This week…Steph Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers and mother to Buster and Mabel.
Steph Douglas started Don’t Buy Her Flowers in November 2014, selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums because she believed they deserve some TLC. Packages range from The Care Package (magazine, truffles, scarf, tea and flapjack) to The Essentials (which includes dry shampoo!). Originally from Gloucestershire, she now lives in London with her two children and husband Mark.
My little Munchkins are… Buster (4) and Mabel (2)
No-one ever tells you that…oh, there’s so much I didn’t know before I had my babies! I used to think that people don’t tell you how tough that beginning bit can be, but I’m starting to think that it wouldn’t matter what someone tells you, until you go through it you can’t really understand and it doesn’t make sense to terrify an already nervous mum to be! Once the baby is out though, I know I found reassurance from friends that told me they’d found it hard/couldn’t breastfeed straight away/felt angry with their partner – that all went a long way to making me feel better!
I couldn’t have survived the first three months without… lovely support from friends and family who had done it before me, reassured me I was doing a good job and that it was all going to be ok. I’m a firm believer in the Sisterhood, hence my blog Sisterhood (and all that). I think it helps when women are honest with each other, and often you end up being able to laugh together at things like tantrumming kids or the time one crapped down your leg and you didn’t realise for the whole day.
I wish I’d known before that…at times it felt like my world had ended, and I couldn’t see how I’d ever be excited about work again or have enough energy to enjoy a night out and felt pretty unsure about who I was. It all works out – it’s different and I definitely don’t go out as much as I used to, but I don’t actually want to. For me, having children has led to starting my own business and meeting so many amazing women who are finding their own paths. I know people that are retraining, starting businesses, staying home, taking on massive corporate roles – it’s not a case of stay at home or work full time. We live in a very different world to the one our mothers grew up in and are pioneers for new ways of working.
It used to drive me mad when people said…‘Enjoy this precious time’- at the time it felt far from enjoyable! I do understand now, and once you’re getting a bit more sleep and hormones have settled down, it feels very different to those foggy first months. Of course it’s an amazing thing – you have had a baby! But it’s also a rollercoaster and I think it’s something that is said a lot to new mums and it can make them feel like they can’t say if they’re struggling.
The best present anyone gave me was…food! Homecooked meals which meant we didn’t have to do anything except heat it up, and also a friend’s mum bought me some Cowshed toiletries, which felt really lovely because it was just for me. I saw her recently and she didn’t even remember that she’d given it to me, but of all the things we were given that’s one that I really appreciated. My husband had to go away with work when Mabel was 2 weeks old and a couple of friends took turns to come and help with bath-time and one did the ironing. That was pretty special.
Our first holiday was…terrifying! I was so anxious and basically packed everything we owned – black out blinds, stairgates, snacks and things that they couldn’t possibly have in another country…I think I spent weeks packing. I’m pleased to say holidays have got a lot easier and we pack lighter. We actually read books on our most recent holiday!
The most important that I’ve learnt is… take your foot off your neck. Each new phase has its challenges, but sometimes we’re really hard on ourselves and there’s no need to be. Every mother I know is doing the best she can, but most are also beating themselves up about not doing enough or feeling like they’re getting it wrong. And don’t worry about The List. There will always be something else to do and someone to respond to, but none of it is more important than your sanity.
I wish…my kids would sleep until 7am. It would be life-changing.
I want my children to know that… oh they’re loved. I’ve just put them to bed before writing this and Buster sat up and asked us where babies come from and how the world was built (Um…Daddy?) and it was one of those ‘bloody hell, we made him, he’s ours’ moments. I think they’re the two most amazing human beings that have ever lived. Exhausting, but amazing.