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the sleep thief's mother

surviving life with a new baby

“A plague o’ both your houses” AKA Chicken Pox Week!

So last Friday I strolled into work with that “I totally bossed this week” feeling, deadlines met, child safely delivered to nursery on time every day, despite the fact that I’m temporarily a single-mum all week long with the Mr away, only to receive a call from said nursery saying the little man has chicken pox, can I come get him now!

“Bugger!” I thought! Not only is he ill and I’ve only been in work for 12 seconds today, but also “How did I miss that?” and “Nursery must think I don’t even look at him!” Followed by oodles of mum guilt and cursing my stupidity and crazy driving to get back to my poor sick baby who was happily infecting everyone else’s child while he waited! Bad Mummy!!!! 

However. I then got to nursery. The little man was running around in a circle, happy as Larry. “Mummy!” he screams! This is not the face of an ill child! His lovely keyworker proceeds to lift my baby’s shirt to show me 3 extremely small, and I mean extremely small, pinkish dots no bigger than a pinhead under his arm. At this point I’m thinking “you dragged me out of work for this!” But they insist it’s chicken pox so I take the little faker home and let him watch tele all day, cos, you know, he’s ill and that’s what you do!

Needless to say, I now bow down to the vigilance, experience and general awesomeness of my nursery, they’re amazing. It’s why I love them. Fast forward 3 days and the poor little bugger looks like something out of a horror film. Scabs and sores all over him, can’t sleep, won’t eat, won’t rest, so uncomfortable. Then I find out there is a vaccine for this! Yes, UK mums, I repeat, there is a vaccine for this! Only apparently the NHS don’t deem it necessary, so we don’t get it. Australia, America, basically all developed countries vaccinate against this horrid desease but for some reason the U.K. decide to make it some sort of sadistic rite of passage that we all have to go through! Well, I can tell you for free that if I ever am blessed with any more offspring they will be vaccinated, even if I have to pay for it privately, which sadly is currently the way.

So, we’re dispensing calpol and piriton every 4 hours, taking bicarbonate of soda baths and applying calamine cream, alongside as much fluid as I can get in him and as much cake as he wants, it’s a long process, the road to recovery looks paved with scratching. Any suggestions on how to relieve the itch particularly on the hard to cream hairline would be great!

Anyway, the joys of being home with a sick, itchy toddler who hates sleep and is banned from nursery til he scabs over is that I can’t go to work! However, I quite like my job and I’m actually very busy right now, so I look after the spotty one all day, work all night to make up the time and then do it all over again and again and again! But such is life, right? Welcome to parenting. Would I change it……umm, well maybe I would have paid for the vaccine.

Until next week then…..keep your fluids and your chins up!

Bottoms up to the “slummy mummies” & up yours to the Daily Mail

Some of my lovely readers may have seen an article published in the Daily Mail today which fundamentally brandished modern parenting bloggers as “slummy mummies” hell bent on hating their off spring and sharing their mothering fails on social media for the sole purpose of gathering likes and followers. It went on to further name call some of the most popular and well liked mummy bloggers and I’m saddened to say the terms selfish, neglectful, gin-soaked and foul-mouthed were used more than once.

I’m outraged that this article was ever even published, not just because I consider myself (all be it in a very small way!) a part of the parenting blogger pack but mainly because it’s writer (ironically enough also the author of parenting book The Pushy Mothers Guide!!!) completely missed the point of why there are so many successful parenting blogs on the same theme.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog posts modern women are under more pressure than ever before, encouraged and expected to maintain a flourishing career, a spotless home and become the epitome of a natural mother. Something’s gotta give, right? And it does! Sometimes our kids eat fish fingers and baked beans! Sometimes we let them watch TV for hours! Sometimes they drive us crazy because they won’t sleep, won’t eat, won’t shut the hell up! Does it mean we love them less, wanted them less, would change them, would be without them, neglect them for f*ck sake??

