One of the best pieces of advice I (stupidly) ignored as a new mum was to keep track of your little one’s sleeping and feeding times, to help you establish a routine that didn’t result in them becoming overtired/hungry at night. I did it a bit, to begin with when Daph was tiny and seemingly drinking eighteen bottles of milk a day, but then as she got older I didn’t keep up with it. I had an app, which I never really got the hang of using (the breastfeeding ones in particular, with their built in timers, were just way too much faff for me!), and a paper chart the midwife gave me, but that soon got covered in milk/vomit.

So when I heard about the Tiddler Tracker (I saw a post about it from someone I follow on Facebook) I was pretty impressed, and really wished I’d had one in those early days, as it would have been much easier to keep on top of everything with a proper physical book. The Tiddler Tracker is a Moleskine-esq book filled with useful charts and pages for you to fill in, to track all aspects of your baby’s day. And it’s not just for babies, as there’s also the Tiddler Toddler Tracker for older kids, such as Daph, designed to be more relevant for them.

As a stationery fan, I just loved the idea straight away. I was also amazed that no one had thought of it before. I pinged off a tweet about them, and the company kindly got in touch and offered me a Toddler Tracker for review. Its arrival was very timely as we have recently been trying to keep a log of Daphne’s nap times to get on top of this early waking issue – it’s been SO helpful as we’ve realised that she actually needs to go to bed earlier than we thought if we want her to sleep in a bit later. It’s all to do with how long she’s awake for between waking up from her nap and going to bed for the night – any more than six hours, and she’s overtired and will wake in the night (and then, inevitably, wake for the day super early and grumpy).

There are several designs available to choose from, so you can find one that works for you, and the books are handily sized, so they’re not so small you’re squinting to read the pages, but they’d fit in your changing bag easily so you can take them out and about with you. Best of all the folk behind the company are parents and have really thought about the product, designing it based on personal experience of what works and what you need to keep a record of (they had a son with reflux, so understood the importance of tracking things carefully).

We’ve been using the Toddler Tracker for a week now, and we love it. Daphne’s also keen and enjoys watching us write things down in ‘her book’. I actually think the Tiddler Tracker would be a perfect present for new parents – something most people might not think of, but that would undoubtedly become an essential bit of kit for anyone coping with those crazy first months.

Eeek! It’s my last baby update for a while! I think I’ll do another one when Daphne turns two – it’ll be amazing to look back and compare how much she changes in six months, rather than one. But first up, my little madam is finally a year and a half old, and I know I keep saying this, but this really is the BEST age so far. She’s so bloody cute at the moment. She definitely went through a weird mental leap thing (her last ever Wonder Week – wow!) and changed a lot afterwards. The main thing I noticed is that she now doesn’t do things just because you ask her to. Ha! Before, if I said ‘Daph, go and get your shoes’ or something similar, she’d trot off like an obedient dog and bring them back to me. But now, she looks at me, thinks about my request and (usually) decides that she’d rather do something else instead. It’s actually amazing, and it fits right in with what they’re supposed to have learnt in the last leap – that they have free will, basically, and don’t have to do what they’re told. Of course, this means a LOT more frustration on both our parts, but it’s also amazing to think of her as this sentient little being with her own thoughts about things.

Another change – and the loveliest by far – is that she’s suddenly got super cuddly. She’s always giving me cuddles now – coming up to me and when I pick her up she throws her arms around me and buries her head against my shoulder and it’s soooo sweet, because she was never a cuddly baby at all. She’s also finally started sitting still a bit with me to watch television (yes I know this is terrible, but she’s always on the go and sometimes I wish she’d just have some quiet time and chill out because she wears herself out). The only thing she’ll watch at the moment is Little Baby Bum, the most random nursery rhyme cartoon thing on Netflix, but even so, it’s been lovely to have her snuggle up against me and watch it – we even ate some popcorn in front of the telly together yesterday and finally, I was living the parenthood dream. Ha.

