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A Look Back at 2017 (And A Slow Start to 2018)

Tips for travelling with a baby, Bumpkin BettyI realise 2017 round up posts are two a penny amongst bloggers at the moment, and I also realise I’m rather late to the party with mine (5th January? Please! 2017 was soo last year!) but despite having grand plans to hit the ground running the minute we got back from staying with family on the 2nd, and tackle January with gusto, the last few days have actually ended up being a bit of a wash out and I guess you could say I’ve had a pretty slow start to the year, and therefore a slow approach back into work and blogging.

But I’ve decided I’m ok with that. I have a tendency to set myself goals and then want to achieve everything, right away, as fast as possible. And well, that’s just not realistic, especially when it’s pouring with rain outside, I have a headache and am surviving on little sleep. After a bit of a rant on Twitter about how the whole ‘new year, new me, new goals’ pressure had already got the best of me only 4 days in (and so many of you were lovely enough to reassure me I wasn’t alone), I’ve decided to slow it down on the – must achieve x,y and z – front and trust that I’ll get there with my ambitions for this year (and beyond) but it’s going to take time.

It’s so easy to constantly look around and feel as if all of your peers are racing ahead, gaining speed as you seem to remain stationary no matter how hard you try to keep moving. To feel like the goal posts continually get moved just as you start to get close to them, and to feel like if you fall much further behind all might be lost and you might get forgotten completely. That was me for most of 2017 – struggling to keep up, feeling the pressure, trying to ‘do it all’. I hadn’t expected to take any giant leaps forward career wise in my first year as a parent, but equally I’d hoped to continue plodding along the track, remain in the race, compete, albeit slowly. I guess in many ways I did – I managed to work, I managed to earn, I managed to blog – just sporadically, slowly and with a lot less drive than previous years. There’s no denying however, that 2017 was a year I took a fair few steps backwards in my career and after working hard on my freelance business for the best part of 5 years (and on my blog even longer), that’s hard to swallow.

But, the hard fact is that becoming a parent changes everything. And, actually, I have no regrets about having to take those steps backwards in my work life, because 2017 was entirely dedicated to being a Mum. It was ALL about E, and as such my priorities shifted, my outlook in life became different and I realised what was important to me (hint – it isn’t how many Instagram followers I have!).

2017 was undoubtadely the best year of my life so far. Welcoming a daughter into the world was life altering, amazing, monumental, wonderful. But it was also undoubtadely the toughest year of my life so far. Being thrown head first into the roller coaster that is parenting was life altering, emotional, stressful, painful. Like everyone, my blog and social feeds only show so much. I chose which parts of life to share in the last year and of course there was  a lot of difficult aspects which I never spoke about. In truth, I barely kept my head above water for the most part, worried constantly, and somehow got through each day on a very small amount of sleep. I didn’t set myself any resolutions for 2017 other than to bring a healthy baby into the world, we didn’t plan for anything beyond February because we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to have achieved anything other than being parents by the the time the year drew to a close. We didn’t want to make plans or goals or lists for 2017, we just wanted to take each day, week and month as it came. To roll with the punches, to tackle each hurdle together and to get by as best we could. And that’s exactly what we did. Much of the last 10 months have been a blur, there’s been ups and downs, there’s been tough periods and truly joyous periods, and everything in our world looks different compared to the start of 2016. But we survived.

And as the year drew to a close, and the year my daughter was born ended, I found myself struggling with how to approach the new one that was laid out in front of me. 2018 felt different. We know what to expect now (well mostly), we’ve adjusted to family life, we’ve got used to being three. E isn’t a tiny baby anymore, she’s about to be a one year old. My ‘maternity break’ is most definitely over, as much as I’d love to I can no longer spend all day every day reading ‘Where’s Spot’ and attending baby classes. That ‘new parent’ phase has to an extent drawn to a close and we can’t get away with just functioning day to day anymore. 2018 came with a need to suddenly be more organised, to find structure in our every day, to plan ahead, to make more money, to set myself goals once again and to achieve. To achieve more than just being a parent.

I told myself that with the new year would come a new start. A chance to get back on top of work, to once again start carving out a career for myself, one that I can do alongside being a Mum, and to dedicate a little more time to me, and my goals. I told myself that I’d travel more again this year, bake more, exercise more, get back in shape, learn something new. I told myself that everything would be different this year, that I’d be different. That I’d find balance between work and family, that I’d manage to concentrate on both my career and my daughter, that I’d ‘sort my life out’.

