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.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

You Baby Me Mummy

Friday Frolics

Advice from the Heart - 24/11/2015

Meet Sophie. Sophie is a wise old owl, just like you guys! Sophie was lovingly hand made by Kate of the cute and quirky Grace and the Monkey. Sophie is approximately 12cm tall and made from casmerino aran wool, which makes her super snuggly. She would be a lovely Christmas gift for a clever tyke in your life and she is this weeks prize, nay trophy, for being the smartist blogger of all the bloggers, officially, ever (terms and conditions apply).

For a chance to win Sophie just link up to two of your posts that offer advice or inspiration to any parent or parent to be. Posts can be funny, serious, obscure or practical. Views and reviews are welcome. Once you've added your post or posts, please and add the badge and tweet myself (@moderatemum) and my cohost @JulieGdDutra of Happy Baby Happy Mama for a much deserved RT. Use the hashtag #fromtheheart when sharing.

The winning post (UK only) will be selected when the linky closes next Tuesday and announced on the next linky on Tuesday 8th December 2015. If you like small print there's some linky rules here. If you don't have a post to submit please share the love and help Sophie go to a good home.

My favourite post from last linky was Parental Journeys '10 Best Parenting Advice I Ever Got' If you want a parenting advice cheat sheet, this is the post for you.

Advice From The Heart

Manage your inner overprotective parent

Despite all this moderate business, I can be quite highly strung when I want to be. I get this primarily from my mother, who could create a drama with a piece of string and a safety pin. I'm not sure if this is related or not but I'm also pretty clumsy. I read recently that we shouldn't call our children clumsy because it damages their self esteem but I was called clumsy as a child because I was frickin' clumsy. My partner jokes that he's going to get me a set of plastic dinnerware because I go through ours so quickly, given that I can't be trusted with china you can imagine how anxiety inducing it was to be handed a teeny, helpless newborn and to be told, look after this love. 

This pressure definitely dulled some of the shine from the early days. He was so soft and vulnerable and I was so, so tired. Yet somehow we made it through without any major damage to either of us and as his little thighs grew sturdy and he learned to keep his head on his neck I started to breathe more easily. And then he started to move. 

I thought was The Ring was scary until I had to watch a fearless two year old with a questionable centre of gravity tearing around a playground full of death traps, sorry, slides. So wherever he is, the place I want to be is one step behind and if I don't know if he can do something I don't want him to try it and since I won't know if he can do it until he tries, I think it's best if we all just sit here and do nothing.

Unfortunately that would be an impossible task and probably not beneficial in the long run. I want him to flourish and to flourish he has to learn and to learn he has to *whispers* try stuff. In order to let that happen I have to keep my overprotective parent under wraps. Here's what I would recommend if you would like to join me...

Plan pushing boundaries. Deciding in advance that you're going to try a new thing means that you can risk assess the situation and also build yourself up to giving it a go. When I first tried baby led weaning the whole no teeth/small throat situation was a bit daunting but I did a lot of research and made sure we tried new food when we were both calm and comfortable. Now he eats anything that isn't nailed down so by and large I think we managed my eating anxiety. 

Check in with others. Sometimes I think we put pressure on ourselves as parents to know innately how much is too much. It's fine to ask friends and family with children what they allow their offspring to do. It's also okay to smile warmly on the outside but scream, over my dead body on the inside. The reason to gather opinion is not necessarily to do what they do but to see if what they do resonates with you. You might find that you're not as over protective as you think (doubtful). 

Allocate a coach. You need someone that can hold your hand in the tough bits. They might be a partner, relative or BFF. Let yourself tell them all your ghastly parenting fears and allow them to dismiss them all and remind you how awesome both you and your child are. 

Respect carers with different boundaries. My in your face agenda for my son is my problem. I do my best not to inflict it upon my husband who has very different ideas on health and safety in our home. I let him know how I feel about stuff and then I have to trust that he has our son's best interests at heart. This is very hard but who am I to say how our child should learn in life? Perhaps he will learn to push boundaries from his father and learn to set them straight again from me.

I'm already dreading when the kid's older and can go out independently and make decisions without my approval. So I know it's important to get in my practice now, when all we're doing is taking the sides off his cot.

I'd love to know what you think. Do you feel like an overprotective parent?

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Advice From The Heart

Does my son need international men's day

I stayed out of the fray yesterday. For once miss gobby chops didn't know what to say. At first I thought International Men's Day was a joke but when I realised it was genuine, has been genuine for some time, my initial response was a flicker of outrage. 

Women have come a long way, a long, long way but only through the sacrifice of many brave people and to my mind women are still a political minority. Seeing an international men's day was like hearing someone campaign for straight Pride (which I have heard and NO WORDS); it was the same level of bafflement as when a white person at a house party asks me why they can't say ni**er, because why would you want to? Why? 

So when I started scrolling through the tweets, maybe I was looking for a fight but then I noticed that a lot of people were using the day to promote a lot of undeniably important issues, issues that have touched my family and I thought, okay this is good. But then I wondered if it was solving anything? It's often reported that men feel unable or uninvited to express themselves completely and honestly, is shoving all these challenges into one day solving that? I want to talk about suicide for a month, a year if we have to. I want those blessed with testicles checking those balls every darn day. 

