10 Things You Miss When You Have a Todder

1.Taking a shit in peace.Yeah, I said it. Whilst a lengthy twenty-five minute crap is the occupation of my better half I do still miss the days when I could poop without a little voice enquiring Mama? MAMA? MAMAAAAAA?! Or dodging toys that R is throwing over the baby gate at me, now that makes for an exciting toilet trip – avoiding flying wooden blocks whilst wiping.

2.Spontaneous drinks after work. Hell spontaneous supermarket trips after work. Spontaneous ANYTHING. If D or I want a night out with friends, then it is pencilled into the calendar months in advance and childminder drop offs and pick ups are negotiated on a, ‘well if you leave early today, you can stay late next week and I’ll do bath and bed time’ basis. Meanwhile if we want a night out together, well it’s a full scale military operation. On Friday we went home from work at the same time and popped into Waitrose saying how nice it was strolling down the veg aisle child-free, only to receive a call from Granddad (that day’s childcare) checking when we would be back and reminding us to get milk. Trѐs romantic.

3.Morning Sex. Literally, I could not tell you the last time we had sex that was not very quietly after R has gone to bed. We don’t ever need to set an alarm, he wakes us up at precisely 6am every morning, so there’s nary a chance for sleepy spooning. LOL who am I kidding, if R slept for an extra half hour on a morning, we too would be snoring our heads off.

4.Charging your phone. Hmm, so this might not be a problem anyone else faces, but my child is OBSESSED with cables and plugs. So a phone charger is a double whammy. If it ever needs charging in the day, I have to smuggle it downstairs and plug my phone in secretly behind the sofa. And if he spots it, there are shrieks of excitement and next thing you know he is carrying my charger round trying to plug it in to other plugs. Not ok. I’m just living life on the edge over here with a battery permanently at 5%.

5.Not being Ill. Oh man, guys I cannot emphasise this enough.  We spent a solid two months sick at the beginning of this year, R picked up bugs everywhere he went – especially at the childminders/playgroup and then quickly passed them on to me and D. Wahoo. Shout out to the particularly memorable weekend where we all had the shits. When people talk about ‘making memories’ and #blessed, they fail to mention how you will end up laid on your child’s bedroom floor whilst they wreck it around you praying that a) they can amuse themselves with a packet of wetwipes until your partner gets home and b) that you don’t shit yourself because no matter how many times you wipe your toddler’s arse, they ain’t gonna reciprocate that favour.

6.All your favourite TV programmes. Where weekday evenings were once for binging on Netflix until an indecent hour, now after the laundry has been folded, the toys put away and the general chaos tackled (read: put into the kitchen to deal with tomorrow) me and D are far to shattered to tackle anything more than a couple of light episodes of The Office (US version guys, c’mon!) Or maybe a film at the weekend. Suffice to say we are now so far behind with all our favourite shows that our TV schedule for the next year at least is already sorted.

7.Having clean trousers. There is nothing R likes more than grabbing my trousers and swinging from them, wiping his nose in passing as he goes. Cue me trying to pick bogeys discreetly off my mid-thigh area under the desk at work.

8.Your chic grown up living room. Those of you with a playroom in your house, now you truly are the chosen ones. The rest of us have had to remove anything delicate, or breakable up up and away out of little arms reach and our living rooms are slowly being taken over by brightly coloured toy detritus. One day I’ll get a bar cart and have a set up of spirits and glass decanters worthy of Emily Gilmore – but for now I’ll spend my days in Ikea buying yet more Kallaxes to try and store some of the mountains of toys in!

9.Space on your phone. It was bad enough when as a new born every single little squishy face and outfit was adorablebut now… well when they are doing something hilarious you obviously have to video it! And take pictures. And more pictures! And another quick video to send to your parents on Whatsapp.  And toddlers are hilarious ALL THE TIME. Before you know it your phone is flashing a message at you to say it is ‘dangerously low on storage’, and you delete all your old selfies so you don’t have to ever look at how young and thin you once were.

10.Squishy new born babies. I think this is why there’s quite often a two year gap between siblings. Because they get to the human wrecking ball stage and you think awwwww remember when all they did was sleep on your chest and breathe sweet milky breath and not destroy anything? LETS HAVE ANOTHER AND NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

 Hurrah! Not that we are planning another one but I definitely get all the feels when I see a scrunched up little froggy baby. What do you think guys? Anything I have missed?

B

xo

Advertisements

Do You Forget the Pain of Labour?

Do you Remember labour pain

It was a poll on an Instagram story that got me thinking about this – do you forget the pain of labour? When you are pregnant, sat with a group of mums whilst you cradle your round tummy – especially if it’s your first, I think the stories are always shrouded with a bit of ‘don’t scare the poor girl’. Now I’ve had a baby, those same mothers have told me of stitches splitting, piles, and the gnarly recovery process.

However – interestingly, the pain aspect of it isn’t looked back on so much. The details that were left out when you were a naïve never-birthed-before focus on the messy realities, but not the pain.

For myself, this question was brought into play when a month or so ago I was brought up short by really bloody awful period pains. The kind where you find yourself rocking back and forth to try and lessen the cramps, and a hot water bottle might as well be surgically attached for your stomach.

Pain killers weren’t touching the sides and I took myself off for an early night, had a pain and hormone induced little weep into my pillow feeling very sorry for myself and very sad at the clichéd weepy bloated mess I was currently embodying.

