Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Why Mum Guilt Can Just Do One

I vowed to always be honest on this blog so with the risk of perhaps exposing a bit too much of myself, I wanted to share with you the things I’ve felt guilty about today. The things I can remember at least. There’s a point to all this so bear with me. 

Things I’ve felt guilty about today 
  • Not getting washed and dressed prior to the boys being awake
  • Having my shower before getting the boy sorted even though he was awake 
  • Giving the boy a breakfast cereal that I know contains sugar 
  • Giving the baby toast again 
  • Being late for playgroup
  • Deciding to brush the baby’s teeth when we get home because we were running so late for playgroup 
  • Not having the right money for playgroup so now owe it for next week. 
  • Not having more money full stop. 
  • Not working more hours to earn this money 
  • Working at all when I could be at home with the boys
  • Catching up with a friend for a few minutes while at playgroup and therefore not sitting and engaging with the boy 
  • Making him wait for his squash at snack time because I hadn’t managed to get it while sorting out the food and now there is a queue
  • Telling him off for whining in the car
  • Giving them both cheese sandwiches for lunch
  • Giving the boy some cheesy puffs with his lunch
  • Not having any cucumber in the fridge 
  • Not eating a healthier lunch as I’m still breastfeeding and never quite sure if I need to be eating better 
  • Not playing with the baby after his nap (boy at preschool) because I was doing some work on the computer and then some blog stuff
  • Giving the boy a little bag of Haribo when he arrives home
  • Putting the TV on for them both 
  • Not tending to the garden so now it’s all overgrown and the boys shoes are all wet from the grass
  • Not buying a cover for the trampoline for the winter and now it’s all grimy
  • Not taking the boy out on his bike more 
  • Not cleaning up the outdoor toys I bought from Gumtree
  • Not playing Playdoh with the boy as I wanted to get dinner sorted instead
  • Going on Twitter on my phone
  • Getting dinner sorted later than I planned because of going on Twitter
  • Not being better at getting vegetables into the boy
  • Letting the boy have an unhealthy pudding before his banana
  • Nagging him to tidy up his toys 
  • Spending too much time looking at phone
  • Making him giggle at bedtime even though I know I need to wind him down so he goes to sleep quicker and doesn’t wake the baby
  • Having a glass of wine with dinner

Right, I’m going to stop there. I feel quite exhausted writing all that down but it’s all true. I know I’m not the only one that feels constant mum guilt and I know it’s not healthy. And while I’m not sure if there will ever be a day I don’t torture myself this way, I guess the trick to lessening it is to try and change our thought processes. So for example, using the first four points in the list, here is how I could have viewed them: 

  • Not getting up, washed and dressed prior to the boys being awake…. I was allowing myself some time to relax in bed before the chaos 
  • Having my shower before getting the boy sorted even though he was awake… Getting myself sorted first so that I can concentrate on geting on with the day and supporting the boys fully 
  • Giving the boy a cereal that I know contains sugar… He’s getting some food which also contains vitamins and there is calcium in the milk 
  • Giving the baby toast again… he’s getting fed and he’s enjoying his breakfast

So although I can’t claim to have a hold on mum guilt, I do know that in the grand scheme of things the boys are OK and I’m doing OK. If our children are happy, loved and nourished then putting this level of pressure on ourselves is just not on is it? We owe ourselves a bit more than this, surely?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Surviving Parenting as an Introvert

