#wednesdaywords


Another week, another Wednesday and another instinctive quote from me! The quote I have chosen this week was actually stolen from Facebook this morning, (yes I do occasionally drop over to the dark side lol!) It isn’t so much a quote about instincts, but an important quote that encourages us to remember that parenting is different for each and everyone of us and our babies are all beautifully unique. Instincts and love are natural and powerful things which help us travel along the wonderful, yet challenging journey that is motherhood!

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Crazy

Release


Release: 1. To set free from confinement, restraint, or bondage: released the prisoners. 2. To free from something that binds, fastens, or holds back; let go: released the balloons; released a flood of questions. 3. To dismiss, as from a job.

Before you read this post I would just like to start it by saying that it is not as polished as my posts normally are. It was written when I was very upset and from the heart. Apologies if there are errors!

As many of you who read my blog or follow me on Twitter will know, this weekend I went away, all myself. It was an amazing weekend, but this post is not about Britmums Live (that one is still yet to be written!) This post is about leaving your children, and that because of something terrifying which happened to my 12 year old daughter whilst I was away, it has got me thinking about releasing them. About how they cannot stay close beside us forever, and that one day they will be out there on their own, knowing that home is always a safe environment to which they can return.

I have left my children before, many a time. I think it’s a wonderful thing for them to know that they can be looked after and loved by many different people. (Obviously these people are family, or a very close friend and not complete and utter strangers!) This weekend, however, leaving my children was a bit different. My mum came up on Friday to look after the boys and my daughter whilst my husband was at work, and then on Saturday they tagged teamed it and supported each other. Finally, later on Saturday afternoon, my daughter wasn’t going to be a home at all. She had been invited to a sleepover for a school friend’s 12th birthday party and would be away from home herself, in a house I have never been to, with a parent I have only met briefly on a couple of occasions.

I imagine many of you out there with brand new babies or very young children are now sat reading this horrified, as I would’ve been many years ago. We are so used to our children being right by our sides, or on our hips, always close. We are used to being in control of who they see, what they eat, where they go. We forever scan rooms, pathways, parks, play areas for potential risks and danger…catching them when they fall, warning them not to stray too far, telling them where the danger is and how to avoid it. They trust that the world is a safe place, never aware of risks because we spend our lives as parents protecting them from them. However, as children grow up…we need to release them. We need to start helping them to make their own decisions, weigh up the risks and decide what to do and which path to take. They physically become further away from us…at pre-school, at primary school, secondary school. We cannot be around to protect them every single minute of every single day as we so desperately want to and we have to trust that they have listened to years of advice and draw on their experiences in life to make their own choices.

But this weekend my daughter had a choice made for her by another person. And it was the wrong choice. It wasn’t life changing or life threatening. It wasn’t hurtful or dangerous. But it wasn’t her choice, and if it had been it would not have been one she would have made. At the sleepover, whilst I was over a hundred miles away in London unable to help or protect, she was made to watch a film. A film intended to only be watched by persons of 15 years or older. A thriller that scared her more than anything has ever scared her before. I didn’t know this had happened until I awoke this morning to find a text from her on my phone. It had been sent at 4am and simply read…

I want it go home. I watched a scary movie it was a 15 and I can’t go to sleep. I feel sick because I am worried that someone is going to hurt me.

I imagined my daughter, my only just turned 12 daughter, my daughter who is still very much a child, sat terrified all alone. Alone in a house she had never been to before. Alone in a room with some other 12 year olds she didn’t know, and only a few she did. Alone and terrified that someone was coming to get her, to hurt her. She is, as I have described in previous posts, sometimes a handful, sometimes verbally challenging and rule bending, but she is my little girl. She isn’t wise beyond her years, she isn’t ‘street-wise’ and ahead of the game, she hasn’t even begun to go through puberty herself. She is my baby and someone has made a decision that has rocked her safe and secure world.

It’s been a difficult day since then. Obviously I have wanted to race around there and pick her up immediately whilst shouting very loudly at the parent who allowed this to happen whilst she was in her care, but I’m not entirely sure my daughter would appreciate that! So she is still there now, shopping with them on the high street, not fearing the film in the safety of daylight. I’m not sure bedtime or the middle of the night will be so fearless for her later.