I started my blog 2 years ago, for several reasons. It had a lot to do with wanting an online diary of my motherhood journey, something to look back on to remember how hard and beautiful it simultanesouly was. But it had a great deal more to do with this… I was the first in my friend group to have a child, I lived 3 hours from my closest family and my partner worked full time. I had this gorgeous baby, had no clue what to do with him and was totally isolated and lonely. Baby blues swiftly followed. I reached out for something to reassure me it was all normal and I found blogs, hundreds of them. The so called “slummy mummies” behind these blogs told me it was all just normal! Stress, disappointment, parenting fails, mum guilt, they’d been through it too, it’s all part of it and usually whatever you’re feeling, it’s normal! These blogs don’t seek to glamorous neglectful parenting, nor do they only show the bad side of being a mum, they’re honest and thruthful and in the most part well rounded and without judgement. In an age where it’s reported that 80% of women experience some sort of “baby blues” and around 1 in 8 feel post natal depression so deeply that they seek medical help for it, it’s down right irresponsible that this article can call into question the worth of what wonderful bloggers like The Unmumsy Mum and Hurrah For Gin do with every blog post. They put themselves on the line, expose themselves to judgement and illuminate their own short comings to tell other mums that’s it’s ok not to be ok. In a time where even our Royal Family are making online videos where they speak honestly about the importance of Mental Health, advocating the need for openness and to break the taboo, should these bloggers not be applauded for making the decision to do just that?

I truly want the author of today’s Daily Mail article to ascend back up to the top of her high horse with her opinions firmly shoved up her arse but, what I want more is to let every parenting blogger know that you really do a great job, to let every mum know that there are other women going through it and that it is normal to feel however you’re feeling, continue to reach out and find things which make you smile in the dark times.

Oh, and last but not least, to the Daily Mail. I may be a mummy blogger or a “slummy mummy” to you, but today I fed my child at all the right times with all the right food, washed him, cleaned him, changed him, dressed him, read to him, loved him, laughed with him and treasured him.

And then I had a gin.

So up yours!

Shout out to the single mums (and dads!)

Being a parent is hard.

It’s really f*cking hard. These days women have to hold down a career, bring home the bacon, keep a well organised, well dusted, well hoovered house and raise their children in a rounded, loving, nurturing home environment whilst ensuring limited screen time, that everyone eats a balanced diet, gets their five a day and eats nothing processed, that the kids play with only educational, preferably wooden, non gender specific toys, while still finding the time to ensure they stay on top of root touch ups, eyebrow shaping and waxing!

But there are some women who do this every single day, without fail and without help! I’ve had a little taste of the single mum life recently and I have to say I’m exhausted. My lovely Mr is working away at the moment, so it’s just me and the little man from Sunday to Friday every week. I’ve got to say I am feeling the pressure of every meal, every drop off, every pick up, every bath, bed time story and cuddle, every tear, every problem, every upset, every nightmare, every nappy!!

So this has lead me to assume a couple of things. Firstly that single mums who have had time to wash their hair, pluck their eyebrows or put on clothes that vaguely go together are doing way better than me and need to share with the world how the f*ck they get that sh*t done, cos I’ve been at this sole care giver thing for a month now and still look like a hobo caught in headlights. Secondly, I have deduced (all be it, reluctantly!) that my long suffering partner in crime actually does more around the house than I give him credit for (I mean, I’m having to take out my own bins right now – rank!)

Of course, all that being said, the little munchkin could not give a monkeys if my clothes match or my hair is brushed, I put that pressure on myself, he’s just happy that I’m here. And I love spending time with him of course, it’s actually been a bit lush to have him to myself and I guess we have got into a little routine which is what must happen to other sole parents, but I do feel that responsibility on me like a weight, that it’s all down to me. Perhaps that gets easier the longer you do it for? Who knows, only time will tell that for us I guess,

But to all the mums and dads, doing it alone, independently raising small humans and still finding the time to brush their own teeth, I salute you.

The Pressure of the perfect day

So, today was bank holiday, gloriously sunny and unfortunately the last time you’ll get a long weekend if you work full time, until Christmas! Yeah, suck on that one for a while, depressing huh?

Anyway, weekends normally mean quality family time for me and my boys, we eat out, go to the beach, go to soft play, take trips to new places, have picnics, visit family for barbecues, you know, all that kind of stuff.

Today, however, I woke up feeling kind of queasy, just generally run down and a bit headachey all day. The last thing I wanted was to be out in the sun around lots of people. But honestly, all day I don’t know what’s been bugging me more, the fact that I felt crappy or the fact that I was doing nothing special with my little one. The guilt of doing nothing special when you work full time is huge. I basically vegged out in front of the tele while his dad worked extremely hard to catch up on house work and keep our son amused all day.

But now I’ve put the baby to bed, kissed his forehead and tucked him in, I’ve realised all the pressure to be a perfect mum and have amazing perfect family days, comes from me. He doesn’t care if we paid an extortionate amount to travel somewhere fun and paid to get in and eat out, he just loves having fun and spending time with us. He’s still young enough to have no clue about the cost of anything, he only recognises the worth.

I’ve always known that the pressure to be perfect comes from within and that its completely fuelled by our constant insight into other people’s family life through social media. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of instagraming the good bits with the best filters to get the look I want. But I must keep reminding myself that like me, everyone else is cherry picking the good stuff, showing their best side. And that’s fine! That’s as it should be really. I want to remember the fun, the smiles, the giggles, but it doesn’t mean that the tantrums and fights don’t happen.

So, if you let the kids amuse themselves today while you did nothing so that you’re rested to go back to work, good for you! If you planned a family trip and made memories with your kids, great. If you dropped the kids with grandma and spent the weekend reconnecting with your partner, well done!

Not every day is worthy of Instagram. But you’ll always remember the ones that were.

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An open letter to the injured Syrian Boy

I’m so sorry.

I’m sorry that I’m part of a country that chooses to drop bombs of your country. I’m sorry that there are people living in your country who choose to inflict terror on the rest of the world so that we choose to fight back in the only way we know how. Most of us don’t realise that we’re terrorising you in the process.

I’m sorry that you were hurt that day. That you were scared. That you were alone. No little boy should ever have to be alone when he’s scared. I don’t know what happened to your mummy or if you’re back with her safely now, but I know that when you were scared and on your own, she would have wanted nothing more than to be there with you, because mummy’s are the same whether they’re Syrian or British.

I wonder what you were doing when that bomb hit. Were you sitting quietly playing? Perhaps you have a little train set like my son, he can sit for hours just pushing the train around the track. Or perhaps you were climbing and jumping around with your brothers and sisters, just being a kid. I hope that you get to still be a kid after all this. I hope you won’t be robbed of your childhood because of this.

I promise that because of you I will hold my little boy a bit tighter in the morning. I promise I’ll raise him to have compassion for others whether they speak the same language or not. I promise to try to inspire him to make the world a better place. I promise to make him realise how lucky he is to have been born here, in Britain.

Mostly I promise that the image of you frightened and alone in the back of an ambulance at just 5 years old the victim of an attack, it’s only  purpose to hurt people, will never leave me. If I could hug you now I would.

I hope you find your mummy.

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Off-grid parenting: Whatever next?

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So, I don’t often use my blog as a platform for my personal judgements, or at least, I try not to. But something in the parenting world came to light today that I’ve never heard of before and honestly, I feel very “judgey” about it.

Now. In the interest of trying to be objective and not a complete asshole, I’ve since done a little research, but I’m still bloody baffled.