I read something this week that said something along the lines of ‘if socialising energises you then you’re an extrovert, if it drains you you’re an introvert’. This was like a bloomin’ revelation to me, I’d been trying to put into words for some time how I feel when I’m out the house, interacting with people or socialising. Just to be clear, it’s not that I don’t like seeing people, I do like to talk to people and I love my friends fiercely, it’s just that when I do spend time interacting, engaging, creating conversation etc, I’m always a little bit worn out after. I realise how bad this sounds and if you’re one of my friends reading this, please still come visit me(!!)- it’s a good sort of worn out. I think this comes from a place of shyness and from past anxieties about what people thought of me. I do genuinely love to be around people for example, if the boys and their dad are out I feel a bit lonely but when they are back I’m more than happy to have a bit of quiet time reading a book (which coincidentally is about as likely as pigs flying with my two!) knowing that the hustle and bustle is going on around me. I think my natural state is a quiet one. I got told time and time again when I was employed that I was too quiet or that I didn’t appear confident and that was always used as a criticism, as something that I should be working on. It took me a long time to realise that being a quieter person isn’t a negative, you can have a quiet confidence and an inner strength without being the loudest person in the room and this is always in the back of my mind now that I’m self-employed. One of the reasons I started the business was to get away from this kind of negativity, it was just so draining and those past criticisms are the fuel that drives me to keep going, to try and make it a success and if it is, it’ll be two fingers up to those very people that dragged me down.

As a parent, I’ll be honest, some days I can feel completely and utterly drained at being climbed on, or pulled about, or just having the constant chatter around me whereas conversely, there’s really nowhere I’d rather be. I can sometimes feel like I’m all touched out. How I’ve managed this over the last four years is to allow myself time in the day where I do get a bit of space. So for example, I’ll encourage them to play by themselves for a little while, I might pop Cbeebies on, or I’ll nip them in the car and just let them enjoy the ride, leaving me to my own thoughts. Most of the time, once I’ve had a cup of tea and a chance to breathe I’m energised and ready for round two. The point of this is to encourage you to be true to yourselves. If parenting and socialising energises you then that’s fab and if it doesn’t then that’s ok too, you don’t need to change, you just need to allow yourself to do whatever you need to do in order to keep going. I spent years trying to change, to adapt to an environment that made no allowances for me – for my inner quietness, but I’m at an age now where I’m not going to change without a fight and I think I owe it to myself to stay true to myself.  

Pink Pear Bear

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Four Today!

My teeny tiny little baby boy is somehow four today. It’s hard to contemplate just how much he has changed since he was born. The very first time I met him he was being lowered towards me by the midwife and he looked like a little spider monkey, all long limbs and big hands and so tiny. 

When we eventually took him home he looked so diddy in his car seat.

Today he’s a beautiful, happy and bright little whirlwind. And he’s so, so funny. He makes me laugh every single day, from the time he smacked his bum and exclaimed ‘ooh, my arse’ (aged one), to exclaiming ‘nope’ at a christening when the vicar asked if everyone renounced the devil, to the ‘you have a poo in your eye, mummy’ wonderful randomness of him! He’s always very conscious of people’s feelings and sometimes he seems like the mature one in the house. He is the one that first burst my heart wide open, that taught me to slow down and take note of the world, who taught me to fight for what’s right and walk away from what’s not, who my happiness is always intrinsically linked to and who made me more than just me, I’m part of him and him of me. Happy birthday little man. Never stop laughing.  

My Petit Canard

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

I Still Notice

A letter to my husband, 
            There was a time when our world consisted of a series of lazy mornings in bed, late-night chats about where we would go and who we would be. My life was about you and yours was about me. But two babies later and although you still mean the world to me, they burst into our little bubble in a tornado of toys, sticky hands, night feeds, baby wipes, giggles, nappies, tiny toes and noise. A whole lot of noise. And while you are still my whole world, so are these little munchkins, and they are a whole lot louder than the pair of us. And so these days it can feel like we are passing ships in the night, when our daytime communication consists of ‘need milk’ or ‘will you be late?’ But I want you to know that I still I notice the little things you do to let me know I’m still loved. Like fetching me a glass of water every night without fail. Doing far more than your share of the night time calls. Charging my phone when the battery is getting low and putting my keys where I will see them so I’m not rushing around in the morning. These things are only little but they speak loader than words. You might think I don’t see them but I do. I want you to know that I still notice, I’ll always notice. You’re not lost in the chaotic, wonderful yet exhausting sea of parenthood, I’m right there with you. 
And I still notice x

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Reviewing Bambo Nature Nappies

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review Bambo Nature nappies this month. I can honestly say that I was really impressed. Now, I’m fussy with nappies. I like them to be soft, thin and light, to have tags that stretch well to secure the fit and I also like those tags to be relatively soft to prevent them digging in to the baby’s skin. I don’t like them to have a chemical smell nor do I like the design to be too garish as it can show through their clothes. It’s safe to say that I’m hard to please! But I found that these nappies really measured up.