As I munched through some emergency mini eggs hidden in my bedside drawer I started doing some deep breathing exercises and told myself not to be such a coward, I had pushed a baby out not that long ago.

But that’s the thing. When I look back at giving birth to R (which you can read all about here), its not the pain that I remember.

I remember my waters breaking, I vividly remember how that feels, how it happened, and frantically googling to see if I had just wet myself or if it was actually my waters breaking.

I remember the early stages, remember how I kept waddling up and down the stairs to the bathroom, before deciding it was the comfiest place to be and decamping upstairs.

I remember when I was told to call an ambulance how panicked and confused I felt, and how sure I was that the baby was going to be born in the bedroom.

I remember that Danny didn’t know where we kept the towels.

I remember the jolts of the ambulance ride, and the prickle of fear when they switched on the sirens.

I remember being happy to be buttnaked in the birthing suite.

I remember the sweat running down my body, I remember how much effort went into pushing only to be told he was stuck.

I remember being told they were going to give me an episiotomy and me thinking, fuck no you wont – and like that pushing him out.

And I remember the amazing warm, wet, ALIVE feeling of birthing a baby and having him plonked on your chest,  blood and shit (his not mine, thanks) everywhere.

But the pain? I look back now and think, hmm yeah I know it was painful and I will never forget the effort that went into pushing. But that was a pain more like running for miles and miles is painful. Your lungs burn and your body aches and you want to lie down and stop but you know you are getting somewhere.

And that’s a pretty shit analogy and I am sure it hurt a lot more then that, but trying to remember my labour – especially the pushing stage, that is all I can compare it to. It was a whole body effort, there is nothing before or since which has pushed my body to those levels of endurance but the pain aspect of it, I can’t remember that so clearly.

The sensations that I remember are exactly that – sensations. The cramps, the sweat, the pacing, the pressure. Not pain exactly.

However, I do remember a couple of moments of pain really clearly. One is having local anaesthetic injected into my perineum and the other is being stitched up after birth. I felt every single stitch that was put in me, and I am actually clenching at the memory.

I find it really odd that the things I remember as painful are ‘foreign’, if that makes sense?

It’s not a sensation I am unfamiliar with though,  whilst I aren’t scared of needles the ‘invasion’ is something that I find my body reacts really strongly too. Similarly having my blood pressure taken always takes two or three tries because as soon as I feel that cuff tighten I start to panic.

Is it a time thing? Is it just as time passes we forget? I don’t think so, because I can remember moments of pain, and also post-partum recovery very vividly.

I’m find this really interesting, writing this, and reading about other women looking back at their labour stories. Some remember it extremely vividly, where as others totally forget it.  It’s an extremely personal thing and can be affected by so many variables,. In particular  your mental state – the moments when I was panicked I felt like I couldn’t cope, and if more of the labour was like that (as it is for some) I am sure  I would have a totally different recollection of labour.

How do you remember your labour? Can you clearly remember the pain?

B

xo

Staying Creative as a Mum

Being Creative as a MumCreative sounds so naff when I put it in a sentence, ‘being creative is incredibly important to me’ is the first line of many a crap art school CV. Well keeping creative and making things is something that means a lot to me. I write this blog, I draw, I do calligraphy, I paint with R, encourage him to make marks, we bake together and I like to cook new meals, trying out different ingredients. Creativity has many different forms – is something that is integral to many of us, but it’s also something I failed massively at when I became a mum.

The new born days. BLOODY HELL. Looking back I think I was totally overwhelmed, it was a good day when I had a shower and got the washing out of the machine to dry.  Things did start to get better, but practically, I felt like all my time was spent looking after R, trying to deal with the housework, or catching up on sleep. I honestly don’t know what I did to unwind, but it wasn’t anything creative. I didn’t read much, or do anything that really inspired me.

Before I started this blog, I knew for a long time that I wanted to start one up, that I wanted to write again. But I had nothing to draw from – I had everything that was going on in my life at that moment but had no concept of how to put it together.

Instagram and Twitter were amazing for me at this point; I started following other mums, other people doing also amazing things and began to get drawn into conversations. Conversations about motherhood, body positivity and being a new mum.

This led me (again through social media) to volunteer at Pregnant Then Screwed Live in May last year. For me I think this was a bit of a turning point, I felt like I was doing something purposeful even if it was only for a day. I listened to loads of amazing women, starting businesses campaigning for flexible working, basically being total bad-asses who also happened to be mums. All of these women were doing something creative, something positive, and were fitting it around the school run.

As soon as I started this blog up, right from the moment I put the first photo up of me in my pants holding baby R and writing about everything from post-partum periods to welcoming Spring, I began to realise just how much doing something creative and having a focus meant to me. It has impacted positively on my life, and given me the impetus  to get motoring on other things.

Where Do I Find Inspiration?

For me inspiration comes from all over. I write a lot about my life, especially since becoming a mum – and this inspiration comes from finding the humour in parenting, and talking about it honestly.

Outside of being a parent I find inspiration in many other places. One of these is just being outdoors (oh look – yet another blog post where I manage to fit in a reason why to get outside!), and I find different landscapes interest and provoke different ideas in me. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Manchester, and being in a city so much. There is always so much constantly changing to look at, the colours, textures and layers of history fascinate me.

Reading always inspires me, when I am really enjoying a book – one that makes me think, makes me look at something differently, or even just has a beautiful turn of phrase, I put it down and feel full of energy.