And me. Well I have spent the day thinking once again about parenting. I said to my mum on Friday that my instincts were uncomfortable about the sleepover, that I knew something would happen even though I wasn’t sure what. I’d met the girl whose birthday it was, and her mother, and many of the other children that would also be there and thought I was just being over-protective, being a parent who didn’t want to let their child have the independence they so desperately need at this age. What happened to her has made me think about the future and how in a few years time I will not always know where she is, or who she is with or what she is doing. It has made me realised that soon many decisions will be solely hers and I will have no control over that. That one day she will move out and be released into the big wide world…where someone might come along and make bad choices for her, hurt her, terrify her.

It was only a film I hear some of you cry, it’s not like someone really did come and hurt her and you are absolutely right. That film still terrified her and she cannot un-see what she saw, she cannot forget what she heard, and I’m angry that she didn’t get a choice in the matter. Whether or not she watched that film was not someone else’s choice to make, it shouldn’t have been their decision to let my daughter watch a film totally unsuitable for her, not least because she is three years younger than the film’s rating. I’m upset because it made me realise that she’s slowly being released already…slowly having to learn to make decisions herself and learn to be brave enough to walk away from the wrong ones. I know she won’t always make the right choices, or take the best path in life, hell I’ve made some shite choices in my time, but I hope I’ve brought her up to think things through, to make informed decisions…and more importantly than anything…to trust her instincts.

Listen


Philosopher: A philosopher is a person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy who uses this knowledge in their work, typically to solve philosophical problems. Philosophy is concerned with studying the subject matter of fields such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social philosophy and political philosophy.

Today’s #wednesdaywords is a quote, unsurprisingly about listening to and trusting your instincts! 😉 It is from a lady called Harriet Beecher Stowe. She was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery. The quote is simply this…

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Recently my instincts have been at the forefront of my everyday life, and they were recently challenged by someone, who implied that parents cannot survive on instinct alone. Trusting your instincts is hard, but is something I am so passionate about. So today, I thought I’d share with you how mine have helped me, and my family recently.

They have helped my four year old son, who has coughed for as long as I can remember; dismissed as asthma by the doctors my instincts told me it was something more, something digestive and sure enough it turns out that it looks like it is something more.We don’t know what yet, possibly Coeliacs, and blood tests and x-rays await us at a hospital appointment. I’m not one for visiting the doctor unnecessarily, but in this case my instincts kept me going back to ask for help….and I was right to listen to them.

My one year old has also been testing my instincts recently too. He’s never slept through the night (three chest infections in three months haven’t helped) and when you tell people he still has a feed in the night they are horrified, and pretty much always suggest training him out of it. But my instincts tell me he needs it. That it is not for comfort. That it is a full feed. It’s often sleep and feeding issues that can test a mother’s instinct (no one likes sleep deprivation!) and this may be when some might reach for those books to look for suggestions about how to make your baby ‘sleep through.’ Stories of how babies slept for twelve hours a night from ten weeks and how they eat more than you do don’t help, and can make you feel like you are doing something wrong. But, much as I’d like a full eight hours of sleep, as you all know I read my baby, and right now, he’s telling me he needs that feed. So that feed he will have.

My instincts have also been there recently about me. About how I am with my PND. The tablets may be gone, and I’m so much better than I was, but it’s still there. It still lingers on. Most days are amazing and I’m happier than I have ever been, but sometimes things can upset and distress me more than they should. And I need to listen to my instincts about how I am feeling, trust them, and ask for help and support on the days where I’m not in control of my brain. On the days where my brain tells me disaster is imminent and I am worthless and cannot cope.

I know it can be heard to listen to what your gut is telling you, and to have the confidence and trust to go with it. So much advice is conflicting; co-sleep/don’t co-sleep; form a strict routine/be baby-led…it’s endless and it can be overwhelming, making it hard to know where to start. And whilst you all know I think advice is invaluable and sounding out ideas is fantastic, it’s far better from and with trusted sources. Many mums worry when their children don’t do things ‘by the book’ or how have been made to believe they ‘should’ do things, but if you listen carefully and look at your baby you’ll know if what’s happening is ok and meant to be…or not.

Each baby different. Each situation different. Each instinct different. Listen.

To potty or not to potty?


