Advice from the Heart - 27/10/2015

Advice from the Heart is back! And this time, it's personal. We're hosting once a fortnight but we'll be open for 8 whole days so if you can come hang out all week. To make sure you don't miss anything Julie and I will be highlighting our favourite posts from the last link up. So here's what I loved from the last time: 

Fazed and Confused covered the mother of all topics potty training with the post Potty Training Blues (Browns). It didn't make me feel any less terrified of the journey ahead of me but at least I know that I will look back and smile one day. 

Mrs Tubbs over at Someplace Strange gave us the ultimate life lessons list in It's My Birthday! Sharing Cake and Life Lessons. I think it covers everything so make sure you've bookmarked it. 

9 Things to Consider: Choosing a Nursery for Your Baby from Kat at Eat.Love.Live helped to simplify the minefield that is handing over our precious cargo to a caretaker. Are you a shoes off mama? 

The rules are the same, link up to two posts sharing your parenting advice and inspiration. Views and reviews are welcome as long as they're #fromtheheart. Our Advice from the Heart contributors have been awesome at sharing the love, so please stop by and visit other linkers. Don't forget to tweet your links to @moderatemum and @julieGDutra otherwise how we gonna shout about it! 

Advice From The Heart

Are you overinvested in your iPhone?

A few weeks ago I was scolded by a woman at a bus stop, for being on my phone when I could have been talking to my boy. Usually I'm politely dismissive of unsolicited advice but I had to admit that this woman had a point. I realised that rather than being a tool of communication my phone had become my friend, a beacon of hope in the ocean of motherhood. The next day I decided to leave my phone at home, just for an hour, to make sure I was completed engaged in parenting. I was astonished by how hard it was and how many potential disasters I envisioned occuring in those sixty minutes. In the end I had to shake it off and discovered that sometimes ignorance is bliss. If you're reading this and think you might need a phone sabbatical, here's 7 signs you might be over invested in your mobile.

- You've ever panicked about where your phone is and then realised that you're talking on it

- You look at your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night 

- You feel anxious if your phone battery is low whilst you're out

- You've ever checked your phone in company without excusing yourself first 

-  If your kid does something cute and the first thing you do is reach for your phone 

-  If your phone has more accessories than you 

- You use your phone as a source of comfort, for example if you're alone at a party or in a restaurant

Any of the above might be a sign that you're letting life pass you by. Don't wait for a lady at a bus stop to knock some sense into you. Why not try a data detox with the following: 

- Don't have your phone in your bedroom at night 

- Leave your phone at home when taking short trips 

- Turn your phone off for specific periods of the day when at work or engaging with your children

- Turn off notifications when in company

- Have set times for checking social media on your device 

Let me know what you think makes for healthy phone habits. Sometimes I use my phone to upload pictures to instagram

Advice From The Heart
                                            photo credit: My 3GS. via photopin (license)

How do we do this? - Billy

Photo by Steve Maw

Hey Billy. I want to reassure you that this question, or perhaps more accurately this feeling, is so common it's almost universal. It doesn't matter if the conception was completely unexpected or planned down to egg selection;  it doesn't matter if you're a first timer or a veteran (in fact the second spin of the wheel can be scarier). No one is immune to the lost in the woods feeling of pre parenthood. In fact I think it's an evolutionary advantage. This question is your mind's interpretation of a primal fear that stops you from thinking everything will be fine if you continue to down sambucas and propels you into the nearest Mothercare. Don't let a feeling of overwhelm convince you that you're stumbling, this question is evidence of the fact that you're already being a really good father and you've already put you're child's needs above all else but don't get carried away superdad, here's what you're gonna do about it. 

THINK ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD Take some time to look at the experience you had growing up. If you have any fears about becoming a parent they probably come from things that occured within your own family. For example, if you grew up without money you might worry that you won't be able to provide for your child and so finances would be the first area of your life to get ship shape.

ACT AS IF Start making changes to your lifestyle now so that it isn't a huge shock to the system when junior is born. You might want to reset your budget to include baby expenses or cut down on your visits to the Kings Head; start to establish the habit you'll need to feel comfortable with when the baby arrives. If you're not successful, don't worry, this is just a practice run. 

LOOK FOR EXAMPLES Look to your peers for examples of parents that are making it work. Talk to your friends about how they cope, when something resonates note it down for your future family. Also pay attention all the very ordinary folk - in the park, in Morrisons - that are laughing, smiling, getting by somehow. If they can do it, you can too. 

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE At some point you made the choice to be with your partner and that means there must be something positive about them and they made the choice to be with you so in turn you've got to have something good going on. Think about all the things that make you great people and these are the very same things that will help make you great parents. Perhaps you're neat and tidy, how brilliant for staying organised when you have a baby. Maybe you've got a good sense of humour, you're gonna need that at 4AM. Even if the only positive thing you can think of is the fact that you're great at making omelettes, well then your son or daughter is gonna get to eat some of the best omelettes in the country. What a lucky, little tyke. 

On Tuesday's I usually cohost the 'Advice from the Heart' linky with the lovely Julie from Happy Mama Happy Baby but we've decided to have a fallow week to let a fresh crop of posts grow. We'd love to see you with your parenting advice posts next week. In the meantime, do you have any advice for some brand new parents to be?

