How my job prepared me for motherhood

When my munchkin was about two weeks old, one of my friends came to visit. We usually hang out in a local cafe, but she in an attempt to do me a favor suggested coming to my place. I had a new baby after all so I surely didn’t feel like going out, right? Wrong! Me and little Derry were out and about since the day we got home from the hospital.

When this friend came over she was surprised, if not shocked, that my flat was actually clean, I had make-up on, my hair wasn’t greasy and I looked fresh (according to her). On top of that there was freshly brewed coffee and biscuits ready on the table.

It was brought to my attention that apparently it’s not normal to be this collected and organised when caring for a new baby, especially not when it’s one’s first child and the said person has never changed a single nappy before. It got me thinking – how comes that I seem to have it all together? And what abilities do I possess that prevented me from loosing my shit?


It occurred to me that skills necessary to run a respectable household without any help while handling a newborn who requires constant attention, are not that far from skills required to successfully carry out my job. I spent the past two years working as a customer service manager for a major airline. When I say “customer service manager” I mean a crew herder, problem fixer, pilot server and a customer punchbag. My standard workday was filled with dramatic and intense moments, pressure from multiple directions and frequent time constraints. Just to give you an example, when boarding a flight I would find myself talking on the aircraft interphone while the dispatcher was ringing my work mobile with an urgent message, a customer was complaining to me in French, I was trying to figure out how to have a minor technical issue in the cabin fixed without delaying the plane, while pilots were impatiently waiting for their cups of tea served with the correct amount of sugar and a precise measure of milk. All at the same moment.

No stress 🙂

In this job I’ve truly learnt to multitask, set priorities, eliminate tasks that are not immediately critical, and not give in to stress and pressure. Oddly enough, a high-pressure working environment made me relaxed and chilled rather than stressed. (Wine (obviously not drank on duty) was/is a contributing factor but more about that in another blog post.) What is more, frequent traveling and overnight flights meant jetlag and a lack of sleep. To be able to cope I’ve learnt how to sleep/nap anywhere and whenever I have a chance – which is a crucial ability of a “successful” single mum.

So how do these skills come handy in motherhood? Well, most importantly, when my baby screams it doesn’t stress me out. Cry always means something so I go and fix whatever is wrong. When one can keep smiling while a passenger is shouting right in their face, handling a crying baby calmly is a breeze. Secondly, when my son naps I don’t waste this precious time watching TV or reading a book because I can do that while he’s feeding. Breastfeeding is a super productive time for me – besides enjoying my favourite TV show, I catch up on my emails, reply to messages, write birthday cards, read and get organised. Actually, I’m feeding him right now. Then when he naps I do all the tasks I am not able to complete when breastfeeding – mainly housework, make-up, shower etc. I also try to nap whenever I can.

My munchkin loves to be carried around the flat so he can look at things. I often use a sling so I have hands free to do little jobs around the flat. If I carry him on my shoulder, I can still do plenty of things one-handed, like for example putting away the dishes or taking down dry laundry (no, I don’t have a tumble dryer) which he finds quite fascinating.

So as I single mum I’m still able to cope, look like a respectable woman and live in a clean and well-organised home. It is not easy (especially since there is no man who comes home after work to relieve some of the pressure) but it is much easier than I thought it’d be. My advise is – prioritise, multitask, don’t waste a single moment and most importantly – don’t stress. And have some wine and chocolates as a reward for a job well done 🙂

Pre-baby maternity diary: This is how the most thoughtful gift looks like

Baby showers are okay. However, I wouldn’t want to have one of my own because I am simply not a “everyone-focus-on-me-and-play-silly-games” kind of person. But of course, if you want to buy me a piece of cake, then please go ahead! On Easter Monday we treated ourselves to an indulgent ladies afternoon tea. I ate more than my share of little cakes and warm scones and drank a bucket of fully caffeinated tea and a whole glass of champagne. There was a party in my belly!

I also received the most perfect present ever! Some of you might have read my pre-Xmas guide on choosing a gift for a mum-to-be where I was highlighting that I am not the baby. So while getting a pair of miniture socks is lovely, they certainly shouldn’t be in a package with my name label on it…

So on this occasion I didn’t expect a present but was given one that couldn’t have been more perfect. My friend got it absolutely spot on – thanks so much! Here is what my gift contained:

  • Two dummies. To shove in baby’s mouth (not both at once) while mummy is busy opening a bottle of
  • Prosecco. Yay! I can already imagine the delicate bubbles on my tongue! It’ll go great with
  • A box of chocolates. This will also serve as an emergency energy source.
  • When I’m out of prosecco, I still have a bottle of red wine. 2013 Rioja. Yes please! It’ll be perfectly complimented by
  • Blue cheese. Oh how I missed it! If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, then pâté will do. Or anything that is on the pregnancy ban list.
  • Then there is a tin of instant coffee packed with caffeine. It’ll be needed.
  • A pampering spa package containing various relaxing and de-stressing bath items that I won’t be able to live without.
  • And finally the most precious gift of all – baby-sitting hours. I will be a single mum with no family around so the prospect of someone being occasionally available to look after my little one while I….uhmmm….poop or shower alone and unobserved, is extremely appealing.