Training: Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, and performance.

Hello! Who out there is thinking about potty training their little one? Are you dreading it? Or are you looking forward to finally being free from those endless nappy changes?

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For me, hearing the term ‘potty training’ makes me want to shout out loud to EVERY parent thinking of doing it and say….STOP…it should be called ‘potty when they’re ready!’ They can’t be trained!! And indeed why should they?

I have three children, a daughter and two sons, two of which are fully ‘trained.’ (Third is only 10 months, think that’s a bit early!) When my daughter was just two, several of our friends in the local play group were already talking about training their little ones to go to the toilet. Whenever we were out and about together I swear they spent more time in the toilets than actually with anyone else. Every time the words ‘Mummy I need wee’ were uttered off they’d dash, scared of an accident and fearful of the child feeling like they’d failed, that they’d done something wrong by having an accident. The mums all had massive bags too, filled with sweets and chocolate as a reward for success, and about fifty million changes of clothes for those inevitable accidents. They bought books, Gina Ford’s guide to potty training was one, and read them whilst we were out to check they were training their little ones correctly. And I guess there was a kind of peer pressure. If they were all doing it, training their tiny people, then should I be? Did I need to go out and buy a giant sized suitcase so I could carry my daughters entire wardrobe around with me in case she had an accident? Did I need a portable potty so that she could feel free to go whenever and wherever she liked? It all seemed like an awful lot of hassle. Whilst they were all running to and from the bathroom and changing their children, wiping away the tears, I was playing with my daughter. Enjoying time with her, be it at the park or a friends house or indeed wherever we were. She wasn’t showing any interest in using a potty, and she was only just two. I kept thinking to myself, how many grown ups aren’t potty trained? How many children go to school still in nappies? (In my 13 years teaching experience I’ve only ever known of one) And I made the decision then to trust my instincts, I knew she wasn’t ready and I’d be damned if I was going to force her to do something that could potentially cause her more upset than good.

So, we waited. And waited. And 6 months later I spied her in the bathroom, sat on one of our potties (yes I had bought some just in case she was ready!) and her favourite teddy bear was sat on another. And they were having a lovely little chat together. She didn’t actually do a wee that time, but not long afterwards she did. And barely ever had an accident. I hadn’t need to train her, I’d waited until she was ready and she had done it all by herself. She knew when she needed to go. And go she did. There were no giant bags of spare clothes, no dashing off and spending hours in public toilets. It was easy. There was no stress involved at all!

Nighttime dryness was the same. As soon as her nappies had been dry for a week or so I took them off. And left a potty in the room if she needed it. Which she did occasionally. But we never had a nighttime accident. Because when those nappies had finally been removed, her body and her brain were ready for it. They’d made the connection. They knew when it was time to go, and could wait when it wasn’t.

It was a similar story with my 3 year old son. Yet for him to be ready we had to wait until he was three and a half. He would happily sit on the potty, and enjoyed watching his Gruffalo do ‘wees’ on the potty (Which was actually me sneakily pouring water in whilst he wasn’t looking!) But his body wasn’t ready for him to do it himself for a long time later. And whilst everyone else at pre-school ditched the nappies, my little boy remained in his. It didn’t bother him. It didn’t bother me. I knew he’d get there in the end. When he was ready. And he did. At night time too. And we’ve had just one accident.

So I guess what I am trying to say with all of these lovely potty anecdotes, is that in my opinion children shouldn’t be trained. Their bodies are complex little things and only when the connections are made in their brains are they ready to use the toilet. It happens at different times for each different child. It’s such an easier and happier experience for everyone involved if you have the courage to wait until they are ready. To not feel the pressure of everyone else waffling on about how their child was trained at 6 months. (Bet these were the children that slept through the night from 6 weeks as well!) Take your time, they all get there in the end.

The Rule Book


Rule: noun: from Middle English rule, from Old French riule, from Vulgar Latin regula (“straight stick, bar, ruler, pattern”), from regere (“to keep straight, direct, govern, rule”); see regent.verb: from Middle English rulen, from Old French riuler, from Latin regulare (“to regulate, rule”), from regula (“a rule”); see regular.

