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Things I Did Before I Was a Mum…

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New York, New York. Getting a manicure while drying hair at Francois de Paris, a hairdresser on Eighth Street (LOC)Took leisurely baths alone, with scented bath oils and a glass of Baileys.

Now my baths involve a toddler (either in the bath or banging at the door yelling) and several hundredweight of bath toys.

Shaved my legs.
I still do, but only when the hairs get long enough to need styling.

Plucked my eyebrows daily.
Now I pluck wildly at them every couple of months when the monobrow threatens.

Spent hours at the hairdressers having my hair styled and highlighted.
Now I have more roots than ends and find brightly coloured clips in the oddest places.

Fake tanned.
I’ve given up on fake tan entirely – when you only have time to do one limb at a time, the finish isn’t great.

Painted my toenails
Now I wear socks.

Used different creams for my face, eyes, lips and “decolletage”.
Now I use the bubbles from the baby bath – for baby soft skin…

Went shopping for outfits months in advance of any occasion and accessorised.
Now I choose something on the basis of it’s practicality – washability, reusability. Or because I can’t face the shops to buy something new, it’s clean, fits and doesn’t need ironing.

Wore make-up every day, spending ages covering up the imperfections I found by staring in the mirror.
Now I’m just proud to have washed, and make-up is a luxury. I don’t stare in the mirror and the imperfections don’t loom so large. Who knew?

I don’t mind that times have changed – I have something far more precious…. but how I resent the time I wasted now I have none to spare!
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Eureka! The MilkChic Sanity Solution (Toddler Edition)

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If anyone has found this post hoping for salvation, I apologise now. It’s probably not quite that good. But it worked for me.*
*this morning, so far…

Small one slept like a dream as a baby, sleeping through from 6 weeks. She’s got over that now, and while the new house and a more stable routine has meant bedtime is starting to be less painful she usually wakes up in the middle of the night and ends up in with us. We’re trying to get to bed earlier ourselves so we can deal with it, but with trying to do the websites, unpack boxes, and find time to spend together, we usually end up passed out on the sofa and creep to bed about 1am.

This morning, small one held out til 445 before announcing it was morningtime and she wanted to get up. Even after an hours extra sleep, we were so exhausted we accepted her assessment of the situation without question and, having got her playing with toys, curled up in the foetal position hoping for another 15 minutes.

By the time we’d figured out how early it was, she’d been up and playing happily for a while and was demanding milk with menaces (amazing how aggressive “please” can sound…). Figuring I might hold out til the sun came up, I duly went downstairs and came back with milk and breakfast.

The effect was magical – she quietly ate ALL her breakfast, played for a little while, then climbed into our bed for a nap, waking up at 830. I should probably have got up and spring cleaned or done some domestic goddesstry, but I’m saving that for next time. I had a lovely rest, she woke up gorgeous and joyful, got dressed, had a second breakfast and helped me tidy her toys.

So maybe ridiculously early breakfast is the solution for us. If we are less sleep deprived, an hour in the morning to get organised while she naps could be a complete sanity saver.

I’ll let you know how it goes…*bounces away full of the joys of spring*.

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The Results are in… The “Shopping Gene”

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Last week I was inspired by a piece of retail research into gender and shopping to try a social experiment.

I admit it wasn’t hugely scientific but, out of curiosity, I tweeted various “last chance to buy” kids clothing sale bargains and tracked which ones got the most clicks to see whether parents really are more interested in clothes for their daughters than their sons.

And my results were…. erm… pretty inconclusive really.

  • Girls and boys links were clicked equally.
  • Unisex lines were most popular

I even tried to see whether people were more interested in boys sun suits, bearing in mind that boys are supposed to be encouraged into more outdoor and active pursuits, but again, no real difference.

So I’m not sure it’s true at all. Maybe there isn’t enough variety to tempt parents to the boys clothes. Maybe boys have more crossover in their wardrobes, whereas girls are expected to have “best dresses” as well as “practical” outfits.

Incidentally, the line that got most interest was this shark print t-shirt – it’s a boys fashion line, but it’s not blue or sludge coloured…. and it’s suitable for girls, but it’s not pink… Basically, it’s a bit different – perhaps all we really want for both boys and girls is a little bit of variety?

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Good Mummy, Bad Mummy

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There is a wonderful post at PhD in Parenting about short term vs long term parenting. I try very hard to parent for the long term (although it took this article for me to be able to express it clearly), but am far more understanding of short term parenting techniques (eg. food bribes, TV babysitters etc. etc.) since I have been a mother.

I realised recently that I have developed a split personality.

Bad mummy wakes up in the morning exhausted, barely keeps her eyes open while multitasking on the computer through breakfast and says “in a minute” often enough for the small one to have started repeating it back at her. Her back hurts but she hasn’t got the energy to take her painkillers, and she sneaks away from important brick tower building sessions to find button-fronted dresses for breastfeeding.