Other developments – she is finally walking, but only with her push along walker dog. I know this isn’t a big deal for people with babies who’ve been walking from 10 months, but for us, this has been a bit mindblowing, and she looks so pleased with herself as she trots along behind him. She’s also taken a few steps towards me if there’s a gap between me and whatever she’s standing against – it’s almost as though she CAN walk, but she’s just too scared to do it, in case she falls over. Because she does it without thinking sometimes (admittedly only a few steps, like I say) which proves she IS capable. She just overthinks things. She’s got until the end of the month if she wants to beat me as I walked at 18 months, and I’m not sure if she’ll get there, but we’ll see… She’s standing really well now, too, finally!

Sleep has been another big big change this month. We’ve finally transitioned to one nap. Which has been SO brilliant, as usually it’s at least an hour, so we get a decent ish amount of time to get stuff done during the day finally. I know some babies sleep for two or even three hours a day, but that’s just not going to be Daph, I don’t think. She much prefers a shorter nap and an early bedtime, and is still going to bed around 6.30pm (but it has been 5.30 when her nap has been too short). Wake up times have been all over the shop, but that’s because she’s been ill the last week or two, so she seems to be waking in the night with a sore throat about 3am, and then going back to sleep quickly (a miracle in itself) until past six. This morning was 6.40am, which is the latest we’ve had in absolutely ages, but then I was awake at 1.30am myself coughing, as well as going in to her at 3 with milk, so we didn’t really feel much benefit! Typical! I’m hoping once the sickness subsides, we’ll get some kind of firm routine in place that we can stick to for the next year or so. That would just be amazing. Currently she’s sleeping from 11.30am to around 1pm, which is quite good as it means we have a decent length of time in the afternoon to do things – in fact today, we had a Sunday roast at my parents, which we haven’t been able to do for months.

Another big thing that’s happened this month is that Daphne started at the childminder. The childminder is like an angel sent from heaven – she’s absolutely wonderful, and Daphne has settled in really well. It’s changed my thoughts about childcare so much, actually – I thought it was all about the parents having time to work, but in fact, it’s Daph who seems to be benefiting the most, as she’s getting to interact with other kids, play with different toys, and generally have a whole day focused on her development and needs, rather than fitting in at home with whatever (not) exciting things we’re doing that day. We’re actually going to go up to two days at the childminder’s in March, and it makes me so happy to see how happy she is when I pick her up on Thursday evenings – she’s always really chatty and excited, almost a different child. Also, the childminder has taught her to drink out of a beaker on her own. FINALLY.

Speech wise, there haven’t been any noticeable changes this month. I think Daph has added to her repertoire of ‘b’ words – she can pretty much say anything beginning with B if you say it first. But other than that, not much to note. Still obsessed with the cat (is this normal?!) and still can’t say Mummy. The cutest thing in the world though is every morning when Oli goes in to get her hearing her excitedly squeak ‘Daddy’ when she sees him.

The best thing about this age is seeing the development of Daph’s personality. She’s really becoming a little person. Loves the cat, loves giving things to people (will crawl over to any grown up and hand them a piece of Duplo within minutes of meeting them), loves Duplo, is very cuddly and affectionate, will wave at anyone, loves other kids – especially bigger kids… Doesn’t have any patience for Peppa Pig, is SO OVER the Teletubbies now, likes to dance to music (shake her head and wave her arms around), can’t go to sleep without clutching one or more muslin cloths, is still obsessed with milk and only drinks milk from bottles, loves her baths, hates being in the pushchair, thinks soft play is a load of crap, only likes pop up books… I could go on and on forever. I’m so proud of her.

LOOK HOW HAPPY SHE IS ASLEEP. WHY DOESN’T SHE DO IT MORE. WHY WHY WHY *weeps*

Things that aren’t oh so quiet:

Daphne at 4.30 in the morning.

The sound of my current cough.

The cat deciding to join in as soon as it hears ANY KIND OF NOISE during the night.

Things that are oh so quiet:

This blog.

Yes, hello hello out there. I am sorry I have been neglecting you. The truth is, I’ve been working on something else, something a bit secret at the moment but that I hope to be able to reveal to you shortly (and no, it’s nothing to do with the novel, aren’t you relieved, FINALLY SHE’S STOPPED BANGING ON ABOUT THE NOVEL – although I am still working on that too – HA). But yes, new Secret Project (how annoying and wanky am I, you are welcome to hate me) has been taking up all my naptimes (Daph’s, not mine, although how I wish I could work while napping myself) and Life by Lotte has been left trailing in its wake.

