Create Warm Memories with Lilly and Sid (UK Giveaway)



I'm scared of the ocean. I'm not a very strong swimmer but it's not that really, it's the vastness of it. I'm okay if I can spot a sandy beach or even some jagged cliffs in the not too far distance but what I find most terrifying is being in the middle of the ocean, no idea of where the edge lies; feeling at the centre of everything and nothing. This is basically what I felt like when I brought my son home from hospital.

I was okay for the first two weeks, when my husband was around and the guests were flowing but after that I sometimes found myself having out at sea moments. When I felt like this I would dress my little baby, wrap him in a beautiful blanket and take him for a walk. Sometimes I would go to the supermarket and spend a while choosing a new shampoo, sometimes I would go to Starbucks and have a cheeky coffee and sometimes I would just walk. Blankets are wonderful because most babies calm when swaddled in one, I love how you can't really go wrong with them you just tuck them in and you're parenting. A blanket is the soft furnishings equivalent of a hug and they say to you and to the world, I can care for my child. A blanket was my life jacket in the choppy waters of motherhood. The other great thing about blankets is a well made one can be a wonderful keepsake and perhaps less embarrasing to take to university than a teddy. 

If you would like to help create some warm memories for  a parent, I have a £40 voucher for the delightful Lilly and Sid to give away. With that you can buy one of their beautiful blankets or in the sale even two. What a wonderful way to start the New Year. If you're good for blankets Lilly and Sid also stock loads of children's clothing and accessories, including my current favourite the polar bear feet sleep suit




My #missionacceptance starts in 10 days!







Which 'one' were you?



I'm writing this from 'home'. Calling this neat, semi-detached house in South London home always makes me smile extra hard because a manager once referred me to an in house counsellor when I was feeling particularly bummed out about work (It would have been a lot more helpful to refer me to a recruitment agency but that's another story) and when I explained to said counsellor that I was visiting 'home' for the weekend she said, 'We'll have to discuss why you still refer to your parents house as home.' 

We didn't discuss it because I didn't see her again but the fact did not trouble me because I'm happy for my parents house to be home; I hope it remains home for many years to come. Calling it home doesn't diminish the one I have built with my own family, just as having a second child doesn't mean you turn to the first and say, 'Sorry kid, I've outgrown you.' It's undeniable that this place is part of me because the moment I arrive, even though I'm now toting a small toddler, I revert into a more wrinkled version of my teenage self - I stand in front of my mum's open fridge and eat all the grapes; I drink cans and cans of full fat coke; I watch soaps; I nick my dad's booze; I forget to put my plate in the dishwasher (okay I do that at my house too). 

The only dark cloud over this warm, snuggly, bosom of the family feeling is that it isn't just my behaviours that are fixed, it's my role. I was always 'the sensitive one' in the family and with good reason, if there was something to cry about I'd cry; if there was nothing to cry about I'd cry even harder. These days I'm definitely a lot more balanced but I suspect to my family I'm still that morose young girl. If my smile fades momentarily, I swear I can hear their eyes rolling. The thing is these days I'm sure the majority of my friends would describe me as laid back, in fact my friend Chloe describes me as the least lazy, lazy person she knows (which I love). 

So what's the problem? If for half a dozen weekends a year people think I'm a bit touchy? The problem is how these roles become part of our identity and how hard it is to escape them. I think perhaps the reason I'm so laid back, is that I'm scared of seeming too sensitive. The incidents I most frequently regret are those in which I didn't stand up for myself or someone I love because I didn't want to be seen as highly strung. A friend described me as really private recently and I was like, dude I write about my life on the internet?! I consider myself an open book but perhaps I rip out the more tragic chapters because only someone sensitive would dwell on those parts.

I already call my son 'a cheeky one', it just trips off my tongue and seriously he has such an impish face. I find myself calling the most innocuous toddler behaviour cheeky - throwing a bit of fruit from his high chair or shouting in the park; these things are just actions, I am the one making them cheeky. And whilst I do this with love, as parents we can never be sure how these identities will grow and mutate within the pscyhes of our little ones. Do you call your child bossy or naughty or quiet? Beautiful or clever or kind? In reality I think I want my son to be a little of all these things but I mostly I want him to choose for himself. So for the next month everytime I call him cheeky I will mention two other wonderful things about him. I think the more things you feel you are, the harder it is to be the 'one'. 



Did you have a role in your family? Were you the clever one or the kind one? What effect did it have on your adult life?