How awesome and thoughtful is that? If you’re looking for a gift for someone who’s about to push a baby out, hopefully you’ll find it inspiring. Giving birth must be a breeze when one imagines all the goodies to come back home to 🙂

Pre-baby maternity diary: “Are you afraid?”

image7Dear diary, on a third occasion this week I was asked whether I was afraid.

“Afraid of what?” was my response designed to sound mildly ignorant with the intention to make the person asking that question feel slightly awkward. Of course I know they are referring to childbirth. But, what kind of question is that? Are you suggesting that I should be afraid? Of something that is a normal part of life? I mean, women and animals have done it since always, plenty of them multiple times. So how bad can it really be? If a woman did it once and it was a horrendously traumatic experience that is impossible to overcome, she sure as hell wouldn’t choose to do it again, and again. Right?

Nowadays we just love drama, don’t we? Think of all the reality shows and shocking stories that we are fed and enjoy being fed. If you tuned in to watch One Born Every Minute and this birthing lady would be just chilling there, then pop and baby would come out like “that was easy”, you’d find it disappointingly boring. Actually, it would never get on national television in the first place. People are obsessed with horror stories. I had a stranger on a bus telling me about how her cousin’s wife’s baby died at birth, and one of my best friends within five minutes of finding about my pregnancy proceeded to describe her colleague’s childbirth story that ended something like “…so after several long hours the doctor shoved his hands in and literally ripped the baby out”. Great!

So come one and ask me if I’m afraid. Based on what the majority says, I should be. But despite baby brain, I am smart enough to know that fear is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you expect pain and freak yourself out, then you will be in pain, guaranteed. People don’t give their brain power enough credit. Reality is not objective, nor is pain. Our expectations and perceptions shape our reality. Our mind and attitude impacts our future and our perception of presence more than we are willing to admit. After realising that, it would be silly not to take advantage of it. My attitude is to be prepared for the worst while expecting the best. I am treating my upcoming childbirth experience like a spa day. Seriously – there are some similarities from lavender essential oil to dedicated staff who will be there just for me. Yes please!

And if things gets tough, I know I’m always tougher. I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a 220 kilometres hike to Santiago de Compostela. On a third day of the pilgrimage I messed up my knees. It was bad. Over the next five days I carried on walking 30km each day, with a full backpack, in total agony. With literally every step I took, I was surprised I was still able to carry on. I was free to quit at any time, but I didn’t. I put it down to my extreme stubbornness, my inability to give up and a small glass of red wine consumed every couple hours. (Can I bring a cheeky flask to the birth center?) Today, this experience gives me comfort and reassurance because I know that if (IF!) I was in agony, I can always carry on.

So if anyone else asks me if I’m afraid, my response will remain seemingly oblivious. Afraid of what? Besides, it is a total waste of time and energy to spend months agonising over something that will be done and dusted in a few hours…

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 14 – On kindness and respect

There is one thing I’ll really miss about being pregnant. No, it’s not the right to stuff my face 24/7 (which is definitely up there). It is the kindness of so many people – friends and strangers alike, especially men. Because I’m pregnant, everyone suddenly treats me little nicer than they normally would. And it’s not just holding the door for me and bringing me (and sometimes paying for) food and drinks. Recently, I dropped a glove and this chap raced over to pick it up for me so I don’t need to bend down. He obviously didn’t know that I can still reach my feet and tie my shoe laces standing up (impressive, right?). I’ve noticed people look at me differently, with respect – and respect is what I’ve always been after so I’m loving it.

But why did I have to get pregnant to be treated with respect? I worked hard all my life, earned two university degrees, am employed as a manager for a major airline and take pride in being polite to people. Shouldn’t that be the basis for being respected? Yet oddly, I am receiving better acknowledgement and finally feeling like a valuable member of society just because my belly is housing another human being. How can that be a good enough reason? I could have just got into my situation by getting wasted one night and sleeping with a stranger whose name I don’t remember, then, before discovering my accidental pregnancy, I could have smoked and drank all the way through the first trimester which probably has impacted my baby, and now I finally managed to track down the father of my child and am suing him for a whole lot for money so I don’t need to work ever again. I mean what kind of respect would I deserve if this was true?