This Morning on ITV’s much loved magazine show aptly titled “This Morning” there was a couple named Adele and Matt Allen who call themselves Off-Grid Parents. They have two children and have currently set up a funding page asking the British public to donate £100,000 to them so that they can take the whole family to Costa Rica to live a self sufficient life at one with nature. So far, it makes sense right? Only, there’s way more to it.

Off-Grid parenting, as well as a need to be self sufficient and close to the earth also apparently involves denying your children basic medical care, shoes, education, friends, the list goes on! Ok, you can probably sense my view on it already, can you?

Off-gridding is the idea that you don’t need the standard system to raise your kids. No doctors, no schools, just the family unit. That’s not entirely unheard of and I’m sure has it’s merits. So the Allen’s children have never been immunised, again, there are pros and cons to immunising. I’m all for it, but I get where people are coming from. The Allen’s children don’t wear shoes so they can feel life through their feet (😳 even though both parents have shoes on in all their videos!) The Allen’s children are home schooled only interacting with their parents who claim “there is no need for them to be able to read and write” The Allen’s children all sleep in one big bed with their parents (which begs the question when did you conceive the second one if you never leave your child and you all sleep together 🙈) If the Allen’s children get ill they are given herbs and vegetables and reassured that their bodies will heal themselves! The Allen’s children have no routine, no bed time, no discipline, no social interaction with other kids, no friends, no shoes, no bedrooms, no independence. Oh, and they are still breastfed…..at age 5.

Now. I’m not saying that we all have to raise our kids the same way, that’s not what I’m about. But if you don’t belive in shoes then why are you wearing them mum and dad? If you don’t believe in formal education and reading and writing skills then how the hell did you learn to fill your blog and Facebook with words? If you believe in self sufficiency then why are you begging for other people’s money to the tune of £100k? If you breastfeed your 5 year old son purely because it maintains the close personal bond you have (her words not mine) then why have you plastered the Internet with pictures of him with your boob in his mouth? If you want to get off the grid then why blog, go on tv, exploit your family and advertise your way of life to every media outlet you can find?

I really wasn’t going to wade into this conversation today, but after watching Adele Allen say in her begging video that parents who use baby sleep training techniques like cry it out are negligent and should be considered to be abusing their child, I couldn’t hold my tongue.

Two words Adele and Matt Allen

Pot. Kettle.

You might also find it interesting that at the time of writing this, their funding page stands at a whopping £47

😂

Big up the baby rave

So, I haven’t written in ages, mainly because I’m busy working and raising a small person so the family time I do get is precious and not normally spent in front of a screen. That being said I’m always on the look out for new, fun and interesting things to do with the family at the weekends. There’s only so many times you can go to soft play without screaming. Am I right? Or is that just me?

Anyway, we’ve just moved to Exeter, beautiful city with lots going on for kids and adults alike. But, it’s rare that you find something for kids and adults at the same time! Which is why when we stumbled across Big Fish Little Fish family friendly rave events we were so excited to try it out. These events are basically mini raves for the 90’s generation who’ve now grown up and had kids and who desperately miss going out and ‘avin’ it large (as we used to say back then!) Ok, so maybe the “desperately miss going out” bit is a little strong, but having spent our teens and twenties in bars, raves and clubs without a care in the world, that is often how myself and my Mr feel about our now non existent social life.

For a very acceptable £7.50 each Big Fish Little Fish boasted resident DJ’s from the Hacienda playing actual grown up music that isn’t about twinkling stars, bus wheels going round or incy bloody wincy spiders, a fully licensed bar, as well as a host of entertaining things to keep the kids amused. “Finally!” I exclaimed to the other half “we can have it all, we can be fun cool parents who actually go out and take the baby with us!”

So, that’s what we did.

Now, before we got there I had visions of a cafe del mar kind of scene. Me, drink in hand, my man, drink in hand, gently swaying to some laid back summer house vibes while the angel I gave birth to is quietly amusing himself, sitting still, doing some colouring or something. In reality, it was like a four hour cardio session just with alcohol and a banging soundtrack.

