Moderate Mum Guide to Year One: Support for Smokers




There are a lot of things pregnant ladies aren't supposed to do - ride rollercoasters, sit in hot tubs, eat stinky cheese but there seems to be a special circle in hell reserved for women that indulge in their love of nicotine. 

Recently there was a study that suggested we should offer vouchers to mothers that quit smoking and the country was in uproar, why should women be rewarded for such a heinous habit? Maybe I'm sensitive because I've been known to have a sneaky smoke with a G&T but my thoughts are if a bit of my tax helps one of my sisters kick the habit, I'll happily empty my purse.

I think a lot of people are under the misguided impression that smoking is a choice. It's an addiction, like the time you tried to give up Dairy Milk but a thousand times harder. I did not inhale a single drag when I was pregnant or breastfeeding, I didn't even think about it, but I don't want back pats for that. I respect myself less than mothers that struggle to stop because it means that I care for myself far less than I care for my son and that is not a lesson I ever want him to learn.

When pregnant I also lived in London, inhaling all manner of carcinogins daily, working long hours and fighting my way onto the tube. No one shunned me, in fact they gave me their seats! Some could argue I was not doing the best for my baby. But you had no choice, I hear you cry. I have to ask myself is that honest? I could have stopped working, sat on my hands till my due date. Was the stress I put my body under any worse than one cigarette a month? Two? Three? I don't know. I do know that we make the best decisions we can with the resources we have and we should be respected despite those decisions. 

To be clear this post is not a get out of jail free card for anyone craving a fag. If you are thinking of getting pregnant or recently bunned your oven get off the nicotine express now. Get help. Go to your GP and ask for help. Don't do that thing where you pretend to have ten units of alcohol a week and eat all your greens. Secrets hurt us, tell everyone you know you smoke and want to stop. If anything you might help someone else from feeling too self conscious to look for advice. It will be hard but you will do it; because if this is your first baby and you think this is hard - you ain't seen nothing yet. 

Support and information for pregnant women that want to quit smoking can be found at Evidently Cochrane, Pregnets and Babycentre.



Modern Dad Pages

How early is too early to give your child McDonalds? - The Hamburglar

Ronald McDonald needed a Happy Meal.
Ronald McDonald Needed a Happy Meal - Steve Baker, Flickr

First I should declare my interest. I love your product Mr Hamburglar. Yourself and Ronald have carried me through many a hangover. After I saw 'Super Size Me' I thought, man I could murder a double cheeseburger. I know all the evil things I'm supposed to think about Maccy D's but my relationship with it is sorta like that 50 Shades of Grey chick,


'I know it's wrong but it feels so right! I don't know what I want!'

'Large fries?'

'Okay!'


So my short answer is that it's never too early to hook a kiddie up with a Happy Meal. Okay no solids before six months but if you want to celebrate the little one's half anniversary with a french fry, go ahead - I won't judge. As the blog says I favour things in moderation; I don't think a burger or two will set a child off on the path to obesity but I do think the association between burgers and happiness might. Guess who creates that association? Yep, it's those parents again.


Strangely children aren't born with an inbuilt love of nuggets and barbeque sauce we create that love and encourage it and reinforce it and then moan about it when it's tugging on our leg in the shopping centre.


I come from a big family and my clever mother, unwilling to deal with a kid pumped full of chocolate and e numbers every year, asked the family to give us mangoes at Easter. They made for a lovely, sweet, egg shaped treat and I still feel a bit giddy when I find a perfectly ripe specimen.

Kids can feel the way they feel about McDonalds about crafts or the farm or their favourite movie. Just because you make it easy for us we don't have to let our children be seduced by your red and yellow glory. My son is yet to have a McDonalds but I imagine one day he will. It won't be because he's begged me for a special treat, it'll be because we're stuck on a motorway or attending a birthday party and I'm hoping that if I play my cards right I'll get to lean in and say,

'If you finish all that, I promise to get you some brussel sprouts.'