Nonetheless, everyone is kind to me and I love it. At the same time it feels bittersweet because soon enough I’ll be just another tired mother of an infant and people will give me annoyed looks when my baby cries in public. I wish they saved some of the respect and kindness for later on when I really need it. Or, displayed it towards the elderly who definitely deserve it more than any pregnant woman does. And finally, can’t we just be kind to each other all the time?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 10 – To drink or not to drink

Happy St. Patrick’s day people! How unusually awesome is to be sober at 7 pm after spending the afternoon in an Irish pub!

If someone told me I’d survive 9 months without any regular alcohol consumption (and find it easy) I’d call them mad. I blame my previous job. Just recently I discussed this with my pilot friend and we both agreed that upon finishing our duty and getting to our hotel room, there was no other way to switch off and be able to fall asleep than to self-medicate. We were able to get these cute miniature alcohol bottles off the plane for quite cheap money. We called them crew purchase. In my case it was two glasses of wine that were sufficient to dissolve the stress accumulated during the flight and relax me enough not to care about what happened (there was always some kind of drama on board). I stopped drinking just as I stopped flying which is probably the only way I was able to achieve this. It was easier than I imagined it’d be, and I immediately started noticing the perks of being constantly sober.

My wallet thanks me every time I go to a pub and spend £4 on two alcohol-free beers instead of £15 on a bottle of wine (and then some). There is no dodgy kebab or curry take-away to finish the night off because I am sober enough to make healthier dinner choices. The best thing for a control freak like myself is that I am in control of my behaviour at all times. I was always a pretty sensible drunk so the craziest thing I’ve done in the past few years was falling asleep with my contact lenses on and getting a tikka masala stain on my sheets. But still, it’s great to be responsible for all your actions, and consider not flossing before bedtime the wildest event of the night. Also, they say that alcohol slows down your metabolism. A trainer in our gym dramatically calls it poison. I’ve been literally stuffing my face for the past month without gaining a single pound. It’d hardly be possible if there was alcohol involved.

Counting all these benefits I’m seriously considering not resuming drinking once my baby is born. All the money and calories and embarrassing moments I’ll save…….

Nahhhh, just kidding! Already bought a bottle of champagne and a nice Bordeux for when the baby is out! Wheel them in, as the daddy says. I’m assuming he means the beer barrels. Happy St. Patrick’s day kids!

Pre-baby maternity: Day 5 – Too. Much. Baby.

Think of pre-Christmas festive time when you are bombarded by everything Christmassy and it completely sucks you in. Consumed by a false sense of urgency you go mental, searching for additional presents (despite having completed Xmas shopping a month ago), gathering boxes of sweets and giant bags of crisps because you don’t want to run out, watching multiple YouTube videos with napkin folding instructions, and driving from one supermarket to another looking for the perfect turkey.

It’s exactly the same when expecting a baby, except the turkey is your pram and Xmas presents are all the adorable sleeper suits that you just can’t resist buying although you already have one too many. Actually, it’s even worse, because you know when to expect Father Christmas, but baby can decide to arrive at any time making the whole experience even more stressful.

I thought that after assembling my pram and sticking newborn clothes to the washing machine, I’ll be all set. I was planning to stretch my legs and binge watch all the free Amazon Prime box sets. How wrong was I! It took me an hour to figure out how to use a car seat, and after two days of blocking my bedroom floor, my pram is still lying there in pieces that should somehow fit together. Apparently, one ought to use non-bio products for baby laundry. And all the cloth covers of the swingy seat and Moses basket should be washed as well. Now suddenly I need all sorts of items I had no idea existed, like scratch mitts and a baby snot sucker. Oh, and a hospital bag must be packed. A birth plan. Why can’t I just wing this labour thing? Are my sensitive baby wipes sensitive enough? How the hell do I wrap a baby in this odd swaddle cloth? Like a giant burrito perhaps? Shall I launder stuffed animals too? How many nappies of which size do I need? What to do with this breast pump? Shall I watch cow milking documentaries to educate myself? Have I eaten enough protein today? What if my baby is going to be ugly? Can I pleeease have a glass of wine?


…..simply too much baby.

