If there is one thing all parents are obsessed with, it is getting our kids to go to sleep. My main concern when I had Leo 4 years ago was how on earth was I going to get my baby to have a good nights sleep so we could both get some much needed rest. Struggling to get your little ones off to the land of nod and then actually getting a decent stretch of sleep once they finally drop off is one of the biggest challenges faced by parents and is something we are all keen to find a solution for. Well, I have two kids now and I have been using a very simple routine at bedtime ever since Leo was 6 weeks old and, I am pleased to report, it really works. The bedtime routine we use with our toddler and four year old is bath, book, bed. Jo Frost and Book Trust have teamed up together for the third year running to share tips and advice on the best bedtime routine with their successful Beth, Book, Bed campaign. A good bedtime routine really is the key to a successful nights sleep, here are my tips along with some great information from the Bath, Book, Bed campaign to help you are your little ones have a happy bedtime and a peaceful nights sleep. View Post
Being a parent, it’s not all sleepy baby cuddles, picture perfect days out and heart warming moments that you’ll cherish for eternity. Sometimes, raising tiny humans is really hard work. By their very nature, kids are curious and it is built into them to push boundaries and test us, they need to do this to develop and figure out what being a person is all about. Despite knowing this fact that children challenge us in order to learn and grow, that doesn’t make things feel any easier when your toddler is performing tantrum number ten of the day. Parenting is definitely no walk in park. Well, not unless you usually end up feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious after a stroll through the park, that is. View Post
Have you seen the original version of The Jungle Book? Of course you have, it’s an amazing film. Do you remember the song King Louie sings? The chorus goes ‘Oobe do, I wanna be like you. I wanna walk like you, talk like you, too‘ and so on. Well, I am pretty sure my toddler Alex is channelling his inner King Louie, but in reverse. Alex is already a man cub , so to speak, but he is desperate to show us all that he would love nothing more than to be a little cheeky monkey. My 16 month old is so mischievous and is always trying to get up to no good. View Post
Everyone has bad days. Parents, children, teenagers, wealthy people, healthy people, singletons, the ones in happy marriages and every single other person who walks the earth. Bad days are, unfortunately, just a part of life. I had a bad day today. A really really bad day. It was one of those kind of days where you feel like drawing the curtains tightly shut, creeping back into bed and cocooning yourself from the world, along with all it’s frustrations and complications, in the safety of your warm soft duvet. Sometimes you have a choice whether to wallow in the hard times or muster some strength from within and move towards a better place. If you struggle with depression, sometimes it feels like that choice is cruelly being kept just out of reach, instead your mind keeps you captive in your house, convincing you leaving and breathing fresh air is pointless. Today I wallowed, I let mum guilt consume me for not being a fun mum for Alex and I had a cry, a rare phenomenon since I started on anti depressants. When I have bad days, times where my mood has a direct impact on the kind of day my kids have too, I end up feeling like the worst parent in the world. Well, amongst all the negative fog occupying my mind today, an epiphany managed to burst through – a bad day doesn’t make me a bad mum! View Post
Since having Alex back in October 2016, I have learnt quite a bit about mental health. I have learnt that just because you haven’t experienced mental health problems in the past, that doesn’t mean you never will. I have discovered someone can outwardly seem like they are coping just fine but on the inside they are feeling unbearable pain they feel they must keep as a secret. One of my most recent learnings is that we can relapse and recovery is never as straight forward as we would hope.