Super Busy Mum

Moderate Mum Guide to Year One: A list of people I hated before I conceived


baby congratulations
Baby Congratulations by In Pastel, Flickr

A list of people I hated in the two years before I had my son:


My very pleasant next door neighbour
My sister
Nicole Richie
My amazing friend that supported me through a tough time  
The woman two desks over from me at work
Gywneth Paltrow (okay I still feel a bit iffy about her)


As you may have guessed the common thread between these women, aside from immpeccable dress sense, is that they had babies and I did not. Okay hate is a strong word, I just wanted them to disappear indefinitely.

If you've found yourself here because you're hoping to conceive your first baby or struggling to get on the way with number two or three and you're having similar dark feelings, here's how to try and deal with them.


BE CHILD FREE AND FABULOUS Even though my son was very much wanted there's still a cart load of stuff I wish I could on a daily basis. For example sit and read four chapters of a book. Go for a long solitary walk. Only wipe my own butt for a day. Do all these things in abundance and if it's to your liking include lashings of alcohol and sleep off your hangover in peace.


FIND GREAT ROLE MODELS There are lots of wonderful sane people with no desire to add to the worlds overpopulation. Hang out with them. Have delicious adult conversations about life and love and potential. Be inspired to foster ambitions that might not include children.


BE HONEST Women don't lose their empathy with the placenta. If you're having a bad time just tell your friend that you want to hang out without her mini me accesory, she'll understand (and probably be glad of the break).


DON'T BE ASHAMED TO INDULGE If you need to feel sad, eat Milk Tray and surf the net for the cutest baby gear you can find, go ahead. Don't feel bad about indulging in your sense of loss but take time out to do it and try not to let it consume you. I wish I had known in the years I spent hating Gywneth how many of the gifts that I thought I would gain, I already had. I had so many opportunities to feel joy and to share love and to be nuturing but I couldn't see through the pain. So if there are women in your life that look like they have what you want, try sharing how you feel because the chances are they once hated girls like them too. 


For support on infertility try Infertility Network UK. I love this wonderful post on Scary Mommy about secondary infertility. Lovely uplifting post from Hey Natalie Jean.



The Dad Network

Is it okay to take the baby on a long car journey outside her routine? - Chloe


Eliza riding in the car
Eliza Riding in The Car - Bradley Gordon, Flickr

This question had my spidey senses all tingly because I suspect this is not the question you're really asking. I think the real question is something along the lines of:

'How can I tell  someone I don't want to take the baby on a long journey?'
'Why are people judging me for taking my baby on a long journey?' 
'Can you give me a legitimate reason to turn down an invitation that involves taking my baby on a long journey?

Here's your legitmate reason - you are her mother. A mother's life is filled with powerful and sometimes direct judgements about the way she parents, it can be hard not to collapse under the weight of other people's opinions. Maybe someone's asking you to visit and you're anxious about the journey. They give you sermon and song about how absolutely perfect their baby was in the car. They make you feel lazy or fussy or horror of horrors boring for not relenting. You may be all those things but guess what, that's you're perogative because you are her mother. 

This advice might seem a little woolly but it's really important you get your head round it and embrace it. Practice for a week or so. She will eat this banana because I'm her mother. She will wear these socks because I am her mother and then when someone asks you to do something and you really don't want it to happen you say, 'that's nice but no thank you,' (no excuse, no justification) and in your head remind yourself, because I am her mother.

Perhaps I'm wrong and you are genuinely worried that stepping out of her routine will lead your little one to a life of crime and misery. One day she will heave with heavy sobs as she recounts the journey to grandmas to her therapist. I can assure you this will not happen. Go, drive away, have fun! Children are hardy little things and they can survive a shake up to their rountine; the question is can you? If you have a slick routine, a major shift can result in up to a week of readjustment. Babies don't like getting used to new things and they have limited ways to express this. All of those ways involve causing mental anguish to their mothers. When I find myself in an emotional battle between something I think I should do and a disruption to my family routine I ask myself, is this worth a week of pain? Of course it's not always a week but it's best to be on the safe side. More often the not the answer is no and people, even *gasp* child free people, totally get that. I have turned things down by saying, 'I'm sorry, doing that will just result in a week of pain,' and with the exception of my mother, everyone totally understands. 