In 2016 I'm starting Mission Acceptance. Want a sneak peak every week? Or maybe a bit of a challenge yourself! Get over here for details #missionacceptance


Five reasons not to drink whilst pregnant this Christmas

how about another cup of decaf tea?

As the name of this blog suggests I like to do a little bit of fence sitting. It's not that I don't have opinions, I have many (Reggie and Bollie were robbed!) but I want to give parents the respect of trusting them to know what's best for their family. Then there are the times you just don't know, you're back and forth like it's the day after a dodgy curry and one of those times is often around the controversial subject of drinking whilst pregnant. One of the reasons for our confusion is that health professionals keep moving the booze goalposts - wine is fine! Not a drop! Booze it up - all the pregnant women in France are mashed! A study even suggested that a glass of wine a week can result in a better adjusted child. Before you worry that you're damaging your baby by not drinking, let me tell you I have a whole bucket full of side eye for most studies that claim to know what's best for pregnant women and new mothers. I think the outcome of this study has more to do with the mother than the vino. The woman who has the occasional glass of wine is most likely more relaxed generally; if that wine is drunk in company it implies good support systems - it's probably these things that help. Do I think the occasional G&T is doing irreparable damage? Probably not - my gran had a daily 'medicinal' brandy when pregnant and my dad is a wonderful human being. That being said if you're having trouble deciding, I'm gonna help you tip the balance over to the no side and here's why...

I like to drink to get drunk. Not hold my hair back/crying on the stairs/texting my ex drunk but nicely Instagram filter soft round the edges. You're not going to achieve this with a thimble full of beer. For a more reliable high, may I suggest sugar.

You're probably drinking for the psychological benefits. The appeal of drinking isn't just it's effect on the bloodstream but the way it woos all the senses. The subtle glamour of a beautiful wine glass, the jolly tinkle of drinks meeting in a toast; that first hearty sip that says 'you have permission to unwind'. You can try and recreate some of that with a non-alcoholic beverage. One of my favourite pregnancy choices was Appletiser in a champagne flute - all the fizz, none of the fuzziness. 

You're already knackered, why make life harder? Being pregnant felt like an eight month hangover to me anyway.

When the baby's born you will be a hot mess of hormones. You'll worry if the brie baguette you had in week seven caused the innocent rash on your cherubs cheek. It's probably best not to give yourself anything else to worry about, trust me you'll have enough.

Having a kid is signing up for a lifetime of sacrifice. Getting a bit of practise in whilst pregnant is probably a fine idea. Not only that but if you're a lightweight by the time the baby's born and you can redirect the spare cash to the mountain of (not at all cheap) nappies you're going to need




Whether you're drinking or not, have a wonderful, restful Christmas and an awe inspiring new year.

In 2016 I'm starting Mission Acceptance. Want a sneak peak every week? Or maybe a bit of a challenge yourself! Get over here for details #missionacceptance



Advice from the heart - 22/12/2015



It's the last Advice from the Heart of the year and my last Advice from the Heart of all time (love a bit of drama me). I wanted to carve out some time for a couple of other projects I've planned for 2016. 

Fear not brave linkers. The linky will continue to be hosted by Julie over on  Happy Mama Happy Baby so head over there to link up your most helpful parenting posts. I really want to thank Julie for letting me be a part of something so special. I have found some wonderful new blogs and I'll continue to stop by for my fortnightly dose of parenting advice.

Before I bid you adieu I have one point of business our brilliant blogger and winner of a Mr Nutcase voucher is 'Confessions of a Crummy Mummy'! I hope you enjoy putting your mug on a mug.

Please visit Happy Mama Happy Baby to take part in the Christmas Edition of 'Advice from the Heart'.

How do I know when I'm ready for baby two? - A Working Mum's Blog



You are ready to have another child mere seconds after you've had your first child. More than half a million people in the UK do this every year when they have a multiple birth. These people manage, I'm not entirely sure how but they cope. Perhaps 'coping' is not the goal you intend for your family but life offers absolutely no guarantees so when it comes to the unpredictable game of parenting I think coping is the most we can aim for. 

I wouldn't be swayed by any crackpot theories regarding the perfect age gap - I know siblings born in quick succession that don't know each others phone numbers and those with a decade between them that are BFFs. If you were lucky enough to have a partner you trust and a reasonably secure lifestyle when you had your first child and those circumstances are relatively unchanged, just got for it. Stop your shilly shallying, that proverbial bus may have just left the depot. I think that when it comes to extending our families we should spend less time focused on when to do it and a little more on when not to. So with that in mind here's how you know when not to have a second child.

