I first discovered Nell's blog when we were both pregnant (our tiny ladies were born just a few weeks apart) and I have enjoyed following her ever since. At 28, Nell lives with her high school sweetheart Ben, and their baby girl Phiney, in Bath in the UK. On The First Day of Marriage is where she writes about her day-to-day goings-on as a new mama and her growing business in knit baby goodies: Happy Circus. I asked her how her life has changed since becoming a new mama, here's what she said.
"Before we got pregnant with Josephine I spent my days working as a Commercial Writer for a national media group -- writing lifestyle features and advertorials for local businesses. My days were always busy and, as several of the publications I wrote for were weekly, there was always a deadline looming. When I wasn't at work, my husband Ben and I would spend our time enjoying our city centre lifestyle where the shops and restaurants of Bath were on our doorstep. Lazy weekends were filled with browsing the shops and markets, reading fashion magazines, watching movies, eating out, late nights and lazy lie-ins. I also launched my little business Happy Circus early in 2011. It was just a little fun that gave me a bit of extra spending money.
Today, a life full of deadlines and tight schedules seems like a million miles away. While over the last couple of months we've found a nice rhythm to our days, I'm careful not to plan too much or expect to achieve certain tasks by a specific time. To begin with I found this really hard, but I soon realised how much more relaxing our days could be if I wasn't rushing to try and complete goals I'd set myself and tick things off a to-do list I'd written.
Now our days are quite slow and spontaneous with playtimes between naps and meals, some charity shop browsing, trips to the park with my other mama friends and their babies, slices of homemade cake at each other's houses and occasionally some housework! The only two things I try to ensure each day is that the washing up is done and we're at home for when Papa gets home, so Ben and Josephine can enjoy some fun time together before she has her bath, story and bedtime feed. Watching them together, and Phiney's face light up when Ben walks in through the door, is most definitely one of my favourite parts of the day. Their love for each other is the most awesome thing.
Since handing in my notice at work a few weeks ago, and knowing that I get to stay at home fulltime with Josephine indefinitely, the importance of building Happy Circus is now a priority. So, as soon as Josephine's down for a nap or is happily entertaining herself you can also find me knitting new designs and preparing to launch a whole new range of goodies through my website.
I think that one of the most surprising things about becoming a mama is the arrival of patience in my life. I was the most impatient person in the world before I had Josephine, always wanting things here and now, and I liked to have a plan. To know how I was going to achieve something and when by. Even during my pregnancy I just wanted our baby to arrive already -- those months seemed so long! But now, I find myself constantly surprised at my never-ending patience. And so is Ben! Don't get me wrong, there are some days, when we've had a sleepless night or Phiney refuses to have a nap for the tenth time that day, that my patience wears thin, but on the whole I stay calm and relaxed and we get there in the end. I also want to savour each second of this time in our lives, so I'm careful not to wish days away. Josephine is growing and changing so quickly, so it's important to me to stay in the moment. Mostly though, I'm overwhelmed everyday by the love I have for our daughter. It's unlike anything I've ever known and I feel truly blessed to have her and Ben in my life; so proud to say that they're my family. When I'm with them I couldn't be happier, no matter where we are.
I think it's keeping this in mind that helps me be a better parent. That it won't matter to Josephine if I don't get the ironing done or mop the bathroom floor; if we don't have the money to go on expensive adventures each week. That actually, for Josephine, the best adventures happen in our garden or in the fort we build in her bedroom and that she'd rather do nothing more than sit on the floor with Mama and Papa and play with her toys or have cuddles and kisses. That's the most important thing, and we remind ourselves of that everyday. Nothing else matters.
Since becoming a mama, I've cherished my friendships with other parents and the blogging community more than ever. Surrounding yourself with people who can offer advice and support, and knowing that someone else is going through the same thing is a wonderful thing. It can be hard to head out and meet other new mamas but if you find that friendship, it's amazing. I am so lucky to have met three other mamas who all live within five minutes from us. We meet up several times a week, are there for each other when we need to vent our frustration or share our joy at our baby's newest trick and our babies have already become firm friends. Plus we have amazing conversations that have nothing to do with children, which is so important when it comes to staying your own person. These ladies are really important in my life and their friendships make me a better mama.
On that note, I can't not mention how important the support Ben gives me is. Nearly every day he tells me I'm the best mama in the world, and he doesn't really care if sometimes the house is a little messy or if he comes home and I haven't showered. His love and confidence in me as a parent gives me so much strength and without him I wouldn't be half the mama I am."
Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us Nell. You can follow Nell at her blog, On The First Day of Marriage and shop at her Etsy store, Happy Circus.
Photographs 1, 4 and 5 by Tori Hancock.