In January, after months of feeling like my old self, I started to feel really low again. That familiar weight of sadness had crept back in and was resting, heavy and unwelcome on my shoulders. I had started to feel like I was loosing control of my thoughts again, anxiety was seeping through my mind and drowning my normal train of thought with terrifying ‘what ifs’ and worse case scenarios. Unlike when Alex was a newborn, I recognised something wasn’t right really quickly and after a week of daily crying sessions, I knew I needed to get to the doctors as soon as possible, suffering with post natal depression was without a doubt the hardest period in my life and I was not prepared to get dragged back down into the dark again. View Post
Alex started walking just before Christmas, he was about 14months old and after months of cruising around the furniture and taking the odd tentative step or two, he finally got his confident strut on and now there is no stopping him. I had sort of been dreading the day that Alex found his feet, I find it hard enough chasing after one child and I was anxious I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the both of them. If I’m being totally honest, I had been dreading parenting a toddler again in general. Leo was an adorable baby and toddler and obviously I still love the bones off him now, but my firstborn really did embrace the whole ‘terrible twos’ phase and I really struggled to enjoy those toddler days at times. It would seem though that I have let all those difficult times cloud the truth of what being a toddler mama is really like. All the memories of biting, screaming on the floor of the supermarket, hitting, crying and total diva meltdowns had a cast a dark shadow over all the fun and joy that having a toddler brings to your life. View Post
As I draft this post it is a Saturday afternoon and I am sat, alone, in a cafe. I have just enjoyed an amazing salmon roll and cappuccino, alone. Read a whole magazine, a women’s magazine I might add and not the usual CBeebies one I’m forced to peruse with my four year old. I took said magazine out of my favourite handbag, the little one that I can only just fit my purse in and would never in a million years accommodate enough nappies, wipes and snacks for a Saturday out with the kids (trust me, I’ve tried). While I can hear the chitter chatter of other customers and shoppers, the tinkling of cups and saucers being tidied away and the background music playing, the whole place feels much quieter than I’m used to. View Post
January 15th 2018 is a very important date for lots of parents, it is the deadline for submitting your child’s school admission form. Applying for your child’s place at primary school can be a stressful and anxious time for lots of parents: choosing which school to put as your first choice, will the school with the best OFSTED report be in your catchment area and where will you find the time to go to all the open days? There is a lot to consider and think about and, usually, this is a time of heightened emotions too as sending your baby off to big school is a massive step for the parents as well as their child. The anxiety surrounding your little one starting school can often be a lot worse if you have a summer baby. Leo’s birthday is in August, when we were first notified we needed to apply for his school place in November 2016, he had only been three for a few months and it all felt like everything was happening too soon. I was worried about him being the youngest in his class and there were fleeting moments when I considered holding him back a year. Leo has recently completed his first term of primary school and I am so glad we decided not to hold him back. If you have a summer born child due to start school in September, here is why you don’t need to spend so much time worrying. I definitely could have done with reading a positive story about a summer born child starting school when I was filling out Leo’s admissions form, wondering if I was doing the right thing, so I hope this post brings you some reassurance. View Post
Today Leo went back to school after a couple weeks off for Christmas. The build up to Leo actually starting school seemed to stretch out for almost a year. In November 2016 we applied for his place at his catchment school, then in April 2017 we received a letter confirming he would be starting in reception at our first choice school in the September. Leavers parties at play school, a long summer break, lots of trips to town to buy uniforms and school shoes followed before Leo finally had his first day of primary school on 11th September 2017. After all of the build up, Leo’s first term at school has flown by in a flash. That first day where I sent him off into the classroom with freshly cut hair, dressed in a baggy uniform and shiny new black shoes feels like last week but in reality Leo first entered the classroom over 3 months ago.
As with every stage of parenting, I feel like the last 3 months have been an absolutely massive learning curve for me. There have been challenges Leo and I have had to overcome together but there have also been some amazing moments too that have made me feel so immensely proud of my little boy. While Leo has been in the classroom every day trying to master phonics, spelling and the correct way to hold a pencil, I’ve been busy learning a thing or two about school life too. View Post
The year is almost over and, you know what? 2017 should have been a brilliant year for me but I have spent a good chunk of it feeling unhappy. When Alex was born last October I never could have imagined I would be spending so much of his first year feeling sad and battling with anxiety but yet, unfortunately, that has been the reality of 2017 for me. Being a parent is so hard at times and some days, even if you don’t have post natal depression, it can be hard to get a genuine smile on your face. Raising children is the worlds most difficult job and us parents give so much of ourselves to our little people that it is no wonder we can often feel run down, emotional and upset.
As the year has progressed I have started to feel better and I am a lot happier this December than I was in January. I am so relieved to be seeing the year out on a high note and no longer living under the heavy black cloud of PND. It hasn’t been easy to get to this point and I would be lying if I said I no longer have bad days, I don’t think anyone can say they have been happy for 365 days in a row though, can they? I have worked really hard on looking after my mental wellbeing over the past year and it is such a relief to be about to enter a new year as the happy version of myself I knew I was capable of becoming again – nice try PND but I knew I could beat you. My work is not done though, I am determined to keep up my quest for happiness and to become a more positive parent for my boys and for my own wellbeing too. If you too want to feel happier as a mum and want to try and ease yourself away from a dark place to somewhere more positive, then here is a list of things I have done and continue to do every day to try and keep negativity (from myself and others) away. Let’s all make 2018 a year full of positivity, happiness and confidence – we got this mamas! View Post
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This time last year I was not in a good place. In fact, 12 months ago I was in a very dark and very scary place. Memories of December 2016 will always make me sad, I had a newborn baby and a three year old excited for Christmas and I felt as far away from festive as was possible. I didn’t know it at the time but I was suffering with post natal depression. I knew something wasn’t right, I knew I felt unbearably sad and anxious all the time but I hadn’t yet admitted to myself or anyone else what was really going on.