Your partner doesn't want to. If for any reason your partner does not want another child, I think it's only fair to respect that. Even if the reason they offer is something as spurious as wanting to retain access to the remote control, it would be wrong to bully, manipulate or oops I forgot to take my pill and I just happen to be ovulating them into another baby. This can be a hard but the loving thing to do is to stay strong, make the best of what you've got and put something big and shiny on your Christmas wish list. 

Another child needs you. I'm afraid priority must go to children currently in existence. If your child has critical emotional needs, it's in your job description to attend to that. I'm not saying they have to be completely independent, I mean my mum's still waiting for that, but adding to an already fraught situation is just setting up a direct debit for trouble.

You're trying to make yourself feel good. Motherhood can make you feel a little superhuman. I question the sanity of women that have baby after baby but I understand the appeal. I felt effortlessly special when I was pregnant. Almost everyone wanted to acknowledge me, all my friends and family had something nice to say. Don't tell me you don't want this when I know you post your dinner on Facebook, and that's okay. However, if this is the only reason you want a baby then invest the thousands of pounds it takes to raise a child on talking therapy. 

You don't really want another child. You're tired, you're busy but you've set a plan in motion and you don't know how to stop it; or you're under pressure from family to spare your little one of the horrific trauma of being an only child (because Leonardo Da Vinci did so badly) If you're happy, just continue to be happy. Sometimes three is the magic number.


Have you stopped at one or are you ready for a second run?
This question comes from A Working Mum's Blog where I recently guest posted. If you're  parent in search of balance her posts would be perfect for you. 



In 2016 I'm starting Mission Acceptance. Want a sneak peak every week? Or maybe a bit of a challenge yourself! Get over here for details #missionacceptance



my petit canard

Toddler Proof Home Decor

Scandinavian style dining room by Dröm Living



A few months after my son Roscoe was born my husband and I found a lovely little house on the top of a hill. The day we moved in we felt like a couple in an ad for a high street bank - smiling, laughing, stopping to eat pizza sat on unpacked boxes. We had such plans! In our first proper home we would have the nicest things we could afford, we would buy things bit by bit and have a collection of pieces we would cherish. The first thing we bought was a freestanding lamp, it stood five feet high on three delicate legs. After finding the perfect spot for it, we sat to admire our softly lit room and then watched as, seemingly in slow motion, our newly mobile bundle of fun grabbed one of those legs and pulled the whole thing crashing to the ground. The lamp was banished to storage and I realised I needed to work out how to stay safe yet chic.

Kitchen. Storage, storage, storage. I'm a big fan of open shelves and displayed crockery but nothing inspires the inner climber in your little one more than breakable objects in high places. If you're selecting a new kitchen make cupboard space a priority and then choose doors that are easy to clean or prepare to spend the next six years wiping off fingerprints. I don't think high gloss cupboards are in danger of going out of style and pureed carrot comes off them like a dream.

Living room. My favourite buy for our living room was our brown leather sofa. I know you may think I'm obsessed with the mess kids make but to say children are messy is an understatement, I've seen all night house parties do less damage than a toddler with a banana. My wipe clean sofa is a dream but if leather isn't your bag stick with a dark colour and check out stain resistent fabric

Dining room. For this room I'm thinking minimalist chic is ideal. Keep your focal points high with stunning lighting and invest in a good quality table and chairs that will last through years of weaning, arts and crafts and homework. Homify has amazing dining room ideas that will completely inspire you to create something childproof and chic.


Bedroom Furniture : Beds & headboards by Orchid
Bedroom. When you're a parent the only thing you care about in your bedroom is the bed. When my son was born my mother bought me a beautiful duck down duvet. If sheets are your thing go for sofest, most inviting set you can find and then accesorize with a soft throw. You might not be able to spend a lot of time there so when you can - make it count. 

Did your style at home change after becoming a parent? 
This post was sponsored by Homify

Get Ready for Project Postnatal



I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna do the whole growing a baby in my womb and pushing it out my foo foo thing again. I mean never say never but I'm gonna say never - never again. There is one thing that makes me wish I could have another baby, the opportunity for a do over. It's natural, I think, to want to improve upon ones previous attempt at something. As an adult learning opportunities lessen and sometimes we forget the satisfaction of triumphing in an area we had previously failed - the sheer joy of tying a shoelace or completing a tune on an instrument. Not that my pregnancy or birth were a failure but there's a lot I would have done differently, like I would have packed my husband about twelve sandwiches so he wouldn't be whinging about hunger pangs three hours into labour. The area I would seriously have prepared for differently were the arrangements for accessing and curating my support services following the birth and by that I mean, letting people see the baby but also making sure I squeeze all the help out of my family and friends that I can get. 

