Misson Acceptance - Accept you have an inner mean girl

I believed that this week's mission was about my flaws. Having indulged in the very enriching practice of gratitude last week, I wanted to recognise that along with the great things I had going on, I had some not so great things going down, most of which were brought on by myself. My challenge was to ditch my inner mean girl or as I put it in my Mission Acceptance newsletter, I was ditchin the b*tchin. 

I don't think that being mean and a bit gossipy is so bad a crime - everybody b*tches (wonder if REM considered this one) but I was concerned that being a bit snarky might slip from something I did to something I was, whilst my mission is about acceptance that sometimes means accepting what has to go! 

In the past I know I was too invested in being a bit mean; I'd go as far as to say it was part of my identity. I was actually in a group of girls at sixth form that went by the (completely self appointed) name of 'The Council of B*tch' (COB for short). I think it may have been a teenage attempt at some sort of Madonna style reclaim of the word but to be honest we were just girls with parents or imaginations too boundaried to create any gossip of our own. 

It took me a long time to learn that karma is a bigger b*tch than I am and those who talk get talked about. Also I came to understand that I was taking away from others in an attempt to fill something missing in me but all that resulted in was two empty holes. I can't say I made a conscious decision to give it up but I did move towards a healthier way of communicating. I am still uncomfortable with some of the things I have said about people in the past. Not that these are the only regretful things I have said but with other stuff there is some ramshackle pride in the fact that, in the words of every reality TV star that ever lived, at least I said it to their face. I can never undo the things I've said in the past, I consider them the acne scars of my personality, but I can do the work to try and make sure the zits don't return and that's how my no b*tching week came about. 

Being at home with a non verbal child helped considerably and whilst some might say this was cheating I patted myself on the back vigorously for being nothing but kind and generous about others for the first day or two. Then I went out for an evening with a friend and I (obvs) had a bit to drink and the conversation sort of shuffled over to a mutual acquaintance whom we both, for reasons of questionable validity, share a slightly sick strain of schadenfreude about. I caught myself being pulled into a familiar, pretending not to be mean but basically being mean, discourse. I thought about stopping but then I just thought - I'm tired, and I gave in. It happened again a few nights later. I was out with my husband and I wanted to make him laugh but I couldn't be bothered to find something creative to say, so I said something cheap and mean, which made him giggle but made me feel a bit grubby. 

So then I realised, I wasn't really unkind. I didn't need to say mean things, I didn't even like it. It was just a quick fix like dry shampoo or ready meals, a lazy way to get to my destination. I finished the remainder of the week with a fresh conviction. At work, I refused to allow myself to be drawn into any negativity (and believe me there was plenty) and I had some really interesting and valuable conversations. I felt so much more connected with my colleagues than if I'd indulged in pettiness. It's much easier to trust someone that doesn't act in a hurtful way and when I don't act like that, it's easier to trust myself. 

This week was fab, I now know that sometimes I'm mean for no other reason than meanness is easier. I know that joy is not necessarily a given and you can't afford to give away opportunities to experience it but much more that in next week's mission...

Cuddle Fairy

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Create Special Memories with Forever Memory Bears

A life without a teddy bear is a life half lived. My grandmother would take me to Allders every year, it's since gone out of business but at the time it was a fancy pants department store in Croydon. Each November they would bring out a luxury Christmas bear, something that would come in at whopping £40 or £50; by the time I reached my early teens, I started to have more bear than bed. 

My younger brother was a bit more loyal than me. He had a bear that had been handed down at some point and he took him with him EVERYWHERE. He (the bear, although also my brother I guess) was brown and I think he was called Mr Bear or something else original. My brother accidentally left him in coach station one year when we were on our way back from a holiday at Butlins in Skegness; to this day I feel a pang in my heart when I picture his face when he realised what we'd done. 

Bears are more than just play things, bears hold precious memories and some more than most. The little guy pictured is from Forever Memory Bears. They take your much loved baby clothes, uniforms or special pieces and turn them into a beautiful keepsake to be enjoyed for years to come. This bear was made from a collection of my son's newborn babygros, doing nothing but collecting dust under the bed. His arms remind me of silent night feeds; his nose reminds me of walks round the park and I hope in years to come he will help my son to create very special memories of his own. 

Each bear arrives beautifully packaged and with his or her own bear birth certificate. If you are quick, there is just one day left to receive an amazing £30 towards your own forever memory bear with the discount code MODERATE MUM (expires Feb 2016)

If you look after your memories, they'll look after you.