Let's Talk Mommy

Advice from the Heart - 13/10/2015

I firmly believe that everybody has a parenting sweet spot. For some it's the teenage years - these parents are just gifted at defusing tense situations and know how to tactfully guide hormone-riddled adolescents to the safe haven of adulthood. Others love the primary school years (learning to read!). Some live for toddlers (so cute!).

Well, my parenting sweet spot lies firmly in the newborn phase.

Shocking, I know! Aren't mothers of newborns supposed to be quivering anxious wrecks, bordering on post-natal depression with dripping, bleeding nipples, bags under their eyes and unwashed hair?

Well, except for the bleeding nipples and unwashed hair my first year with baby boy was bliss. I loved it. Although it was difficult at times, it was also delightfully simple. It was so very very clear what my baby needed even if it was sometimes difficult to give: basically, he wanted to be fed, changed and held close to me or my husband. That was it.

Now I suddenly have a toddler on my hands. And I'm terrified. His needs and wants definitely no longer coincide. His second spoken word is "Nah" and yes, it means No. He has an opinion and a strong little personality.

I'm loving all the interaction but am appalled at the sudden complexity to our relationship. Sometimes he needs mummy desperately. Then he sends me away. Did I do something wrong or is he learning independence? When everything is "Nah", I wonder if I say No too much. Or maybe not enough. Is he not eating because he's upset or because he's having fun exercising his willpower? 

You see where I'm coming from when I said newborns were simple?

All in all, I guess we're muddling through okay but if anyone has any advice for this phase, please (please please) link up below. Since my forte seem to be the generally unpopular stages of childhood, I'm hoping my sweet spot will come around again and the terrible twos will be a doddle. You can't help but hope, right?

The rules are link up to two posts. They can be old or new, long or short , as long as they're #fromtheheart. Don't forget to add the badge, grab it here and send a tweet to @moderatemum and @JulieGDutra cos we want to share the love.

photo credit: EtchyHeart via photopin (license)

Tips for choosing the name of your child

Choosing a name was one of the most difficult processes in the whole child making adventure. I considered it to be far too weighty a responsibility. I knew that making a decision at a time when my body was ravaged by hormones was completely inappropriate and I didn't want to give my kid a reason to hate me right off the bat. A name is kinda a big deal. Would Madonna be Madonnna if she wasn't called Madonna? We'll never know. In the end my husband found Roscoe's name whilst listening to a song and as soon as I heard it knew that that was my baby's name. There was a small chance that the pee pee we had seen on the scan was misread but other than that we were good to go. Still, there was a while that we were out in name wilderness and here's some stuff I decided along the way...

- There's no such thing as a hot name. No one cares how sexy your birth certificate it. Also it's a bit creepy to try and project hotness onto your child at such a formative stage. Being attractive makes people attractive, no one turned down a date cause their love interest's name wasn't cute enough.

- Embrace the nicknames. Please, please if you choose a name for your child but you hate the popular short form of that name, think about making another choice. There's nothing more irritating, for all involved, than a parent shrieking, 'Her name is Victoria!' after some innocent lets a Vicky slip out. Unless there is some deep trauma associated with the name I suggest getting over it - life's too short to say four syllables. 

- In line with the above don't assume you'll have any control over what your kid is called. You might even find that you yourself stray from the name you so carefully chose. After all the angst put into name choosing my husband and I call our son Chief - makes perfect sense. 

- If you know the name, claim the name. When we decided on our name I let everyone know to be prepared to meet Roscoe. Not, we're thinking about it or we kinda like... This. Is. His. Name. This definitely reduced the amount of unsolicited advice we received and I felt would prevent any last minute steals from friends and family. I know a preferred method is to keep the name a secret or pretend you haven't decided until birth and whilst I see the logic it felt so lovely for people to start feeling invested in my boy before he even arrived.

- Name you child after a family member. One of the classic pieces of pointless feedback people offer when you tell them your potential baby name is, 'I knew a XXXX and they were an idiot.' Naming your child after a beloved family member prevents the name being tainted by any past or future bearers of the same name.

- Name them after someone who did something great. Preferably an artist or novelist because then even if someone says they hate it you can just shake your head and say something like, 'Oh I forgot how uncultured you are.'

- Get someone else to choose. Just give up the responsibility completely. Any productive person knows that delegation is the key to progress and actually people seem to find it easy to pick names for someone elses child. Siblings are great at this as they don't seem to have the hang ups we do. Personally if you're asking a child to do this for you I'd offer a small range rather than a free choice - Bob the Builder Jones has a ring to it but it's not exactly timeless.

- Quirky is good. I'm bias because I live in Brighton, an area where traditional names are in a minority, but I've heard that having a name that you have to spell out to people builds confidence. Not being able to spell your own name until you're 17 doesn't build confidence, there is fine balance.

Ultimately, it's not that big a deal. Like most things in life I think you should just have fun but not too much fun. A name won't make or break you and if it all goes wrong you can always change your mind. I'd love to hear how you chose your babies name or if you're currently on the look out for one.