Having said that, it feels like a bit of a natural time to wind down this blog anyway, actually. As I said in my last baby update, I don’t particularly want to chronicle Daph’s monthly developments forever more, especially not once she’s old enough to work out that I’m sharing all her personal info with a load of (very lovely, admittedly) strangers online. I’ll definitely be back for her 18 month baby update, but after that I think I’ll put LBL into a mini hibernation while I try to get the other project off the ground.

So yes, back soon, I promise, with more of my ramblings, but in a different guise. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it just as much as this one. That’s the plan anyway.

Laters alligators and may all your nights’ sleeps be restful and undisturbed, and may your mornings not start at 4.45am with a poo, as mine did today. Daphne’s poo, not mine, I hasten to add…

Right, I promise today to not talk about babies or toddlers or anything mummy related. Instead, I thought I’d do a quick post on my two favourite things from my wonderful Liberty beauty advent calendar. And a quick note about that too: it was flipping expensive but really it was worth every penny, I LOVED opening it each day and best of all getting to try lots of different products that I would never normally even know about. So totally worth treating yourself if you can spare the dosh. This year, I think I’ll try the Lookfantastic one, as I’ve heard good things about that too, and it seems to have more make-up in it (the Liberty one was quite skincare heavy). But I’m getting ahead of myself…

There were some real gems in the Liberty advent calendar. And only a few duds – as I said on Twitter I’m fairly sure that Night Brow Balm is a solution looking for a problem, and as for the two tubes of mini toothpaste – fancy they may be but still, meh.

But there are two products I’ve repurchased – here they are and here’s why…

Eve Lom Cleanser

I know tons has been written about this already and it’s also a bit controversial because it has mineral oil (Vaseline to you and me) in it, but it’s literally THE BEST CLEANSER I HAVE EVER USED. It has truly transformed by skin. I was using Clinique’s Take The Day Off before and while it did the job it also dried my skin out quite a bit. But the Eve Lom stuff seems to both exfoliate and leave my skin super baby soft, not a hint of tightness or dryness. It also comes with the best muslin cloth I have ever used (if you don’t fancy the cleanser, maybe treat yourself to some of these instead – you can buy them in packs of three). Now, it’s ridiculously expensive, and I used the entire advent-calendar pot up before buying it as I wanted to be sure sure sure before I splashed out that kind of dough, but no regrets. It means I need less moisturiser after and I’ve also given up my Alpha H Liquid Gold (which was great but did freak me out a bit with the burning sensation) because it seems to exfoliate so beautifully I don’t need it. Hurrah. It’s a bit smelly (I quite like the smell myself, clove oil I think!) so it’s definitely worth testing before taking the plunge, but I’m a real convert and heartily recommend.

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Moisturiser

This is a super boring looking bottle and a very underwhelming product to use. It has no discernible smell and the texture is quite thin. But it’s amazing! It leaves my skin soft and happy without being shiny at all (no need for loads of powder throughout the day) and it hasn’t clogged up my pores or broken me out. Also quite pricey, but another one I really recommend – it’s apparently great for sensitive skin too. A bit of an obscure brand (and I wish they could have put a BIT more effort into the packaging because it’s THIRTY NINE BLOODY QUID AND I WANT SOMETHING PRETTY FOR THAT) but totally worth checking out if you want something non-perfumed and kind to your skin that does the job.

Both of these are available at Space NK so I am sure you can get samples if you fancy testing them out. I also loved the Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle Balm, but it’s just stupid money, and the Laura Mercier hydrating primer, which really does help your foundation stick around.

I wonder how long I should carry on doing these baby updates. Technically speaking, is Daphne still a baby? She doesn’t toddle yet, so maybe she is. In any case, at this rate, I can envision myself continuing to blog about her when she turns 21, which I’m fairly sure she wouldn’t be that impressed with…

Anyway, I’ll keep going I think, at least until next month (18 months feels like a big milestone – something to do with it being the next clothes size up maybe!), and then maybe I’ll have a break until she turns two. Which I am sure will come around in record time. It’s crazy how much growing and changing a baby can do in two years (and how much ageing their mum can do at the same time – ha!).