I received a complimentary bear from Forever Memory Bears but all views are my own.

Go outside and play with Trespass (Giveaway!)

Despite nearly thirty five years on the planet, I did it again. I let a couple of days of sunshine lull me into a false sense of security; I believed spring was coming. It wasn’t, it didn’t, it ain’t. Today I awoke to frost covering my garden – so pretty, so festive, so horribly cold and wet. Poor weather is a parental nightmare because entertaining children at home all day is quite the commitment, you might make it through a couple of hours with a DVD and a hastily planned craft project but after that it’s just clock watching and damage limitation ‘til bedtime.

Children need space, children need to burn off all that youthful energy and to breathe in fresh, sleep inducing air; to make this happen you have to go outside. Fear not, Trespass are here to help that happen without any concerns about the wonderfully unpredictable British climate. Trespass is one of the UK’s leading outdoor clothing companies and they can help keep your babies safe and warm for years and years to come. Today they’re generously offering a Dripdrop Babies Rain Suit (in sizes from 6-24 months) to one lucky reader. This suit provides all over defence from the rain and has taped seams to lock out water; elasticated cuffs and ankles stop wind getting in or warmth getting out and an elasticated side waist will help your little one to move freely. With this suit your child can run, jump, crawl and climb to their hearts content, whatever the weather.

For a chance to win please enter below. The giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 and over only. The final prize is dependent on the stock and sizing available once the winner has been drawn.

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Feeling Smug with Tuck n' Snug

The Tuck n Snug, looking gorge on my boys bed (soz about the lack of ironing). 

I don't often do reviews. This is because I don't want to write about something unless I really, truly, no word of a lie, need it in my life and also because my other half is allergic to stuff. He likes clean lines and Scandinavian minimalism - it's a constant battle for a hoarder like me. So when I tell you about a product you know I'm speaking from the heart. Bloggers often say 'X' company reached out to me and blah, blah, blah, freeness...Tuck n' Snug did not reach out to me, I stalked them like a mad stalky thing and luckily rather than applying for a restraining order they sent me set of their bedsheets to review.

I recently wrote about being forced to move my baby into a big boy toddler bed and whilst that's a very exciting rite of passage it comes (as I'm learning every life stage does) with it's own set of problems. I don't know if anyone's noticed but children love to wake up in the night. I guess that's not fair, everyone wakes up in the night; even I stir from time to time. The thing is when I wake up I have the completely normal reaction of feeling delighted that I don't have to get up and enjoy the awesome experience of going back to sleep. Children don't appreciate this, they want to play or have their head patted or have a snack or whatever. I don't have time to be running around pandering to my son's nocturnal needs because I need to dedicate at least seven hours to the hefty task of cell regeneration. Sadly my son didn't get the memo, he is super wriggly and has been since birth. He is so violent in bed he laid to rest any co sleeping dreams I may have toyed with and we put him in a cot from day one. A cot does not allow you to get to grips with the laws of gravity - If you kick off the duvet, the duvet will fall; fallen duvets lead to cold little feet and that means less sleep for mum.

tuck n' snug review bedding toddler kids single duvet toddler bed tucked in
Here's where Tuck n' Snug comes in; it looks like a common or garden duvet cover but say the magic words 'three day delivery' and before your eyes it appears as a superhero, mutant, duvet retaining machine. Here's the secret sauce - flaps. Yeah that's it. Each duvet and accompanying pillow has an extra piece of material sewn onto the edge and this can be pushed under the mattress to keep the duvet in place for an ultra secure nights sleep. More details can be found on their website. You may be thinking - it's just a flap! That's probably what they said to the dude who invented slice bread or the guy who decided to grate cheese and where would we be without those things?

tuck n snug review bedding toddler kids single duvet toddler bed tucked in

Tuck n' Snug was invented by a mum, Annabel Anderson, so she knew what was needed - something simple to use and easy to clean, that gets the job done. With credentials like these I wouldn't care if it was really ugly but it's so cute. Things for kids can often be a little garish, but these crisp white sheets with cute animal design are a kid and parent pleaser. I had no complaints from the little man, so Tuck n Snug is here to stay. Now if only I could find a solution for my YouTube addiction I could get a good nights sleep. 

Tuck n' Snug can be bought online and is available in toddler bed and single bed size.  

I received a complimentary duvet set from Tuck n' Snug but all views are my very own.