Rules, we all have them and mostly we all try and live by them. I am an absolute stickler for them. I cannot, try as I might break them and am filled with a sense of dread if I even attempt to. If a sign says ‘No Entry’ then there is nothing, not even a massive box of calorie free chocolate on the other side, that will make me enter! (although I would think about it)

Parenting for me has it’s own set of rules (instinctive ones of course!!) but also some black and white ones that my family and I all abide by. ‘Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself.’ is one. ‘Work hard, play hard.’ another. More ideals and life philosophies than rules I guess.

And there is no place where rules are more enforced than ever, than in a school. A few months ago I went to a parents evening at my daughter’s school, and on chatting to her form tutor for a mere 15 minutes it was clear that my 11 year daughter was breaking quite a few of their rules. She was being rude to others, not handing in her homework and had got a couple of detentions in a couple of weeks. I was mortified. There has always been two sides to my daughter, she’s a Gemini and we’ve often said she has a good side, and a not so good side, and clearly the latter was rearing it’s ugly head more than the norm (if there is one!) for a pre-teen. Interestingly the form tutor’s advice was for me to be stricter with her. It was a moment when I had to do a bit of self reflection. My fiery red-headed daughter had always pushed boundaries with her fantastically outgoing and vivacious personality, and she’d always needed clear boundaries setting. However in the last year, with the birth of my third child and PND I had to admit that these boundaries had lapsed somewhat. It was easier for me to pick up rubbish she left in the lounge than have to have yet another argument about her doing it herself. It was easy for me to say yes to her having the laptop in her room at bedtime than have a battle to get her to go to bed. I’m not proud of my lack of ‘structured’ parenting, but I will admit to it and be honest about it. I had taken the easy route. I felt awful that she’d seen me so ill, felt terrible that she was old enough to know what was going on and that she’d had to comfort me on many an occasion. So, if I could keep her happy in other ways I guess I had felt I was making up for some of that. But now, the lack of boundaries was coming back to bite us both on the ass.

We came home, both of us very upset. There had been so many arguments and battles between us over the last few months, but for once after what the tutor had said, we were both speechless. I felt I had completely let her down and mother’s guilt kicked in with full force. She went to bed and I tortured myself with guilt and fears of being a terrible mother. My daughter and I had done a ‘love bombing’ day a few weeks previous to this which, although wonderful, hadn’t fully solved the issues and as soon as we returned home from our day out, try as we might not to let it happen, the arguments, resentment and frustrations returned. So we needed something new. I thought about what the form tutor had said and wondered how my daughter felt about it. We sat down and discussed what we were going to do, as our situation was affecting so many people. My daughter said she wanted rules. She said she wanted to know exactly where she stood and what she was and wasn’t allowed to do. I asked her how she would like this to be done and she decided on a rule book. We went to Paperchase and bought a massive coloured notebook, and some stickers. (and I may or may not have also purchased several smaller notebooks for me, but we won’t focus on that) We came home and together thought of what we both expected of each other. Each page was written with a rule, and a consequence if that rule was broken. Things like ‘all electronic equipment switched off by 8.30pm,’ ‘make your bed every morning,’ and ‘tidy up after yourself,’ were recorded and agreed. She wanted to sign every page to show she was committed to it. And I had rules too!

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It’s strange, but after the book had been written and the rules were in place she changed. She looked happier, lighter. Without being asked she started following them, and was actually found singing as she tidied up! Upon asking her where this lovely good mood had come from she simply said that she felt a weight had been lifted from her shoulders and that she felt so much happier knowing exactly where she stood. She said writing that book had been a relief, and she was so happy we were working as a team to improve our relationship and her attitude. Over the next few weeks we looked at the book every evening and either stuck in a sticker (again her idea!) if she had stuck to it, or put a warning cross if something hadn’t gone quite right. Soon, as the weeks went by we needed to look at the book less and less and now, it’s hardly referred to at all.