Then 4 days in to the new year, my new year, my new start… nothing had changed. E still needed me by her side as much as ever, she still refused to nap on the day I wanted to get work done, she still reached out for me every time I picked up my phone to look at my emails, I still reached for the box of chocolates while we sat on the floor to read and I hadn’t achieved anything more than taking the Christmas decorations down and doing a food shop. I felt down, I felt frustrated, I felt like maybe I’d never get the time I needed to work on me and my goals again. I felt that familiar surge of failure as I scrolled my social feeds to see so many positive posts from others about starting the year with new ventures, new plans, new travel escapades, and 4 days in I already felt defeated. Yesterday I wallowed. I wallowed in the fact that I hadn’t started the year as I’d planned to, that January wasn’t getting off to the proactive start I’d imagined, and that being a Mum still appeared to be all I had the capacity for.

Then today it hit me how ridiculous I was being. 4 days in. 4 days!! It had only been 4 days since I toasted to a brand new set of 365 moons, had I really expected everything to change simply with the turning of a clock like that? Yes this is the year E turns one, but she’s not one yet. She’s still a 10 month old baby who needs her parents constant attention, that didn’t change between her going to bed at 7pm on the 31st December 2017 and waking up at 12.05am on the 1st January 2018. Yes this may well be the year I get back on track with work, yes I should have goals that are just for me this year, yes I should plan ahead and aim to find more structure. Yes there’s no reason why I couldn’t travel more, bake more and learn something new. Yes, I can do the things I want to do (maybe not all of them, but some of them). Yes, I can achieve this year. But I can’t expect to do it all overnight. I need to relax, I need to take time to find my own way, I need to slow down. I need to accept that my life is now dictated by the actions of a certain little lady, the little lady who I love more than life itself, and continue to put her needs above my own even if it means remaining at the back of the pack in that race for a little longer.

If 2017 taught me anything, it’s that work actually isn’t as important to me as I thought it was, and that I can create my own measure of success. Most of my life ambitions aren’t time sensitive and will still be there for the taking next year, and the year after. If right now, success means just getting by, doing enough to pay the bills while still being there for my daughter as much as possible then so be it.

Over the last 10 months I’ve realised that, I am in fact, in a very different race to those speeding ahead in front of me, and I’ve decided from now on to stay firmly in my own lane, the one that comes with a husband, a baby, a family life AND a work life, and instead of trying to compete, I’ll just aim to take part, to run my own race and trust that I’ll get where I want to be in the end, however long it takes.

Perhaps the reason I’ve been struggling with the start of 2018, is because I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to 2017. To say goodbye to the year my baby was born. To say goodbye to what will no doubt be my most life changing year ever. To say goodbye to that little newborn family bubble and herald another year of change, another year of new hurdles and another year where our little girl continues to grow up too fast!


So indulge me this little look back at the year, even if it is the 5th January already. Of course, as I’ve mentioned a look back at my blog posts isn’t a true reflection of everything life threw at us but I hope this can be a round up of some of the best bits from the last twelve months (Click the link below each picture to read the original blog post).

As with every year that passes in my blogging journey, I’d like to thank any and all of you who are still reading, still interacting and still supporting me. Thanks for supporting me through a big change this year, for understanding my need for a baby break and the slower, more sporadic level of posting this last little while. Wishing you all a great 2018, whether it’s slow and steady or whether you’re ready for world domination!

Dressing the bump at 34 weeks, Bumpkin BettyI started the year with a growing baby bump, somehow still managing to think about my fashion choices despite the size of my ankles (and ass).

Izziwotnot white moses basket, Bumpkin BettyWe got baby ready as best we could (reading this back now makes me chuckle – oh how little we knew! I think I’ll need to do an update on the products which actually helped us survive!).

DFS arden sofabed, Bumpkin bettyWe tackled our decorating mission by first transforming our spare room into a stylish office and baby friendly haven, with the help of DFS…

Vintage rocking chair for nursery, Bumpkin BettyAnd then moving onto the nursery ahead of baby’s arrival (an update on this room coming soon as we’ve now changed a few things!).