As part owner of a boy there are things I fret about when I have a few minutes spare - will he underachieve in school? Will he feel pressure to conform to an outdated image of masculinity? Maybe I'll never be able to answer these questions and International Men's Day will. 

Personally I'm at the point where I think I'm about ready to do away with gender. I have no idea what makes me a woman other than the fact that I self identify as one. There is no part of my body that I would be any more or less of a woman, with or without. There is no action I perform that is inherently womanly.

So I'm thinking perhaps we should just have International Persons Day, where we treat everyone as we would wish to be treated, we place no expectations on anyone and we make International Persons Day every day and celebrate it as often as we can. And then I read another article about a woman dying, literally dying, just because she is female and I realise men probably don't need an International Men's Day any more than I need an International Women's Day. We all need to stand up and support International Women's Day because every second somewhere there's a woman that can't. 

Do you feel International Men's Day will empower our sons?

Ethan & Evelyn

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Guest Post - Choose the toys that encourage the child’s development

The way children play has changed almost entirely in the last few decades, due to the rapid development of technology and emergence of many electrical toys. Even objects that are not primarily made as toys are being used as toys nowadays, like mobile phones, iPads and laptops. It seems that the average age when children start using technology for play is now between one and two years of age. My one year old is definitely not happy when not allowed to watch Snowhite on my, or should I say, our, iPhone.

So, whatever happened to real toys and play? We can’t resist the influence of technology on our lives, but shouldn’t we stop and consider how different toys influence our children’s development? According to scientific research, we should consider how toys influence our children’s thinking, problem solving skills, learning, creativity, social interaction, and physical activity. Here is what they have found.

Basic toys are more conducive to creative play. It has been found that basic, simple toys like wood blocks, wooden construction toys, dolls and vehicles show the best results in terms of children’s development. Since they are relatively simple and open-ended, children can use them differently each time and come up with a variety of games to play with the same objects. This promotes creativity and imagination, whereas more complex toys are less flexible. Going back to the basics and letting our kids play the way most of our ancestors did is still the safest bet.

Household items are good enough for toys. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon with my kids and you have probably seen it too: no matter how modern or expensive the toys I get for our kids are, they quickly lose interest in them and resort to pots, pans and anything else they can get their hands on when in the kitchen. I am now playing along – I’ve filled the lowest kitchen drawer with things they like to play with – pots and pans, plastic cups and plates, straws and other stuff they find interesting. Other household favourites are fridge magnets, alphabet soup and their Zado rug with a world map print. Playing with these they are actually learning something useful, practicing their motor skills and being creative.

Variety promotes holistic development. Children need to play in a variety of ways with different kinds of toys in order to develop different skills, abilities and values. So, you need to provide a variety of toys for them. Motor skills are developed by playing with balls, riding tricycles, bicycles and wagons; logical thinking is promoted by playing with memory games and board games; creativity is fostered by playing with plaster, paint, arts and crafts. In order to instill some emotional intelligence and gender equality in your children, try avoiding toys promoting gender stereotypes. Let them have gender neutral toys like Legos, wood blocks, puzzles, but also allow toys for the opposite gender.

Some toys promote unwanted behavior. This is not a secret but most of these toys that have an obvious bad influence on children’s development are still freely available on the market. Examples of these are toys that promote violence and aggression, like military tankers, toy soldiers, guns and Bobo (hit me toys). Some are downright dangerous and more often than not lead to injuries, like arrows and swords. Girl toys are no better, promoting questionable values, like Bratz and hyper-feminine Barbie dolls. The latest mom invention in fighting these bad influences is wiping doll make up with nail polish and painting normal eyes on dolls: the transformation is amazing!

So, in conclusion, variety is the key to healthy development, provided it includes toys that are promoting the right values or are at least neutral. Household items are ideal in this regard, they model real life and children learn by observing and copying the adults around them. Making small interventions on bought toys to make them more appropriate or even making our household items into toys is certainly going to help our child have a healthier environment to play in.  Be aware of what your child is learning and seeing, get creative and grow in a healthy way!

This post is by Tracey Clayton, a full time mom of three girls. She loves cooking, baking, sewing, spending quality time with her daughters and she’s passionate in writing. She is contributor on High Style Life and her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” Find her on Facebook

Advice from the Heart - 09/11/2015

The last two weeks my son has been exploring every toddler stereotype known to man - lying on the floor in supermarkets, refusing all food, bedtime battles and my favourite biting. Any and all advice is welcome, even the unsolicited kind from judgey women on public transport. That being said any advice you have is very much solicited. If you have any posts that might be helpful to other parents this post will be open for a week. 

Last time I loved Eat.Love.Lives essay 'Time for baby number 2'. Weirdly for me this is much bigger decision than the first roll of the dice so I know there must be others feeling the pressure.

Confessions of a Crummy Mummy's 'How to make a hospital stay fun for kids' was very sweet and funny and also super practical as all my favourite things are. 