Magazines, and shops, and displays and just looking at shiny glittery newness inspires me. D calls me an advertisers wet dream because I see an awesome advert, or marketing campaign and think OMG YES THAT’S BLOODY BRILLIANT, GIMME GIMME. I then try to refrain from spending my money on whatever random product it is, but I have a folder full of adverts I’ve pulled from magazines just because I love them and they give me ideas.

I guess part of what Pregnant and The Screwed showed me, and LOL this is totally not what the event was about, but it made me realise you can’t be creative if you aren’t doing things that inspire you. I wasn’t spending the time to look at and read things that made me happy, made me think new ideas – not just that, but I wasn’t making time for them. For me to be really happy I needed to make the time for myself to read a magazine, read a book, go for a walk and a coffee by myself. Self care isn’t just taking the time to nurture your body, but your mind as well.

Fitting in Creative Time

One of the women really inspiring me at the moment is Jemma (Dorkface blog), who has taken maternity leave from her Etsy shop, and freelance art,  to welcome and settle into life with her gorgeous son. However despite this Jemma’s Instagram continues to be super bright and colourful, she’s created some awesome slogan tees and  her blog is killing it.  Recently on Instagram stories (and sorry Jemma if I am paraphrasing this awfully!) she was painting and talked about how being creative was self care. Good for the mind, which as we all know is something I feel very strongly about – taking care of yourself as a mum.

However, it can be bloody difficult to fit this in. I’m typing this as R is napping on the sofa between me and D, I’m writing and D is playing a videogame. But even if R wasn’t asleep I would be upstairs right now with my laptop and a coffee working on my blog. Because last night me and D agreed that I could spend today doing some writing whilst he looked after little munch, as next week me and R are going to my parent’s so D gets time on his own. Making sure we both get time to do what we want, as well as quality family time together has proved really successful so far, we both feel happier for having time to do our own things, as well as obviously spending plenty of time together as a family.

Not only this but you also have to get organised in order to maximise what time you do have whilst baby naps – and in  the newborn days this is SO BLOODY HARD – massive snaps to Jemma and to anyone else who manages to get anything done with a tiny baby! Since we have got into a more recognisable routine and I’ve know when and how long nap times are, I’ve pretty much planned them all out before the day has even begun. If I am painting/drawing, I’ll put together my materials the night before, if I am blogging I will have my notebooks together with my laptop, and if there’s housework to be done I will tackle that an area at a time so it gets done fast!

I also keep lists EVERYWHERE. Of photo ideas, DIY ideas, blog post ideas, what housework needs doing, you name it there’s a list for it. I jot them down as soon as I think of them, because if I am just too shattered that day after a rough night’s sleep, whereas before I could do whatever it is and nap later, now I have someone else to work round. Keeping running lists of ideas means they are there when I can come back to them.

And that’s also important. Part of parenthood is knowing that there will be times when all your plans turn to shit. Often, literally, shit. You might get nothing at all done that day and be too tired at the end of it to pick up a book, or read an article, or finish that blog post. But that’s ok. Have a brew, get what sleep you can, and face the next day with your game face and your positive pants on.

B

xo

Our Favourite Books

World Book Day 2019

It’s World Book Day tomorrow, which means that in years to come I will be spending my night frantically crafting a wig out of tissue paper, or running to the nearest supermarket and praying that they have a kids costume left in R’s size. However tonight there’s no impending costume-day meltdowns, so I thought I would just talk to you about our favourite books.

Mine

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Topping the list, and not just for the narcissistic thrill of carrying around a book with your name as the title, Rebecca is a book about death, love, gender and jealousy. The titular character is dead before the novel even starts, yet it is her character around which the plot and emotions swirl.

The protagonist is a naive young woman, who enters into a whirlwind romance with an older gentleman, Maxim de Winter, returning to his family home after a quick marriage and short honeymoon. Manderley, is an evocative dreamy place – polished to feminine perfection by the previous Mrs de Winter, Rebecca, who we discovered has died recently. The novel’s protagonist, who is never referred to by name, becomes obsessed with Rebecca, convinced she will never measure up to her.

A brilliant novel, is it odd if I start collecting copies?

The Passage – Justin Cronin

Vampirical apocalypse is what this novel is billed as, and right from the start you are know something catastrophic is going to happen. FBI Agent Wolgast is in charge of collecting death row prisoners who have been given the option to live out the rest of their lives in incarceration rather than lethal injection. These inmates are then used for experimentation by the government, who have discovered a virus – transmitted by vampire bats that can make humans disease-free and thus immortal. Whilst the term vampire is never used, the test subjects gain super strength, are virtually immune to attack and have a prodigious appetite for human flesh.

God knows, I love me some horror and this delivers it in buckets. One of the creepiest things I have ever read – it gave me nightmares. Now I know that’s not much of a recommendation, but if you like them dark and spooky this one’s for you.

 The Beach – Alex Garland

The Beach tells the story of Richard, a seasoned traveller who upon his first night on the Khao Sang Road, Bangkok, discovers the suicide of a follower traveller. The man, known only as Daffy Duck, leaves nothing but questions for the police and a hand-drawn map for Richard with directions to ‘The Beach’. ‘The Beach’ has become something of a legend amongst the young travelling community, for it is the home to a select group who are living beyond the reach of tourism on an elusive island. For Richard, plagued with half-memories of the glamour of Vietnam war movies visiting unknown Thai territory is irresistible. Alongside a young French couple he ventures into the forbidden land of the Thai national park, encountering drug barons and sharks on his quest for the ultimate traveller’s paradise.