Years ago my dear friend Chloe had a baby. She was one of my first friends to have a child and to say I was excited is an understatement. I still experience a shiver of shame when I remember that I rushed to her house mere moments after she had returned home from hospital EMPTY HANDED and I ATE HER FOOD! She still speaks to me, for which I am eternally grateful but it was only after having my son that I realised people need to be told what to do, more to the point they want to be told what to do. There aren't many times in life when you can get away with this so please those of you ready to greet new babies, take advantage of it. 

Establish the expectations of your spouse. You gave birth. Your job is done. If you have a partner establish from early on that they will be responsible, solely responsible, for keeping you clothed and fed and managing all visiting requests for two weeks following the birth. If they offer any resistance, just look off into the distance and start mumbling something about stitches and perineums. 

Set boundaries before the birth. After babies are born people get all excited, like kids aren't born every day. Let family and friends know before the birth what your boundaries are around visiting. You don't need to be aggressive about it, just say to the people you're confident will want to rock up, 'we're having some alone time for the first three days'. It's easier to add than to take away, if you tell your mother in law not to come for the first week and then change your mind, that's easier than asking her to move in and then contemplating divorce. If anyone breaks these boundaries, let everything you know about politeness go out the window - people's memories are short and anyway you won't be the one kicking them out (see my first point).

Create a working 'help list'. I actually did this one because I'm a princess. Don't be stoic about this, if people say they want to help it's because they want to help and if they don't want to help, more fool them for saying it. When you've had a baby people will ask if there's anything they can do and it can be tempting to say no because it feels like there's everything to do and people will take you at your word when you sob, 'No, I'm f-f-f-fine,' and then be a plonker and show up EMPTY HANDED. Have a written list of things that would really make your day if someone did it for you, anything from mopping your kitchen floor to bringing you your favourite flavour crisps. I had visitors bring me snacks, magazines and nipple cream; everyone felt happy to help and all were gratefully received. 

I hope this offers some hope to anyone preparing for a brand new birthday. Do this right because you might only do this once but obviously never say never. 

What would you have changed about your labour, birth or postnatal care? 

In 2016 I'm starting Mission Acceptance. Want a sneak peak every week? Or maybe a bit of a challenge yourself! Get over here for details #missionacceptance


Mummascribbles

A Bit Of Everything

Guest Post - Toys that encourage 2 year olds to play independently (and keep you sane!)





There’s nothing more frustrating than watching other toddlers play independently, while your 2 year old clings to your leg and won’t let you get more than two feet away. Don’t despair! By using toys which are age-appropriate and will gently encourage their independence, you can take your first steps towards having a toddler who will happily play alone.

Toys to avoid Some toys are definite No’s if you want to encourage a 2 year old to be independent. This applies to any toy that is beyond their current level of development. A child will inevitably need your help if their toys are too advanced. For this reason, avoid toys such as jigsaws and puzzles that a 2 year old is likely to need help with, toys that require supervision for safety reasons or toys which require assembly.

Toys that encourage independence The following toys are the right stage for most 2 year olds. They’re fascinating to this age group and are simple enough for them to play with alone.

Ball pools 2 year olds love ball palls. They’re safe, fun and brightly coloured, which fascinates and captures their attention.The Bestway train-shaped inflatable ball pool is a fantastic ball pool for 2 year olds. Children can pretend they’re riding in a train as well as having fun with the balls.

Pretend play toys  2 year olds are just starting to be interested in pretend play. To encourage a 2 year old to play alone, provide simple pretend play toys that don’t require adult help. For example toy cars without any complex accessories, or a doll and pushchair. Show the child how to do a simple activity such as pushing a car around or putting a doll in a pushchair.

Popular pretend play toys for 2 year olds:

·   Bing soft rabbit toy - cute cuddly rabbit with no removable clothes or parts that require adult help. My First Baby Annabel with the Quinny dolls pram - a smaller-than-average doll for 2 year olds with a genuine Quinny pram to push her around in. VTech Baby Toot Toot Car Carrier - slightly simpler than a toy garage, 2 year olds can push the car carrier and the included toy car around and put the car in the carrier

Sorting toys  A 2 year old’s mind is getting more and more organised. They love simple toys that involve sorting things into shapes and colours.