So this month has been dominated by the sleep issue I already wrote about. And I think it’s probably related to her naps. I really want to transition her onto one nap, but it’s so hard when she wakes up at 5am, and is utterly shattered by 9 – it feels cruel not to put her down for a nap when she’s yawning and grumpy and rubbing her eyes, but of course, this just perpetuates the problem, as then her afternoon nap is short as she’s not tired enough for a long one, and thus her bedtime ends up being early too… and then we go round again. We try to push her nap back a little each day (15 mins or so) but somehow something will always go wrong – she’ll fall asleep in the car, or we’ll need her to nap a bit earlier one day so we can go somewhere later, and we just seem to be back to square one. I’m not sure how to solve this. Daphne started at the childminder’s last week (more on that later) and she usually puts them all down for a long nap at 12.30. There’s no way Daph could survive that long without going mad, so we agreed to let her have a little power nap in the buggy when the childminder walks to their playgroup in the morning, which seemed to work OK with regards to her getting overtired. Because the irony is, of course, that an overtired baby just sleeps worse (more badly? my grammar has deserted me today) and wakes up even earlier the next morning – babies make no sense! My preoccupation every waking moment is ensuring that Daph doesn’t become overtired during the day, because that just makes everything go to hell. I am a woman obsessed.

We have the Gro clock but the first time I tried to use it I forgot to set it (didn’t realise you had to do it manually every night), and then she woke up at 5am and so I set it then, trying to explain it to her, and it went straight to a great big cheery sun and lit the whole bloody room up, so I’ve obviously done something wrong. Anyway it made me so cross (little things will do that at 5am) that I unplugged the damn thing and now it lies next to her cot looking forlorn and useless. She’s probably (definitely) a bit young to make sense of it anyway, but I was hoping for a miracle, as people in desperate situations do.

I guess the only solution is time, and her growing up a bit and being able to handle longer wake times. So it’s a case of sitting it out, like all baby phases, trying to go to bed early (I’m getting better at this but do seethe with resentment at having my grown-up time curtailed in favour of a morning that starts before the dawn chorus) and just praying that the eighteen month sleep regression passes us by. Please god, don’t we deserve a sleep break?! We’ve had it all: colic, split nights for MONTHS, middle of the night poos for MONTHS, a dream feed that persisted past 12 months… and now the super early risings. Let us off on this one thing, pretty please?!

Ahem. Yes, I am a woman obsessed. But onto the good things – Daph seems to love the childminder’s. And no one told me how much more you love your child after they’ve been at the childminder’s all day. I didn’t cry when Oli took her (hardhearted mum that I am) but I did get a bit teary picking her up, and seeing how happy she’d been playing with all the bigger kids. It’s so cute to see that side of her, and see how desperate she is to have ‘friends’ and copy the older kids. Bless! Made me feel we’ve been depriving her a bit by keeping her at home with us all day. And of course, it’s great (although so weird) to have a day to myself to focus on my own stuff (although we’ve invariably been washing and cleaning and doing the noisy/dangerous DIY you can’t do when she’s here).

Not much else to report this month. Still no walking, although she’s become a master cruiser, making her way across a room using every available surface to help her. Standing is getting better but she’ll still only do it for a few seconds. I did notice this month that she’s learnt how to crouch down from standing to pick something up, so clearly her legs are getting stronger. We took her to have her feet measured last week, and bought her her first proper pair of shoes, and we’re trying to make her wear them in the house more, as we think they’ll help her put her feet flat more often (she still mostly stands on tiptoes, it’s no wonder her balance is so off). If she’s still wobbly standing at eighteen months I might take her back to the GP, just to see if there are some exercises or something we can do with her to help her, but I’m confident that she’ll get there in her own time, as she is still making progress. Baby steps. Ha.

Mid-clap 🙂

Oh yes! One thing she has finally mastered this month, is learning to clap. About a year after the baby books said she should. Even longer perhaps. It kind of makes me laugh that she just clearly didn’t want to do anything to the conventional timeline. But yes, she now claps, on command and at things that excite her, as if to stick two fingers up at Mummy a year ago who was paranoid that her lack of clapping meant something serious was wrong. Ugh, how I wish I could go back and tell myself not to worry about this stuff.