On past readings I’ve enjoyed the hazy nature of this book, the travelling tales of a destination to good to be true. However each time I return to it I find something more to uncover, a different character to be interested in – meaning this is a firm favourite and one I’ll be reading over and over again!

11/22/63 – Stephen King

The first of many Stephen King novels I have read, this one is a story of time-travel and a man who journeys back in time in an attempt to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy. However the past is resistant to it’s own future being changed, and twists events to suit its own path.

Whilst this is a bit of a best of a book, it is also the most borrowed one on my shelves (in fact it’s currently out on loan) so  if you have never read a  Stephen King novel before it’s a good place to start.

 

World Book Day 2019 Our favourite books

 

His

Spot the Dog Goes to the FarmEric Hill

Absolute Classic. Everyone needs a bit of Spot the Dog in their lives. Spot’s dad takes him to the farmyard to find some baby animals, but they have a bit of trouble finding them! R loves this because the flaps reveal the different animals. It’s a great introduction to not only animals, but also the names for their babies as well.

Hide and Seek Pig – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

This duo have the market cornered when it comes to children’s books, with their rhymes and cute woodland characters. If you haven’t heard of the Gruffalo, Room on the Broom or Stick Man then you must have been living under a rock… or maybe you just don’t have children!

The plot line is pretty simple, Hen hides from Pig, Pig seeks for Hen but can’t find her in any of the obvious hiding places – instead discovering a whole host of friends! It’s not one for me but R loves that the hide and seek flaps are all different shapes and sizes – great fun for little fingers.

Owl Babies – Martin Waddel & Patrick Benson

This is a beloved family tale, so when I saw a special edition I was charmed and immediately forked out for it, delighted to share the story with my own son. He immediately ripped the heads off the pop up owls and bent the cover. However despite the now disfigured owls, R loves this book.

It follows the story of three baby owls that wake up to find their owl mother gone. Each of the owls has a distinctly different character, and we love making different voices for each baby owl. If your toddler is of a less destructive bent then mine I would recommend the special edition as it really is a beautiful addition to any nursery.

 

The Dinosaur that Pooped Daddy – Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter

We were initially introduced to this series by ‘The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas however after reading out loud about Santa Claus zooming out of a dinosaur’s bottom twenty times a day I had to stash that one away until December. And then this one became the new favourite…

Whilst R doesn’t get the bum humour yet, he does like counting down the items that daddy has left behind when the dinosaur eats him, which is also a countdown to the dinosaur pooping daddy out again! I think this one will be a favourite for years to come.

The SS: A New History – Adrian Weale

Well I can’t say that we have read this one, but R drags it from the bookcase every single day and brings it to me waving and pointing for my attention. It could be that he has a blossoming future as a historian, but I think the reason is the same one as to why he also loves the DVD copy we have of Die Hard. Both have large photos of men on their covers, and R likes to kiss their faces and say dada. (no, YOUR ovaries are exploding).

What are you reading this World Book Day?

B

xo

Hello Spring!

Hello Spring

How do you feel when the days start to get lighter? When there are shoots pushing their way through the soil, crocuses dotting the verges with soft points of light, and Easter eggs appear in the shops? I’ve never been one to get overly excited about the first signs of Spring, but this year I am welcoming it with open arms. The past few days with the most glorious weather I can ever recall in February (we had snow this time last year!) have excited me for the warmer months ahead. Whilst there’s a lot of discussion at the moment about what this extreme warm weather means in terms of irreparable climate change,  the lighter evenings that herald this time of year have always been a sign of spring.

I know a lot of people struggle with the dark nights, and the long stretch of winter – but in all honesty it is never something that has massively affected me. I love autumn, and I’ve always found joy even in the shortest of days and the longest, coldest nights. The cocooned wrapping of oneself in a duvet when the weather is wild outside. The smell of snow. Hot chocolate, mince pies, and all the leftover Christmas chocolate.  I’ve even found a perverse pleasure in when it’s a typical pissing it down Manchester day but you’ve remembered to put your driest boots on and a decent hat so you stay dry and warm.

Usually I think of Spring as a bit of a shit time of year. Yes it’s warmer outside but it’s still not warm enough to go out sans jacket and I’ve inevitably put on one too many layers so I am hot and sweaty and then freezing when I strip off. The fields might be looking lush and green but sit on the grass and you’ve got a wet arse. There always seems to be a string of awful rainy days, which are much less endearing when you haven’t got the Christmas Brie and constant stream of movies on the BBC to keep you entertained.

However this year, the pale blue and pink streaked evenings when I step out of work have been greeted with real relief.

The (slightly) warmer temperatures of the past few weeks, and seeing a lot more daylight, both on my way to work in the mornings and  on an evening have had a discernible impact upon my mood. I feel a lot more productive, ready to tackle the million and one jobs that always need doing around the house. The laundry basket is so empty I couldn’t make up a load this morning – I KNOW, what the actual fuck? But most of all I have felt this familiar tingling of restlessness.

Maybe restlessness isn’t the right way to put it, but all I know is that I feel more awake, more ready to tackle and do new things and more inspired to be creative.  I guess when it is winter I take joy in a slower pace, but when the days are lengthening and everything is coming alive I feel the same stirrings within my blood.

Lately I’ve been taking a real pleasure in watching buds unfurl, showing them to R and explaining what happens to the trees and how soon they will be covered in leaves. Even in my home my plants are perking up after the winter, my cacti sprout a crown of buds and a spider plant I had about given up on is suddenly reaching out green tendrils to stroke the soft rays of sunlight.