For ten brilliant tips on taking babies on long car journeys check out this fab post from Baby Routes.


Super Busy Mum

Moderate Mum Guide to Year One: An Introduction




Yes Ma'am we're getting some sructure up in here! I feel I owe it to those of you that are still in the thick of year one to send the message that you can get organised and have some structure to your life again. 

I admit that before I started my family I wondered how much of a challenge it could be. I see kids racing around with their little snot filled faces every day. If everyone's still doing it, how hard is it? Well apparently really... bloody... hard. As a family support worker I had the priviledge of witnessing parents in the most challenging circumstances not only survive but thrive, so I know everyone can find the joy in amongst the mess of motherhood but sometimes you have to really look for it! 

Even though I did a lot of reading and a lot of talking before I had a baby, there was still so much I was unprepared for. For example the burning aftermath of labour and the emotional stuff like being terrified I would drop him or crush him or lose him. Don't worry there were amazing times too, like feeling the most beautiful I've ever felt the day after giving birth (although that might have been the drugs).

So over the coming weeks we're gonna talk about:

Sleep
Getting up the duff
The definitive guide to maternity dressing 
Frank advice for sperm stealers
Your vagina 
Eating for one and 1/25th 
How to fall back in love with your spouse 
Did I say sleep? 

And if you've been there, done that, got the stained T shirt, I'd love you to wade in and let us know how you found it - piles and all. 

When will my baby sleep through the night? - Ella





I love this question because it's not really a question, it's a plea. A silent prayer sent up by millions of parents across the globe. I've asked it many times myself. I remember saying to my husband, in complete earnestness, 'If he just slept through the night, I could survive'. So let me start by saying, you're not alone. I know you feel alone at 3am with only 'Insanity' infomercials for company but we're here for you. You need to know that because what I say next might not be what you want to hear right now. 

My friend recently asked me, her beautiful, inquisitive baby wriggling in her ams, 'When she's on solids she'll sleep right?' I made a noncommital noise and avoided eye contact because the truth is she could liquidise an eight course taster menu and be woken up all night. You want me to say he will sleep at twelve weeks or at four months (the magical four months) or at six months, definitely six months! This was my mantra. I practically counted the days, convinced that on the eve of his half anniversary he would drift into a peaceful eight hour slumber. Spoiler: He did not.

Imagine I had a crystal ball. I did once work as a psychic so I'm qualified. I look into your future and I have the answer to your question and here it is: Never. Yes, I'm afraid you have one of the few babies in the UK that will never let you have uninterrupted sleep. Ever. You will be up with him every night until he takes his last GCSE exam. If I told you that, and you believed it to be true, what would you do? 

Okay, you'd cry silently for a few minutes but after that you'd get a plan together, you'd have to. You'd give up ironing and nap every day. You'd dedicate Saturdays to resting. You'd forget about cooking and buy ready meals. You'd meditate. You'd stop staying up drinking gin. You'd go to bed at 6pm. You'd ask a friend to help. You'd pay a friend to help. You'd stop putting ridiculous expectations on yourself. So do that stuff now.


Look after yourself, don't wait for your baby to look after you. He's trying to figure the world out; he can't take on your problems! Do this and one day sooner than you think, you'll be awake all night listening to his little snores and wondering what to do with yourself. 

And wanna hear something crazy? I miss those late night calls. When it was just him and me and no one else would do. At 3am you're not a broken women, you're not even a mummy - you're a superhero! So even now on the occasional night that he doesn't make it through, I love that I get to run in, stroke his damp little face and think, yeah, still got it.