Popular sorting toys for 2 year olds:

·  Leomark Wooden Farm House Shape Sorter - this is a fantastic shape sorter because it’s a pretend play toy too. Toddlers can enjoy putting the animals in the hole that matches their shape, or they can use them as actual toy animals for twice the fun. Stacking and sorting rings - 2 year olds will love sorting the rings into the correct colours and putting them back together. Some 2 year olds will spend ages concentrating on this toy but only buy it if your 2 year old isn’t the type who will constantly ask for help. Elephantastic Wild Animals - a well-made wooden shape board where the 2 year old has to put the animals into the correct shaped space

Push along toys  2 year olds love push and pull along toys. Now they have mastered the art of walking, they can easily use these toys without adult help. My favourite is the wooden push-along lion which is brightly coloured and makes a pleasant tinkling noise when you push it.

How to encourage 2 year olds to play alone With all the toys I’ve listed above, start by joining in with the child. Don’t plonk the toy in front of them and expect them to entertain themselves straight away. Play together at first and give them some ideas of what to do.

As the 2 year old gets more and more engaged, gradually decrease your own involvement. Move slightly further away and do your own thing close by - whether it’s reading a book, using your mobile or doing housework. If the child asks for you, go back and play together again. Wait until they’re starting to play on their own again, and repeat the process. If the child is ready then over time, they will be able to play on their own for longer periods. You have to stay close at first, but they will eventually realise how much fun they can have playing on their own. It’s a slow process and requires lots of patience, but it will be worth it!



Katie Keith is a Mum and writes the Best Toys for 2 Year Olds blog. She loves to help other parents to make informed decisions on choosing the right toys for a 2 year old’s level of development. Katie lives on Dartmoor in Devon with husband Andy, daughter Sophia, cat Popple and 4 alpacas. 

The Cheatin' Parent's Guide to Faking Bedtime


It was a beautiful summers evening when I found myself full of fear that I was several days late and many hundred dollars short. I was maniacally sellotaping tin foil to the windows of my son's bedroom in an effort to convince him that it was in fact the night. A time for sleep, not a time for jumping on the mattress shouting about Old MacDonalds farm. My efforts were rewarded with a slightly confused toddler ceasing his performance and settling down for the night. It was then that I realised if I wanted to keep my head and preserve my precious rioja time, I would need to keep faking bedtime. The astute parent starts faking bedtime from the early months; sleep experts refer to this as consistency or routine. That being said it's never too late to start, sometimes even grown up kids need to fake bedtime, so here's how it's done. 

Block out day sounds. One of the key distinctions of nighttime is the relative silence. How do you expect the little one to want to fall asleep when he can hear people partying like it's 1999 downstairs? Obviously it can be hard to convince your neighbours to stop existing after 7pm and awkward to whisper for the whole evening. A great way to fake the silence of night is to block out daytime sounds with something soothing. Unless you've set up home under a lovely rock you've heard of Ewan the dream sheep but in our house we go for white noise from dusk til dawn and have invested in a white noise machine

Make it smell dreamy. A lavender room spray or a few drops of lavender essential oil on a favourite toy can be a great way to help relax an excitable infant. Whilst lavender is well known for it's sleep inducing properties I think it's important to create a strong association between the smell and sleep time, you could probably do this with bacon if you prefer.

Make it cozy. The best thing about falling asleep is that warm, snuggly feeling you get after you've been wrapped in a duvet for a few minutes but it takes a wee while to get there and sometimes babies are impatient. Fake the warm, snuggly by popping a hot water bottle in the cot for a few minutes before putting the baby to bed. The first time I did this I was actually able to put my son in his cot awake instead of rocking him to sleep. I felt like a magician! If you're concerned about spills get a microwavable one

Bring on the night. Lastly and most importantly, you must make it dark - completely dark. Ideally your child should not be able to see their chubby little hand in front of their face. My tin foil blind was fine for a night but is not the most stylish choice. Put up a black out blind for instant sunset. VELUX even make blinds for hard to reach roof windows and their cute Disney & VELUX Dream Collection means that any kid will have sweet dreams.