That’s not to say I haven’t felt this same energy in previous years, but previously it has been vaguer and with less clarity. Back in my early twenties this lengthening of the days meant a craving for cold cider in a beer garden, blonder highlights in anticipation of the sun, and an itch to be out and about more.

Whilst I’ve still got the itch to be outside more, I am feeling a lot more focused, can I say in ALL areas of my life? Career wise, with the house, with my family, friends, planning time for just me and D – I am feeling super renewed and fresh, which is very bloody exciting.

I’m mapping out some big goals to achieve this year, but as always I’m focusing on the small attainable steps to get there, so here are a few of the things I’ve got on my to-do list this spring…

  • Find a way of storing/displaying R’s artwork and crafts. At the tender age of 16 months R brings home creations from playgroup, and as a family we like to get the paints out on a weekend. However this means we are already accumulating a little pile of fingerprinted plates and PVA’d crinkled tissue paper, of which I cannot quite bring myself to throw away. And I know as he gets the hang of pens and pencils, as our bescrawled coffee table will attest, our pile of creations will increase. I’ve seen some really cute ‘gallery wall’ ideas for children’s drawings on Pinterest, so might try setting something like that up.
  • Framing pictures: in addition to R’s hand-drawn lovelies, we have a collection of prints that have been languishing rolled up in the cupboard for far too long. I’ve ordered some cheap frames for the time being on eBay and am working my way round to getting everything on the wall.
  • Re-pot my houseplants… oh well this is becoming my housekeeping list isn’t it! Another one of those jobs that you know needs dong but you put off and put off. This may not be a problem that’s ever bothered most of you – I am just a crazy plant lady! Anyway, me and R painted a pot the other day and I am desperate to get a plant potted up and looking lovely in it.
  • Attend more events. That’s pretty vague and sounds a bit wank-y doesn’t it? But working in a University, being part of the hospitality industry, blogging and writing all whilst living right next to Manchester means there is so much going on that I have access to and don’t take advantage of. I know I always feel super inspired the more I reach out and experience, so I’m going to start keeping up to date with whats going on in the city and make time to go to the things I’m interested in!

Have you anything on your spring to-do list? Do you notice a difference in your mood with the changing seasons?

B

xo

Toddler Tantrums and Fishnet Body Stockings

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

This post officially starts at Christmas, when D and I decided not to do presents and instead buy something for the house together. So it was much to my surprise when a parcel from Amazon was handed over to me and I was told well, ‘it’s a present for you, and me’. At which point I opened it to find a one size fits all crotch less fishnet body stocking.

I cried.

Not happy tears I should hasten to add in case you are thinking, OMG YES WHAT A PRESENT TO GET, you are well and truly on Santa’s nice list.

But  hot, angry, tears that I didn’t want to be shedding because it was Christmas-bloody-morning.

Before you all begin thinking, WHAT AN ARSEHOLE, don’t get too mad at him.

There once was a time where some saucy lingerie under the tree (admittedly my tastes are more Agent Provocateur than Amazon Prime) would have well and truly revved my engine. However after arranging a Christmas with two sets of grandparents, visiting family, buying, wrapping, MAKING presents and the obligatory pre-christmas clean whilst still getting my head around the fact that I was no longer on maternity leave…. well the thought of trussing myself up like the proverbial Christmas turkey just wasn’t doing it for me.

Like I said, I used to be a girl whose Love Honey points balance rivalled that of my current Nectar card and my drawers overflowed (fnarrrrr) with impractical stockings, garter belts, and every new kind of vibrator on the market. You guys, all of the batteries in my vibrators are currently dead, that’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

I know that when pregnant a lot of people go off sex altogether, your body changes, you are often uncomfortable, not to mention absolutely bloody knackered – so it’s no wonder really. I’m pretty sure I spent a good couple of evenings Googling ‘is it safe to use a vibrator whilst pregnant’ but despite the answer being a firm HELL YEAH, I still didn’t  feel up for anything new or interesting.

I mean the further along you get it becomes pretty much physically impossible to do anything but the laziest of spoony sex, but I had the best boobs of all time – I should have at least treated them to something nice to hold them up. But the thing is, I didn’t want to spend money on anything that wasn’t going to fit me for long. Whereas the reality of it is a well fitting pretty bra and pant set would probably have made me feel very happy, confident, and even with a bump the size of a small planet – sexy.

Post baby, well I’ve talked a fair bit about our sex life here and here. It’s one of those things that inevitably does change. The cliché of new parents being too tired is a cliché for a bloody good reason; sexy minutes could be precious precious snoring our head off minutes.

And running around after a toddler who in the past few days has managed to spend fifty quid on the Playstation store, scribble all over the coffee table and has learnt to say ‘NO, NO, NO’ is like running a marathon. A marathon that leaves you covered in snot and hummus, and fed up of being climbed over all day long.

I also didn’t physically feel ready for a long time, and then it was like learning about my own body all over again. However, lately I’m beginning to love my own body a lot more. I’ve said it a few times on this blog in various posts, but I feel like pregnancy is such a massive shift and alteration to a body that’s been fairly similar for over a decade that it is ok to slowly get back to grips with it.

Which is the one of the key things of keeping your sex life going really, feeling good and being confident in yourself. I also faced up to D with some pretty brutally honest questions about having sex pre and post baby and what it felt like, was it different, and my personal favourite ‘if you had never slept with me before could you tell I had had a baby?’

So yeah, turns out I am great at pillow talk.

All jokes aside, D was brutally honest back, I don’t think you guys really want to know the ins and outs of my vagina, but the gist of it is that sex feels different… but not bad. Just different. For both of us.

And once I got my head around that I started feeling a lot better and more confident about myself.  I have changed, my body has changed, my whole world has changed – our sex life changing is just part of that.

So maybe the fishnet body stocking wasn’t the best-timed gift, but I am sure we’ll be digging it out soon. Or y’know I’ll treat myself to something a little more flattering and pretend it was under the tree all along.

B

xo

What I Wish We Had Talked About Before Having a Baby

What I wish we had talked about before having a baby

Before getting pregnant you may have discussed in glowing terms how awesome it will be when ‘one day’ you have kids and are the most awesome super fun parents to ever exist.

 When you are pregnant you spend a lot of time preparing for the arrival of your wiggly little bundle of joy. You read books about what is happening to your changing body, about labour/birth, and about how to survive those first months with a new born. But not much after that…

Because from then on, you’re winging it kid.

Well, if you are like me, in desperation you will have bought a few additional ‘must-read’ parenting books, all of which have been as useless as a bloody chocolate teapot. Because the truth is, every child is different, and preparing for having one is about as useful as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

Anyway, we managed to scramble through the newborn stage with only a few meltdowns and grey hairs gained.

But now R is a walking, talking mini human with opinions of his own, beginning to know what he does and doesn’t like, and generally being a little ball of chaos, we’ve hit another stumbling block.

D and I have completely different ideas of how to parent.

 It shouldn’t have come as a surprise really as we have completely different views on a lot of things, from politics to the temperature of the shower. Brexit is a no-go area in our household, and more than once we have had fiery arguments over various political viewpoints. So I shouldn’t have assumed we would have the same outlook on parenting.

You don’t even know that there are different ways to parent until you are in the thick of it. Then labels get flung around left, right and centre; baby-led, permissive parenting, helicopter parent, baby-wearing. And fairly or unfairly there are a lot of stereotypes for pretty much every style of parenting. Whilst I wouldn’t say either of us has a ‘parent’ label, even without personal differences it can begin to feel like a minefield.

So far it’s been fairly plain sailing, we’ve agreed on most things, but up until now it’s been pretty easy decisions. Sleep, feed, play. Baby happy.  Parents happy.  But now there’s the big old parental responsibility of discipline raising its head and dun dun dunnnnn we disagree. Big time.

But there’s one thing we are agreed on. And that is we don’t want our child to be a spoilt hell-brat.

And in our own ways we have been setting boundaries, and enforcing them, but taking different approaches.

Which meant we were getting snappy at each other when they did something we didn’t like… OK OK it was me getting snappy, which in turn annoyed D, and it led to an argument and I’m sure you all know how they go. With poor R sat in the middle looking totally bemused by it all.

At that point we tripped over each other to say, ‘Let’s not argue in front of the baby.’ And laughed, because duhhhhh that’s why we are together. We might be totally different, but the things we agree on we really really fucking agree on.

So we talked, and we discussed what we thought was important for R and for our family at the moment and we had the same conclusions, just different ways of getting there.

What we did was to list three key things (I would say rules, but they aren’t rules) which we think are important at the moment, and that we both can follow and agree on.

They are the important things, and they have what I have been thinking of when something else small crops up.

Although in all honesty nothing else has irritated me (and I think D feels the same!), as soon as we had that conversation I felt a lot more clear and focused, and I think we both felt that as a family we were going forward with consistency and positivity.

Going forward I’m sure there will be more times when we disagree, we’ll have to re-evaluate and change our ‘three things’ as R gets older, but I am confident we can do it together.

So back to my original question. What I wish we had talked about before having a baby. I wish we had talked more about our favourite TV shows, about our favourite places when we were children, about all the places we want to visit, about what our children might be like, about the tiny funny things that happened during the day, about all the silly nicknames we call each other, about everything and anything we love about each other. Because that’s what’s gonna get you through this shitstorm that’s parenting. Love.  You’ll figure out a way together, you just sometimes need a little nudge to remind you of the love that’s there.

Even if one of you is a Tory.

B

Xo

ps. Want to read something written by my other half? He’s blogged about fatherhood HERE.

The 11 Best Things About Having A Toddler

toddler-parenting.jpg

Sometimes I do wonder if I come across as negative on here, god knows it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and writing about the shitty, the hard, the downright boring bits of being a mum helps me to get through them. But don’t be fooled by my writing bitch voice, there are moments of joy in every single day and here I’m sharing the best parts of toddler parenting….

 1.The affection: Oh my god. The moment when your toddler first learns how to give you a kiss, bloody hell, that pulls on the old heartstrings. Never mind that it’s an open mouthed drooly affair that leaves a smear of Weetabix. It’s beautiful. And then they start kissing their teddies and your heart melts even more… until you catch them kissing the walls, your phone and your houseplants and realise your child is a total wierdo.

2 .The chatter: Ok guys, so R is currently on a bit of a slow burner with this one, but when he puts a phone (or wooden block, bit of duplo, hell anything!) to his ear and says ‘Allo?’ ITS FREAKING AMAZING. He also babbles constantly to himself, and you can have a proper natter over a cup of tea, even if I have no idea what he is chattering about its so so awesome to hear them responding to you.