My co-host Miss Julie wrote 'Don't ask my toddler to share' I'm also a parent that usually lets the kids work it out themselves - do you force your children to share. 

The rules don't change, 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

9 Unexpected things that have crept onto my shopping list

Giant bottles of whole milk. Before motherhood I bought milk by the pint. The rule was there had to be enough for a cup of tea in the morning. We'd generally grab a bottle from the corner shop every couple of days. Now milk has to be purchased by the bucketful. I'm thinking of getting a cow in the back garden.

Rice cakes. Formerly only associated with my twice yearly diets these bad boys have gone from foe to friend and are my number one kid pacifier. We particularly love the Organix snack size ones, which are cunningly known as biscuits in our house.

Breadsticks. These poor mans appetisers prove irristable to toddlers. Just in case I misremembered I tried one recently and I think they taste like stick. 

Bananas. This was my son's first food and it has endured as his best food. They're also a firm mama favourite for having their own carry case and being perfect for chucking into a handbag without getting crumby or sticky. Word to the wise, empty said handbag at the end of the day. The results of a lost banana are not pretty. 

Bread. My husband and I embraced the low carb movement of the early noughties. Also with little time for breakfast and lunch at the office loaves tended to devolve into unnecessary science experiment under our watch. Now bread is back! Sandwiches are the only thing I can guarantee will be consumed and I'm not ashamed to say I consider them sufficient for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  

Yoghurt. I implore you not to fall into the yoghurt trap. Now Roscoe only has to see something yoghurt shaped and all hell breaks loose, I'm genuinely fearful of him commiting some sort of yoghurt related crime in the future, not fearful enough to stop buying them.

Peas. Our reliance on peas is getting serious. In the past we just had a stray bag in the freezer for emergencies but now they're a fixed shopping list feature. Roscoe's views on vegetables are completely unpredictable with the exception of peas. It may or may not be a coincidence that they're also the vegetable with the most potential for  mess making.

Non-alcoholic beer. I discovered this in pregnancy and I still keep an emergecny supply in the fridge. Dawn starts are not conducive to a night on the booze so these give me that end of the day feeling without the start of the day headache.

Coffee. Before I had a child I had a passing acquaintance with coffee. I liked the occassional latte or an americano after dinner but soon after my son was born coffee became my friend, my lover and my mentor. Right now, it's complicated. 

Has the contents of your fridge changed since you became a parent?

Friday Frolics

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The best way to step into the circle of shame

roscoe loving life in his buggy 

Now that my son has mastered walking, he wants to do it all the time. Which I get, I'm the woman that watched two seasons of House of Cards in 48 hours. The problem is he doesn't want to walk where I want him to walk; he's like a magnet for dangerous and/or breakable objects - I'd rather direct a small herd of dorset sheep round my local shopping centre. 

Roscoe recently turned two and his great aunt gave him some BHS vouchers. At first I was like, BHS? Don't you just go there to use the toilet? But in fact they have an ace kids department (so respect your elders kids). I chose a cute little parka for Scoe but in order to try it on I needed to face up to the epic trial that is getting him out of the buggy. I had words with myself in the kids pyjamas section and decided to be brave. After trying on his new coat Roscoe had a little wander round the shoe section and then I steered him to the till. At this point I said in my best mum voice, 'Right (the right is important). Back in the buggy.' I tried to do it swiftly but I was not swift enough and he started flailing like a landed fish. I realised quickly that I had entered into a battle of wills, if I backed down now I might be backing down for the rest of my life. 

I pulled my son into a small clearing in the store and we built an invisible circle of shame. In this circle I remain calm and focused to the task at hand, my fellow shoppers pretended not to see me and I pretended not to see them. I wrestled with my son for at least three minutes, I know it was this long because I heard a whole musac rendition of 'Rule the World', before a woman decided to enter our shame circle. It can be hard to be a supportive stranger without coming across as interfering but this woman did it with a bunch of charm and this what she did...

Smile. If you approach a struggling parent and do anything but smile, they'll probably feel judged. Feeling judged is not a warm and fluffy feeling. If you're gonna enter the circle of shame you have to make me feel that we're all in it together. 

Ask. Never assume anything, lest you have a penchant for having your head bitten off. This lady asked me, 'Is he okay?' I thought this was very clever. My son was clearly in vigourous health, what she was asking was, are you okay? 

State you expertise. This lovely stranger told me her grandson was going through a similar phase. For all I know this was a fictional child but it comforted me to imagine I wasn't the only person going through this.

Offer to help. Shame circle events are not spectator sports. You need to try and be helpful in a non invasive way, holding stuff is probably the most practical. This lady tried to distract Roscoe so that I could use the opportunity to get him in the buggy. He wasn't gonna fall for tactics as pedestrian as that but I liked that she tried. 

Roscoe eventually got tired and I was able to buckle him in (he's still there). The lady walked away and I thanked her, 'I didn't do anything,' she said. 

'Oh but you did,' I told her. She really did. 

Have you ever reached out to a struggling mum or dad?

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