Do you have any tips for faking bedtime? 
This post was sponsored by VELUX


You Baby Me Mummy



ethannevelyn

My two year old doesn't like Frozen - Katie




My 2 year old daughter doesn't seem to like the things other children her age are into. For example, she has no interest in Frozen and seems to be the only child in the world who doesn't have a Princess Elsa dress! She prefers animals, especially cats. Is this normal and should I be encouraging her to fit in more with the other children? I'm worried about what will happen when she starts school. - Katie 


------------------------------------------------------------------------


Katie, if your child does not like Frozen what you need to do is fall to your knees and thank each and every deity known to man for the good fortune that has been bestowed upon you. I mean for reals, you must have been a martyr in a previous life or maybe a sewer rat? Stop playing the lottery because your chips have been cashed in. If your child does not like Frozen you are one of life's winners and I speak for all parents everywhere when I say, let it go. 

This isn't just about Frozen though, this is about your desire for your child to comparable to other children. Some telltale markers to confirm that you are raising someone that will become a functioning member of society. I think this might be primal on some level. The sheep born with a hot pink fleece is gonna be the first chappie picked off by a mountain lion. Assimilation means safety and safety means your doing you're job. 

I'm going to speak from personal experience but I think I also speak for a vast swathe of Generation Y when I say that being told that you must be the same as everyone else but also a very special snowflake is very confusing. It makes it harder to hold firm to an identity, you start searching for a sense of self in the wrong places. Do you want a child that watches too much reality TV and over shares on the Internet?

No I didn't think so. So no, you should not be worried about your child not enjoying the stereotypical pursuits society has tried to foist upon her, you should celebrate. Of course telling a parent not to worry is like asking a toddler to whisper - they'll claim they're trying but they're just shouting in a husky voice. Just worry away, worry all night if it fulfils some motherly urge but the mission is, under no circumstances let your daughter know that you're worried. As far as she should be concerned the fact that she has different tastes are just part of the wonderful tapestry of things that make her all the more lovable. Mold her into someone that values herself, not by comparison to others but by how true she is to herself. Who knows what will happen at school? School is The Hunger Games in woolly tights. There is nothing you can give her to arm herself but confidence and knowledge of who she is. And if who she is involves somehow managing to resist the crack cocaine in animation form that is Frozen, she sounds like a special little girl to me.


This question came from Katie Keith, who writes the blog Best Toys for 2 Year Old. She is also Operations Director at WordPress web design agency Barn2 Media. Head back over on Sunday when Katie will be guest posting about toys that help two year olds play independently.

Do you have a girl who doesn't want to be a princess?

Mummuddlingthrough

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Friday Frolics
                               photo credit: Frozen | Into the Magic via photopin (license)

Advice from the Heart - Win a Mr Nutcase Voucher



Drumroll please. Ladies and gentlemen! Introducing, for your delight and entertainment, the last linky's brilliant blogger, carefully selected by Ms Julie Dutra of Happy Mama Happy Baby:


Jessica captured our attention and with her post 'Ten Things Nobody Tells You about Having a Baby' and so Sophie the owl will be winging her way to her (sorry couldn't help myself). Other fabulous posts included my cohost Julies advice to abandon the routine, Sam giving no nonsense tips on dealing with post natal anxiety and Alison keeping it real with the things every working parent should do. If you haven't read the posts on last weeks linky, there's still time. If there isn't try and make some time because nothing beats a nice cup of tea and some advice from the heart. 

Feel free to add your parenting advice posts to this weeks linky. Up for grabs when the linky closes is £15 to spend at Mr Nutcase. At Mr Nutcase you can get a personalised mug to put a smile on aunties face or a one of a kind phone case - surely a blogger essential? Submit up to two posts and you may be selected as our brilliant blogger. The winner will be announced at the next linky. The linky's open all week so please add anything you think a parent might find inspiring or helpful and don't forget to tweet @moderatemum and @JulieGDutra. Complete rule book here.



Advice From The Heart

4 ways I want my son to see me fail


My mother was and is perfect. Not in the way that all mothers are perfect in that powerful, spiritual sense - like actually, certifiably perfect. You know the woman whose clothes are always stylish and skirting is dust free? The one that invites you round for a bite and then serves truffle stuffed pheasant. You know the chick you secretly hate but keep hanging with in the hope that some of the sparkle will rub off on you? Yeah, that's my mum (no pressure then). There is one disadvantage to having such a stellar role model - I never saw her make a mistake. Like one time she put salted butter in a cake but actually it gave it this really distinct flavour.

Failing gracefully is a skill. One which when learnt rather than diminishing someones worth makes them all the more appealing. We learn by modelling behaviours; without seeing one of my primary caregivers fail (my dad's pretty near perfect but susceptible to very minor bouts of road rage) good therapy and twenty years of Cosmopolitan have let me know that the result was a fear of failure. When you have FOF one of two things happen - you become a perfectionist, risking health and sanity to make everything absolutely right or you cease to try. Being a natural conservator of energy I took the latter route. I don't want that for my child. I want him to fail, fail again, fail better. Fail with abandon, become King of Failure (or something). So here are the four ways I want him to see me fail it up . 