Unfairly, that makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy myself which could not be further from the truth, I had an absolute ball! It’s just that other people’s kids seem to like to dance in the amazing bubble machine, glitter cannons and oversized balloon strewn dance floor. Perhaps they will sit at the well stocked craft table or play doh station and make a masterpiece, take part in baby yoga, get their face painted, get in the ball pit, crawl through the tunnel in the chill out area or even play dress up in the awesome complimentary photo booth! Not my kid. Oh no. Mine decided to act like we’d never let him see daylight before. Like some sort of ferrel child, unable to contain his excitement he ran and ran and ran, occasionally stopping to pick up a ballon, shout “Look!” at something he’d seen or demand a carton of juice. So of course, I ran after him. The whole time. I’ve honestly never been so tired, that kid is fast!

That being said, I can’t blame him, there was so much for him to do, explore and see. The dance floor was a sensory overload and the whole event culminated in an amazing parachute dance. If you’ve got a child under about age 12 then you definitely need to try this! I’ll be going back to their next local event in November and this time I’ll be bringing lots more people with me to try it out.

(oh and I’ll be getting the train so I can have a drink! 😂)

Thanks Big Fish Little Fish for an awesome afternoon.

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Where the f*ck is 2016 going?

So I realised today that it’s been 4 months since I updated my blog! From writing every week to a 4 month gap! What happened?

Well, for starters I went back to work full time. Seems that being a full time mummy and a full time employee don’t really go together and to top it off if you actually want to see your child and live in a house that’s at least slightly cleaner than a toilet, there is little to no time for “hobbies”

Thay being said we’ve also had a lot of change and upheaval to deal with. Seth has a new nursery, my partner and I both have new jobs and we’ve all moved 130 miles away from the place we all called home and the people we called friends. While I’m on the subject, moving house with a baby is not that much fun! If you ever do it get ready to be stressed. My handy hint would be to pack snacks and lots of them!

Anyway, the point of my post is to say sorry for being gone for so long really. Now that we’re settled and I have a little more time back I’ll be thinking up new blogging ideas and documenting my journey with my little man again.

ps he’s not that little any more

The top 10 things to pack in your hospital bag for labour

There’s so much to think about when you pack your hospital bag. Things for you, the baby, your partner, it soon adds up and you can find yourself overpacking very easily. When I went in it looked like I’d packed for a 3 week cruise and I hardly used any of it. Hopefully the below list will help you (and me if I ever have another baby!) from making that mistake too!

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  1. Stuff for your boobs

So, you got pregnant. Your belly got big. Did your boobs get big too? Mine got massive and I loved it and so did my boyfriend. But once you have your baby, your boobs feel about as sexy and sensual as a trip to the dentist. They start doing weird things like leaking and they’re sore every time you breathe! Don’t worry, it doesn’t last long but you will need a few bits to get you through it. Breast pads are a must unless you want to start squirting people in the eye like a lactating clown. Tops and bras that are soft but supportive and allow you easy access. Oh and nipple cream (the good stuff, something with lanolin in it should do the trick) and nipple guards so you can carry on breast feeding even if you do get sore.

2. Stuff for your lady parts

No one really wants to talk or think about the damage that is done to your precious vajayjay, but it happens. Now, don’t panic, just like your boobs, your lady garden will completely recover, it’ll just need a little TLC to get there. Comfy knickers are a must, either throwaway paper ones or big soft cotton ones you don’t mind ruining. Obviously, you’re gonna need maternity pads, the ones with the healing Aloe Vera in are nice – but my top tip is wet toilet paper. You know, the flushable kind that are basically baby wipes for your bits. Trust me when I say you will not want dry hospital toilet paper going anywhere near you for a while, the wet stuff is so much kinder to you plus you’ll feel much cleaner.