She’s as chatty as ever, and keeps stunning me by answering quite complicated questions – for example, we were walking back from the town the other day and about to turn into our road, and I said ‘Who are we going to see at home Daph?’ and she said, without a second’s hesitation, ‘Purdy’. Considering she couldn’t see the house, or the cat, I was quite impressed with her brain working that one out. Oh and other developments – she is utterly obsessed with Duplo! We got her some for Christmas and she loved it, so we got her a few more boxes and it keeps her entertained for hours. She particularly likes posting the little people through the windows of the ‘houses’ mummy builds. I actually quite enjoy it too – certainly more fun than rattles and endless stacking cups!

Might as well, right?

I’m a bit of a grumpy cow when it comes to actually celebrating New Year’s Eve (as I’ve said before I’m allergic to organised fun), and this year was no exception. However, there’s definitely something to be said for feeling refreshed and coming to the year anew, rethinking all that’s gone before and deciding on some changes.

So, a little bit late I know, but here are my new year’s resolutions:

Lose some bloody weight

Now, I’m not the sort of person who really obsesses about their weight but that’s because up until about two years before I got pregnant I could eat whatever I liked and I really didn’t put any weight on. But then my metabolism changed completely, and suddenly I understood all the neuroticism surrounding food. When I was pregnant I decided it didn’t bloody matter what I weighed so long as the baby was growing (which she wasn’t – cue my excuse to eat even more). Then I gave birth and felt a bit horrified by my new figure, and worked a bit to get some of those maternal fat stores off. But then Daph decided to stop sleeping. And we moved house to somewhere where the car is needed to get to most places, meaning I don’t even get to go for long walks anymore. And then it got cold and then it was Christmas and I ATE ALL THE THINGS. And now I am about half a stone heavier than I was in the summer, and I actually feel gross. So yes, new year’s resolution no 1 is the most boring and predictable one of all but I must stop EATING ALL THE THINGS. Specifically, sugar. And get off my arse more. I’m back doing the XBX plan which I love (apart from the lateral bends which are bloody HORRID), and once the weather warms up, intend to start jogging again.

Stop spending so much money

I’m not terrible with money – I don’t really have any debt apart from my mortgage, but neither do I have a pension and I only save enough dosh each year to pay my tax bill in January. From next month I’ll be getting less income each month (long and complicated story, but some of my revenue from selling my business was deferred, and this comes to an end next month). So I need to stop buying things on a whim. I am a terrible whim-buyer – I see things I like and I buy them, without really thinking twice. Stupid stuff like coffees I don’t really need, a new umbrella because it’s prettier than my old one, another lipstick that’s identical to one I already own but a different brand etc etc. If frittering money away was an Olympic sport I’d ace it. So I’ve started a new budget – actually written down all my outgoings on a spreadsheet and given myself a fixed sum each month to spend on crap clothes, beauty etc. It’s not much but it should be enough to get by. Just to prove I’m down with the zeitgeist, I’m calling it Mindful Spending.

Read more books

I make this resolution every year. It’s pretty obvious. Stop pissing time away on Facebook at night and instead spend more time with my Kindle. Specifically I’d like to read some more classics, rather than just stuff that’s in the bestseller lists. I didn’t do English A Level (and I call myself a writer – shock horror!) and there are some serious gaps in my reading that I’d like to fill (Oli was disgusted to hear that I’d never read Wuthering Heights last week when we were watching the Bronte programme on BBC… *hangs head in shame*).

Sort out my career

Ah the biggie! I am trying, honestly. I have been totally lost in sleep-deprived motherhood career-wise and I have so many thoughts on it all that I’d love to clarify in my own mind (do I try to find a full-time job? set up another company? continue freelancing in an industry that inconsiderately decided to die on its arse while I was off having a baby? retrain as a librarian? (seriously, have been considering this!) if not then what what what?) and then share, but I don’t have time because, well, I’m a mother. So yes, more soon. Hopefully. Once Daph’s settled into the childminder!