So I decided to introduce a non-baby day. I’ll treat myself to the first one this Saturday. No baby talk. If you ask me baby related questions I’ll ignore you. Don’t show me your babies either. If there is an infant on TV I’ll change the channel. No breast pads and bibs and teats. Only me with some grown up entertainment and maybe a naughty little drink. The only baby I’ll be willing to acknowledge that day will be baby Guinness. Who’s coming to the pub with me?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 3 #loveparkrun

Let’s skip right to the important bit – the highlight of my day which was volunteering at my local parkrun for the first time ever. If you don’t know what parkrun is then you’re missing on some seriously good stuff in your life. It’s a 5K run in your local park that takes place every Saturday morning. If you consider your chances of surviving a 5K run as strong as winning the lottery, do not despair. You don’t need to run, you can walk. Or crawl.

My favourite thing about parkrun is that it’ll be exactly what you make it: a life-or-death race, a part of your marathon training, an opportunity to catch up with friends, a casual stroll in the park, or an unconventional hangover cure. On top of that, it’s all about the community. Parkrunners are friendly and welcoming. If you turn up alone not knowing anyone, at around your 2nd kilometer you’ll have a few new friends (unless you’re sprinting so fast that you leave everyone behind).


Parkrun is totally free because it’s ran (if you pardon the pun) by volunteers. Being grateful for all this, I felt it was time for me to give something back and volunteer. Besides, at over 35 weeks pregnant, my ability to run equals my ability to resist cookie dough ice cream in my freezer (i.e. it’s pretty weak). A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that I look like I’m running while I’m really more like shuffling about. So clearly it was time for me to don a hi-viz jacket and be a tail walker alongside the friend who insulted my running style.

It was a great fun! I enjoyed myself so much that next week I’ll be back doing exactly the same – tail walking and picking up those of you who pass out as a result of previous night’s Guinness consumption. It’ll be St. Paddy’s day! I’ve got shamrock face stickers ready, so head to Upton Court parkrun in Slough, or check where your local one is.

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 2 – the best things in life are free

Like a true lady of leisure I’m sitting in Krispy Kreme and sipping my coffee. No, I’m not scoffing one of their naughty treats since the intense smell of hundreds of doughnuts being fried behind the glass wall is enough to chase away my sweet cravings. One could say that being free all day must get expensive because I have plenty of time to spend money, but when I recap on all my recent freebies I’m quite impressed with myself:

The coffee I’m currently sipping was free with my Krispy Kreme app (not mentioning the free doughnut you occasionally get – no purchase necessary). In my bag, there is a free bottle of Lucozade (Greggs app, again no purchase necessary), a free box of Jacob’s flatbreads (CheckoutSmart app) and a free pack of Laughing Cow cheese (cashback promo). On top of that I enjoyed my yesterday’s free hot chocolate from Caffè Nero (for downloading their app) and my biggest triumph was a free bottle of bubbly in All Bar One that I donated to my fellow Mummies (All Bar One loyalty app).

As a soon-to-be benefits Mum, free stuff excites the hell out of me! While on a tight budget, it’s great to be able to enjoy myself instead of eating beans on toast day in day out. And I’m not even mentioning all the baby freebies that are constantly coming my way – and will be coming yours too once I educate you on how to get them all. Just watch this space!

The highlight of my day: My boss emailed me “I miss you”. Sorry babes, I’m extremely busy doing my baby laundry and ironing muslin squares…

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 1 – Mums and retirees

36 days before my due date. My first day on maternity leave. It’s a bit early, yes, but I started to realise that going to work, growing a real miniature person, trying to keep fit and healthy, while handling everyday household tasks on my own was getting more and more tiring. And apparently soon, I’m meant to be ready to welcome a new human to this world. My nursery is nothing more than a pile of boxes with all sorts of baby stuff, and my hospital bag is lying in the corner – containing only a pair of fluffy socks and a multipack of chocolate bars. So it’s time to shift my focus from the less important things (work) to the critical tasks (baby laundry).

Last night, there was a massive “farewell work” party at my place. Party for one. I put on pyjamas and cracked opened a can of alcohol free Heineken that I didn’t have the chance to finish because I fell asleep shortly after 8pm. As I said – a huge wild party!

This morning, there was no better way to start my career as a stay-at-home (at least for a few months) Mum than spending my first three hours of the day cleaning, scrubbing, hoovering and polishing. Every corner of my two bedroom flat is now spotless which gives me a sense of achievement that will last approximately two days when the place starts to get messy again.

Just as I put my cleaning equipment away, a Paypal notification informed me of £32.12 (random amount, I know) that my baby’s Dad thoughtfully sent to feed his unborn son. Feed via me. How very exciting! In All Bar One, I met a few Mummy-colleagues each of whom had a newborn stuck to their boob. We had a lunch and talked about breastfeeding and poop. I didn’t have much poop-details to contribute with, but I promised myself that as soon as I gain some decent poop experience I’ll write a very descriptive blog about it.