At night, she recites Giraffes Can’t Dance from memory without showing the pictures and stands by the cot rocking grumpily when the small one uses kisses and “Love you Mummy”s to avoid going back to sleep. She slumps down the stairs exhausted when the gorgeous child who hasn’t had her full attention all day finally falls asleep, far too late, and stares at her laptop praying for motivation and inspiration to finish the things she half started during the day, ignoring Daddy, who has been hibernating on the computer since dinner. She falls into bed in the early hours of the morning having made little progress.

Good mummy wakes up bright and early, snuggles and giggles with the small one before bumping down the stairs for breakfast. She sits opposite her at the table and they load the washing machine as a team and do some drawing or painting. The small one, chirpy from actually eating her breakfast drags her outside to water plants and look at bugs in the garden. Good mummy remembers mid-morning snacks and they make lunch together, the small one measuring pasta into the pan.

They decide to go to the park after lunch and, when it starts to rain, they go out anyway and splash in puddles. After a quick stop at the nice garage where the man shows her the cars on ramps, the small one is exhausted and sleeps for nearly 2 hours, when good mummy manages coffee, a snack and a very productive time updating a breastfeeding clothing website. Daddy comes home and, delighted by the bright, happy child that greets him, entertains her while cooking dinner.

Good mummy clears up a bit and they catch up on their day. They eat as a family and the small one has a bath. She’s sleepy early and good mummy waits with her while she settles in bed.

What I realised today, is that every single week, good mummy is the one who creates my Silent Sunday moments – the things that made my week special. Sometimes she doesn’t achieve the things she thinks she should, but she rarely feels bad at the end of the day.


 

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Crimes of Breastfeeding

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In honour of Breastfeeding Awareness Week (19th-25th June 2011), I intended to write a post a day about my breastfeeding journey. I’m a few days behind, but I’ll get there in the end. Like breastfeeding, I am taking it a day at a time…

The more time I spend on baby and parenting forums, the more often I see the phrase “a rod for your own back”. It seems that everything you do as a parent is setting yourself up for future issues.

This is my guide to the heinous crimes committed by breastfeeding mums:

1. Feeding to sleep
caring mother by limaoscarjuliet - http://www.flickr.com/photos/limaoscarjuliet/154567026/Don’t do this. Not under any circumstances. If you feed a child to sleep, they will NEVER learn to go to sleep alone.

Bad mum tip: Breastfeeding makes babies sleepy. Fast. You get little enough sleep. Why spend hours rocking or try to wake a baby up again when you could have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. Make the most of it. They won’t always be so easily manipulated!

2. Feeding for comfort
Congo: A Mother's Comfort by babasteve - http://www.flickr.com/photos/babasteve/4557682552/Don’t let your child use your breast as a dummy. You are just spoiling the child… Mothers are for nourishment, not for comfort!

Bad mum tip: It is OK to comfort your child. Babies need to suck. Don’t tell anyone, but breasts are surprisingly effective for this purpose. They are a similar shape to dummies, cheaper and don’t need sterilising. They are also very comforting… Breastmilk cleverly adjusts in line with your child’s needs so your “atrocious” parenting will have few ill effects. The only time you need to change it, is if it is making your breastfeeding relationship difficult. If it works for you and your child, it’s right.

The facts: Kellymom on comfort nursing and feeding to sleep.
3. Not having a “routine”

Copyright © 2010 Umbrella ShotYou are making a rod for your own back if you don’t get your child into a routine as quickly as possible. Babies don’t need feeding more than 4 hourly, they are just snacking…

Bad mum tip:Feeding on demand” is the most successful way to establish, and maintain breastfeeding. When you follow their cues, babies are less grumpy and give you an easier life, so why fight it? Besides, everyone knows that the ideal place for breastfeeding when out and about is a coffee shop. Treat yourself to cake while you’re there! Baby will settle into their own routine before long anyway. It will change if they’re teething, ill, they’re having a growth spurt, or even in hot weather to make sure your milk always meets their needs.

The facts: Is snacking that bad? Great article by Diane Wiessinger.
4. “Still” breastfeeding (at any age)
At some point in your breastfeeding relationship, you will hear the dreaded, “are you still feeding?”. Depending on your particular circle, it may start earlier or later… but it will start. It usually comes just at the point when you feel you are finally getting the hang of it. It’s sometimes curiosity, often well-meaning, and occasionally downright rude, but the effect is always to undermine your confidence when you’ve worked so hard to get to this point.

Bad mum tip: There isn’t one really. They are wrong. The WHO recommends exclusive feeding to 6 months, and breastfeeding alongside solid food to 2 years at least. The proportion of mothers in the Western world that manage that is tiny so to criticise a mum who is trying to do the best for their child at any age seems incredibly harsh. If you are “still” breastfeeding, whether at 4 weeks or 4 years, you probably know why you are doing it. This is my favourite list of responses for those times when the criticism gets too much.

I have made lots of rods for my own back. I chose them myself and, so far, they are wonderfully supportive rods and I don’t regret the hard work at all. Of course my daughter will probably grow up to be clingy, spoilt and dependent. You are welcome to tell her that… if you can catch her…

The other posts in this series are My Breastfeeding Journey: Pregnancy ; My Breastfeeding Journey: Breastfeeding a Newborn ; My Breastfeeding Journey: Finding My Style

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