desk every time I wanted to use the computer I probably would have been an internet hermit. The convenience of just being able to flip open my laptop for a few minutes here and there has meant I can keep up with emails, social networking etc. My real computer time is when Penny is napping. She sleeps best on me during the day so I’m trapped. “Oh what a shame” I think as I happily surf the web with my gorgeous baby in my arms.
Penny was born with three months to go until Christmas. For the first couple of months I barely left the house so if it wasn’t for the vast array of online shopping options available, everyone would have had vouchers for Christmas last year! On a day to day basis, being able to do the supermarket shop and other essentials online and have it delivered makes things so much easier.
I love it and I hate it. Like most people I get frustrated when the format is changed yet again and can’t understand why the Facebook algorithms in their infinite wisdom decide I don’t want to see what so-and-so is doing in my newsfeed anymore just because I haven’t liked or commented on what they have done for a couple of weeks. However, it is a great place to keep in touch with friends, share baby news and photos and get advice from other mums. As a part-time social recluse it would be easy for me to become isolated and let friendships dwindle without it.
Digital TV Channels (CBeebies)
In my day, children’s TV ran from 3.30pm to 5.35pm (when Neighbours came on), it catered for children of all ages and was presented by some guy in a broom cupboard with a glove puppet. Times have changed with digital TV and now there is a whole channel devoted to the pre-school and infant darlings. And you know what? It’s actually rather good. I don’t feel so bad about using the TV to entertain Penny for a bit while I get some things done when it’s actually educational and suitable for her. Yes, some of the programmes are a little nauseating (If I never see another episode of ‘Me Too’ I will be a very happy mummy) but there are some right belters too. I confess to loving ‘Sarah & Duck’ and ‘Chuggington’.
Fast rail travel
I envy new mums who have their parents living locally. I am lucky enough to have a brilliant relationship with my mum and she is loving being a grandma. However, she lives 250 miles away. I confess I have tried the emotional blackmail and not so gentle persuasion; “ooh, look how far your money could go up here” and the like. But she has her own life and commitments. The fast rail link between London and Chester means she can get from her front door to mine in a little over four hours and so I get regular visits, presents for Penny and help catching up with the cleaning!
You can’t beat a microwave steriliser for cheap, convenient bottle sterilising. So it was a bonus baby usage when I discovered after months of lingering in the kitchen in the middle of the night waiting for bottles to warm in mugs of boiled water that, contrary to the official advice, you can warm bottles in the microwave. It just takes forty seconds to warm one of Penny’s 210ml bottles. I really wish I had discovered this trick sooner. ON top of that, now I am cooking and freezing food for Penny, the ability to defrost things for her in just a couple of minutes is fantastic. Almost as convenient as jars and so much tastier.
(Important note – Not all microwaves need the same amount of time and things can heat unevenly so mix/shake thoroughly after heating and check the temperature before serving.)
An extra person in the house has not equated to the amount of washing going up by a third as one might think. It has at least doubled. Babies’ clothes may be small, but with the nappy leaks, vomiting and food redistribution they get through a lot of them. A lot of this assorted grubbiness also ends up on me or daddy and so extra changes of clothes ensue. Add in my reduced wardrobe size (I refused to buy more than essentials in the horrific size of my post-natal body) and the unreliable British weather and I would be in real trouble without a tumble dryer. Halfway through last week the dryer broke. I will be very glad when the nice repairman returns it tomorrow afternoon – I have been living in the same pair of baby food encrusted jeans for days!
You’ve probably worked out by now that energy consumption in my house is by no means low. I’m therefore very glad that we invested in solar panels last year. It was a big initial outlay, but on a sunny day we can run most of the appliances in the house for free. Even on a grey day the panels are contributing and meaning we are drawing less from the grid. The electricity bills are certainly nicer to look at than theyused to be.