The real test (and subsequent #magicmoment!) came last Thursday. It was her end of Year 7 parents evening. A two hour extravaganza where I would meet every single one of her teachers. I was nervous, she was nervous. The proof, as they say, was going to be in the parent-teacher conference pudding. And it was the sweetest, most delicious pudding I had ever eaten. Phrases like, ‘wonderfully polite, ‘ ‘an absolute pleasure to teach,’ ”a fantastic team player,’ and ‘such an amazing attitude to school and learning,’ were said…about my daughter! She was praised for her perseverance, for her thoughtfulness, her kindness and determination. Together we discovered how truly amazing she is, and I have never been so proud to be her mother. She swelled with pride with every conversation and at the end of the two hours we were laughing and smiling and high-fiving (not cool for a grown woman I know!) all over the place. She was so proud of herself and everything she had achieved. And I had learnt to listen to her needs more, she needed rules and boundaries not my misplaced attempts at making her feel loved to try and ease my PND guilt.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that my daughter will forever be this polite, hard working and well behaved, she is about to become a teenager in the not so distant future after all, but I do hope that this wonderful phase continues and that it installs in her an innate sense of motivation and desire to work hard and succeed. She set her own rules and stuck to them. She excelled herself and turned it around. That parents evening was a truly wonderful #magicmoment. We celebrated in style with a lovely mother/daughter dinner, something we have vowed to do at least once a week, just the two of us. She’s an amazing child, and I think she is finally beginning to realise that herself!

Ten Stories I Wish I’d Been Told About Being a New Mum


Guest: Guest or The Guest may refer to: A person who is given hospitality.

Today on my blog I have the pleasure of hosting the first ever guest post!! It is written by the lovely Stephanie, who is a brilliantly talented writer and storyteller! You can follow her on Twitter @Storybramble and her fantastic blog can be found at
http://www.storybramble.com/
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Stephanie is a trained actor, qualified drama teacher and mother of two. She is passionate about reading, writing and telling stories and created Storybramble as a resource for other parents who feel the same way. Over at Storybramble Stephanie posts a new audio story or poem for children to listen to each week with ideas for creative activities to go with it. She also blogs about all things story related including stories she is reading with her own children and ideas for how to make storytelling a part of your family’s life.

So, without further ado here is her brilliant guest post…please visit her blog and show her some love!

Ten Stories I wish I had been told about being a new mum

I am a big fan of stories. I believe they can transform, teach and even heal us. Stories are powerful creatures that are everywhere. When pregnant you become a magnet for stories. Birth stories, sleepless night stories, breast feeding stories are passed on aplenty. I vividly recall being wide eye with terror at some of the tales I heard when I was pregnant with my first child as a wave of horror birth stories came crawling out of the wood work. Episiotomy? Why did no one tell me before I had a baby inside me that needed to come out?!

Then that baby does come out. And I found, as you so often do, that the stories you heard about motherhood don’t always match up to the reality. So, as I am a big believer in all things magical, I decided to imagine what I would say if I had the power to go back and talk to my new mum self. What stories would I want the younger me to hear? And this is what I came up with:

1. It is ok to have pain relief when giving birth

I was lucky enough to attend NCT classes when I was pregnant with my first baby. They were a great source of information on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding and a great way to meet other new mums to be. Natural was held up as the ideal when it came to giving birth and I had a lovely natural birth story all worked out in my head. Which was great, until I actually went into labour.

It was a story of complications, my son was back to back and not keen on coming out. It was a story of other worldly pain which I fought for longer than I should have before relenting and asking for an injection of pethidine. Within half an hour the labour stopped being a struggle and my son was born. The pethidine had affected him however making him too sleepy to feed properly and I was hit with my first does of motherhood guilt. I found I couldn’t enjoy the first precious days with my son because I was consumed with a sense of having already failed him as a mother. It wasn’t until I had my second baby naturally that I realised how different each birth is. The story I wish I had heard is this:

Birth is an individual experience, it’s great to aim for a natural birth but sometimes that’s just not possible. If you find you need pain relief that is ok, the goal of labour is not to create the perfect birth story, the goal is to give birth to a healthy baby so do what you need to do and don’t worry.

2. Breastfeeding is natural but does not always come naturally

I knew I wanted to breastfeed and felt confident of my ability to do it. My health visitor and the NCT made it sound easy enough. The reality was very different. Within a few days I was a mess, cracked, sore and bleeding. I went on to develop an infection which added to the pain I was experiencing and each feed was agony. I was lucky, I was well supported by my heath visitor and also called out a breastfeeding councilor but they couldn’t help me. The only thing that was going to help was time, so that I could heal the cracks. I recovered eventually by expressing some milk and alternating bottle feeds with time on my breast. It was three months before I really had breastfeeding sorted and I went on to feed my son until he was two. I am glad I stuck it out but I could easily see why someone would chose not to go through that pain, if I had had another child for example I wouldn’t have been able to do it. What I wish I had been told was:

Breastfeeding is great but sometimes it is not straightforward. Be prepared by knowing who to ask for support and help. Have supplies of nipple cream on stand by and have and know how to use a breast pump incase you want to express at some point (3am in the morning is not when you want to be struggling with an instruction manual!). Don’t give up to soon, it is worth fighting for but equally don’t beat yourself up if it is not what you want or if it becomes impossible. You have a life time of mother guilt ahead of you, you might as well drop this one and do what is right for you.

3. It is ok to go back on things that you said you were going to do/not do

There was a time when I knew everything there was to know about parenting my children. I knew exactly what I would and would not do in each and ever situation. Then I had a baby and everything changed!

Before I had children I was sure I would use cloth nappies and I would never give my baby a bottle or a dummy. I was really quite annoying about it and it came to bite me in the bum big time. The cloth nappies were too much work for me in the early days and I gave up on them quickly and my breastfeeding issues saw me go back on my ideas about bottles and dummies. I found those moments difficult, it felt like I was going against my own moral code. I wish I had been told:

It’s great to make decisions about parenting when expecting but remember that when you have an actual baby in your arms things might be very different. You might need to change your mind about things and that is OK. Your baby wasn’t there when you made your plans and might not like them, go with the flow and let yourself off the hook.

4. Sleep, forget the housework!

Admittedly I did hear the ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ mantra but for some reason it didn’t make sense to me. If I slept then when would actually do anything else? The answer is this?

Drop your standards! You have a new baby, you are learning how to do the hardest job in the world with no training on next to no sleep. Rest, rest and rest again. Sleep deprivation is not a form of torture for no reason so do what you are told and sleep when that baby sleeps!

5. It is ok to not be ok

After both my babies I didn’t feel so great. Baby blues hit most mothers at some point but for me they hung around a bit longer than they should have. I felt terrible for not feeling happy. Surely this was meant to be the best time of my life? I had imagined floating around the house glowing and baking cookies. Instead I was dragging myself around in my jammies looking like I had been pulled through a bush backwards. I would tell myself:

Motherhood is amazing but it doesn’t always feel that way and that is ok. Don’t add to your stress by feeling bad about feeling bad. And if you are feeling bad then the next point is required reading.

6. Ask for help

Because I felt ashamed for not being full of the joys of motherhood I lied to the health visitor, my family and friends about how I really felt. I pretended all was well when in reality I felt pretty awful much of the time. I wish I had known:

Becoming a mother is a massive change in your life and while it can be wonderful it is also normal to feel overwhelmed, sad or a sense of loss over your old life. Normal but not OK. Normal because many parents feel that way, not OK because you shouldn’t have to struggle alone. Don’t wait, ask for help – you deserve support.

7. Don’t compare

Everyone has heard of the competitiveness of mothers but until you experience it first hand you can’t know how fierce it actually is. I was amazed at the number of little digs I got about my son’s awful sleeping or my struggle with breastfeeding. I wish someone had told me to:

Ignore, ignore, ignore! So their darling is sleeping through the night already, well good for them. Babies are all individuals who do things at their own pace. You are not doing anything wrong as a mother just because your child isn’t doing whatever their child is doing, your parenting is just fine.

8. Throw the books in the bin

I read them all. Gina, baby whisperer, books on attachment parenting. They were all very interesting. They were all totally contradictory. They all belonged in one place only. The bin.

Don’t read a ton of parenting books. If you do want advice you are better of either chatting to other mums that you know and trust or simply listening to your own gut, as they saying goes – mum knows best!

9. Stop

It is true what they say about parenting, the time really does fly. I missed out on a lot of the early days with my son because I was too busy worrying about what I was and wasn’t doing.

Relax and enjoy, you won’t get this time back. Forget about what you feel you ought to be doing and do what feels right. And lie on the sofa eating chocolate and smelling your baby as often as you can.

10. Take space

When I became a mother I felt completely consumed by the work of parenting. My days felt like a bad record on repeat that went: Nappy, boob, washing, food, clean. Nappy, boob, washing, food, clean. I loved my son but I was bored a lot of the time and I felt like there was no space in my life for me anymore. I kept these thoughts to myself, somehow it felt wrong to want time for me. Now I see having time to do my own thing as an essential part of being a good mother. A radiator has to be warm to heat others and as a mother you need to nourish your creativity as much as you need to nourish your body with good food. It’s part of the reason I created my site Storybramble, it gave me a space where I could be creative and connect with other mothers. Storybramble was a place to share my passion for children’s stories and I am thankful to the internet which allows so many women the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Make sure you make time for you and your passions. Taking care of you is all part of being a good parent. Mothers have a unique perspective on the world so get out there and tell your own story, the world is waiting to hear from you.

What about you? What stories did you hear about being a mother and what would you go back and tell yourself if you could?

Thank you Stephanie, for guest posting on my blog x

An Advert Rant.


Adverts: Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common.

So, it is #rantyfriday and if you read my blog you know I often like a good rant, and sometimes that rant is about so called ‘parenting manuals!’ My dad once bought a manual to help him when I was a ‘difficult’ teenager. I don’t remember what it was called or exactly what was written in it but I do remember laughing out loud when I snuck into my parents bedroom to read it, thinking that the author clearly wasn’t a teenager as they didn’t get them at all! Maybe it was there that my dislike of parenting manuals began, who knows, but recently this irritation has spread to parenting adverts….

I was watching an advert for a popular squash brand this week and was infuriated by the tag line, ‘It’s great to be a dad, even better to be a friend.’ It is such a sweeping statement and I despair of parents who try and be their children’s friends; I’m of the firm opinion that you should be their parent! You, and they, probably have enough friends (I hope!) in your lives anyway. Parenting isn’t about being friends with your child, they are not supposed to like you, they are supposed to respect you and look up to you. Parenting is far more complex than friendship, and whilst I’m friendly with my children, I wouldn’t dream of actually being their friend. How would that help them? I’m supposed to discipline them, teach them the difference between right and wrong, nurture their talents and develop their personalities. I am not the one who should be having their first fag with them behind the bike sheds. Or be the first to hear about them losing their virginity. *shudders* I’m all for having a close,honest relationship with my children, but if they ask for my advice, the advice they will get is that from a mother, not a mate.

After watching that advert I then got a bit obsessed with analysing others. Nappies for example; ‘All your baby needs to wake up happy is your love and a dry bottom.’ What a load of sodding rubbish! I love my baby endlessly, and he always has a nice, clean and dry bottom, but does he always wake up happy, does he heck! I, for that matter, am loved and always have a nice, clean and dry bottom and I wake up in a foul mood almost daily.

And don’t even get me started on sanitary towels and, ‘Have a happy period.’ That was clearly written by a man. Why oh why would I or any other woman ever have a happy period? How could being bloated, tearful, irritated with everyone and everything, in pain, spotty and miserable as sin EVER be a happy experience. If a sanitary towel actually possessed magical powers and could make me have a happy period then I’d buy them in truck loads. Seriously, someone needs to invent that!

My point to this rant (albeit somewhat disguised!) is that parenting and life can be hard, and so many written words compound that. Books, magazine articles, adverts…if we read and believe them all we would go insane and never know what to do. Surely our instincts can tell us that if a child has a dirty nappy they will probably be unhappy. (and, for that matter, that we are never going to have the all elusive ‘happy period’)

My mum sent me this article in the newspaper this week (yes it was from the Daily Fail but still, I read it!)

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In the article it says that 46% of Grandmothers listened to their own instincts. And the others shockingly took advice from Mothercare or Marks & Spencer. Can you imagine their advert, ‘This isn’t just any baby…this is a baby with the peachiest, smoothest skin. A baby whose cries sound like sweet music!’ Bleurch, you get the picture. Are these companies really that influential, do people actually listen to the words in their adverts? Are some men out there now changing their complete parenting style to be their son’s mates even though it could be going against every instinct they have?

The article ends with the sentence, ‘We think it’s important for mothers to be encouraged to discover their own inner instincts – something books can overlook!’

COULD NOT AGREE MORE. And now I think this not just about books, but hugely influential advertising as well. What do you think?