38 weeks pregnant, Bumpkin BettyI reached 38 weeks, finally downed tools and set about trying to relax while waiting for our world to be turned upside down.

Pastel themed cafes in london, Bumpkin BettyBut not before one last epic London brunch date

Baby break commencingThen suddenly, just like that, everything was different. On the 27th Feb our beautiful little monster entered the world and changed it forever. I took a break from all things internet and concentrated on showering her with love (LOOK HOW TINY SHE IS!!).

Bumpkin Betty, top uk lifestyle blogI checked back in after 6 weeks of being a parent, and remember thinking that an eternity had passed and feeling like we’d climbed Everest at least three times over. From a baby with horrible colic, to a severe lack of sleep, and breastfeeding challenges, those were truly the hardest six weeks of my life… and yet also the most wonderful.

Evie Birth Story, Bumpkin BettyFinally after a three month break, I returned to my beloved blog, and somehow managed to pen Evie’s birth story – a long, heartfelt and emotional post (am I capable of anything else?)

H&M pink frill shirt, Bumpkin Betty4 of the best statement earrings on the high street, Bumpkin BettyTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk Lifestyle bloggers, Bumpkin BettyTop Uk lifestyle bloggers, Jaclyn Ruth(Outfit 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

I slowly started wearing clothes other than leggings, and began sharing my personal style once again, trying along the way to find my sense of self despite my boobs threatening to explode every time I left the house to take photos, and E usually having a meltdown out of shot.

top uk lifestyle blogs, Bumpkin BettyCherry bakewell tarts recipe, Bumpkin bettyHomegrown crumble recipe, Bumpkin Betty(Recipe 1, 2, 3

I dipped my toe back into baking in a VERY small way, usually only when a grandparent came to visit and gave me the freedom to stay in the kitchen for a couple of hours.

Top Uk food and lifestyle blogs, Bumpkin bettyTips for travelling with a baby, Bumpkin BettyWe entertained in our new house throughout what was a lovely sun filled summer, we threw E a Welcome to the World party, and before we knew it she was 4 months old. I began a parenting series and shared everything we learned up to that point.

tips for travelling with a baby, Bumpkin BettyRoadtesting the City Mini Baby Jogger stroller, Bumpkin BettyBest car seats for new babies, Bumpkin BettyReview 1, 2, 3

I started working with the Baby Jogger team, and shared reviews on various different strollers, car seats and travel hacks.

31 weeks pregnant, Bumpkin Bettyevie james watt, Bumpkin BettyI looked back at my pregnancy and showed off all of those bump photos we took along the way.

Newborn baby family photoshoot, Bumpkin bettyAutumn rolled around, E suddenly got all grown up and I realised our tiny newborn bundle was becoming a little girl. I shared our newborn photoshoot with the lovely Siobhan Watts.

Top Uk lifestyle and travel bloggers, Bumpkin Bettytop uk lifestyle blogs, bumpkin bettyWe travelled abroad for the first time as a three, had our first family holiday and tackled an aeroplane with a baby.

Top Uk lifestyle bloggers, Bumpkin BettyThose firsts just kept coming, and we had our first chance to dress E up for Halloween while she enjoyed the joys of the pumpkin farm.

Top UK lifestyle and wedding blog, Jaclyn RuthWe celebrated two years of marriage.

Top Uk lifestyle blog, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthAnd then just like that, Christmas was a-coming. We chose the tree, designed the holiday cards, decorated the house, set the table and enjoyed a lovely family celebration with a now 10 month old cheeky chops who was a DREAM.

Baby's first Christmas, Jaclyn RuthEvie’s first Christmas came and went, and so did 2017. What a year! So here’s to the next chapter, to more fun and games as a family, to more travel, to more baking, to more outfits, to more of life and everything it brings! If there’s anything you’d like to read more about on the blog this coming year I’d LOVE to know, I’m spending the beginning of the year working out which content to continue with and how to make this space the best it can be.

Thanks again for all of your support!

 

2 Comments

Linda

Wise words and the honesty we have come to know and love. What’s that old saying ” people plan and the universe laughs”! Just taking it as it comes is probably the way forward – I am sure it will be a great year!

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Jaclyn

Haha thank you! Not sure about wise but honest at least! January is always such a slog of a month isn’t it? Here’s to spring coming soon and the year really beginning!

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