3. The snacks: R eats three meals and two snacks a day. Which pretty much means wherever we go we need to have snacks close to hand. I love this. Snacks are life, and I am more than happy to sample the range of toddler snacks available to make sure my little munch gets the good stuff – quality control is important right?

 4.The learning: I think this is probably my favourite thing in this list, how quickly R is learning all the time. It seems to come in leaps and bounds as well, I won’t notice anything new and then in a day or two he will suddenly do a string of things that amaze me. For example we were looking through one of his books and I was telling him all the animal names, and making the noises/doing the actions. He didn’t do any back, but the next day picked up an elephant toy, brought it over to me, and then did the correct noise and action! It just blows my mind that from being a tiny squishy baby he is now able to grasp a concept and apply it correctly!

5.The attitude: You might think that this would be a negative thing, we’ve all heard about toddler tantrums and the terrible twos right? However, there are certain things that are a no go areas, but you try not laughing when your toddler still does them whilst shaking their head and saying ‘no-no-no’ back at you. Or when you tell them ‘NO’ and they nod their head and run off only to double feint, dodge around you then run straight back at whatever you are trying to keep them away from. Hilarious? Sure. Life-threatening? Quite possibly.

6.The freedom: Do you remember the days when you would swan out of the house with a purse that only just squeezed your phone in so you kept money in your bra? Those days were well and truly long gone with a new born that needed a rucksack full of clothes, muslins, nappies, wipes as well as the two milk-cannons strapped to my chest. However recently there’s the slightest whiff of those luggage-free days returning – R has a little backpack in which we can stuff wipes, nappies and snacks… and he carries it himself. He can walk for short outings meaning TA DA DAAAAAAAA no pram to push around. I might not be at the carrying my possessions in the bra stage just yet but my mum-coat can fit a surprising amount of shit in the pockets.

7.The lessening of bum wiping: Like obviously I still have to wipe R’s butt for him, unfortunately I think that’s going to be a chief part of my life for a while yet. However and here is a top parenting tip from me, now that your toddler is standing up more, if you catch them when they have pooped BEFORE they sit down… the poop will just be sitting nicely in the nappy not smeared all over butt cheeks and in tiny bollock crevices. Thus * fan fare please*  lessening the butt wiping. 

Never thought I would actually seriously be writing about wiping butts and posting it on the internet.

9. The clothes: I’m going to revel in the cuteness of kids clothes until he’s a teenager because if he is anything like his parents, there’s a decade of Slipknot t-shirts, pin badges, and dodgy Mohawks in my future. Until then…. LOOK HOW CUTE HE LOOKS DRESSED AS A TIGER. OMG CAN I DRESS MY CHILD AS A DINOSAUR, HELL YEAHHHHH.

10.The mimicking: As I type this I’m living in a plague house and we are all suffering from varying degrees of a cold and a cough. D picked up a tissue to blow his nose, so R promptly pulls out a baby wipe and blows his nose (blows a raspberry) into it. He also copies me cleaning around the house, tries to put his own clothes and shoes on, and carries a handbag in the crook of his arm. It’s awesome and hilarious and adorable.

11.The love: When you have a tiny baby it’s still freaking amazing but it’s very much a one sided conversation. Now as well as hugs and sloppy kisses, R will come over to us when he’s tired and gently snuggle into us, when he is upset will shout ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’, will take our hands and lead us to show us something – or when me and D have a snuggle it inevitably ends up with R hanging off our legs because he wants to join in too. Feeling little hands hug you tight as they whisper ‘Mama’ makes you realise just how important and special you are to your child. They don’t just see you as the giver of milk (and cookies), they love you!

B

xo

January 2019 – The Month That Never Ends

January 2019

It’s a cliché isn’t it that January is the longest month. We’re all skint after Christmas, New-Year-New-You deprivations are taking their toll,  if you break your resolutions you feel even more rubbish and the weather, well the weather is shit. If you’ve read my post about 2019 you’ll know that I’m not making any drastic resolutions this year – instead opting for a  slower approach, but somehow I have still fallen prone to the January slump.

The first week of January was booked off work, for both D and   – so we enjoyed a leisurely end to the Christmas break, and we spent it wrapped up as a family of three. Almost as soon as I went back to work it was like the calendar clicked over in my head, and several times that first week I thought we were in February. It was a bit of a rude awakening to realise we were only a week into Jan.

Since then it has just seemed to drag on and on.

Part of it might be to do with the fact that I am feeling so freaking run down. R’s sleep was virtually none-existent for a whole week, and although its slightly better now I still spent four hours up in the middle of the night with him last weekend. Follow that with working a wedding fayre and being on my feet for a whole day and I was falling asleep on the sofa by dinner time.

I’ve been far too guilty of sleeping in my makeup on more than a few occasions recently, because by  bedtime all I care about is getting between those sheets asap.

My post –partum hair regrowth is at a bloody awkward stage, to be honest it all needs chopping off to look super healthy but I just haven’t got round to booking an appointment.

In general I haven’t been taking as much care of myself as I should , and to add in to this work has been decidedly hectic; we’ve got an important event at the beginning of February and wedding enquiries have been pouring in.

I used to frequently pull a late night in the office before I had R, as post 5-pm the phones are quiet, the emails stop, and you can work away and empty your inbox in peace. And I used to find it quite peaceful (yes I know, I’m a loser, but an empty inbox and a ticked off to-do list s a thing of joy!) However whilst there has been some overtime out of necessity, I can no longer – and to be honest, no longer want to – put in the odd extra few hours in the office just to shift emails.