How parenting is like blogging (or any other job)

You need to be ready to accept JUDGEMENT.  It's strange how freely people comment on parenting they observe, apparently you can assess all my child's needs from his behaviour on a short journey on the number 2 bus. I like to re frame it that my son has thousands of anonymous non-custodial parents, how lucky is he! Judgement is a gift because there's always something to learn from it, even if what you learn is how to be gracious in the face of stupidity. 

You will grow through REFLECTION. There's a temptation to go into parenting with the goal of doing everything perfectly, your precious offspring deserves nothing less right? This is the thing, that's not gonna happen. Even if you are the perfect parent being perfect can be quite intimidating. Rather than being a perfectionist about your blog aim to reflect on your mistakes; you'll gain much more. 

Both blogs and children thrive when their parents are CREATIVE and OPEN MINDED. If something isn't working or you're getting negative feedback you need to be able to roll with the punches and pull the odd rabbit out of your hat. Keeping to a blogging schedule can be tough so you'll have to train yourself to be creative under pressure. Any parent who's tried to convince a child to eat vegetables knows a thing or two about creativity, if you'd like to give your creativity a kick check out my tips.

STAY TRUE TO YOU Ultimately, whatever the other parents or bloggers do, you have to stay true to yourself. If don't your readers will feel it and your children will smell it. Being authentic is sometimes easier said than done, so remember to check in with yourself daily and make sure you're being the best blogger you can be.

And finally, neither work without COMMITMENT; the quality of your efforts may vary across the weeks or months but if you remain dedicated, you'll overcome any obstacle. 

Its blogger month! Go back to the last post to win an instagram ready clothing item from blogger Baby Brain Memoirs 

Mission Acceptance - Accept that love is an action

I've not been on the ball recently because all week I've been dragging around this stinking cold. You know the one that invades your head and creeps into your bones and makes every task feel like an obstacle task. I was not quite sick enough to duck out of my responsibilities but boy did I want to. 

My mission this week was to accept that love has to be invested in, it's an active process and something I might have to consciously work on. I'm not saying that being loving gave me a cold but it didn't help. As with everything amazing it was far more complicated than it seemed and I learned that love can be a tricksy little thing...

IT MIGHT NOT LOOK LIKE YOU THINK IT LOOKS I was committed to showing my son how much I loved him and in my head I envisioned a week of snuggles but I quickly learned that my son's snuggle capacity is far less than mine. Love looked like playing with his train set for several hours and singing many, many verses of Row Your Boat and although I don't always love doing those things, I did them with love. Today I was surprised with a record breaking fifteen minute cuddle whilst we watched TV and I really don't think it was a coincidence. 

YOU CAN SHOW LOVE WHILST YOU FEEL ALL THE BAD STUFF Showing love to someone wonderful is not such a hardship but doing the same with someone that makes you feel sad or angry is much harder. At one point I was upset with my partner for committing some unspeakable spousal crime and I was so tempted to skulk off and ignore him and read magazines in the bath but doing that wouldn't have been loving, so I made him a cup of tea (tea making is my husband's love language) and we had a chat and although the actions weren't congruent with what I was feeling, my anger quickly gave way to affection and respect. 

SOMETIMES LOVE HURTS Sometimes the most loving thing to do feels the hardest. During the week I had to have a frank and quite frankly uncomfortable conversation with someone that has not making the best choices for themselves. It would have been easier to avoid the issue and in fact I had been happily doing that for months, but it wasn't loving. They actually took what I was saying with a large amount of grace and I think that's because I expressed my opinion with care and not judgement. 

LOVING YOURSELF INCREASES YOUR CAPACITY TO LOVE I guess I thought that being loving was all about being completely selfless but being a martyr is not about love it's about ego. If you don't look after yourself, the joy, care and capability you can offer others is diminished. I over committed myself trying to be loving, so I ended up frazzled and full of cold and in the end no one benefited. So tonight I'm having a long bath, consuming a large pizza and enjoying the company of a great friend. I'm confident that this will replenish my love stores and next week, I'll be ready to love again. 

What was your biggest love lesson? 

Treat Social Media like High School

I went to an all girls school and I would love to tell you that all the stereotypes about girls schools are heinous lies but that is not the case. It's all the there - the tsunami of hormones, the lechy form tutors and of course the bitchiness; I had a lovely time! And I learned so much, sadly not about mathematics but certainly about how to stay cool and connected in the most hostile of social environments. So here's what to do...

FIND YOUR TRIBE You're gonna wanna feel part of a gang. There's no point writing about lipstick and then hanging out with a load of real ale enthusiasts. Follow people on social media that share your interests and values and more importantly, talk to them. It's called social for a reason.