The highlight of the day: Seeing a ballet in the Windsor Royal Theatre. Since it was a matinée performance, I was the only person in the audience who was under the age of 70. There were times when I used to hang out with gay cabin crew and hot pilots – now it is Mums and retirees… Hello maternity!

Food tricks you can get away with when pregnant

Let’s admit it ladies – in pregnancy your relationship with food changes. At least mine did. I loved to eat before, but then food transformed from something I enjoy to something I need. As in NEED. To keep my baby alive. No surprise they say you wouldn’t want to stand between a mum-to-be and her meal. If you did, you would be practically threatening her baby’s well-being and she would not be a happy bunny. So don’t you dare to eat that last yogurt in the fridge. No! Don’t touch it! It’s hers.

As my bump started growing I realised that my passionate relationship with food is nothing to be ashamed off. What is more, it seemed to be socially accepted, if not even encouraged. My baby’s Dad was always the “control-yourself-girl-or-you’ll-be-huge” kind of man. Then, when I noticed him trying to serve me the bigger portion of his beloved pasta, I started to realise that there is a whole lot of things a pregnant female can get away with. They are:

  • Eating loads.

Obviously. When you have a bump, suddenly, inhaling a whole pot of Ben and Jerry’s is something you can be proud of, rather than ashamed. Amazing! Although, don’t do it every day because let’s face it – calories are still calories and they add up no matter how pregnant you are.

  • Taking the last of anything.

You know when people share some food and at the very end there is this last piece left that just sits there looking sad because no one dares to be the one who takes it. Well it’s waiting for you. You’re entitled to it. Enjoy!

  • A midnight snack.

Traditionally, on the list of my priorities nothing would be above sleep. Then one night I found myself sitting in bed at 3 am and feasting on a bowl of Special K. I was certain if I didn’t have that bowl of cereal, I’d die of hunger before my morning alarm. Initially I found it embarrassing, but apparently it is just a common pregnancy “side effect”.

  • People will buy you food. 

Let them! People believe that they should feed pregnant women. It’s their way of “helping”. Whether it’s your bestie paying for your lunch or a colleague bringing you a homemade cookie – accept it, eat it, be grateful.

  • Pick & Mix quality control (aka stealing)

Okay, first let me explain to those non-Brits what Pick & Mix is: the best thing ever! You basically grab a bag or a paper cup and load it with your favourite sweets. Yum!

You pay for the content of your bag, but not for what ends up in your mouth before you weigh your bag. Munching on jelly sweets before making a purchase is practically stealing, but I can promise you that if you come to the checkout till, heavily pregnant, chewing on two fried eggs and a sour cherry, no one will say a word.


  • “The baby asked me for it.”

This is the best excuse when you are caught scoffing something naughty like a muffin just after you ate a croissant. Blame your unborn child. They can’t defend themselves. Plus, no one will dare to question this statement because you  are the one carrying the little creature around.

  • Eating weird stuff.

The funny thing is that you probably had some weird food habits before you got pregnant. Like dipping a digestive biscuit in strawberry yogurt, or pouring sweet chili sauce on literally anything. People found it disgusting. Now they find it cute and quirky. So indulge.

  • Free food.

That’s right! It’ll be coming your way! I can’t pop to my local pub without being served a free toastie or a cheese plate by the owner. The other week we went for a ladies afternoon tea session with friends. While I got a free homemade macaroon from the waiter, my friends got nothing. #sorrynotsorry

  • Food hoarding.

This is an extreme case of stocking up that somehow sneaks upon you and before you realise, your cupboards are not big enough to hold all the “just in case” products and “can’t live without” items. I suddenly found myself owning eight different types of breakfast cereal, because I didn’t want to wake up and fancy a type of granola that I didn’t have access to.

I suppose there are ladies who are fortunate enough to have a dedicated man that rushes to buy the specific food item she fancies in that particular moment. Those lucky ones probably don’t experience food hoarding as intense as mine. But I live alone and am certainly not prepared to run to a shop twice a day, so I had to stock up.

Initially I was worried that I might be perceived as little crazy, but none of my visitors ever said “look at all the cereal boxes you have” so I guess it’s just another thing one can get away with when pregnant…

Pregnancy Cravings
This is not me by the way. I haven’t gone that far (yet)… Photo from


My overall belief is the following: I am sacrificing everything to grown a human being (from ruining my body and my sex appeal, to messing up my sleep and increasing my stress level, to draining my life savings), so I sure as hell am entitled to get away with some things that non-pregnant people never could. So now if you excuse me I need to phone my local curry house to order a lamb korma for me and a chicken tikka masala for my baby.

%d bloggers like this: