Oops I had an Opinion….

I’ve never been the type of person that yearns to put their point across. Just the other week I was at a big business Expo event and I attended various workshops, one of which loved the whole ‘audience participation’ thang (groan…). They asked for opinions on a certain issue and boy did I have them in the bucket load; did I say them? No. Did I raise my hand to signal I had something to say? No. Did I sit there thinking about my opinion, hell yeah, I always have an opinion. I did feebly open my mouth to express it on a couple of occasions (accompanied by the deafening thud of my pounding heart as public speaking isn’t really my bag) but quickly closed it again when someone else started speaking. So, you see, I’m really not one of those people that loves the sound of my own opinion being aired to the masses. I’m opinionated but I keep a water tight lid on them.

But, you know, every now and again a subject will come up that either lights a fire in my belly or rubs me up the wrong way, and when this happens I’m not so good at keeping that lid on my opinion. It, sort of, loosens a bit and my opinion ends up inadvertently spilling out on to whoever happens to be there at the time the lid pops off (when I talk about this metaphorical ‘lid’ I’m more imagining a champagne cork; it’s a bit more glamorous that way.) .

When I read an article in The Independent about a Sexuality Expert’s thoughts on parents asking their children’s consent prior to changing their nappy, I immediately felt extremely uncomfortable. There has been a lot of talk of consent in the press and it is clearly an issue that sparks a lot of debate. For me, the more the issue is in the press and the better we, and the upcoming generations, understand the issues surrounding consent, the better. It is something we all need to understand, promote and respect amongst society. My discomfort came from the issue being discussed by a person described as a ‘Sexuality Expert’. The idea that nappy changing was being discussed by a sexuality expert made me feel uneasy. I worked in Child Protection for almost five years and the things I saw, discussed and read during that time still haunts me today, almost fifteen years later. So, I get that I may be slightly sensitive when it comes to issues such as this. I’ve sat at a table opposite some true monsters. Monsters that really didn’t understand consent. Monsters that didn’t care nor respect children and their right to be protected, kept safe. So, when a ‘Sexuality Expert’ starts commenting on the act of nappy changing, something that, to me, is an innocent act that is part of the every day care of my baby girl, it started to hit a nerve with me. Nappy changing isn’t an act that should be associated with sex or sexuality. It is merely about ensuring your child’s basic needs are being met when they are too young to see to those needs themselves.

So, throw in there the issue of ‘consent’ (an issue heavily associated with sexual relations in the media) and this article started to feel very wrong for me. I am a good mother; my husband is a good father. When we change our baby’s nappy it is an act of innocence born out of the need and desire to take care of her the best we can. When we are frantically pulling fifty five baby wipes out of the packet (when we were only after one single wipe, that is possibly the most irritating baby-wipe-malfunction ever) and trying to scrub the brown stuff off our baby girl before she gets the opportunity to stick her feet (or, quite frankly, her hands – she’s very explorative at the moment….) in it, we aren’t thinking about consent because we are innocently seeing to her needs, we aren’t disrespecting her body, we aren’t thinking about sex or sexuality – we are, quite simply, being mum and being dad.

I never thought I’d see the day I agreed with Piers Morgan (a man with an incredible ability to piss me off just by merely breathing) but when he opened the debate on ‘Good Morning Britain’ (I just had to google the name of it because I still call it TV-AM, a true sign of being an 80s child….) and they were discussing the act of asking a baby for consent prior to the nappy being changed, I found the whole thing ridiculous. And so did old P-Dog. I bet that’s the first and last time we ever agree on something. If I waited for my daughter to give her consent for me to change her nappy, we’d be up to our eye balls in the brown stuff. We would be living at 108 Poo street in Poo-ville, the Poonited Kingdom. I can’t get my little girl to consent to eating a carrot, never mind her agree to have her nappy changed. I literally have to chase her around the floor until I’ve got her in such a position that I can whip her nappy off (whilst praying there are no surprises inside that are going to fly out and splat on our new wallpaper) get her cleaned up and send her on her merry way with a clean nappy on and all in around 0.3 of a millisecond otherwise it’s meltdown mania. Most of the time the process leads to meltdowns of grandeur. It can be a two-person job sometimes! There is not a chance that my baby girl would ever volunteer or actively consent to having her nappy changed.

When the specialist on TV-AM (or whatever…) was asked by Piers how a 3 month old baby gives consent, she said that there are non-verbal ways of communicating consent, like a baby will relax its shoulders because it will feel happy that his or her nappy will be about to be changed. I’m not sure if my two were just wild or possessed (or both) or what but even at 3 months, they were not fond of the nappy changing thing. No-siree. There were no relaxing of the shoulders or giving non-verbal signs that they were in any way enjoying being changed. They gave plenty verbal signs that they weren’t enjoying it, mind. There were plenty of them. The neighbours 5 doors away heard them every bloody nappy change.

My biggest gripe with this whole debate is that if we are to teach consent to our children, we have to be 100% committed to respecting their consent (or lack of it). To ask a child for consent to do something, something that we know, as parents, that we have to do regardless of their consent, is teaching the very opposite of consent, respect and trust, so why ask for consent in the first place?! My feeling is that every child should be taught consent. They should be taught to respect their body and that they have autonomy over who touches, and what happens to, their body. I’m not arguing with that in the slightest. What I do struggle with is introducing it at such an age where the baby is physically, cognitively and emotionally unable to understand the concept of consent. I also really struggle with teaching consent through an activity that has to be carried out regardless. What is that teaching them? That their consent means nothing. In the same way that when I change my baby girl’s nappy no matter how hard she protests so that one day she learns that nappy changing is something that has to be done no matter how strongly she feels about it, children who haven’t consented to their nappy change who go on to be changed and have their consent ignored, will learn that consent means nothing and that, for me, is the most dangerous thing about this whole debate.

If we are ready to teach consent to children who have the cognitive ability and the emotional literacy to understand the concept of consent, we have to be willing to respect that consent otherwise it will only serve as a reminder of the fact that their consent just doesn’t mean anything. We can’t have a generation of children growing up under the impression that consent is something that can be ignored, or something that really doesn’t matter. That is the very last thing our children, and our society, needs.

My bottom line on this is that the issue of consent is absolutely something we have to approach with our children but from an age where they have the ability to understand. I think that asking for consent from a baby to change their nappy only serves as a means to make us feel better about doing it. It tricks us all in to thinking that we are respecting the body, wishes and feelings of that baby but in reality, that consent means nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because them withholding their consent  makes no difference whatsoever to what happens to them. And we can’t risk that sort of culture emerging with the next generation.

We can only teach consent when we are truly willing to respect the child’s response. Until we are completely committed to respecting their view on consent, we shouldn’t be introducing the idea because it will only have a negative effect on their perception of the issue.

I (stupidly) got a little bit too wound up over this debate and put out a flippant tweet explaining that I was fed up of hearing about it and that I thought the idea of gaining consent from a baby was ridiculous. It wasn’t directed at anybody, it was just me needing to vent about a topic that was irritating me somewhat. It got a mixed response; people agreed and people didn’t agree. Most who didn’t agree explained their reasoning in perfectly respectful terms and I have no issue with that whatsoever. It would be a boring world if we all felt the same way about everything, after all. There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate. Everybody is entitled to their opinion; that’s the beauty of free speech.

There’s always one though, hey. Someone really didn’t like my opinion and had worked out that, from the fifteen words or so in that one single tweet I put out, I didn’t have the intelligence to understand the wider issues surrounding consent. I didn’t much like the suggestion that I hadn’t fully understood the issue of consent, particularly given my background in both child protection and teaching, so I explained that I fully understood the matter. I wasn’t rude or argumentative, I just defended the idea that I was a complete and utter nugget who didn’t have the first clue about what I was talking about. I always say that in life you never know the battles people are facing and therefore, I don’t ever like to be confrontational or disrespectful because you just never know the impact that could have on someone, particularly on social media, where you interact with people that you’ve never spoken to before. So I maintained my position but I did it with respect. A couple of others entered the “discussion” and most of them were supportive of my opinion. A couple of lovely people with well meaning intentions challenged the person over the way in which they had spoken to me and BANG! Then the fireworks started going off. It got pretty personal very quickly, with comments being aimed ay myself and one of the people who had stuck up for me about our age, lack of understanding and there was even a ‘why don’t you stop arguing with me and go and see to your kids instead?’ type comment, clearly suggesting that being on Twitter made us poor parents because we should have been dealing with our kids instead. They were in bed, by the way. Not that we need to justify ourselves.

I did the thing that frustrates my hubby the most about me. I sat and wrote out response after response after response but I let my finger hover over the ’TWEET’ button for just one moment too long and the hesitation was enough for me to have second (third, fourth and fifth) thoughts, scrap the tweet and start all over again. I would scribble a response in haste, wound up, but by the time I reached the end of the tweet I had calmed down enough to question whether it was really wise, or appropriate, to respond in such a way so then I deleted it all and started draft 2, draft 3, draft 144 –  you get the idea. None of those drafts made it out in the Twittersphere.

I would love to say that those small comments or ‘digs’ made about me didn’t bother me but, you know, actually they did. And I don’t have any reservation about admitting that. We are all human at the end of the day. I often feel old enough looking at all the twenty somethings smashing it on social media every day so that comment about our age (she approximated that we were 40, she was a few years out and, let’s face it, when you get to nearing 40 every single year counts!) did bite a little bit. The suggestion I was too stupid to understand the bigger picture of the debate hurt too. I try to live my life being as least judgemental as I can because I know how it feels to be judged and would hate to do that to someone else; so when she made the assumption based on my tweet (and maybe my profile picture, I don’t know…) that also got me a little bit. Social media as a general arena is very public so to be accused of, in other words, being stupid, I was acutely aware of all the other people that would see it too and that didn’t feel good. Believe me I wish I didn’t give a shit. God, it would be so cool not to give a shit. I would LOVE not to give a shit.

Despite feeling a little bit miffed, I maintained my composure and the ‘debate’ was over in a milli-second. I thought nothing more of it. The following day, more lovely peeps from Twitter replied to my original tweet with their views. It’s, very obviously, been a topic that has stirred up strong opinions in a lot of people so my initial tweet got engagement from people who also wanted to state how they felt about the issue, and they were very welcome. Again, it was a mixed bag, some agreed and some disagreed. Apart from reading everybody’s replies with genuine interest, I thought nothing more of it. Until I received a notification that the original tweeter (or twitterer, I’m not 100% on the Twitter etiquette so forgive me…) who had taken such issue with my opinion was at it again. She mocked me about interacting with new people who had replied that day, telling me to ‘get over it’ and suggested I had harassed her all day because she had automatically been tagged in to every reply made to the original post due to her initial reply. When accusations like that were starting to be bounded about I wanted to switch off my phone (actually, I wanted to throw it through a double glazed window in my office but I thought it would be unfair to expect the cleaners to tidy up the glass afterwards) and run away. I thought how on earth can one tweet cause so much hassle? I get that it is a topic that people will respond emotionally to. I get that people are passionate about their opinion. But being passionate about your own opinion is different to being passionately negative about someone else’s.

I did reply, but only to tell her that I had not tweeted her once and I explained the way Twitter works and that her being tagged in is automatically done by the folk behind the blue bird. I left it at that. I was biting my tongue and sitting on my hands but I left it at that.

Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate. It has changed the way we do, just about, everything. I have met some truly beautiful people on Twitter, and I have witnessed some despicable behaviour on Twitter. I’ve been a bystander in kick off’s on other people’s posts before and when I think about some of the horrible, nasty and unkind things I have read others say to each other, what I experienced on my post was nothing in comparison. Social media provides us with a community in which we should feel free to discuss our opinions, ideas, thoughts and beliefs without fear of unkindness in response. I can listen to opposing opinions all day long (in fact, I am a true believer in that doing so widens our minds) but if someone mocks you for what you think and gets personal in a bid to fuel an argument (I’m not sure why anyone would want an argument mind, maybe there wasn’t much on the telly or something…) it’s just not fun.

I’m not sure I will be rushing back to Twitter (or any social media platform for that matter) to share my opinions anytime soon. I’ll revert back to that wall flower who is too scared to open her mouth and share her opinion publicly.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this debate though – feel free to comment with them; for the avoidance of any doubt, you can rest assured this is a safe, judgement-free space to share your views!

Have you ever got in to a bit of a hardcore argument on social media? Tell me all about it below!

Don’t befriend me. I’m not good at the whole friendship thing.

There’s friends and then there’s ‘Facebook Friends’, i.e. people you once knew but will never see again, yet you remain interested in gawping at the wedding dress they have chosen , their Great Aunty’s third cousin’s ex husband’s holiday photos, or their weekly mirror selfie demonstrating how their weight loss journey is going, or what their third boyfriend in six weeks looks like, or how perfect their brand new high gloss white kitchen looks (they’ve got no children, obvs). They are the friends that never forget your birthday, but they only ever speak to you (aka type) on your birthday. They don’t speak to you on any other of the 364 days of the year, but you get a happy birthday from them at the very least.

I have a group of amazing friends. One bestest best friend, a couple of really squeally good friends and a number of friends that I’ve met in various circles that I see every so often. I know that I could call on them at any given time and they would be there for me, without question. They bring so much to my life and by God have I needed them in recent years. Since having Little Miss though and going back to work from maternity leave, I feel like I don’t really deserve the title of ‘friend’ in return. I am fast fading in to the Facebook realm of no return. I am going to be one of them. I am going to end up a Facebook friend. A Facebook friend to someone I genuinely love and care for. They’ll have a neb at my photos every so often and nothing going on in my life will be of any interest to them. Nor will they need me. Because they’ll have real life friends for that.

Is it because I’m a horrible person? I don’t think so. Is it because I don’t want to be their friend? Hell no, I love the very bones of each of them. Is it because I don’t care? Absolutely not. In fact, I think about them more so now than ever before. So why? Why am I paling into insignificance in the friendship stakes? Because I’m just not good at it anymore.

My best friend lives on the other side of the world and, frankly, it’s a good job she does, otherwise she’d have binned me off by now too. I can manage the occasional phone call, the weekly text messages and emails and Facebook exchanges; that’s all good. But when it comes to doing friendy things, like actual things with my friends, hanging out with them, coffee dates, long drawn out telephone calls where we put the world to rights, cocktails and drunken chat, delivering McDonalds the morning after the night before and devouring it in our jim jams because we have both never been so hungover in our lives before – all of this I once did. Now not so. It’s getting less and less (and I’ve definitely not drank enough to have the mother of all hangovers since circa 2003 so that last one definitely hasn’t happened this century) and every time I say ‘no’ to an invitation I can feel myself slipping further and further away from my friends.

It’s not even that I don’t want to go. Show me a frazzled mamma who doesn’t want to meet their friends (for either caffeine or alcohol, one wakes me up, one sends me to sleep so at this point in my life I favour caffeine over the good stuff. Falling asleep on my friends wouldn’t do me any further favours in this situation after all…) and have idle chit chat, refreshingly adult conversation and find common ground as we compete as to how sleep deprived we are and how bad our baby brain has become. If I could, I would accept every single invitation I received and I’d rock up those coffee mornings, cocktail nights and soft play nightmares with bells on. I’d be there every single time. But it’s just not that easy.

The reality is that I am a mama to an 18 month old baby and a 15 year old boy. They need me in equal measures right now. My boy has his GCSEs round the corner and suffers from social anxiety so we spend a lot of time working with him, supporting him and ensuring he is equipped to go to school and fulfil his potential. Then there’s my Little Miss, she is currently getting sick a lot; almost on a twice monthly basis right now. Even when she’s well, she’s not always a great sleeper, and with her going to nursery Monday to Friday, I really value the time I have with her after nursery and on weekends. Our time as a family on weekends, bank holidays and so on is so precious. More precious than anything I’ve ever known or seen. After years and years of building our businesses and working seven days a week, we know how lucky we are to have our weekends as a family. Because we know what it is like not to have that quality family time, it’s not something I ever want to happily give up.  Then there’s the working full time thing. I manage our family business, which doesn’t allow me or my husband the privilege of knocking off at 5pm. It’s not that easy to promise lunch dates or ‘after work coffee meets’ because every day is so unpredictable and at the end of the day, our only income is from this business. My husband and I have no choice but to give it every single thing we’ve got in order to take care of our family.

Even when that is all taken care of, I just don’t even have the energy most days. Once I’ve got the kids sorted and to bed, I’m literally lucky if I can muster enough energy to carry my sleepy (and rather big) ass to bed. The thought of getting dolled up to then go out and hold down an adult conversation without falling asleep mid sentence and drooling over a Mojito, is enough to make me cry. I know I’d feel much better for going out but that doesn’t change the fact that I am completely exhausted.

I have friends who don’t work or work part time. They meet through the week, soft play one week, baby sensory class the next, swimming the week after. They think because I own my own business that I should be able to make it to these play dates. I tried it once. I thought I’d actually take a lunch hour for once and meet my friend for a coffee at a coffee shop nearby my office. It ended with me being away from my desk for an entire half day because once we got chatting, we lost track of time and before we knew it hours had passed by. We hadn’t seen each other in months and months (obviously) so naturally we had a lot to catch up on. I ended up coming back to work to find 108 unread emails, five squillion phone calls to return and a mound of paperwork that would give Mount Everest a run for its money.

Maybe I’m getting boring. Or Old. Or both. Yeah, definitely both. On a Saturday night I look forward to getting in my jim jams (supposing I actually made it out of them that day…) at like 5pm, getting the kids sorted, lighting a few scented candles, ordering a take away and watching something on the TV that doesn’t require a brain cell, wrapped in a duvet on the sofa. My days of standing in the taxi queue half drunk (actually, disclaimer: I was never ‘half’ drunk, I was definitely ‘full’ drunk, whatever full drunk actually means…) wearing next to nothing in the bitter cold, dipping chips in to the smelliest garlic sauce on the planet, are definitely numbered. Maybe even over for good. These days I prefer the simpler things in life. There is nothing more important in my life than my family. Doing simple things with the people I love the most means the world.

I feel like I say ‘no’ a lot when invited out by friends. There was a time when I said yes to everything but never actually made it out due to poorly babies, a work deadline I had to meet, lack of babysitter, feeling ill and exhausted myself – the list is endless. I felt like I was letting them down every single time. I worried I upset them. I would feel crap about it for days after. But, let me tell you, there’s only one thing worse than having to say ‘no’ to a friend when they invite you out and that’s not to be invited out at all. I’ve been there with friends that I have now lost contact with. The term ‘party animals’ doesn’t really do them justice; ‘Party Beasts’ suits them better. They went at it hardcore every single weekend. A couple of drinks and a meal with them only ever ended one way: passed out on the (very sticky) floor of some dated nightclub at 3am. I like a drink as much as the next mama but pulling chewed chewing gum and washing spilled beer out of my hair the following morning is not the way I like to start my weekend. I did think that our friendship was deeper than me just being another person to add to their night out headcount but obviously not because after saying no a couple of times, the invitations stopped and now I’m a Facebook friend to them and vice versa. But even though the way they spent their Friday and Saturday nights wasn’t my idea of fun, it still hurt when they stopped inviting me. I felt like they’d given up on me. I’d now become ‘the one that never says yes’, ‘the one that never goes out’, ‘the boring one we don’t waste our time on anymore’. You know what social media is like, there is no hiding the nights out that I was missing. The pre-drink selfies, the dance floor selfies, the eyes rolling into the back of your head drunk selfies and the like. I’m sitting at home in my jim jams watching the photos update over the course of the evening and the most exciting thing to happen to me all night is that I missed my mouth and spilt strawberry yoghurt all over my PJ top. It’s not like I even wanted to be there! Why does this upset me! I am a crazy lady! I go from ‘not caring’ to feeling totally left out and isolated in three point five seconds. My feelings about it all were completely nonsensical but I was feeling them regardless so they were real to me.

With that life lesson under my belt I don’t want to lose my support network because I’m no longer present in their lives. I need to find a way of making it work. My friends, particularly my close friends, love me unconditionally as I do them. They are there. Always. So I need to work it out. I feel like the worst friend on earth. I feel like I’m never there (or ‘available’) when they need me, I’m never able to make plans when they are free and I rarely say ‘yes’ to invitations anymore and busy or not, exhausted or not, they do deserve better than that because they are good people and beautiful friends of mine. They deserve better.

They say life is all about balance, don’t they? I’m not sure who ‘they’ are, but if ‘they’ are able to advise me of how to keep all the plates spinning and keep up my friendship duties, I would be oh so grateful to them. After all, we all need friends. It doesn’t matter how solid our family network may be, you will always need a friend at some point in your life and that works both ways. Life is short; we are here but for a while. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as a ‘Facebook friend’ to people I love and adore. Besides, my craic on Facebook is piss poor so I’d probably be demoted from even being that.

2017: The Year in Reflection

I know I’m a bit previous with this but Little Miss is poorly at the moment so is sleeping even less than normal (who knew that was even possible?!) and if I become any more sleep deprived over the next couple of days I would worry that I would, very genuinely, not be able to string a sentence together, never mind making that sentence meaningful or semi-interesting.

Plus there’s naff all on the telly and I need to keep my mind (and belly) off the chocolate and wine that is taunting me from the fridge.

I think most people in the UK would agree that 2017 was a bit of a bastard. My hubby has notifications set up on his phone to bleep when there is breaking news. There was a time during 2017 where my heart literally sunk every time his phone beeped because every single time it did, it was to report something hateful, sad, violent or worrying.  The only time I noticed it bleeping with good news was on the announcement of Prince Harry’s engagement. I’m sure there were other bits of good news here and there but very generally it was a shitter of a year generally. I’ve spent far too many hours this year sat in front of Sky News with a knot and churning in my stomach as news stories unfolded live. I’ve read of too many deaths. I’ve heard of so much injustice. I’ve seen too much hate.

I’m not minimising any of the tragic incidents that have happened during 2017. There were some utterly horrendous events that were truly senseless in every respect. Those reckless events stole life. Changed lives. For many, those events altered the way we live our every day lives, and the thought patterns that we have in certain places or at certain times. Whether we were there witnessing it in front of our very eyes, or watching from the protection of a TV screen, those events have taken enough from us. They’ve taken innocent lives. They’ve taken our peace of mind. They’ve taken our right to feel safe. They’ve taken enough from us already; no way are they going to take the year.

To re-balance things I asked the lovely folk of Twitter what their highlight of the year was. The responses were heart warming. There wasn’t one response that was not family or home based. There were a lot of births of beautiful new babies, where 2017 marked the significant start of new life. For those mums, dads and the babies themselves, 2017 will forever mean the start of something so precious. That certainly helped tipped the balance back in the right direction. There were marriages; weddings that united soul mates in matrimony and the start of an incredible new life together. The year 2017 will forever be recorded on their Marriage Certificate as a year to go down in their own history. Then there were other lovely highlights like moving to a dream home in the country, the start of a new job that paid more, overcoming mental health struggles and so much more. For all of these lovely people, 2017 was more than a year of doom. They showed up and insisted on 2017 giving them something positive in the wake of such sadness and hate. For these wonderful people, 2017 will forever go down in their personal or family history for a good reason. Reading all these lovely tweets certainly helped me to focus on the positives that 2017 brought us.

On a personal level, 2017 brought me one gift in particular. This gift totally opened my eyes. It made me view things differently; in a different light or from a different angle almost. It made me process thoughts and emotions in a way I hadn’t really done before. Want to know what 2017 brought me? It brought me realisation.

This time last year one of my closest friends was enjoying the festivities with her wider family; her parents, her sister and all the grandchildren. They celebrated Christmas and New Year like every other year, paying tribute to the family traditions on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Not once did they ever consider that it would be their last Christmas as a whole family. Only 8 months later my friend’s father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and despite his courageous fight and infinite strength, he sadly died only a matter of months afterwards. This year, my friend celebrated Christmas without her father, her mother without her husband and her children celebrated without their grandfather.

2017 saw my Step Father have his own collision with his health. Following diagnosis and prior to further tests, there was a point where we too as a family were faced with the possibility of his life being significantly shortened due to a terminal illness. We were extremely fortunate that following further tests, the consultant reassured us that it wasn’t terminal. It was a diagnosis that would possibly change his life slightly, but he was alive and staying alive and for us, that was all that mattered. For those few terrifying weeks, it was like staring down a barrel of a shot gun (not that I have ever actually done that, obviously). It felt like every fibre of our being was tensed in anticipation of the shot: the bad news, the prognosis. It was exhausting. We couldn’t relax, not even for a second.  We discussed action plans with my Mum, she looked at her finances and discussed how she would cope alone. For a moment, although brief, we had to picture our lives without the man who had gone from being our step father to our Dad. It looked dark and it looked empty.

2017 took my biological father. Actually, I’m going to change that. 2017 didn’t take him. He decided to take himself, a result of sustained drug and alcohol misuse over a period of tens and tens of years. I wasn’t in contact with him so I didn’t and don’t feel his absence. As harsh as it sounds, he was never the father he needed to be for my sister and I. Not as children, and certainly not as adults. He was given second chances, third chances, fifty-fifth chances over the years and each time he would let us down. In the end, we voted with our feet and decided that we were no longer willing to accept being treat like that. I hadn’t seen him for a number of years before he died. I surprised myself in that I reacted to the news of his death with some grief, albeit limited. I was angry at myself for feeling grief. I couldn’t understand why I would be grieving for a man who did nothing but let his children down. It wasn’t too long before I realised that I was grieving for the father that he wasn’t. Not for the father he was. His death meant that I would never hear an apology from him; I would never hear him begging for forgiveness; nor would I ever hear him asking for another chance and promising to make a go of being a proper father this time. Now the chances of this happening were pretty much zero. In all the recent years I was estranged from my father he never apologised or begged for forgiveness. His style was more akin to the ‘I’ve done nothing to apologise for’ denial. But his death made that final. His death meant that he would never be the father I needed him to be. Even if had lived to 104 I know, in reality, he would never have been the father I needed him to be. It would just never have happened. But his death meant that there wasn’t even that possibility.

Perhaps harder was the timing of it all. My father and my friend’s Father died within weeks of each other. As I listened to my friend’s final moments with her Dad, and how they begged for even just one more hour together, I felt dirty. I felt dirty because my father had abused his life. He had been blessed with a life full of possibilities. He was from a middle class family, his mother a Teacher and his father a Mayor and politician. He could have been anything he wanted to be. Instead, he chose death. I say ‘choose’ because only he decided to walk down the road of drink and drugs. Nobody pulled him down that path, nobody enticed him down there; he wasn’t born in to it or pressured in to going down that path. He knowingly went in that direction and it was only ever going to lead one way. I know there will be many people who will disagree with me, and that’s totally Ok, I’m not saying that my take on the whole thing is gospel and truth but it is my truth and that’s the only truth I can give.

There was my friend’s Father, who had never smoked, never abused drugs, had the odd beer occasionally and had built an entire family filled with love, truly making a difference with his life; and there was mine – someone who had carelessly squandered his life away with every single drink he took. It didn’t feel fair. I was embarrassed and ashamed that my father would have such a lack of understanding of how valuable life was when so many would have given anything and everything for just one more minute here on Earth with their loved ones. I didn’t share my Father’s view on life and I certainly didn’t approve of the way he squandered it away but I still felt a sense of it being linked to me, a sense of it being my fault, a sense of me needing to acknowledge it, because of the bare fact that I was his daughter. His genetics make me part of who I am.

Not once do we ever think, as we sit down around the dinner table about to tuck in to our Christmas dinner every December, and cheers our drinks for the 104th time (because the kids love doing it with their little beakers! – or is that just our family?!), that a year down the road, our lives could be so changed that we might never re-live this moment with all those we love again. Or at least, I never had done.  I had never just closed me eyes and breathed in the fact that we were all together. I had never just stopped a moment and allowed the gratitude to wash all over me, realising how utterly blessed I was to be living in that moment.

2017 has brought me the realisation that nobody on this earth is guaranteed a tomorrow. I actually raised this with my family on Christmas day as I really felt like I needed to just tell them all, as one big group, how much that moment, and the whole day, had meant to me because we’d spent it together. Some of my family totally got it whilst others felt it was a little morbid. That’s not how I see this gift at all. I see that 2017 has brought me a gift that not everyone gets the benefit of experiencing. Not everyone experiences something in their lives that brings home that cold reality, that harsh realisation.

If nobody is promised a tomorrow, then we have to make the best of every single ‘today’. That doesn’t mean we have to write a bucket list and start abseiling down bridges or jumping out of planes; it is more about just being aware. Being aware of the moments that are everything; being aware of how blessed we are to share moments with our loved ones. It is about gratitude. It’s about never taking things or people for granted. It’s about taking in those special moments and breathing every inch of them in, savouring them in our memories for ever. It’s about not wasting time or energy – or life – arguing over who forgot to put the milk back in the fridge, who didn’t replace the toilet roll when it ran out, or who spilled chicken korma over the sofa. It’s about leaving this earth, whenever that may be (let’s hope it’s gazillions of years away yet)  with not a single regret. It’s about doing what you want to do (only if it’s legal like…), telling people how you feel, loving without reservation or hesitation, really living your life in every sense of the word: it’s about making the most of every single day of your life – and the lives of the people you love.

Before this realisation, I’ve always been one for using the new year as a fresh start. Whether that be for a diet, healthier living, about achieving more at work or whatever – I’ve always seen it as a point in the year to reflect on the year gone by and I have to admit that I can’t remember the last time I said ’This year has been amazing! Bring on another one like it!’ In fact, I’m not sure I ever have looked back on a year positively. I do remember, however, all the times I’ve said ‘I can’t wait for this year to be over with’ or ‘Good riddance to 20XX!’ for, in hindsight, seemingly insignificant reasons. I am now able to look upon the closing of this year and the coming of the new year in a completely different way thanks to the realisation that 2017 has brought me.

I have now realised that it doesn’t matter what does or doesn’t happen in a year. As long as I am transitioning out of one year and in to another with all of my loved ones around me then there is no ‘bad year’ or reason to bid it ‘good riddance’, because I am blessed. As long as I have all the people I love with me as I embark on the journey out of this year and in to the next, nothing else matters. It really doesn’t.

For that reason, I’m not even sure if I even want to do the ‘new year’ thing. This time I’m not celebrating the departure of a bad year and the arrival of the blank canvas of the new one and all the possibilities it might bring. Instead, I want to celebrate every single day just how lucky and how incredibly blessed and grateful I am to have the people I love around me.

I hope you transition in to the new year with all the people you treasure the most around you.

 

 

 

 

 

The final #ThisMum: A Day in the Life of Amy.

Well hello festive folks! I’m sure the festivities are in full swing where you are and that you’re getting up to some fabulous crimbo shenanigans! Although that word takes on a whole new meaning when you have to grow up and be Mum! My ‘shenanigans’ aren’t the same as they used to be! It may not be all rock and roll these days but, you know, I wouldn’t change a thing. The best thing about Christmas is being able to see it through the eyes of the kids. It takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it? The magic of it all is just so special. I love that for one day in the year we believe in the unbelievable, we embrace the unrealistic and we celebrate family. I know it can be a stressful time for us mums, but   it’s the best stress I reckon. Beats stressing about a looming deadline at work, or stressing that we’ve got two wipes left and a shit storm in a nappy to deal with. Christmas stress is totally acceptable. 

I’m hoping that maybe once the kids are tucked up, you’ve nibbled Santa’s mince pie and deposited the prezzies under the tree you’ll have a couple of minutes to sit down (with a baileys, maybe?) and enjoy the final #ThisMum post of the series. 

Our final #ThisMum is Amy from her blog, Amyjane and Baby. Amy has a gorgeous nine month old baby boy called Freddie. I love that name, Freddie! We were going to call our Little Miss, Freddie – if she’d been a Little Mister, obviously. Amy is a stay at home mum at present and is currently working on her blog. Amy starts with a really honest account of how difficult she found motherhood when Freddie was teeny tiny, explaining that Freddie had silent reflux. I could really relate to this because our Little Miss was exactly the same. I’ve been showered in warm projectile vomited milk more times than I care to mention. I too struggled during it all. My Health Visitor was very dismissive at first. I felt like I was going mad, like I was the only one noticing that my baby girl wasn’t right, that something was wrong. I used to video her after feeds to evidence to the health visitor and GP that something wasn’t right. Eventually they got to the bottom of it and as soon as we changed her milk everything started looking up. 

A lot of mums are reluctant to admit when they are struggling. For fear of judgement, I guess. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with judgemental folk. It does encourage you to be more tight lipped about your struggles but we should all feel able to be honest, like Amy. It is this denial that causes mums to feel inadequate or a failure, because nobody else speaks out about how tough it can be having a new baby. I know blogging has certainly helped me to be more open about my honest feelings. I can’t thank Amy enough for being so open and allowing us in to her life for a day. It sounds like Amy and Freddie have such a lovely routine going where Freddie gets to spend one on one time with both Mum and Dad. That’s something we need to pay more attention to, I get lots of one on one time with the kids but a lot of the time the kids spend with my hubby are when we’re all together and like Amy says, it is important for Dads to have one on one time too. 