My beautiful little sleep thief

It’s 2017 folks! I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. Usually for new year I make a whole load of decisions about life and how I’m going to handle things going forward, and I start new projects and generally feel motivated to make changes. But this year I haven’t had the energy. Mostly, I have realised, this is because I am obsessed with Daphne’s sleep. Or more specifically, her lovely new habit: early rising.

It’s beyond ironic that you can dream for months of your baby sleeping through the night, believing that once that happens, everything will be fine and dandy and you will be reborn, back to your old self, fizzing with energy all day. HA. Daphne does indeed now sleep through the night, and it’s great. To a degree. However, the unwanted side effect of this is that she now thinks the day should start at around 5.20am. And there ain’t no getting her back to sleep after that time (we have tried EVERYTHING but unless we get up with her, she screams and screams).

Having my day start with a 5 basically makes me feel like I am permanently jetlagged. It is far more exhausting than being woken in the night. I would actually go back to a 2am wake up, if it meant that the day didn’t have to start till 7am, or even 7.30 (what a treat!). It’s been suggested that I should adjust my own sleep schedule to accommodate it (going to bed at 9pm or whatever – ugh) but I really do believe that biologically people are wired differently. I am a night owl, and my most alert and awake times are in the evening, after dinner – it’s the time I do most of my creative writing. Before I had a baby if I woke before 8, I’d feel pretty knackered for the day. My body clock just does not agree with super early mornings, and when they’re pitch dark and freezing, as the heating hasn’t even come on yet, then they’re even more hideous.

I won’t bore you any more with what I’ve been trying to sort this problem out until I find something that works. When I do, I’m going to patent that shit and market it to all the other sleep-deprived parents of toddlers and make my fortune. This morning she slept til 6am, so there is hope. I think. I pray. I am so jealous of people whose babies sleep from 7pm-7am every night. I am SO jealous. And I don’t get jealous.

Good things about 2017: Daphne starts at the childminder’s next week. I will have a whole day per week to myself to work. I need to finish my novel, and that really must take priority, but I also desperately want to get another project off the ground that’s been bugging me for nearly a year now, and also decide what on earth I am going to do with this blog. But like I said, before my brain can wrap its knackered matter around that little lot, I need to sort out this sleep thing. So please please please – wish me luck (and leave me any suggestions you think might work!)!

Awesome leggings from Blade & Rose, gift from my cousin.

When we did our NCT course, the lady running it asked everyone what they were most looking forward to about having a child, and I remember replying ‘I only had a child for Christmas’ which is a terribly glib and dickheadish thing to say but it was genuinely a major factor for me. I loved Christmas as a kid (yeah, really unusual there I know) and I couldn’t imagine growing old and not having a child to share all the joy and magic with (although I don’t believe in lying to kids about Father Christmas, but that’s a post for another day – Oli and I are already at war about it!). I have therefore been in my element over the past few days and am so excited that this year we are hosting my parents and my sister and having a big family Christmas day in our new house. We actually open all our presents on Christmas Eve, so really Christmas Eve is our Christmas Day, and this year on Christmas Day we’re heading off for lunch at Oli’s brother’s house. So we get two Christmasses!

Last year Daph was too tiny to have any idea what the hell was going on, so we didn’t really get her any presents, but this year we’ve gone a bit batshit and she has her very own personalised Christmas sack and about 30 stocking presents, plus a Mokee Teepee which I can’t wait to set up. She’s already had a few presents thanks to my aunt and uncle and has definitely got the idea that ripping wrapping paper from things is enormously fun, so I am sure she’s going to love opening everything. Whether or not she plays with any of the millions of carefully selected gifts is another matter, but I’ve realised that pretty much everything about having a baby is trial and error. Will report back…

Before then however, there’s a hell of a lot of prep to do and I really need to get off the computer and start cleaning. But just wanted to say merry Christmas to all of you who read this, and send all the mummies in particular lots of alcohol and sausage rolls to get you through the festive season! I’m going to have a little break from blogging until the new year (hands up who can’t wait to see the back of 2016?) and so I wish you all a very happy new year too!

And most of all a big THANK YOU for reading and commenting and stopping this working-from-home-sort-of-stay-at-home mum from losing my mind with loneliness. Mwah xxx