Sensational Day in the Life of a Newborn Mummy and an awesome Newborn Photographer…When I was a wedding photographer, I often exhibited at wedding fairs. Sometimes the fair would be extremely quiet and I would chat with the other photographers who were there that day too. It was a great way of sharing ideas and learning new stuff. Once I was in a room with an other supplier and she commented that she had no intention of being friendly with the other suppliers within her industry as they were competition. It really surprised me as throughout the 20 years I have been a photographer, other photographers have become some of my best buddies. We support each other and help grow our businesses together.
I got to meet Laura through my business mentor Gillian Devine of the Rich Tog Academy. We had seen each other quite a few times on group Zoom calls but I finally got to meet in January 2020 in person. During lockdown, Laura became my lockdown photographer buddy. With Laura being pregnant, it was a scary time for her becoming a new mum. We messaged each other daily and helped each other get through this uncertain time. I hadn’t heard from Laura one day, so late afternoon I asked how her day had gone and she sent me a photograph of her and her baby. Little Margot had come 5 weeks early; a girl on a mission – just like her mummy. Laura has amazed me with how she has continued to work on her business whilst looking after a baby. I asked Laura to share with me a day in the life of a newborn photographer with a newborn baby.
Laura, Mummy of Margot
How does your morning start? Do you go with the flow or do you have a plan for the day?
When Margot was first born, we had to wake her every 3 hours for feeding, so she would feed at 6am, then we would go back to bed until her next feed at 9am, as we would have been up at midnight and 3am as well! But now at almost 5 months old, she is sleeping through the night, so I go into her room around 7am when she wakes up, we read and play for 30 minutes and she has her first bottle of the day at 7.30am. Margot then goes back in her cot approximately 8.15am and naps until 9.30/10am. This hour gives me a chance to get showered, dressed and have breakfast! I also use this time to get any washing in the machine or housework done, so I can spend the rest of my day concentrating on Margot.
If we are going out for a walk with someone or going to a baby group, then our timings are quite planned. But if we have a day indoors, then I go with the flow to an extent – although Margot’s bedtime routine goes much smoother if she has had 3 good naps in the day now.
What are your thoughts when you first see your newborn baby in the morning?
It’s the best feeling! Especially as she is now in her own room, as soon as she catches sight of you looking into her cot she gives you the biggest, beaming smile! I can’t describe it really – pride, excitement.
What gets you through the morning?
Coffee! And sometimes Cbeebies. I try not to have the TV on too much during the day as she is always distracted by the colours on the screen. But if there’s something I need to get done, then the odd bit of screen time doesn’t hurt.
What does a typical morning look like?
7am – go in to Margot, read and play
7.30am – breakfast bottle
8am – Margot back down for a nap, I get showered, dressed and eat breakfast. Plan that evening’s dinner, get any washing on etc.
9.30am – Margot wakes. Get her dressed and then play for a couple of hours. I try to change this up with sensory play/concentrating on her coordination/reading
11.30am – Next feed, and she is down for a (usually) 2.5hr nap.
Does your afternoon and evening feel quite different?
Margot’s longest nap is after lunch, so I usually have most of the afternoon to myself. Sometimes we go out for a walk (the moment Margot hits her pram she’s asleep, so I’m still on my own!) or this is usually the time I take a couple of power hours to work. My fiancé finishes work anytime between 4 and 5, Margot wakes from her afternoon nap about 5pm, so he has a couple of hours playing with her before I start her bedtime routine at 6.30. She’s really good at going to bed, so by 7pm she is usually asleep and we get our evening as just the two of us and catch up on each other’s day, watch TV or a film.
Is life with your newborn different to what you expected it to be?
Not really – once we got used to the idea of having her 5 weeks earlier than expected! The one thing that no one can prepare you for is the amount of love that you have for your baby. It’s indescribable. I could sit and watch her play and sleep all day long, it’s so relaxing. I’d never get anything done though!!
Did you worry about what you should be doing in the first few weeks? And was this worse because you were in lockdown?
Yes, but only because she was premature, which I wasn’t expecting. We had so many extra things to think about. Keeping her body temperature up and regulated (she had to be in 3 layers at all times), making sure she had a certain amount of natural light every day to keep jaundice away, waking her up to feed her. Coronavirus luckily didn’t affect us too badly – because she was born early and we were discharged from hospital within 24 hours, we had midwife visits and appointments every 3 days for the first 4 weeks, so we had someone on hand to advise us at all times – we know we were extremely lucky to have this and have felt very supported by our local team.
What is the best thing about having a newborn in lockdown?
You get to keep them all to yourselves for cuddles all day long! I’m sure I wouldn’t be saying that if she wasn’t a good sleeper!
What is the worst thing about having a newborn in lockdown?
Not being able to go out to show them off! I’m quite motivated in terms of play and development ideas so I’m happy to set things up at home, so that aspect of baby groups hasn’t affected me, although not meeting many new mums has done, as I don’t know many people in my local area. Luckily, I have formed 3 really close-knit friendships though so I don’t feel like I have missed out too much there – and I know Margot hasn’t at all.
If you have your own business, is it difficult to shut off from working?
Yes! Because Margot was born whilst I was still working, the first week I was having to contact clients to rearrange appointments and sort out refunds. I then set one week in my diary where I would tie up all loose ends with clients before I could take a definite break, but of course I was still marketing and answering emails when Margot slept. I did get a little overwhelmed just before Christmas though from having to rearrange all of my sessions because of November lockdown. I had spaced them out to suit mine and Margot’s diary in the run up to Christmas to give me a good balance, but because of November lockdown, I ended up having to work two solid weeks and trying to shoot, edit, deliver and be Mummy was really tough going. It made me realise just how hard it was, and the first thing I have done this year is to schedule time off in my diary, which I will be sticking to.
As a newborn photographer yourself, do you think having your own baby will influence/change the way you run your own business?
Yes – I have implemented additional streamlining in my workflows, I have set three days a week that I will be working (during Margot’s naps) and have learnt not to put too much pressure on myself and not overload the diary too much going forward. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed quickly when you have someone else who needs (not wants) you three quarters of your day.
How do you fit in time for washing, cleaning, and feeding yourself?
I like to get all this done during Margot’s morning nap so I know it is done for the day. If I do nothing else productive other than seeing to Margot, then when I wind down in the evening, I feel I have still achieved something!
Do you nap when baby is sleeping?
I did in the early days when she was first born, but I don’t now. I do take an early night a couple of times a week though to catch up!
Are there things that you had done before your baby arrived so it makes the first few weeks easier? For example, filling your freezer with meals all prepared?
I had planned to get meals cooked, but as Margot decided she was coming 5 weeks early, this didn’t happen! The only thing I had done was washed all of her clothes and got them organised and put away in drawers… then because she was early, none of them fitted and we had to go and buy brand new everything in tiny baby size!
What does an end to your day look like?
Margot is in bed by 7pm. We try to eat our dinner around 5.30/6pm so that once she is in bed asleep we have the rest of the evening to ourselves to catch up with each other, watch a film, or TV.
At the end of the day, what makes you feel happy?
I love Margot’s bedtime routine. She’s super cuddly and snuggly in the evenings, especially after a bath. We go up to her room around 6.30pm and either bath or get changed into PJs with the disco ball lights floating around her ceiling. She then has her milk and we read a story. Usually by 7pm she is asleep in my arms.
All Images are copyright of Laura Wills at Dinky Little Dot Photography