Top tips for finding your tribe: Join or start a Facebook group based around your specialism; set up a twitter list of people that you love; search through relevant hashtags daily.

REMEMBER WHAT YOU'RE THERE FOR Don't get too distracted by all the fun and gossip only to come away with a D in French. If your aim with social media is to promote yourself, get out there and do it! If it's to network, get schmoozing.

Top tips for staying focused: Have a schedule for the publishing of promotional tweets and posts; connect with one new person every week.

BE REAL Remember that kid at school who claimed their cousin was Prince but never seemed to be able to produce any evidence - everyone gave that kid a wide berth. Don't be that kid. Don't worry about not being interesting enough, there's someone for everyone. Your life, however mundane it might seem to you, will appeal to many.

Top tips for being real: Let people behind the scenes, being instaperfect can be hard work; ask your friends and family what your best attributes are so you know that you're sharing honestly.

STAND UP TO MEAN GIRLS Where you find people, you find bullies and sadly social media is no exception. Know that 98% of negativity comes from insecurity and that your best bet is to feel sympathy for the pain these people are obviously in and return to your tribe for support.

Top tips for standing up to mean girls: Don't be afraid to delete negative comments, it's your space; don't feed the trolls, it's fine to ignore anyone with spiteful intentions.

Please share your top tips for social media management! Go back one post for your chance to win a planner from The Blogger Planner

February is blogger month on The Moderate Mum! Come back on Sunday for another fab prize 

photo credit: Goodwood Revival 2013 via photopin (license)

Mission Acceptance - Accept Your Truth

Why do people ask, can I be honest? The implication is that you need permission to be honest, that the truth requires preparation. Yet if you ask most people they will claim the truth is what they're after and stats show that 92% of  people claim to be honest all of the time*; so we shouldn't have to worry, being up front is easy right? So why aren't we all doing it? 

This week's mission came about because last week I lied to myself about my desire to meditate and found out too late, life might be easier if I were more honest. Not that I'm a compulsive liar or anything but I've been known to stick a bit of concealor over the eyebags of life, in the form of a well placed falsehood. 

An example. I live in Brighton; it's a town that attracts a lot of tourists and tourists mean a lot of people stopping to ask for directions. I usually say I can't help and that's usually a lie. Not because I don't want to help but I'm rubbish at directions, I'm just about down with left vs right and I'm sure they'd end up more lost than before they started. It's not a big deal, slightly disappointing a nineteen year old boy from Barcelona, but if I'm willing to misrepresent myself to a stranger, what will I be compelled to do when dealing with someone I care about? 

Just being committed to being truthful made me start the week feeling hopeful. It was nice to know I would not have to compromise myself for a whole week, so I was surprised to be tripped up very quickly. I had an appointment for teeth whitening and just before my appointment I found a better offer in the discount section of the internet. I needed to cancel my appointment and anxiety curdled in my stomach. What would I say? I needed to give them an excuse. I'd need to say I was ill, maybe I was a bit ill? In the end I didn't have to say anything, the receptionist wiped my name from the appointment book with alarming dismissiveness. It gave me the confidence to carry on but I found myself feeling much more aware of what I was saying, speaking a lot less and thinking much more. 

Many, many times I had to tell my son he could not have yoghurt rather than my usual story that all the yoghurt in the world has been mysteriously consumed by a yoghurt fuelled alien nation. In response he became very angry! Why could he not have yoghurt! Here was the yoghurt and here was his mouth? His anger was all consuming - it consumed him, my sanity and several hours at a time. I hated making him feel bad it made me feel like a horrible person and I found that the fear of this - being seen as unkind or lacking was what caused me to want to lie most often. 

Not allowing myself to indulge in this fear had some surprising and very positive results. On a couple of occasions I was offered compliments and whilst my instinct was to be very British and downplay my achievement, it wouldn't have been honest of me to do so. If anyone noticed they didn't mention it and I realised the only person I'm kidding with this 'aw shucks' patter is myself. When my mother sent me a message to say she wanted to talk I told her that I only wanted to chat if it was something interesting (she has been known to update me on the offers on at Lidl). She laughed heartily at my honesty and did indeed have some juicy family gossip to tell me. On the final day of the experiment a lie slipped out. I told my husband I was going to the shops, when in fact I was getting my eyebrows threaded. When I admitted that I had lied he seemed genuinely confused and asked why I had done so. Forced to be honest I said, 'because I didn't want to look shallow.' My husband stood up and gave me a big hug and said, 

'You can be shallow if you want to.'