Without any further a do, here’s a day in the life of Amy:

On reflection, it probably took me until Freddie was over six months old to feel properly settled into Motherhood. We had a rough start. At six weeks old Freddie was diagnosed with Silent Reflux and although it breaks my heart to say this, it really tainted the first five months or so. Having a baby that screamed for long periods, wouldn’t lie in his pram and breastfed near enough constantly amongst other things made me doubt whether I was a good Mum or not. Since the Silent Reflux began to go away at around six months, Freddie and I have slowly settled into a routine. I can say with complete honesty now, that I love being Freddie’s Mum and apart from the occasional (and completely normal!) self-doubting moment, I know I am a good one. Here is a day in our life!

Freddie is my first baby and he is now nine months old. I had him when I was twenty-five which seems to be ‘young’ by the current standards. G (my husband) and I have been together on and off since we were fifteen and had settled into life together when I was around twenty so I felt ready. Although I don’t think you can ever really feel ready for a tiny whirlwind to turn your life upside down! I currently stay at home with Freddie whilst G goes to work. I am not sure I will return to my current job but I do know that I personally need something else on top of being a Mum, in order to feel fulfilled.

Our day starts around six-thirty/seven when Freddie wakes up- sometimes earlier! My husband takes Freddie downstairs and they have breakfast together and a bit of a play before G leaves for work. I tend to stay upstairs during that time savouring my morning coffee because I think it is important for the boys to spend some time together on their own too. After G leaves for work, Freddie and I have a bit of playtime and I also try and pop up a post on social media because Instagram is a guilty pleasure of mine!

At around half nine it is time for Freddie’s first nap, it is a short one because I wake him after around half an hour otherwise he won’t nap properly at lunchtime! I try and use this time to get ready because Freddie is currently obsessed with my beauty products etc and I have to watch him like a hawk! I will try and squeeze in a second coffee during his nap as well.

Waking Freddie up at around ten is one of my favourite parts of the day. I get to sneak in and watch him sleep- a bit creepy I know – and then enjoy sleepy cuddles together! I get him ready for the day around this time too. I am obsessed with baby boy clothes and Freddie has a far better wardrobe than I do. Baby Zara, Marks & Spencer and Next are my favourite places to pick up new clothes for him.

The time between his morning nap and his lunchtime nap is generally used for popping out to do errands, see friends or do a class. For the first eight months or so Freddie would be content with just people-watching at Tesco but now that he is crawling and pulling up he wants to explore! We do a Baby Sensory class which he absolutely loves and it is the one class I would highly recommend!

After Freddie has had his lunch, and deposited lots of it on the floor/tried to feed our two cockapoos, it is time for his second nap. Another highlight of my day is reading stories to him before his nap although at the moment he likes to sit on the book which makes it slightly challenging… I also use the time before his nap to potter around the upstairs trying to get some sort of semblance of order. With two dogs and a nine month old, I feel like I spend most of my time tidying up!

Freddie is generally asleep for around two hours so I take that opportunity to work on my blog. I started my blog five months ago and it has really helped me to feel like I have something for myself again. Over the last few weeks, it has started to grow a bit which is so exciting and has really motivated me to keep going. I love writing, I always have. It is so cathartic to share my experience on my little corner of the internet and connect with other Mums as well.

Once Freddie is up, he has a little play and then we head out on a dog walk. When Freddie is having a screamy day, taking him out in the pram with the dogs really seems to settle him. He loves facing out and watching the dogs run around and it helps me to get some fresh air. The rest of the afternoon is a it of a blur of trying to tackle our washing mountain, making Freddie’s tea and then beginning the bedtime routine.

Usually by Freddie’s bedtime, I am ready for a bit of a break. G doesn’t get home until around half six most days so up until recently, he didn’t get to see Freddie before he went to bed. Now that Freddie goes to bed at seven, G gets to have a cuddle before bed which I know means a lot to him. We always go upstairs a while before bedtime so he can burn off any energy by crawling around and getting into everything he shouldn’t… I use this time to pop some comfies on too!

Freddie has a very strict bedtime routine and has had the same one for several months now. To be honest, I think it was more for me than him at the beginning because I needed something to follow when I was finding everything very overwhelming. We do a massage with a special song, then read some books together, he has a final feed and I pop on some white noise. Nowadays he goes to sleep without much of a fuss which is a huge relief because having a bedtime battle at the end of a hard day is tough!

In the evenings, G takes over. He will cook us dinner and make me a cup of tea whilst I crack on with some more blogging stuff. I am trying to go to bed earlier at the moment because sometimes I lose track of the time enjoying the peace and quiet! Freddie is usually up for a feed around 4am but lately it has been a bit later which is a real treat.

Now that I have read it back I am not sure if our day is particularly interesting but I have enjoyed sharing it with you nonetheless. I would love to see you over on my blog soon and thank you very much for letting me share my day with you!

 

Freddie sounds like such a gorgeous boy and I loved all the opportunities that Amy has built in to his daily routine to enjoy songs, books and stories. If you enjoyed this (and I know you definitely did!) then you should go and check out Amy’s blog! You can find it here

If you’re one of these super trendy ‘insta types’ then you can look Amy up on instagram here! I am ashamed to admit that I have never tried Instagram. I know I definitely should for the sake of the blog but I feel a bit over the hill for it. I feel old when I see instagram photos and screenshots. I’ve just got to look in the mirror to feel old like so it’s not just Instagram’s fault I’m getting the pensioner feels! I really need to check it out, I know. I’m going to make an effort to enter the world of instagram in the new year. If you’re already making insta waves, keep an eye out for a lost soul in 2018 and give me a wave! (can you wave on Instagram?! I genuinely have no idea…)

And finally, you can check Amy out on Twitter here ( a platform I’m far more accustomed to!) A HUGE thanks to Amy for being so patient waiting for her guest blog post to go out, it was definitely worth waiting for and I have absolutely loved having Amy involved.

And with that, it’s a wrap! Like, it’s the end! I feel a bit emosh. How ridiculous is that?! It’s not like I’m picking up an oscar and doing my acceptance speech!! I’m emotional thinking of all the lovely Mums who have taken time out of their (very) busy lives to be part of the series. Whether we are a working mum, stay at home mum, a single mum – all mums are busy people. It’s the nature of the job; so I know how valuable time is. You can’t put a price on time when you’re a busy mum. I appreciate so much that all my fantastic guest bloggers have used their precious time to write a fabulous post for the series. As a relatively new blogger it has been a brilliant way to meet fellow bloggers and make connections, building friendships. I know that on a personal level this series has meant a lot to me. Reading about the days and feelings of other Mums has reassured me that I’m not the only mum feeling this, or doing that. Whilst we all lead very different lives, we have one huge thing in common: motherhood – and it’s bloody hard sometimes! Reassured by other posts, I know even more so now than ever that bad days come with the territory, that none of us are perfect and nor should we strive to be, we’re all doing our best.

I really hope that you have enjoyed the series as much as I have. I can’t thank every single Mum who guest blogged for me, enough. You are beautiful people and I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Looking forward to catching up on all your blogs over the Christmas hollibobs!

Now! Go and get yourselves another Baileys! You’ve earned it!

 

A Day in the Life #ThisMum: FattyVonVon

Brrrr! It’s chilly out there! It’s definitely an evening for curling up under a fluffy blanket with a hot cuppa and a bit of reading! And what better thing to read than another #ThisMum post! I have had this post in the bank and scheduled for a while and have been desperate to share it with you. This time we are invited by Fatty Von Von from fattyvonvon.com to get up close and personal with an average day in her life. I was really excited about this one because we’ve not had many Mums of older children involved in the series so I was cock-a-hoop to have a Mum of not one teenager but two teenagers featured!

A lot of this post resonated with me. Partly because, like Fatty Von Von, I have a teenager myself, but more so because I feel like my life is an absolute whirlwind at times, full of busy-ness. In fact, I’d go so far as to say my life is full on chaotic most of the time. Balancing full time work with raising a baby, a teenager, keeping a (relatively) clean home (note the absence of ‘tidy’ – I find all attempts at this futile), managing the social calendars of the kids, the taxis to and from places, the homework, the requests from nursery that come home on slips of paper (that inadvertently get lost) requesting she wears this on that day, or brings in something in particular on another, the ‘after hours’ work that can’t wait until the next morning, the washing (oh my god, the washing!), remembering the appointments – immunisations, orthodontist and the like and the list could go on and on. It is so hard. It’s flipping impossible sometimes. Reading Fatty Von Von’s post really switched a light on for me. When things get chaotic I blame myself. When I forget that Little Miss was supposed to wear a Christmas jumper on the party day, I blame myself. When I get half way through a nappy change and forget that I ran out of baby wipes and should have picked some up on my way home, I blame myself. If my Big Lad gets worked up over some really heavy Maths homework and I am completely unable to help him with it (Maths was never my thing), I blame myself.  Let’s face it, if the sky fell in tomorrow morning, I’d blame myself for that too. I can be really hard on myself, and I often attribute the chaos in our life solely to my inability to be the super-duper-all-singing-all-dancing-super organised-Mum that I wish I could be.  Fatty Von Von’s post made me realise that, actually, family life can be chaos for everyone, it’s the nature of the beast – especially when trying to balance work, family life, school and the rest. Maybe that is just how it has to be for now. Maybe it wouldn’t matter how organised I was, maybe that’s just the way it is for us. Maybe I’d even miss it if it wasn’t this way! Huge thanks to Fatty Von Von for this amazing read – you are going to love it. 

 

A day in the life of #FattyVonVon – I’m relatively new to blogging and started to enable me to share my health and fat reversal journey.  I’m a 40 something suburban mum of 2, Finlay 13 and Grace 12 (I hear  all parents of teenagers feeling my pain at this part) married to Mr C since 2003.  I’m a Psoriasis warrior and felt starting my blog could help others and certainly supports me in maintaining my sanity from the breakouts….

Like many of you it’s such a pick and mix of days…. I’m going to concentrate on this week.  A typical day starts at 5.30am, I work condensed hours Tuesday to Friday but for a fabulous flexible employer which works well for my family.  I try to leave early to avoid the Greater Manchester M60, my journey is around 50 minutes (on a good day).  Just before I leave I wake both kids who need to leave for school around 7.  My husband tends to do the morning stint as he works 10 minutes from home, they’ve got him wrapped around their fingers.  He’s a morning person so not to bad but Mr Grumpy by the time I get home.   It’s only 7.15 and I’ve received 4 calls from both kids, they are grumpy and one doesn’t do mornings, one does.  Mum I need …… to which I respond with the response.  Oh my who invented cars which are compatible with your phone, it doesn’t stop for 50 minutes

The kids had an incident on a public bus with another school and thought it would be a good idea to take the them to self defence to ensure they can protect themselves, not sure how these things work but they’ve been knocking lumps out of each since practicing it.  I feel like a wrestling referee, their both covered in bruises but say “mum it’s all part of growing up”. Mr C rings once, their doing my head in and won’t get ready as fighting, blooming eck you’re health and safety sort it out….. I contemplate not answering the phone but generally stuck in traffic.  I do forget you can hear the phone outside the car too when stationary in traffic.  I’m normally calm but 15 calls later I’m shouting down the phone, fortunately it’s minus 1 outside their car windows are closed – hope they are!!

I make a final call home and their all happy, they’ve missed their bus as Finlay forgot he had cooking despite me asking 100 times so Mr C has to take them half way with a stop at the shop.  This virtual parenting can be hard sometimes.  I do miss primary school sometimes as you know what’s going on most of the time, high schools another story.  I compose myself for the day ahead.  I work as a Programme Manager for a local authority so its a full on day.  I plan to leave at 2.30pm to avoid the traffic and work from home which is fabulous to sort the mess out before they come home.    I’m sure you’ll all join me in recognising this, the phone rings and it’s school, I see it flash up on my Fitbit and have to make my apologies during a meeting.  Your mind flashes with have they had an accident on what have they done – normally the latter.  Hello Mrs C, my response jokingly, which one…. my darling teenager decided to use the puff pastry Mr C bought for his cooking and place in the microwave for a long time without the teacher noticing (in total innocence) and blew it up, it setting it on fire.  They wanted to reassure me he was fine but in trouble for not following instructions.  I was torn between laughing (which is wrong) but the annoyance at his behaviour took over.  She did reassure me once they’d investigated the matter it was purely innocent on his behalf as he didn’t hear the instructions clearly (he was chatting with his friend).  Why are they using microwaves to cook, I thought the lesson was cooking!!  He’d been given a detention for not listening although it wasn’t intentional.  I’ve never shown him how to bake pastry #badmother.

Back to the job and secretly laughing at the scene but also annoyed at his stupidity.

Finished work a little later due to the unpredicted call, motorway was clear so I was home in 50 minutes – house relatively clean.  I’m very fortunate I’m in a position to share the morning mum role with Mr C.  I log back on to work but soon give up when they run through the door hungry, raiding the fridge and leaving a trail of mess.  I try to have a serious conversation with Finlay re the incident but give up, he’s adamant he was told to place the puff pastry in the microwave 😡. I’ll leave that chat to Mr C with his safety hat on.

It’s a busy night with mums taxi, dinner was very quick and one wants it and one doesn’t.  Their going through a fussy stage and shocks me as always ate a variety of food, I refuse to make a variety of meals and feel they want a restaurant menu at times.  I’ve resorted to giving them Joe Wicks book and choose the menus for the week.  6.15pm and it’s back in the traffic to dancing and cadets.  First drop off is Finlay, their fighting in the back of the car over (I’ve given up asking).  We get to cadets by the skin of our teeth as he wouldn’t get ready, it’s the same battle daily with his laid back approach. On the other hand Grace is Miss organised and is sat in her dancing kit well before her time and managed to do her homework (never have to chase her for this).  Their so yin and yang but a great balance.  Their also best of friends and very close (despite the recent fighting). I’m putting this down to teenager hormones which are challenging – any tips gratefully received.  I bought the Haynes teenager manual for a laugh and wrapped it for Mr C – it did make him smile though.  One packed off at cadets, back in the traffic for Grace and double dancing.  She’s having a diva strop as going to be late.  I try to ignore her but she’s jumping round like a kangaroo in the back of the car.  Why have tantrums started again over something so trivial, thought I’d left them behind aged 2.  She’s all calm as we make it on time, I get a grunt and wave smiling at her dressed all angelic for ballet with a stern facial expression.  Back home 7.30 and the temptation for a gin and tonic is tempting, I decide against it.  This is what got me fat over the years, opening the vino whilst cooking the dinner.  I’ve stopped having a tipple during the week now, fabulous willpower (for now).  Mr C’s doing the pick ups for 9 and 9.30.  Long days but their both home, still bickering and in bed for 10.  2 nights a week like this and rest is 8 o’clock bed for them.  I so miss the routine of “in the night garden” then bed at 7.  I’ve always been a routine mum with 2 kids a year apart.  Mr C worked nights for years so wasn’t there and needed mum sanity – appreciate it works different for everyone. The routine is getting more difficult as they hit the teens.  I can’t be bothered tidying tonight as been a draining day, know I should but it’s 11 and I’m back up at 5.30 (it can wait).  The Clan are all tucked up, it’s now 11.30, my heads whizzing but need to leave today behind ready for a new day, I’m sure it will be much easier tomorrow!!

You need to be gentle with yourself sometimes, we’re not all supermums all the time and it’s ok not to be ok.  We’ve had a tough year this year with both of us losing a parent within weeks of each other.  The impact on the family, especially the kids, has been hard mixed with starting a new job.  We’re taking one day at a time, helping the kids through their sadness but also taking time to be grateful for the time we have being healthy and happy.  I live in complete madness and I’ve had to accept it, life’s far too short to be unhappy.  Wake up each day with a smile and be grateful for your journeys.  As a family we do get periods and some weekends with a downtime day.  The kids are kept active for their health and learning journeys and wouldn’t have it any other way – be happy folks love FattyVonVon 💋

Huge thanks to FattyVonVon for sharing this with us. I loved the honesty of this piece – it just resonated with me on a whole new level, as I’m sure it has with many of you. If you liked this, you would LOVE FattyVonVon’s blog so make sure you pay it a visit here

Next up on Sunday evening is the final post of the series – I know it’ll be Christmas Eve and we’ll all be playing Santa but don’t forget to check back in, you don’t want to miss it.

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum: Jen from Life-Milk Blog

Hi folks, I hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend and enjoying the lead up to the festivities. I can’t actually believe we are so close to Christmas! This time next week and the main event is in touching distance! We braved town yesterday to get a couple of last minute bits (if I spend any more money on this Christmas please feel free to hit me round the chops with a wet spanner…) and before going I was dreading it. Who is stupid enough to go in to the city centre, a week before Christmas, with a one year old (who, by the way, isn’t much of a fan of shopping) whilst feeling very hormonal? Me. That’s who. I thought it would be hell on earth. Mainly, because it’s bad enough to be in a wheelchair in a busy place (constantly apologising for catching people’s ankles on the wheels or constantly pleading with people to actually see me and let me past, you know, that sort of thing) but being in a wheelchair with a baby sitting on your knee a week before Christmas sounded like a pretty bad plan to me. But we had to go, I’d left it too late to order the stuff online – ‘my bad’ (isn’t that what the young’ens say these days?!). Anyway, we went and what started as a ‘we’ll dash in, get what we need and dash out’ trip ended in us staying there all day. It was actually really lovely. Yes, it was busy – it was heaving in fact. But it was heaving with lovely people generally. We got stopped by a couple of people in the street who were handing out christmas cards and chocolates to the passers by – there was a slightly religious theme to the card but what a lovely gesture. My Little Miss is going through a phase of saying ‘Hiya’ to EVERY single person that she sees – regardless of whether they look friendly or not. Lots of people stopped to say hi back, squeezing her little hands, or patting her on the head. Even the ones in a hurry said hello back and smiled as they hurried past us. There were buskers in the street singing festive songs (and one very heavy rock singer who wasn’t quite so festive but, you know, not everyone wants to sing Wham or Mariah Carey at Christmas time) and shop staff dressed up as jolly elves greeting the children that entered the shops. It was lovely; it was a nice time to be a human. And we got everything we needed so I am now officially DONE! Hallelujah! I still have to wrap it all like but hey, details details…..

I have been so excited about sharing today’s #ThisMum post with you all. It is by Jen from the Life-Milk blog and she has very kindly allowed us in to her life for a day as part of this series. I tweeted many times to invite lots of fabulous mums to join in and participate in the #ThisMum series and, to my knowledge, Jen was the only single parent to respond. I’m so pleased that we have been able to feature a single mum. I come from a single parent family; my mum was a single mum after my Dad left when my sister and I were little. I know from first hand experience that being a single parent can be challenging. I say ‘can be challenging’ because I don’t want to make any rash generalisations because every family is different but i know on a personal level that there were times when being a single mum was really hard on my Mum. After reading Jen’s post I instantly found her inspirational. Her love and dedication to her daughter comes across loud and clear and the relationship between Jen and 9 year old Kourtney sounds really really special. I won’t spoil it for you by giving away any further spoilers and I’ll let you read it for yourself. You are going to love this one just as much as I did, I know it!

Hello Everyone,

My name is Jen and I am a 28-year-old single mother to my gorgeous 9-year-old daughter, Kourtney. I currently work part-time for a local authority in corporate services as a Marketing Business Development Executive. My usual day is quite full on as I juggle it all alone and although it can get very overwhelming at times, I am definitely used to it.

My alarm clock is Kourtney… I rarely set an alarm as I can guarantee that she will wake me up before it goes off! I would say that my usual day starts any time between 6 and 6.30am, with Kourtney delving into my bed for cuddles. We have an extremely tight bond as it has just been me and her for the last five years. We lay there for about 10-15 minutes, just chatting about anything and giving each other squeezes. Sometimes it is nice and other times annoying as I could do with the extra minutes sleep… ha-ha.

Once we have finally left my bed, we will brush our teeth and wash our face in the bathroom sink. As Kourtney is nine, she is at the age where she will wash and dress herself. Whilst she showers, I will go to the kitchen and make my first hot drink of the day, this can vary from coffee to green tea… depends whether I am on a detox or extremely tired. I try to sit at my dining table for at least 5 minutes with my hot drink, to gather my thoughts and enjoy the peace, I get whilst Kourtney is getting ready. After that, I am literally gulping my tea/coffee at any chance I can get before, we have to leave out. I always make Kourtney a glass of water and leave it on the side for her as she is usually quite thirsty, when she first wakes up.

Depending on the time we have got up, at around 7.15/30am, I have my shower whilst Kourtney is now getting dressed. Kourtney likes to listen to a times table song when she is getting ready, which has a really annoying excited tune that’s far to elaborate for these zombie hours. However, I embrace it as best as I can, because I know it is beneficial.

Once I am out of the shower, I immediately get dressed and do my hair and makeup. By this time Kourtney should be ready (she operates slower than a snail,) and then I will do her hair unless she already has it in a style in from our hairdresser. Breakfast is next and I have usually prepared it from the night before… this ranges from pancakes to toasties – my daughter isn’t really a cereal kind of child. I try my hardest to not skip breakfast but I would be lying, if I said it didn’t happen from time to time. When we have finished breakfast, I collect the lunches from the fridge as I always make them the night before as well. We pack our bags, get our shoes and coat on… and were ready to leave!

This September, Kourtney started a new school which is forty minutes away and we travel by car. Kourtney always reads to me for ten minutes of the journey, apart from weekends. We discuss what she has read before turning on BBC Radio2 for the remainder of our car journey. We always arrive at Kourtney’s school about 5-10 minutes before the school bell rings as I hate rushing and can’t deal with feeling hot and flustered. School starts at 8.45am, however Kourtney’s teacher will let them in class from 8.35am – this is handy for me as it gives me extra travel time to get to work.

Once I have kissed Kourtney ‘goodbye’ and seen her off, I get back into my car and make my way to work. I went part-time as of October, this year and so my working hours are 9.30am to 2.30pm every day. If traffic is on my side, I can get to work in thirty minutes from Kourtney’s school BUT, if it wants to be a sod then it can take forty five minutes to get in. My best friend always calls me at 8.50am, as we have both dropped our kids by then and we have a catch up and gossip until one of us reaches work. I park my car, ten minutes away from work as it is free parking (YASS) and I do love walking anyway.

 

Although I am not in my chosen career, I do enjoy what I do plus it is my time to be my 28 year-old self without a child in tow. As I mentioned before, I am a Marketing Business Development Executive and my role involves running campaigns and maintaining a relationship with our clients across the United Kingdom, through various platforms. I consider myself to have a very good work ethic and as I am the only one in my role, I have a daily hefty workload to manage. I have both a photo of Kourtney and a drawing, which she made for me on my desk. It is my daily reminder for me, to never give up and to always work as I want to be the best role model for my princess.

My day goes super-fast now I am working part-time, I usually have at least two meetings day and 50 odd emails that I aim to respond to within the same day of receiving it. I do have the option to work from home but I only do it, if I need to i.e. Kourtney is sick or it is the school holiday. I write a to-do list at the start of the week which usually increases as the week commences; however I do aim to complete everything by Friday or I will end up switching on my laptop on the weekend and doing work.

 

I leave the office between 2.30 and 2.40pm and head straight to Kourtney’s school. I absolutely adore being able to do the normal school as previously she attended after school club and collection was at 6pm. Most days we head straight home as I like to keep Kourtney in routine as much as possible, apart from Wednesdays as she has gymnastics after school. When we arrive home at 4pm, I immediately empty and wash Kourtney’s pack lunch box, whilst Kourtney unpacks her school bag and changes out of her uniform. Hold on… actually I remove my bra as soon as I get in – I despise them!!!

Once we have sorted ourselves out, I prepare a healthy snack for Kourtney which will range from fruits to oatmeal bites. We have a catch up about our days and then we either crack on with home learning or free play dependent on the day. As Kourtney attends Saturday school and I am preparing her for an independent or grammar school for her secondary education, it is very important that we do home learning 3-4 times a week. We do home learning or free play for one hour and then it is dinner time. Obviously, my days don’t run as smooth as I would always like it to but hey… that’s life!

 

The time is usually about 6/6.30pm when we have finished dinner and I always wash up straight away to avoid a huge pile up whilst Kourtney gets into the shower. I will also make our breakfast and lunches at time so any hot food has a chance to cool before they go in the fridge. Once I have finished giving the kitchen a quick whizz, we are settle on the sofa to read for ten minutes and do our peak & pit – a concept I introduced to describe the highlight and downfall of our day. We have a discussion on what we have read and then myself of Kourtney, records our comments in her reading record. This will usually take thirty minutes in total and the time will be roughly between 7 and 7.30pm. Kourtney goes to bed at 8pm and will tidy her room and get all her things by the door ready for the next day.

 

Once I have kissed Kourtney ‘goodnight’ and seen her off to bed… IT IS OFFICIALLY ME TIME!!! Although, I would say it is 50/50 of me getting to enjoy the things I like doing. Sometimes, I can kick back and watch a movie with a glass of wine or chinwag on the phone to a friend; but other times I am either doing work on my laptop or cleaning somewhere in my gaff (no rest for the wicked.) I always have a bath before bed as I like to feel fresh and relaxed as possible before I go to sleep. Once I am fresh as a daisy, I delve into bed about 10/10.30pm and aim to be asleep, at the latest 11pm, ready to do it all again the next day.

 

Links:

Email: LifeMilk@mail.com

Blog: Life-Milk.com

Insta: LifeMilk_

Twitter: LifeMilk2016

Told you you’d love it! Thank you so, so, SO much for guest blogging for me, Jen. I have really loved working with you. I’m going to steal Jen’s ‘Peak and Pit’ concept – what a fabulous way to get children engaging in conversation over the dinner table! Hopefully using Jen’s fab idea I’ll get more than a very grumpy ‘I dunno’ answer to every question I ask my teenager about his day! Massive thanks to Jen for sharing her life with us for a day; before you do anything else give Jen’s blog a visit, you will LOVE it! You can find it here

I’ll be back on Tuesday with yet another fabulous mummy and the #ThisMum series will wrap up a week today with another fantastic post to close the series. It’s been an amazing project to work on and I have met so many fabulous, inspirational mums as a result.

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum: Amy

Ola! It’s that time again folks! This time it’s the turn of Amy from ‘The Rolling Baby’ blog. Amy has a beautiful baby girl and is giving us an insight to an average day in her life. She’s currently on maternity leave so it was really lovely to read about how she and her little one spend the days together. I loved that every week they have dedicated time to spend with the baby’s grandparents – they aren’t small for long and sharing the precious first months and years with family is really special – for both them and the baby! My mum lives a good fifty minute or so drive away from me so still relatively local but she doesn’t live close enough for me to just pop in unannounced. She gets so much joy out of spending time with both my children and they absolutely love seeing her. Even my Big Lad, who turns 15 in January, will continually ask to stay over at Grandma’s or to go and see her. He gets absolutely spoilt by her – there’ll be popcorn, sweets, ice cream on the go – the lot! But I love that they have such a close relationship. I know not everybody has grandparents so I feel very blessed to still have two of my grandparents around and that my children have grown up with two grandfathers and a grandmother. Not everybody has that luxury these days and it’s something I won’t ever take for granted. 

Without any further a-do, let’s open the door on a day in Amy’s life!

Little one usually wakes up somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30am. My other half will usually change her nappy while I get her milk ready, then I’ll feed her while he gets ready for work and takes our dog for a walk.

An hour to an hour and a half after first waking up and after daddy’s gone to work, little one will have her first nap of the day. During this time, I grab the laptop and a cup of tea and will blog, catch up on what I’ve missed on Twitter and join a linky (or two!) I usually put either Emmerdale or Coronation Street on in the background too, but have to quickly turn the volume down when the theme music comes on otherwise it wakes up baby.

When little one wakes up, I’ll prepare a breakfast of porridge for us both. Then, we’ll head back upstairs and get ready. Being on maternity leave means we have real lazy mornings and by the time we’ve dressed and ready for the day it’s usually late morning.

From there I’ll do a few chores such as the washing and putting the drying up away from the previous evening’s dinner. We often then go for a walk around the block. It’s not far but it gets us out of the house and some fresh air into our lungs for half an hour or so and the dog loves it! I’ve got a shopping bag clip which I use to attach his lead to the stroller so I don’t have to worry about him running away.

Two days a week we spend the afternoon at my mums. We have lunch there, a catch up, a bit of play and little one generally falls asleep while cuddling her nanna. I usually use this time to do a bit of shopping on my phone – it’s mostly Christmas shopping at the moment, but I also throw things in my online Asda trolley too. When my dad gets back from work, he has around half an hour with little one before we head home to see daddy, have dinner and get to bed.

On the days we don’t go to my mum’s, we mostly potter around the house. Sometimes we’ll go out to the shops – we love a little wander around B&M and it usually sends little one to sleep. I also try to squeeze in an exercise DVD as I’m trying to get fit and lose my baby weight. We play fetch with the dog a lot as little one loves laying on her tummy on the floor so she’s face to face with him and it really makes her laugh.

My other half gets home around 6pm and I try to have dinner ready for then, although it is baby permitting! We’ll eat, give little one a bath and get her ready for bed. She then has her milk before I lay her in her cot and read her a story. From here anything can happen! We encourage her to stay in her cot for as long as possible, but at the moment we’re going through a ‘I’m not sleeping until at least 10pm‘ stage, so when she starts kicking and screaming we usually end up taking her out and rocking her to soothe her.

If we’re lucky we’ll then squeeze in a bit of TV before heading to bed, ready to do it all again the following day!

Ahh, thank you so much Amy for being involved and for guest blogging for me. I have to thank Amy also for being such an all-round-lovely-person too – whenever I take to Twitter to blow off some (digital) steam or I grumble on about not getting any sleep or about the time I’ve spent picking boogas out of my Little Miss’ nose, Amy is always there with something lovely to say. She is so supportive and it is appreciated loads. 

Reading about Amy’s days on maternity leave brought back fond memories of mine. It feels like it was years ago but it was only this time last year. One thing that Amy manages in her day that I didn’t most days was to get dressed and get out! I’m no mathematician but I think it would be pretty bang on to guesstimate that I spent at least 75% of my maternity leave in my Pyjamas, with no make up on and my hair pulled (very roughly) in to the ultimate of mum-buns. The days were never very organised or routine but we bumbled through it, the two of us, enjoying the time together. In the early days I would stress about the state of the house, the never-ending pile of washing and ironing, the lack of time to prepare meals in advance (looking back I’m not entirely sure what I WAS doing mind, she slept for the best part of 3 months!) and the list went on. The best piece of advice I was given was from a friend who told me ‘With a baby you have to lower your standards for everything else, then lower them again’ and I totally got that. Having a newborn baby – any baby – changes everything – your pre-baby routine, your energy levels, your priorities – the lot. It is impossible sometimes to keep all the plates spinning just as fast and efficiently as you did before. I gave myself a bit of a tough time at first over not managing to be the ultimate house wife whilst on maternity leave but my friend was right. As long as the baby is warm, fed, loved and the house is relatively clean (you’ll note I didn’t say ‘tidy’ – my house was never tidy for a number of months!!!) that is what matters. The moment I stopped giving myself a hard time over the absence of any ‘Super Mum’ qualities I started to focus on, and enjoy, the time I had with my Little Miss and now I’m looking back on it, I’m so glad that I did that because it does go over so quick and you can never get that time back again.  It sounds like Amy is a lot more organised than me and that they have a great routine going, it sounds like Amy and her Little One have wonderful days, and that’s what it’s all about.

You can keep up to date with Amy and what she’s up to via her blog therollingbaby.co.uk You will love it so make sure you give it a visit! The #ThisMum series continues on Sunday evening with an amazing guest post written by Jen from the Life-Milk blog. I’m really excited about sharing it with you because for one it is utterly brilliant and secondly, we are yet to feature a single mum and Jen very kindly let’s us take a look at an average day in her life as a single mum to a beautiful nine year old daughter. It’s definitely a post you don’t want to miss so keep your eyes peeled for it on Sunday! Until then my lovelies, have a fabulous week!

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum: The Cuckoo Mama

Well hello again lovely peoples! These Sundays are coming round so quick! It literally feels like two minutes ago I was saying the same this time last week! We’ve had a lovely day today – we did nothing fancy or exciting, it’s been a day of simple pleasures. My husband and I did a bit of a tag team spring clean of the house (Little Miss doesn’t ‘do’ playing independently at the moment – we’re in the throes of a very clingy phase!) so one of us would entertain LM and the other do some house jobs and then swap over! It gave us both the opportunity to sit and play with her and get some quality time with her. Once the house was all spruced up, the teen joined us to put up the Christmas tree. Decorating the tree was a lot more chaotic than it’s been for a number of years now but with a baby on the move now joining us, it was bound to be! She spent most of the time sat in the cardboard box that the tree came out of but she had a great time! I love that my Big Lad, although almost fifteen, still gets so excited about the things we do together. He must have asked us a gazillion times this morning ‘How long until we do the tree?’ and although it started to feel a bit like the ye olde favourite ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ question, I absolutely adore the fact that he still wants to join in with this sort of thing. I really hope that continues in years to come.  Once the Christmas tree was up, we got in our jim jams, stuck movies on the box and snuggled up on the sofa in the warm glow of the Christmas tree lights. As if all part of the plan, it started snowing outside and within ten minutes our estate was covered in a blanket of bright white snow. This afternoon was totally what Christmas is all about for me: time together. Despite it being nothing particularly ‘exciting’ I refuse to ever take days like today for granted. I know how blessed I am to be here, to have a lovely family, a nice warm house and love between us. We are so incredibly lucky.

Anyway, enough about my family; let’s move on and find out all about the Cuckoo Mama’s! I am so thrilled that the lovely Cuckoo Mama wanted to be involved with the #ThisMum series and I am so grateful that she has written a fantastic guest blog, allowing us an access all areas pass to an average day in her life. Carolyn, the lovely lady behind the Cuckoo Mama blog, is mum to a two year old boy called Sam. Sam sounds like a lot of fun, and Carolyn’s love for Sam totally pours out through her writing. It sounds like Carolyn has a fantastic routine in place which offers Sam so much. They manage to cram in so much fun in one day! Life sounds busy but I admire Carolyn so much as it sounds like she’s got a fantastic routine that ensures Sam gets plenty of fresh air, time out of the house, time to socialise and play with other children and lots of fun time with Mum and Dad too. As I read her post, I found myself thinking about the limited time I have with my Little Miss through the working week. I pick her up from nursery around half past four and she’s grumpy and tired from being at nursery all day, she doesn’t really want to play, she cries during her bath because she’s so tired and she’s really unsettled all the way to bedtime – which is around half six. I don’t feel like there is any scope for ‘quality time’ with her Monday through to Friday which really weighs heavy on me. I sneak away from work early from time to time in a bid to secure a couple of extra hours with her when she’s actually got the energy to enjoy some time together but these occasions are few and far between due to work commitments. I really admire and envy the time Carolyn has with Sam. I am absolutely sure that as with anything with motherhood, it isn’t easy sometimes and I bet it can be tiring but what a happy little boy Sam must be to have so much fun with his Mummy! Read all about it here:

I’m Caro, mama to Sam, who turned two in September. I’m a full time, stay at home, mum and opted to do so due to the incredibly long time it took us to get Sam, plus Southern Rail’s ongoing industrial action, which meant a return to my commuter trains was set to be incredibly unpredictable and, with no local family to help out, wasn’t really going to work.

 

So how does my typical day go?

 

Life in the Cuckoo household tends to be busy, relaxed and altogether a little bit bonkers! We usually rise around 7.30am and start the day with a spot of milk in bed and a few books. It’s then in to the shower for a quick rinse with a toddler banging on the door wanting me to hurry up, get downstairs and play with Thomas and Percy! Well, who am I to argue with that?

 

As my husband is now home based, we’re really fortunate that most days we get to breakfast together. For us this is a real luxury as we spent years commuting, in to London, and were slightly like passing ships some weeks. We did worry we might get sick of the sight of each other, us both being at home, but that hasn’t happened yet – luckily he travels a fair bit too!

 

We start the day, come rain or shine, with a pup walk! Pepper pup is also two and we, somewhat crazily, welcomed her in to our family just a couple of months before Sam joined us. They are best friends and I can’t imagine one without the other! Sam is very gentle and loving towards Pepper and she is very patient with him; she’ll even push his trains around the track with her nose when he needs an extra playmate! Sam loves being outdoors and wearing his wellies so he, mostly, never complains at our morning walk, although, as he is now two, tantrums can come out of nowhere!

 

Once we’ve walked Miss P, Sam and I usually rush around trying to get ready to head out to a play group or play date or other activity. I’m aware that, as Sam doesn’t go to a nursery, it’s good for him to socialise with lots of other children and I’ve found some truly lovely play groups and wonderful mums and dads. We’re currently trying to learn how to share, I’ll let you know how that one goes!

 

We then head back home for a spot of lunch and Sam goes down for his nap. I’d love to say, that during the couple of hours he sleeps, I use this time to be Super Wife; blitzing the house, preparing meals and, in the words of the Fat Controller, being a Really Useful Mama… Whilst this sometimes does happen, I usually use naps for blogging, catching up on admin and, I’m really ashamed to say this, but the last few weeks have been used for catching up on Vampire Diaries season 8, please don’t judge! Nap times are also great as I get to pee on my own! I can’t tell you how nice it is to “go” in peace, without a toddler pulling the chain mid way through, or having a melt down because I used some toilet roll – yes that actually happened!

 

When Sam wakes, it’s snack time and then we’re off out to walk Pepper again. We’ll sometimes take her to the park so that she can be exercised and Sam can play, although trying to keep eyes on the pair of them as they run off in different directions can be interesting! It is lovely raising dog and child together but rainy days can feel tough. There are a lot of additional clothes and towelling down, to take care of, but on the plus side; there are mud and puddles! Things Sam loves stomping through and, strangely, Pepper not so much!

 

Once we’re back from our second walk it’s then in to the whole tea time and bed time routine. We have dinner around 5.30pm and then head upstairs at 6.15pm for a spot of “bed tunnel”. Bed tunnel is an incredibly sophisticated game involving getting as many toys, as possible, under our duvet, a Sam, a daddy, when he’s home, and a mama in there too, so that we can sing songs, crawl around making animal noises and generally make a huge mess of the bed! It’s amazing what we find in there when we actually go to bed ourselves; Thomas the Tank Engine was under my pillow last night!

 

It’s then time for a shower and a spot of quiet, naked play (for Sam, not us!) whilst he has his bedtime milk and stories. Sam’s just started to take an interest in the potty and so likes to sit on it and have a wee before getting in to his jim jams for bed.

 

Lights out is around 7.30pm, allowing enough time for mama and daddy to enjoy a glass of wine and catch up on some, more sophisticated, tv than my lunch time viewing! There’s then another Pepper walk, which my husband does, before we hit the hay ourselves and get ready to do it all again the next day!

All the best!

Caro x

Told you you’d love it!! What a fab post; mahoosive thanks to Carolyn from the Cuckoo Mama for guest blogging as part of the #ThisMum series. Go grab a cup of Tea (or something stronger if it’s been ‘one of those days’ – I can recommend gin (and lots of it) for those sorts of days, by the way) and visit Carolyn’s blog – you are going to love it. It’s a blog filled with posts and stories from the very front line of parenting, told beautifully by Carolyn. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for her blog because, like us, she too has experienced the challenges of infertility and so a lot of her posts resonate with me for that reason. It’s a blog definitely worth looking up if you haven’t already; you can find it here.

Keep you eyes peeled for Tuesday evening’s #ThisMum post; another blog post that promises absolute brilliance! On Tuesday my lovely pal Amy from The Rolling Baby will be sharing a day in her life with us, I can’t wait!!!

Massive thanks, Carolyn 🙂

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum: Kate

It’s Tuesday again folks! (is it me or are these weeks flying?!) We are literally hurtling towards mid December at the speed of light; I’m sure the big man in the red is doing some lunges and star jumps to get warmed up for the big day already.

I am so incredibly excited to share with you today’s #ThisMum post. Today’s ‘Day in the life of’ post comes from Kate, a mum from New Zealand who has a slightly different family dynamic to the families that have featured in the series so far. I read Kate’s post with both real interest and admiration. Kate’s current set up, raising her five month old boy with both her and her husband at home just sounds so perfect. Those first months with your baby (the first year, even!) are just more precious than anything else in the world – it seems so harsh that one parent out of the two misses out on a lot of that precious time because they have to go to work. My Little Miss has just recently turned one and we are really feeling the ill effects of her spending so much time one on one with just me and not my husband. She won’t settle with him sometimes, she cries when I leave the room despite Daddy being there and she’s extremely clingy towards me. I think that had we have had Kate’s set up for even just those few months, things would have been very different. I think it is so refreshing and so beautiful to have both parents at home raising the baby – you are going to love reading all about it. 

Hello and welcome to a day in the life of our little family.
I’m Kate, from New Zealand and I was selected to be part of the #ThisMum series because my husband and I are both home together raising our only son- which makes us a bit different from what is considered ‘normal’.
For some Mum’s, having your husband home while caring for a 5 month old would be considered a dream, for others a nightmare but for us it is reality.
Like every family dynamic it has potential difficulties
1) Will we get sick of each other?
2) Will our son attach to one of us more or both of us equally (or dislike us both)?
3) Will we use our time at home together wisely and have adventures or will we stay on the couch being the stereotypical sleep deprived parents the world knows and loves?
1) To avoid getting sick of each other and to uphold the individual identities we had formed ‘PB’ (pre-baby) we each have valuable ‘me time’. I was working as a Manager and my husband worked as a Storeman. My brain was always busy and he was always active, we now reflect this in our hobbies. ‘Me time’ For my husband is being in the garden, working on something around the house or cooking an amazing meal. My time involves getting OUT of the house. I am the worst “stay at home Mum ever”. Before my husband had his hip surgery (which is why he has joined me on my Maternity Leave) I took Ted out daily. Catching up with friends, walking, coffee dates, drives to new places…. etc… this kept me sane. I can’t do nothing, I am useless at it. I have tried relaxing or sleeping while he is asleep but planning events/weddings and working on projects are far more exciting.
2) It has been 8 weeks with us both at home and Teddington has formed a special bond with both of us. When he is playing or sitting on someone else’s knee he will look to my husband or I to ensure his ‘security blankets’ have not left the building. Of course as a breastfeeding Mum I have an advantage when it comes to cheering him up (well.. I have two advantages ;-)) meaning the initial bond was in my favour. Prior to his hip surgery my husband would typically finish work and be home by 5:30 p.m. and Ted would be in bed by 7:00 p.m. Since both being home, Ted flashes us equally awesome smiles as we enter the room and knows he has someone else to play with when he gets a bit bored.
I love watching the boys interact. It is playful, exciting and informative. My interactions with Ted are cuddly, giggly and relaxing. We believe Ted will benefit from having different experiences with each parent. Our underlying approach to parenting is the same- our child should be able to choose what he plays with/explores and he should have opportunities to figure things out on his own. We want to raise him as a team. My husband recently said “I don’t want to look back on his childhood and describe it as Mum+Ted and then Dad sometimes, I want it to be the 3 of us“.
3) My husband helping with Ted daily means I have only had a couple of days where I have felt the full impact of sleep deprivation. I am really appreciative of everything he does around the house- he is a far better chef/cleaner than I am! We understand that not all families have (what we consider) the luxury to parent together- we will eventually both head back to work but we hope to work alternate days so Ted has time with both of us individually.
Contrary to popular belief, Mum’s do not just sit at home and drink coffee all day. My husband and I don’t even like coffee, but that is besides the point. A typical day for us goes:
  • 6:30 a.m.
  • Teddy wakes up. Mum feeds Ted before he hangs with Dad. Ted enjoys a nappy change, tummy time, laughing, playing/peeing on his mat on the floor
  • 8:00 a.m. 
  • Ted naps. Mum wakes up and gets ready for the day. Dad makes both of them breakfast and then heads outside to work on the garden or whatever project is at play
  • 10:00 a.m. 
  • Mum feeds Ted. Ted plays/pees on his mat some more. Mum does paperwork/event planning/emails. Dad does yoga for his hip, Ted copies and shoves his toes in his mouth. Everyone gets ready to go out (sometimes this includes our two dogs if we are heading out for a walk).
  • 11:30 a.m.
  • We go somewhere. Errands, a play date, visiting family, babies group, a drive… Ted naps then joins us around lunchtime. We all have our lunch.
  • 3:00 p.m.
  • Head home. Ted wakes up and will play with either Mum or Dad while the other does jobs around the house/ has some ‘me time’
  • 4:30 p.m. 
  • Ted’s last nap before his bedtime routine starts. If Ted doesn’t feel like napping him and Mum have a cuddle in bed and relax.
  • 5:30 p.m. 
  • Dad starts cooking Dinner. Ted showers with either Mum or Dad and Mum reads him stories (Ted’s favourite is Dr Suess).
  • 6:30 p.m.
  • Mum feeds Ted. We both say goodnight and whoever is last to leave puts Ted in bed. Mum and Dad eat dinner, chat, plan tomorrow, watch TV, eat chocolate, read by the fire or hang out with friends…
  • 10:30 p.m. Mum dreamfeeds Ted (Her favourite part of the day, he looks super cute half asleep trying to feed!!)
  • 2:00 a.m. Mum feeds Ted, Dad sleeps with his useless nipples
and repeat.
Until Ted changes his mind, we change our routine, he grows up or we go back to work.
I look forward to seeing which happens first 🙂
Kate xx
Told you you’d love it! I laughed out loud (I’m an LOL-Phobe hence the lack of abbreviation!) at the ‘Dad sleeps with his useless nipples’ – isn’t that just brilliant!!! I can’t thank Kate enough for contributing to the series and shining a light on a family dynamic we were yet to feature. I absolutely love the sound of Kate’s set up – it sounds so perfectly balanced and beautiful. What do you think?
If you’d like to follow Kate on Twitter and find out more about her, you can find her by looking up her Twitter handle @Quippybaby

