Alexandra Hill is an ITV News presenter who has two children - Olivia (21 months) and Alfie (10 weeks). Here, Alexandra tells us why she's a Contented Mum!
How did you first find out about the Contented Baby routines?
When I was pregnant with my first child Olivia, I picked up the Contented Little Baby book while out shopping for baby stuff. I didn't really think much of it and didn't get around to even looking at it until after she was born. I'd heard about Gina and the routines from other mums but I had no idea how important they were - why didn't anyone tell me!?
What made you want to start using them?
When Olivia was born I didn't really have a clue about just how wrong I could get it. I wasn't prepared for her wanting to feed every couple of hours, sleep a lot in the day and get up every two hours at night! So, after three months of this, I finally consulted the book. When baby number two Alfie came along I had already read the Contented Little Baby and Toddler cover to cover three times.
How soon did you start to notice an improvement?
It took a long time to break my bad habits with Olivia - I always let her fall asleep feeding and immediately fed her if she woke at night. She only started sleeping through the night at 10 months when I found out I was pregnant again and finally had to address her sleeping habits! After that experience I was determined to do things differently with Alfie and I'm proud to say he's a total Gina baby. He's been sleeping through the night since he was 8 weeks old.
What have been the most helpful parts of the routines?
Without a doubt the lunchtime nap. I used to go out at lunch with Olivia and let her sleep in the buggy. I couldn't imagine having to stay at home while I could be meeting friends. Now I can't believe I ever did that - I cherish my two hours of peace and quiet in the afternoon and they're both happy little poppets on the other side of a good nap.
Do you feel you now have a more contented baby?
Absolutely! Both of them are so settled in their routines. It's already obvious with Alfie. Everyone comments on what a chilled out little man he is. Olivia is so much happier now she knows things are pretty much the same every day. She's always ready for her nap and sometimes even takes herself off to the stairs when it's time. Now I just ask her if she wants to go and lie down and she says "Yes!"
How have you found it works with both children - have you managed to get the entire family into a pattern?
It's been so much easier than I'd anticipated. I was really worried about how a newborn would disrupt our routine and how I'd manage to keep Olivia entertained while looking after Alfie, but the routines make it really straightforward. I love that I know what I'm supposed to be doing with them all day - which is weird as I don't normally like being told what to do! Even when it goes wrong and one of them sleeps longer or not as long as they're supposed to it's easy to get back on track.
You and your husband (Editor of Channel Five News, Geoff Hill) both work in a very demanding field - do you think the routines have had a benefit for your whole family?
My husband's long hours mean he doesn't really get to see the kids in the week as they're up after he's gone and in bed before he's home, but I know he's grateful the routines mean we all get to sleep. Luckily I get a lot of help from my mum and my mother-in-law and having the routines mean either of them can easily look after one or both of the kids.
Does it make you feel more confident about returning to work knowing that you have the children settled into a routine?
Having them both in such an easy routine means I can go back to work already! It's something I couldn't even contemplate when Olivia was younger and not settled, but now both her and Alfie are in the routines it's easy for me to go and do a weekend shift and leave them with their daddy or one of the nanas.
Alexandra Hill can be seen reading the weekend and morning news on ITV as well as fronting London Tonight and news bulletins on Daybreak. Before working at ITV Alexandra was a presenter for Sky News, Sky Sports News and Setanta.