Failing a test. I think adults forget that life for young people can sometimes feel like lurching from test to test for years. After a while you start to feel disconnected; you start to tell yourself that your worth can actually be measured in percentages. I want to show him that tests are a part of life and not the meaning of it; many people fail tests and prosper. This should be an easy one to arrange as I have failed four driving tests so far and I'm showing no signs of making it fifth time lucky. 

Admitting that I'm not able to do something. I don't think it's arrogance that prevents parents from sharing this information, it just becomes second nature to find methods to compensate for where we are lacking. This is a really easy one to achieve, you just have to own your truth and name it. Example: 'Mummy is hiding the Marks & Spencer box because she's going to pretend that she made dinner herself because she doesn't really know how to make fish pie.' Of course I then risk kiddo blurting out said truth to bemused guests which brings me neatly to number 3. 

Being wrong and admitting it. Being British I thought I was great at apologising. I wake up and apologise to the sun for having to rise for my convenience. Then I realised I was good at apologising in situations when I believe I have done no wrong. 'Oh sorry you bumped into me! Oh sorry you messed up my booking!' LOOK HOW GRACIOUS I AM. When it came to stuff I had royally mucked up I was perhaps a little too busy scanning my mind for someone who could be complicit in my wrongdoing to offer a decent apology. I want my son to hear me say, 'I'm sorry I lied about the fish pie, I was lazy, forgive me.' More importantly I want him to hear me say that to him (not necessarily about fish pie, about other stuff. Okay, let's stop talking about fish pie now).

Learning something and stumbling. For me this is about putting your money where you mouth is. Have you seen The Apprentice? For anyone that hasn't it's about a yodaesque pensioner with a cockney accent combing through the sales suites of the nation for his next protegee. One thing he likes to say is, 'I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do meself.' And I think really? Really Lord Sir Alan? Are you really gonna climb down from your chair, get down on the knees of your hand made suit and gut chickens or whatever banal task you've assigned? This is what I think kids think when adults get on them about piano practise or maths homework. I want to let my son know that I'm asking him to push himself because I value the process. I don't see why if he has to learn how to conjugate German verbs, I can't show him I'm willing to learn too. Nein? 


    Do you think it's good for children to see their parents fail? 

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Be a Great Gifter with My Given Name (UK Giveaway)


You know what I've found harder than being a mum, being an aunt. You see when you're a mum, within fairly flexible boundaries, you can do what the heck you like. Better still, your children have nothing to compare you to, I'm hoping it will take my son a fair few years to catch on to the fact that most families get dressed on Sundays. When you're an aunt, you've got to be all things to all people. You want the parents to think you're responsible, reliable and engaged and you want the kids to think you're really, really cool. This makes gift buying a complete minefield. For a start you have to keep track of what they're into, is it Monster High or Horrible Histories? Is Frozen still in? (Although the answer to this is yes, always). Then there's the fact that if you buy them something they totally love their parents will probably depise you - you know drum sets and high heels and replicas of weapons, that sort of gear. What to do? Get yourself crossed off a Christmas card list or risk losing your favourite grown up status?

Well I've got a gift for you today that will eliminate all those concerns! 'The Little Stork and My Given Name' is a completely personalised story in which a scrappy little stork called Bindee goes on a journey that has the lucky child's name woven into it. It's the sort of story that children will choose over and over and will love to read to themselves when they're older. Better still the book carries a wonderful message of positivity that any parent would love to share with their child. So if you've been racking your brains to find an appropriate gift for the cherised children in your life, don't say I never give you anything. You can read more about 'The Little Stork and My Given Name' here but for your chance to win a book please enter below.






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What's Your Mum Cut?



If you're reading this and you're pregnant with your first child, you need to accept that you'll want a 'mum cut'. Before having a child I never considered where this stereotype came from. Did having a baby just rob you of all style? Well, yes but also no. What happens is you don't sleep, like ever and your eye bags are so big it's hard to see yourself clearly in the mirror. You can't have long hair because it gets trapped in dirty nappies and tiny fists. If you have thirty minutes spare you want to use it to mournfully shove galaxy chocolate into your mouth, not create beachy waves (or maybe that's just me). If you're willing to accept that you need a mum cut I implore you to choose one now, sleep deprivation and scissors do not make good bed fellows. So you believe me, you want a mum cut? Here are your choices...