My attitude to being the office has also shifted. Whilst I bloody love my job, I’ve come to understand a lot more the need of having a work/life balance that works for you. Recently I’ve been spending eight hours a day at my desk, leaving only for meetings, and not taking my lunch breaks.

That’s not working for me.

It was one of my small changes for this year that I intended to get out more. I took a twenty minute walk on my lunch break the other day, looping round the city centre, revisiting old familiar paths. I felt so much better when I came back into the office, my spreadsheet didn’t look so daunting and I felt all sparkling and tingly from being out in the cold.

I do know that I won’t be making massive changes all at once. But I don’t want to feel this dragged down, and I do want to take care of myself and hopefully look a little better!

The lovely Clemmie (@motherofdaughters) posted on her Instagram  some solo parenting tips, one of which was washing your face at your child’s bathtime. Isn’t that a super simple tip? But come 7pm, when R is bathed and in bed my face is now scrubbed clean and I’m whacking a deep moisturising mask on for the rest of the evening.

Just like the tip above I’m making simple little changes, I’m determined to feel better every day and look forward to seeing what February and the rest of the year will bring.

How has your January been? Are we all agreed it’s the longest one EVER?

B xo

Getting Outside as a Family

Getting outside as a family - toddler playing outside

Recently I read a statistic that the average time a British child spends playing outside is sixteen minutes a day. That is bloody mental. Not only does outside play have so many incredible benefits, but it’s something I have many fond memories of. Most of my childhood was spent ‘playing out’, going up and down the street on bikes, scooters, and homemade go-carts. As we got a bit older we were allowed further, I remember feeling very grown up with my friends as a pre-teen – taking our picnics over to a local park and spending the day lazing on the grass, drinking lemonade and chucking stones in the river.

My parents would also take us on long hikes, where my siblings and I would run ahead, in a world where T-rex’s lurked behind every tree, fairies ran down the path with us, and we spent hours playing in the outdoors. Dens were built, we learnt the names of birds and plants, we got our hands muddy and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

I can’t imagine R growing up and not having that kind of fun, but I’ve also been reading and hearing more about the benefits of outdoor play. I know it is tempting when the weather is bleak over winter to stay indoors, whack Shrek on the TV and hunker down for hours, but hopefully this might encourage you to get outside!

Ps. Nothing wrong with the odd Shrek binge, and I totally relate to what Shrek goes through as a parent in Shrek 4 but you get where I’m coming from right?

Benefits of Outdoor Play

The benefits to outdoor play are well documented – interacting physically with real world objects (climbing, jumping , swinging on things) improves children’s physical coordination, their confidence in themselves, as well as their gross motor skills and spatial awareness.

We all know the benefits of moving more and of being physically fit, however it’s been suggested that being outside more brings children closer to nature. Increasingly we are becoming aware of the importance of being more environmentally friendly, and living sustainable lifestyles – but how do we foster this in our own children? By being outside, and learning and understanding about the natural world, they are more likely to care about it as adults.

In the words of David Attenborough,

‘No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.’

It’s something that I’ve realised now I  have a child of my own. I have always liked being outside, always felt its benefits and I think a large part of this is due to my upbringing.

However I’m in a totally different environment to the one I was brought up in. We don’t live on a quiet street, there aren’t that many open areas around us, and we are in the suburbs of a city as opposed to a small country town. I also don’t drive, so when it’s grey and gloomy as Manchester is wont to be, it can be difficult to motivate myself and my little family to get our butts out of the toy-strewn living room and outside.

So here’s a few ideas and changes that I am slowly implementing, in the hope that we can all get outside and feel the benefits more.

#150hoursoutside project

This is such a brilliant project, which I first gained awareness of through social media and some of the people that I follow online signing up for it. The premise is simple, you aim to spend 150 hours outside this year (that’s less than 30 minutes a day). The best bit is that it is a community, so you can get ideas from other families, find out new places to explore, and generally have fun! You are meant to track your time outside which so far I admittedly have not done… but it’s motivating me just thinking of ways to spend a little extra time outside together.

Use your garden

Duhhhhh, I hear you say, obviously use your garden. But unlike my parents, to whom the garden is an additional living space, ours has been fairly unloved since we moved in almost 18 months ago. It’s a great space as its small but it is self contained so R can run around freely. We’ve already started using it more, on our Fridays together I get us both wrapped up then have my coffee outside whilst R runs around – and I’ve been doing a bit of gardening (peak mom levels achieved right there), but I want to make sure we use it more as a family throughout the year.

 

Change my daily routine

This is something I have been meaning to do as a small change this year, but have not been proactive about it at all yet. Whilst I have a bit of a walk to and from work as part of my commute, once I am at work it’s very much an at-your-desk-all-day culture. Lunch breaks are rarely taken in our office, meaning more often than not I eat my lunch at my desk. That is something I want to change, even if it’s a ten minute walk at lunchtime.

Explore our local area

Whilst we do live in the suburbs, there are lots of little pockets of greenery and parks around us, and I am sure there are some we haven’t discovered yet. In fact I can think of one place right now that we went to in summer and said we would explore further but haven’t yet!

Are any of you doing the #150hoursoutside project? How important is outside play to you and your family?

B xo

I’m trying not to make this too much like an essay, but can’t help myself from adding this…

Further reading: This brilliant National Trust report makes for interesting connections between children and nature.

https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/read-our-natural-childhood-report.pdf