Firstly, the fit was great. There were no gaping parts that could cause a leak, nor did I feel I had to overstretch the tags in order to fit the nappy correctly. My son seemed settled and happy so was obviously comfortable. The nappies were thin and light which I loved as I definitely avoid the bulky nappies on the market. The absorbency was fantastic; no leaks and the nappies didn't feel wet to touch after he'd been in them for a little while so I knew they were protecting his skin. What I noticed straight away is that the nappies had no chemical smell which I find is really rare in most brands and this reflects the fact that the nappies are environmentally friendly and free from chemicals. The design was cute, not overly bright, yet it wasn’t dull. So for me, the Bambo Nature nappies, tick every box. Now, they are more expensive than some brands but you’re paying for a high quality product and one that is ethically sourced too. They are a soft, gentle, effective and environmentally friendly product, perfect for those precious little bottoms!

The Bambo Nature nappies can be found at www.theconsciousparent.co.uk

Friday, 24 February 2017

What I've learnt from blogging

I started Rice Cakes and Raisins in January this year and today I’ve been looking back over the journey so far. Overall it’s been a positive experience, I’ve really enjoyed exploring my creative side again, a part of me that seems like it’s been on hold for such a long time. I really do think it’s good for the soul to be creative, it’s certainly been on my to-do list for a while but other things have always taken precedence, but if it’s food for the soul then who am I to argue? During the first few weeks I became quite concerned with stats, checking the daily and weekly page views, always hoping I could better the previous score but now I’m not so concerned with that. Sure, it’s great to receive a lot of views and it’s never something I’d not welcome, nor will I stop trying to increase my audience, but I’ve learnt that it shouldn’t be the main focus as this really takes away from the enjoyment of the blog. It might be cliché to say, but if I can help just one person to feel less alone, to feel confident in their parenting abilities, to see the funny side of parenting and to go a little easier on themselves then I’ll be pretty chuffed with that. While I don’t mind the work that goes into the blog from promoting posts, updating the different social media accounts, as well as seeking, engaging with and retaining followers, I also have a baby that NEVER BLOODY SLEEPS(!!!) so I’ve really had to cut myself some slack here in terms of the length of time I can spend online but he’ll sleep eventually won’t he? WON’T HE??? 

Particular highlights have been engaging with other bloggers; I see the same names crop up on Twitter and Facebook and it’s lovely to know there is a little community out there of people willing to help and share their stories. Another highlight has been that my post ‘I Wish I was Evening Mum’ was selected by Mumsnet to be one of their featured posts of the day. I’ve also finally entered the world of Twitter, something I’d put off for years as I didn’t quite understand it. I’m officially down with the kids now! And lastly and most importantly, has been the interaction with the readers; like-minded parents that have exclaimed ‘oh my God, me too! I thought it was just me!!’ Believe me, it won't just be you.

So here’s to the next two months! I can’t wait to see what it brings x

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Feel better with #VicksTricks

I’ve been challenged by Vicks to take part in the #VicksTricks challenge and share the little tips and tricks I use at home to soothe, comfort and aid the recovery of the little ones. We were delighted to receive a package of goodies through the post including finger puppets, a bedtime book and Vicks First Defence nasal spray.