                           Baby Brain MemoirsAdvice From The HeartLet's Talk Mommy

Advice from the Heart Linky - 06/10/15

                                       photo credit: tea / 黒豆茶 via photopin (license)

When I was a pregnant my sister in law gave me a badge. It read ‘Only positive birth stories please’. She’s a strong advocate of hypnobirthing, a practice that encourages changing the thinking around labour and delivery and focusing on the experience as an overwhelmingly good one. I appreciated the gesture, although I wasn’t deeply anxious about giving birth of course I had questions, many questions.
A curious thing happened when I asked those around me to share their positive stories, I got nothing, nada, a big, old, fat jam doughnut with no jam in it. Sometimes, infuriatingly, someone would start to tell me about their labour only to back off quickly and refuse to say more when pressed. The less people told me, the more my anxiety grew. What exactly did happen in that room?

The women around me were trying to be protective but bizarrely it made me feel lonely, like they were part of some super cool club that I was not allowed access to. If you are my friend, if I’m allowed to share a toilet cubicle with you or put you to bed after you’ve had too many WKD’s, you can tell me about one of the most significant experiences of your life. I was reminded of this time whilst reading he post Kirsten from Guilt Free Guide shared at last week’s linky, ‘Are You Honest?’

I think we can work out a way to be open and still be caring. You can be honest with me about your experiences of motherhood without making it sound like a journey to middle earth and if actually it was a crazy, traumatic mess you can tell me that too because even if I haven’t got there yet, I want to be here to support you.

So spill your guts! Please share the lessons you have learned from parenthood, particularly the mysterious world of pregnancy and labour. You might think it kind to hold it all in but it’s much kinder not too. 

The rules are link up to two posts. They can be old or new, long or short , as long as they're #fromtheheart. Don't forget to add the badge and send a tweet to @moderatemum and @JulieGDutra cos we want to share the love.

Advice From The Heart

Why I've decided it's okay to want a hot bod

So I've decided to haul myself back onto the diet and exercise wagon, if I have enough upper body strength to do it. When I was at home with my son every day it was easier to find a way to fit it in and I had the motivation of modelling someone that made healthy choices. I also didn't have the money to not fit back into my clothes. I'd like to think that I was successful with my diet and exercise goals - I got back into my skinnies, I had enough energy to parent and apart from that one chick that congratulated me on my second pregnancy (I'm not bitter), I think most would say I did a good job at erasing the baby weight. So I eased off the exercise pedal, slipped back into my bounty bar habit and tried not to think about my body for a bit. Things weren't the same. Of course they weren't the same. I had six pounds of human feed off me for months before being dragged out of my hoo haa. Bits sagged, things deflated; there's that curiously straight dark, line that runs from just below my breast bone to the very bottom of my stomach. I didn't want things to be the same. I signed up for motherhood because I longed for everything to change irrevocably but I couldn't ignore the creeping desire that I wanted my body to be different but, well, better. I want to say from the outset that your better and my better may be different things. My 'better' is influenced by so many aspects of my life - my upbringing, my culture, my relationship with my partner and so I won't go into detail about those body goal desires but needless to say they involve the terms firmer, tighter and higher. I read a lot of blogs and I love the messages of self acceptance and body confidence that are being promoted so frequently at the moment. I started to feel a bit guilty about my desires. Should I not just work on appreciating my body for how amazing and healthy it is and stop worrying about something as shallow as whether I feel comfortable in the skirt of the season? I've come to the decision that I can do both. I can accept myself and want to change myself. I can love myself and be willing to werk it girl. Here's my reasons why I've decided it's okay to want to be 'hot'. 

BECOMING COMFORTABLE WITH TAKING CONTROL Ambition is a bit of a dirty word; especially in the UK where expressing any desire for self improvement is seen as stunningly self absorbed and self absorption is a criminal offence. I don't want that for my kid, I want him to envision a positive goal and go for it no matter what messages he sees around him. It's important for me to feel like I can have control over my life and my body is an area in which I can wake up every morning and take positive action.

GETTING DOWN WITH DISCIPLINE Studies show that self disciplined people are happier. If there's one part of my character that needs a big ol' kick in the hiney it's my stickwithitness. I know I'm happiest when I'm committed, I think it's one of the reasons that I have found marriage and motherhood so fulfilling. I hope that my motivation in this area will help cement my discipline and I can extend that experience to other habits in the near future. 

ONE LESS THING TO THINK ABOUT My head is a hot mess sometimes. Seriously the range of random crap that I think about every day scares me. Should I move to the countryside? Maybe I should have taken German in school? What if cheese didn't exist? Not having to think about my body and being able to get dressed in the morning without over analysing my form would be a nice little reprieve. 

SELF ESTEEM CITY For me maintaining positive spiritual and mental health is like walking a balance beam. The route to changing my body will involve making choices that will only help my psychic state. Also if I feel good about how I look and proud of the work I've done it will add to my feel good vault. 

Perhaps in a month I'll do another post about how thinking about your body is complete waste of time, until then I'd love to hear how you feel about accepting yourself versus setting personal body goals. 

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