Great colour and a pony tail. If you keep your hair long you have to know you're going to be scraping it back 97.5% of the time. You can overcome the tedium of this by having a really fab colour. This is also good for looking sporty without actually doing any sports. 

Short, really short. This was my choice and I've never looked back. Be careful, with the wrong texture this can be a false economy needing many trips to the salon and daily styling. Perfect for looking like you've got your stuff together when behind the scenes chaos reigns. 

The bob. This is the original mum cut. It's good for those that still have the energy to make an effort but can't spend all day blow drying. If you're looking to expand your mum tribe I think this makes you look the most approachable. 

Keep it wild. Motherhood is the time to embrace your natural texture so if you're a secret curly girl I recommend ditching the straighteners and letting those tresses fly free. If you go with this you still want to keep it short, tangles are no fun with a baby on board. 

If you want tips on how to style your new do please check out Hannah at Five Minute Mummy. She posts awesome how to tips for mums on the run. 

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Did you change your style after becoming a parent? What's your mum cut? 

The 9 things that are pants about bottle feeding



One of the things that bugs me about breast feeding advocates is that they sometimes imply that bottle feeding mums take the easy way out. As if bottle feeding is a casual Sunday stroll compared to the horror of boob feeding. Luck and circumstances meant that I did both and let me tell you I wouldn't buy a Groupon for either experience. 

Saying breast feeding is hard or bottle feeding is easy is like saying you're guaranteed to meet the love of your life on Tinder - of course you would hope to encounter your soul mate but you could also end up with someone with a collection of stuffed ferrets*. You can't assume anything and therefore this post is for any Judgey McJudgeysons still preaching that bottle feeding is an easy way out and any pregnant women that might have been tricked into thinking breast feeding is the difficult option. 

Getting up in the night. Not waking up in the night, getting up. And then going to the kitchen and then basically doing a science experiment in the dark. All to the soundtrack of a screaming infant. As far as I'm concerned I could end this list here. 

The fact that it only lasts four hours. After which it self destructs or something. Once made a bottle of milk is essentially a ticking time bomb so if you make it up before you go out your trip to town feels like the next instalment of mission impossible. 

Wrangling with shop owners to give you hot water. If I could give you one tip it would be to train your child to drink cold milk because it can be such an ordeal finding somewhere comfortable to warm your bottle and feed your baby. I don't know why vendors make this hard, I mean all new mums do is wander round and buy coffee right? If I had a cafe I'd have bottle warmers on site. 

You only get one shot (as JLS would say). This one caused me all manner of angst. Once a baby has drunk from a bottle it's good for a limited period only, so if your kid decides they only want a wee nip, you've wasted a whole bottle. 

Literally pouring money down the drain. Following on from the above - formula is dehydrated milk, how can it be so criminally expensive? And why isn't there a no frills, bargain basement baby formula? I imagine because no mother would buy it but that's just a tax on guilt as far as I'm concerned. 

The selection. It will take you weeks to find the bottle, teat and flow that your little diva will tolerate and you are guaranteed to discover it about two days before they're ready to move on to something else. 

The paraphernalia. Babies are so, so small and yet they require so much stuff! You literally fantasise about the day that you can once again walk through the world unencumbered. Bottle feeding just requires another sub section of stuff on top of the already indecent mountain of stuff. Basically if you leave the house for more than eight hours you need an articulated lorry.

Confinement. Breast feeding is like the bluetooth of infant feeding. With the child facing breastwards there's plenty of room to manoeuvre so access to the remote and Haribo are unhampered. With bottle feeding everything is that bit more precarious, prepare for your dinner to go cold. 

No excuses. When people ask to feed your baby you have no excuse and will have to admit you just don't want their scabby hands touching your child. 

There you go. Don't say I didn't warn you. In all honesty it's not all bad, for example bottle feeding allowed my husband and son to establish something called the Midnight Feeding Club. My husband would give Roscoe his last feed of the day and allow me to catch a few hours sleep. I don't think we talk enough about bottle feeding, the good and the bad. It's become our dirty little secret, so we don't know truly what to expect. If you haven't been put off by my list please check out this brilliant post by Tami of 'Mummy of 2+1'  - 'How to: Bottle Feed'

What was your experience of bottle feeding? Would you do it again if you had the choice?


*no offence intended to the stuffed ferret owning community, it's just not my thing.


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