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum: Helen from Welsh Mum Writing

Well hello Sunday, you little minx! And what is so great about a Sunday I hear you ask (apart from the fact that it is practically the law to spend Sunday in your pyjamas, not quite asleep but not quite awake either…)?! Sundays are bliddy brilliant because it means we add another gorgeous Mummy to the #ThisMum catalogue of wonderful mummies! And boy are you going to LOVE this little treasure of a read! Welcome Helen, from the Welsh Mum Writing blog. I am over the moon that Helen has allowed us a fast pass in to her life to see what an average day in her life looks like!

A lot of Helen’s post resonated with me. I have attempted to work from home for part of the week and the office the rest of the week in a bid to keep nursery fees down and spend more time with Little Miss. I found the ‘working at home’ days incredibly stressful; this surprised me. I had totally romanticised it in my head though. I would sit during my maternity leave and visualise me sat at the dining table with my laptop, typing with one hand, nursing the baby (who, funnily enough, was always impeccably behaved, happy and mega-cute in these visualisations!) with the other, sipping an espresso (that was the only bit I got right – lots of caffeine needed) and talking to my colleagues in my ‘work voice’ via speaker phone. In my head I was totally going to rock the hell out of multi tasking. I was to be a multi tasking warrior. With a baby that would just ‘slot’ right in with my work. Oh dear. What a long way I had to fall. Oh my how wrong I was. I’m not too proud to admit that I just couldn’t make it work. On the days I would work from home I didn’t like the mum I was on those days and I didn’t like the business person I was on those days. Life was hectic, disorganised and chaos on those days. Utter chaos. It would take me three and a half hours to reply to an email because I would manage two words before I would need to get up and see to Little Miss. I wanted it to work so bad but very quickly i realised that my Little Miss deserved better than that and not being the Mum I wanted to be on those days made me feel very unhappy in myself. I was just way too over stretched. And she deserved better than that. She deserved to have someone to play with her round the clock. She deserved to have the undivided attention she needed. I was sad to admit that I just couldn’t make it work but we quickly realised we were going to need nursery full time. I admire Helen so much that she has been able to make it work for her -she sounds so organised too! Working the early mornings and evenings sounds like a really good idea. 

Helen mentions meeting with a friend for a play date during the day and I think this is the first post in the series that a Mum has mentioned meeting with a friend and I know from personal experience how much brighter I felt when I met with a friend during my maternity leave. When I was at home with Little Miss during maternity leave there were times where I felt lonely, really lonely. We have one car in the family so my husband would take it to work and I would feel quite isolated at times. It was amazing how much brighter and better I felt when I met with a friend for a few hours though. It was good for both Little Miss and me. Socialising and having adults to talk to is so important as a mum. The days can be repetitive and lonely without that interaction with others. 

Anyway – I have warbled on way too much – here’s the lovely Helen with her day in the life of #ThisMum post:

About Helen

I’m a forty something first time in South Wales, trying to juggle home life and working. I blog about the stresses and funny side of parenting, along with things I’ve learned that help save me time and money. I occasionally rant. I DO NOT have this parenting thing down, but happy to share my muddle juggle.

A Day in Helen’s Life

It’s 5am and I’m awake. I’m almost always awake then. Small Boy is an early riser. I’ve been up at 5am for two years straight now. It’s now the norm and I’m even a little surprised when I tell people I’ve often started work by 5.30am and they look at me in horror.

I work full time for a large organisation on a flexible basis. My hours are compressed which means I work the majority of them over three days and work two shorter ones, with the shorter ones being at home and the time work split from early morning to early evening. This means I can work them around Small Boy and don’t need to pay for nursery two days a week.

I’m incredibly lucky. Working for a flexible employer means I’ve been able to change my hours and working pattern twice since returning to work last year. I have no burning desire to work full time, but with husband changing job and the uncertainty that always brings, along with needing to buy a bigger house now Small Boy is here, needs must.

The number of hours I work is calculated carefully as we don’t have any other regular childcare except for private nursery. The knife edge between making it worthwhile working X hours over the cost of Y days in nursery means I’m treading a careful line. I’m currently in a funk trying to figure out if I can afford to cut back my hours, but we are in the process of buying a new house and we need a new car so I might have to stay funky for a bit longer. Still, I don’t need to worry about putting food on the table; even though the cost of childcare means that luxuries like holidays require a good deal of planning and some of my best money saving skills.

Today is a home working day. It’s all a bit manic, and the flexibility rather than empowering feels pressurising somehow. Home working days are a bit more of a juggle. Office days are more straightforward, I get in to work early (around 7am, or do an hour or two at home and get in for 8am), and my husband takes Small Boy to nursery. I always do the afternoon pick up from nursery, normally around 4.30pm as it’s a long day for him otherwise.

So at 5am the laptop is open and I’m logging in at the dining table. I used to have a home office but it’s currently full of packing boxes as we are waiting to move into a new house (if solicitors can get a chuffing move on). I’ve already had a snuggle with Small Boy in bed, as he was up earlier than usual, while his Dad has a shower. This is how days normally begin. Dad showers and has Small Boy, then I shower and get dressed and then start work – either at home, or in the office.

Small Boy is eating his usual wake up snack – a wafer biscuit and a cup of milk. He takes after me and doesn’t like his proper breakfast straight away. He’s explaining something very important to his Dad while I check emails, book some meetings and review a paper that I’d drafted for a meeting when I was slightly less rested. As Small Boy is still up and about and in the background, the early morning tends to be the preserve of admin tasks. I’ve already had a minor melt down over how we will cope when Small Boy drops his afternoon nap and how we’ll manage to do the school runs – although that’s another three years away.

Dad leaves for work at 7.30am so I’m logged off again and it’s just me and Small Boy. We eat breakfast together, then he dresses and we potter about the house, draw on the chalk board or do some puzzles.

Today one of my ante-natal class friends is coming over for a playdate. She’ll be over mid-morning after she’s been to a playgroup. I used to go to them too but it’s practically impossible now (although I’ve set myself a task of finding one on my home working days, something local which I can squeeze in during an hour I’m not working).

I’m looking forward to seeing the as I haven’t made the most of my home working days lately. I tend to be off the clock from about 10am – 3pm on Mondays, depending on Small Boy’s naps. Usually we try and get out and go to the farm or soft play or just head into town and walk about the shops. I’ve worked in excess of my contracted hours the past few Monday’s. Others missed deadlines and I ended up trying to get things done when I wasn’t meant to be working. I wouldn’t have if I only worked in the office though.

By 11am our friends come over and a couple of hours are spent catching up on life. I love watching the kids at play and I tell myself that I need to make more effort to get out and do stuff with Small Boy and learn to say no to the day job more. I make cheesy breakfast egg cups and lay out a living room picnic with the savoury goodies, along with blueberries and soft cheese sandwiches.

They leave around 12.30 and Small Boy is ready for his nap. He curls up in his cot and I tip toe back to my laptop, making a detour to the kitchen to throw some stuff into the slow cooker for tea.

Small Boy loves his daytime sleep (if only he loved the night as well!) so he’ll sleep for around two hours. Lately he’s been poorly and going through a growth spurt so he sometimes goes to three hours!

This is when work proper starts. I’m highly caffeinated by now and my brain is working properly. I only need to do a few hours and I try and do them in the evening but it seems like a don’t waste of nap time to postpone it. Fortunately, I don’t have any meetings to dial into today – on Fridays I can have two hours back to back with my mobile phone burning my ear off.

Before I know it it’s 3pm and small Boy is awake. He’s been sleeping longer recently as he’s had a spate of illnesses. I have been able to use the time to conquer a spreadsheet and set up a Trello board though. I’ve managed several cups of hot tea which is a win.

He’s a bit dopey when he’s woken up so we have a couple of hours of just chilling with books and watching CBeebies. He’s in a good mood as he enjoyed playing with his girlfriend earlier. He has a snack and some milk while I wonder how long it would take for my blog to make enough money that I can reduce my hours. The funk begins to descend but I brush it aside as it’s now incredibly important that we do a Peppa Pig jigsaw.

By 6pm, Dad his home and I serve up tea from the slow cooker. Small Boy is currently refusing to sit in a high chair or on a booster but can’t reach the dining table, so we sit on the floor around a low table – Japanese style – and tell each other how yummy it is.

Dad does the bath while I clear up and quickly check my work phone to see how many emails I need to action – forewarned is forearmed. Thankfully there’s not much so I quickly reply to the essentials.

CBeebies is finishing and despite his protests, Small Boy is wiped out. I take him up to his room at 7.30 pm and we sit in the chair and I sing him a song. He has a selection of night time lullabies – some of them are old standards which he loves (yep, no kids songs for him), while others are ones I’ve made up. Tonight it’s his favourite – “Your Belong to Me” – the Patsy Cline arrangement. He’s beginning to wind down now so I put him in his cot bed, with his trusted rabbit blanky and he rolls on to his side.

I tip toe down the stairs and collapse on the sofa. My husband has a cup of tea ready for me. I take half an hour to write this blog post and Dad has a shower to wash the day away. By 9pm we are in bed ourselves – after all we’ll both be “on” again by 5am.

Helen Treharne

What a fabulous #ThisMum post! I can’t thank Helen enough for being involved and sharing her life with us; it’s a cracking read! Before you move a muscle, make sure you give Helen’s fabulous blog a visit – you can find it here

You can also keep up to date with Helen’s life by following her on her various social media accounts – you can find the links below!

www.twitter.com/welshmumwriting

www.facebook.com/welshmumwriting

www.instagram.com/welshmumwriting

www.pinterest.com/welshmumwriting

Coming up on Tuesday we add another fabulous mamma to the #ThisMum series! I am so excited to share with you a day in the life of the lovely Kate Radcliffe all the way from New Zealand. This is another fantastic post you are going to love, Kate’s family dynamic is different to any of the Mums featured on the series so far – you don’t want to miss it!