And that was it. Being honest meant never apologising for who I was and the experience really helped me. Nothing bad happened. No one unfriended me on Facebook. This honesty business had many perks, I just hadn't given it enough of a chance. So try it. For a week or even a day; it will change your life for the better - honestly. 

*I made that up.

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My Random Musings

PJ's you can take your kid to school in

I'm sure you've heard the recent debate about parents not getting dressed to take their children to school. Kate Chisolm, a primary school head teacher, asked parents escorting their children to school to dress 'appropriately in daywear suitable for weather conditions'. I feel no ill will towards this educator, if you're willing to take my little tyrant off my hands for the day I will dance to the beat of whatever drum you're playing. I have, however, been a bit taken aback by the level of judgement from other parents towards those that don a onesie for a school run. I thought it was readily accepted that parenting was a judgement free zone? My husband takes our son to school in a ratty tracksuit and then goes for a two mile run. What if the mother you're side eyeing has postnatal depression and getting her child to school was the only thing she could manage that day? What if, like me, that parent suffers from incurable laziness and this is just a step too far?

If you're offended by the demand of daywear you could always home educate your children where you would be free to wear pyjamas all day but if you're down for a bit of rebellion check out my top suggestions for nightwear you can wear all day.

1) HUSH As far as I'm concerned Hush make the ultimate in classy night wear. Their pieces are nicer than most of my actual clothes! Slip on some of their jersey trousers for that relaxed lady that lunches vibe.

2) NEXT Next have some amazing day time pyjamas, known amongst fashionistas as lounge wear. Some of their stuff is so cute, I think they'd also make excellent choices for staying comfy but cool on a long journey.

3) ASOS ASOS loungewear is regularly updated so you can get a new school run uniform every week! Their delivery service is so slick it makes it a pleasure to shop for your PJ's in your PJ's.

4) THE WHITE COMPANY Who doesn't love the white company? So chic, I sometimes just wander round the store hoping it will rub off on me. These pieces are a bit pricey so stick them on your next birthday wish list.

5) UGGS Let's just be honest, Uggs are slippers. Slip them on in the morning and you're good to go for the rest of the day.

I'd love to hear what you wear on the school run? Do you take it easy or pull out all the stops.

My Forever Memory Bear competition is now closed. The winner of this beautiful, unique keepsake is: 


 Forever Memory Bears take your most precious memories and turn them into a personalised bear. I think this bear would be a very special addition to any home and the amazing Forever Memory Bears are offering a fantastic £30 gift voucher towards purchase for all Moderate Mum readers. Just enter MODERATEMUM before checking out to claim (Expires in Feb 2016).

photo credit: Ugg? via photopin (license)
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25 Ways to Give Your Creativity a Kick

Some ghosts from Facebooks past

February is blogger month on The Moderate Mum. I'm showing some love to all the wonderful writers that have inspired me and hopefully giving back some bloggy love. I've noticed that quite a few people seem to be stuck in a blog rut after Christmas so I'm hoping this post will help to get those blog cogs turning. Creativity can help make any aspect of life shine that bit brighter, so if you don't have a blog these tips might help inspire a more productive workday, more playful parenting or a wonderful weekend adventure.

1. Stroke an animal
2. Take a bath or shower with a cleanser in a new scent
3. Cook without a plan using and use only what's in your cupboards
4. Phone an old friend
5. Write an email to someone you admire and if you're feeling brave send it.
6. Make a playlist of uplifting songs
7. Dance in your kitchen
8. Walk without a destination
9. Ask an older relative about their favourite memory
10. Ask a younger relative about their favourite memory
11. Ask someone you love for their favourite memory of you
12. Watch a film you loved in your childhood
13. Research a subject you've always been interested in
14. Go through your facebook photos from the very beginning
15. Clean out a cupboard
16. Go to a chemist and smell all the perfumes
17. Climb to the top of a big hill
18. Get on a bus going somewhere new
19. Make a vision board from a stack of old magazines
20. Go on hunt for an interesting pebble
21. Build something - a den, a paper plane, a chest of drawers
22. Offer someone help
23. Join a new class
24. Eat breakfast for dinner
25. Sing 

Please share your methods for sparking creativity. 

On Sunday I'm giving away a fabulous prize for any blogger or vlogger so head back over to win.

If you're looking for great blog prompts join Mission Acceptance for my weekly challenges.

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