So here are my top tips to help deal with coughs and colds…

1) Rest. I always encourage lots of rest but obviously, that’s easier said than done with little ones so it’s all about tricking them into resting! We will put on some episodes of their favourite TV show, watch a film or snuggle down and read some books! Family Psychologist Corinne Sweet advises that “listening to a story or watching a film is a good idea, as it is soothing and promotes laughter (an immune booster). But don’t let them play video games, watch scary films or spend hours on screens. This will keep their minds over-stimulated, when their immune systems need gentler stimulation and rest.” 
2) Distraction. This is simply about getting their minds off the fact they are feeling poorly so we might play some board games, sing silly songs or simply play with their toys. A children’s magazine with a free toy and mounds of stickers always works wonders! 
3) Home comforts. There is nothing better than a few home luxuries when you are feeling poorly so I use tricks such as cooking their very favourite meal, making them warm drinks and giving them an extra pillow at night (the height of luxury in our house!) 
4) Prevention. Although coughs and colds are inevitable, particularly at this time of year, there are a a few ways to help prevent them. Firstly, I always encourage regular hand washing and keep a bottle of antibacterial gel in my bag for those times on the move when we can’t easily access soap and water. Vicks First Defence Spray can also help stop a cold in its tracks! 

Vicks have conducted research into the common methods British parents use to help their little ones feel better…*

 • Over half (52%) of parents said that rest was the most important thing for making children feel better. 
• This was followed by ‘medicine’, which 40% of parents rely on.
• More than a third of parents (36%) believe in the power of TLC. 

When it comes to keeping those little ones entertained: 

• Three out of four (75%) British parents put on the TV or a DVD. 
• Over a quarter (27%) read to their children. 
• 1 in 10 parents get really creative; either telling jokes (8%) or even do magic tricks (2%).

Laughter is definitely important to aid recovery and that’s why Vicks have revealed some clever little magic tricks you can use with your children to keep them entertained!

There's nothing worse than poorly little ones so I hope that's given you some ideas to help next time those coughs and colds appear! 

Disclosure. This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign.  

*A consumer survey by Vicks used 2,000 parents from across all parts of the UK.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

What Do We Tell Them?

The other day I was watching the news and it was detailing the heartbreaking plight of Syrian refugees, the devastation of Aleppo as well as a highly insulting comment made by the 45th president of the United States of America and it occurred to me, as my eldest was pottering about the lounge, should I change the channel? Should I distract him? What should I shelter him from? Should I be sheltering him? I don’t have the answers to this, maybe I never will, but it occurred to me that there was something I could do when he starts asking questions or when he ultimately sees an image on a newspaper, from television, or hears about a heart-wrenching world event. We live in a world where bad things happen. Daily. No one can deny that but what I want him to learn, to take away from each event is that the good outweighs the bad. I really believe that. While there will always be people who cause suffering, there are also people that will try and help even in the smallest of ways; people that campaign, people that raise money, people that march in solidarity, people that fight, people that pray, people that speak up when hundreds are silent. Decent, humane, wholesome people. I want him to see that. I want him to see that in me too. We can’t shelter them from everything but we can raise them to be one of the good ones, we can be one of the good ones. There’s still beauty left in the world.

That’s what we tell them.

My Petit Canard
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Pink Pear Bear

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Cucumbers and Poo Books

Shortly after my first was born, there was a time when inviting people round was a big thing. It would mean I’d race frantically around the house with a baby wipe in hand, quickly dusting surfaces, cleaning the hob, putting washing away, picking up miscellaneous crap and shoving it in cupboards (I’ve been known to hide clutter in the washing machine before now), hiding reading material from the bathroom (heaven-forbid anyone know we read and poo at the same time) and spraying the house with an air freshener. I would have also had a late-night dash to the shop to buy a cucumber so your plate looked healthier. And why? Well, to be honest I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it had something to do with a misguided attempt to appear in control, to present a serene picture of domesticated bliss. I don’t know why I put this pressure on myself because let me tell you this, if you ever invite me round to yours and you’re still in your PJs, hair unwashed, ‘1,234 QI Facts to Leave You Speechless’ in the bathroom, a cracker shoved down your sofa and a blob of Play-Doh stuck to your wall, I will love you all the more for it. I will love you for showing me that it’s ok to not always have every plate spinning all of the time. So if I’m ever on my way round to yours, just relax and have a cup of tea instead. Balls to hoovering and washing up. And if you feed me cheesy puffs for lunch, I’m yours forever.

My Petit Canard
Dear Bear and Beany
Twin Mummy and Daddy

Go easy on yourself

My breastfeeding journey is nearly over with my youngest, in part because he keeps full on smacking me in the face during a feed but also because it seems like it’s starting to come to a natural end. As I watched the boys playing together this morning, and with the thought of this on my mind, I realised that you’d really never know which of the boys was bottle-fed and which was breastfed. I know this is an emotive subject and I’m not going to try and promote one over the other (if you’ve had a baby you’ll already know which method is advised), but I do feel that it’s time we cut ourselves, and others, some slack.

With the first boy I tried to breastfeed, I really did. But I just didn’t get there. He wouldn’t latch on. As the hours passed by, he lost weight, resulting in us having a five day hospital stay before they would discharge us. I was beyond exhausted, desperately expressing round the clock to try and build him back up. I don’t remember many things from those first days, after a big blood loss and no sleep for five days it’s all a bit hazy, but I do remember setting my phone alarm in hospital every two hours throughout the night so I could try and express for an hour before he woke up. The reality of it was that when all that was done, setting up the pump, expressing and then feeding him, I had approximately half an hour left to sleep before the alarm was going to go off again. It was physically and mentally exhausting. It was soul destroying. When we finally got home, my husband went out for some formula and it was a revelation!  And while it felt so good to be able to finally feed him without the stress and urgency of having to express enough to satisfy him and to time it all ahead of him waking, with that came intense guilt, guilt that I hadn’t quite managed what was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, something I’d watched woman after woman achieve on the postnatal ward just hours after they had given birth.

But as I look at him now, he’s amazing. He’s funny, bright and beautiful. Yesterday he came home with a star award from preschool for counting to one hundred. One hundred! He’s happy, he's wonderfully weird and he’s healthy.

With the youngest, he latched on straight away. Now, I’m not saying it was easy. Far, far from it. At first, I’d have rather have gone through labour again than that initial latch on pain- think bleeding, cracked nipples- horrendous! But persevere we did, as despite this, with each feed we seemed like we were always a tiny step closer to cracking it and eventually we did, we came out the other side and that became his main method of feeding. While I’m glad that we managed it and that he reaped the many benefits from breastfeeding, one of the reasons we kept going was because I felt I had something to prove, to myself and others and because I didn’t want to have to feel guilty all over again or to have to justify my feeding choices to anyone else. And that was wrong, that shouldn’t have come into it. I see this time and time again in my baby classes; bottle feeding mums who firstly, feel like they have to admit that they are bottle feeding and secondly, the reasons behind it. I’ll never ask, I’ll never judge and you certainly don’t need to justify yourself to me. You’re doing great!

My youngest too is funny, beautiful, happy and healthy and while I once felt guilt, I no longer do. They’ve both blossomed. The mother and baby unit is a partnership so while there are many reasons to breastfeed, if one of you isn’t on board, then ultimately it won’t be a content one. You can definitely still bond with a bottle-fed baby, they stare at your face, not at your boobs, and while breastfeeding has undeniable health benefits, it’s not unhealthy to bottle-feed, not at all.

So if you’re just starting out or if you’re well into your feeding journey, go easy on yourself. There is always competition in parenthood but try and keep out of it. You will meet parents that do it all by the book, parents that don’t and parents that always seem to have their shit together while you have Weetabix in your hair and sick down your leg but that’s life. It’s irrelevant. What matters is you and your family. And you’re doing great! 

Rhyming with Wine
Best of Worst
Cuddle Fairy
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best