3. Clothes for you

Do not make the mistake of thinking that you’ll have this baby and need a smaller size in your nightwear instantly, it’s not gonna happen and you will want to be extremely comfortable after birth without anything tight or clingy. So, think about what you want to give birth in – for me it was just my bra, absolutely zero f*cks were given by me about what I looked like once labour started, but you might be different. So, something you don’t care about ruining for actual labour, a couple of nightshirts or pyjamas to wear in hospital, warm socks and slippers as you won’t be moving much and your feet get cold, maybe a dressing gown if it’s the colder months and loose fitting clothes to wear home.

4. Clothes for baby

This is a little trickier as you don’t know what size baby will be or how long you’ll need to stay in with them. However, all being well with you and baby most of us are looking at a night or two in hospital. So baby will need two or three sleepsuits and vests, a hat, some scratch mits and a nice outfit for the trip home (include a coat in this if it’s cold out) You’ll also need muslin’s for milk spills, lots of newborn nappies (as many as 12 a day, they really are sh*t machines at this age!) bottles if you’ve decided not to breastfeed, a dummy if you’ve chosen to use it and some cotton wool.

5. Clothes for your partner

Some hospitals have private rooms where your partner can stay with you and if you’re like us you could have to stay up to a week! Our unexpected long stay meant that my poor boyfriend had nothing he needed with him. So even if you’re not anticipating a week long stay its best to bring him some fresh pants, socks, tee’s and a jumper. If nothing else it’ll stop him having to go home all the time to get more clothes. Even if you go straight to the ward and he can’t stay, labour is a messy, sweaty business for which the father of your child probably deserves a clean shirt to wear home.

6. Cosmetics

Once baby arrives you’ll want to take the longest shower you’ve ever had so obviously shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, whatever else you need. Hospitals are often air conditioned so I found my lips got dry and I went through lip balm like nobody’s business. Also my hair got on my nerves a lot so a brush and hair bands were essential for me. Toothbrush, toothpaste and hand cream as well as a towel and you should be set.

7. Snacks

You might not want to eat at all, or you might be ravenous from start to finish. Remember breast feeding can make you very hungry too, so healthy (or unhealthy, it’s up to you!) snacks are a great idea. Also remember that if you do have to stay in for a little while, that the hospital will cater for you but not your partner, my poor boyfriend lived on Starbucks and Canteen food for a week, bless him.

8. Distractions

You might be one of those focused, hypno-birthing types who can concentrate on the pain and your breathing and channel your energy into your labour. Me, I just wanted the baby out and not too much damage done, so having music and playlists on our laptop, phones and speakers was a godsend to me. Gave me something to do, sparked conversations that weren’t about how dilated I was and passed the time. Plus, once baby’s here you’ll be knackered but they will sleep for a while at a time, so a magazine, book, kindle etc, whatever you need to feel a bit normal.

9. Techy stuff

It seems obvious, but this moment is going to change your life forever and you will want to let everyone know that your little bundle has finally arrived as well as documenting that tiny newborn as much as possible. So, phones, cameras and camcorders (GoPro’s, Ipad’s etc whatever format you use) as well as chargers for them all, are essential. You won’t want to miss a moment and you’ll treasure every image to look back on.

10.  A positive attitude

If I can do it, you can do it. It really is mind over matter. Your baby got in there and it’s gotta come out. There is no badge of honour in going pain relief free and no shame in getting an epidural, an elective C-section or taking whatever drugs you can get your hands on. As long as you’ve researched all the pro’s and con’s of all the choices you can make in labour and you know what you’re happy with, then that’s what’s right for you. When I found out that I couldn’t have a water birth 4 weeks before baby was due, I freaked out, could not stop crying! Ridiculous really because the moment I held him it didn’t matter if I was on a bed, on the floor, in the water or on the moon, he was the only thing I cared about. And whatever happens, it’s a few days discomfort traded for immeasurable joy for life.

Believe me, it’s worth it. Good Luck xxx

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