Post natal depression is such a cruel mental illness. Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most amazing things you can ever experience but post natal depression violently bursts that happy new mum bubble. A baby who loves you and who you love back completely unconditionally, what could be better? But when your own mind turns against you, makes you feel sad when you want to be happy and horrible thoughts taint those precious moments with your baby, it is a truly heartbreaking thing to experience as a mum. You feel like a failure (why aren’t I happy? I am supposed to be happy, am I an awful mother?), you feel robbed of this special time (Why can’t I just enjoy this time with my baby?) and you feel like things will never get any easier (I am never going to feel happy again). Feeling all these things any time of the year is difficult and just horrible but imagine feeling this way at Christmas? Imagine spending your baby’s first ever Christmas feeling like you are drowning in your own sadness and that you can’t talk about it with anyone because it’s Christmas and you don’t want to kill their festive cheer. That is exactly how I felt last Christmas and, unfortunately, that is how so many new mums will be feeling this December too. View Post
I’m so fed up at the minute. There, I said it. Lately, this whole mum thing has been really challenging for me and it just feels like I have been diffusing one child related drama after another, leaving no time for me to relax and actually enjoy time with my kids. Parenting kids of all ages is hard I am sure but looking after a very feisty four year old and an extremely clingy baby is exhausting. I have got serious mama fatigue and when you’re tired everything just feels a million times worse, doesn’t it? View Post
Having kids, it’s hard work. Unfortunately, you do not truly understand just how hard raising little people will be until you are thrown straight in at the deep end on the day you bring your first born into the world. It is so easy to let the tough times get you down: the sleep deprivation, feeding troubles, sickness, tantrums, poo explosions – I could go on. Parents can go days (sometimes weeks or months) at a time dealing with one baby related issue after another. Does this sound familiar to you – you worry about feeding your newborn/you eventually establish feeding your newborn, you worry that you’ll never sleep again/your baby eventually starts sleeping through, you worry their not reaching their milestones quick enough/they start smashing their milestones and you couldn’t be prouder, you worry they will only ever eat mashed banana or beige food/they slowly start eating more fruit and vegetables. It is never ending! View Post
I am a mum of two. My eldest boy is four and my youngest son has only just turned one. Most of the other mums I know have two or more children too, we have that in common, but about 90% of those mums are almost a decade (sometimes more) older than me. In fact, at 26 years old, I have already finished building my family before so many women have even started theirs. Research has found that the average age of women having their first baby in the UK is 30, a whole 8 years older than I was when Leo came along. By the time I reach 30 I will have an almost 8 year old and a 4 year old; the baby days will be far behind me but for many other women my age the adjustment to life as a parent will only just be beginning. With so many women choosing for many different reasons to wait until their thirties to start a family, I have been left wondering about my own life choices. Have I missed out on something by having my kids at a younger age? Was choosing to start a family in my early twenties a bad decision? Both my children were planned but was my timing all wrong? Was having kids in my twenties a mistake? View Post
Recently I have been feeling the fear. Not the fear of all the spiders creeping into our house for the winter (although that does terrify me) or the fear that Christmas is looming and I am so not ready for all the chaos that the festive season brings. No, this is a fear that only people with children can truly understand. Lately I have been worrying about people judging the choices I make on how I decide to bring up my kids. I think all of us feel judged at one point or another but when you are trying to bring up a child it seems everyone has an opinion on how you choose to parent. The old lady in the shop, that person online, your best friend’s dog – everyone has something to say when it comes to how we bring up our own kids, whether we ask for their opinion or not.
I have been feeling the fear of judgment over the past week or so as Alex is almost one now and I am still breastfeeding him. In fact, I have zero intentions of stopping breastfeeding him any time soon. There is something about how mums decide to feed their babies that brings out all the judgey, perfect ‘my-way-or-the-high-way’ type parents, the ones that love nothing more than to criticise any mum who’s feeding choices differ to their own. Yes, I feel proud of myself for sticking at breastfeeding and planning to continue until my baby wants to stop but I can’t help but worry about what people are going to say when they see me still feeding him at a year old. I only know a handful of other mums who have breastfed and of those mums, only about 4 have continued to breastfeed past their child’s first birthday. With breastfeeding rates in the UK being one of the lowest in the world, it is not a surprise really that I feel like one of the only mums still feeding their baby into toddlerhood. View Post