Should I do Attachment Parenting? - Nichola

You know there was once a study in which a women's clothes shop replaced all their labels so that each item had a tag stating it was two sizes smaller than it actually was. What resulted was 87% of shoppers believed they had lost weight rather than questioning the size of the clothes. Fascinating huh? Also I made that up but I'm willing to bet that if such an experiment had occurred anywhere other than in my imagination, those would be the results because people are just far too attached to labels. 

I don't think there are any styles of parenting really, there are just parents getting through it  - any way they can. The impression is sometimes given that parenting styles are laid out like some kind of fruit platter and you should just pick whichever takes your fancy. This is preposterous. When you're a parent you simply play to your strengths, the result of which is you relate to your child in your own unique way. If you value control this may make you more authoritarian; if you're fairly easy going you might be more free range. Of course we're all different it's just society feels the need to separate people like they're M&Ms in a rock band's rider.  It's not that we can't learn from observing child rearing habits, it's just unnecessary to make the way you feed your child your whole identity. 

Attachment Parenting aims to promote the attachment of mother and child through immediate responsiveness and continuous bodily closeness. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, please do give it a go. Studies have shown (real ones) that children raised in this way have increased confidence but to be honest, as I've explained before, I have beef with such research. In this case to be an attachment parent you need to have time to carry your kid round all day; if you have time to carry your kid round all day it's unlikely you can let a pesky thing such as work get in the way; if you don't have to work you probably have someone to support you and your child financially; if your partner can support you and your child they probably have a good career and if they have a good career they probably had a stable upbringing and a smattering of good opportunities and it's likely the case that your youngster will too. If your child is confident could a factor be the the relative privilege of his or her home life and not three years in a sling? 

I'm not saying it's bad, in fact I think it sounds wonderful, I'm just saying it's no magic feather. As parents we want to believe things are right because we're desperate to have all the answers and when we think we have the answers we can bury our insecurities under a great big pile of smug. This is the terrible truth - there are no answers; you could raise your child with textbook precision and they might still end up as a contestant on The Bachelor. Don't read that and disregard parenting styles and theories - examine them all and choose what works for you; if we can recognise the fluidity of sexuality, why not parenting? I myself am a pseudo-crunchy, semi-permissive with Tiger Mother tendencies and proud. 

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Mission Acceptance - Accept that you can move more

I don't do running - I don't run for the bus, I won't run for my life and so I'm certainly not about to run for pleasure, When I see them - the proper runners - all Day-Glo spandex and sinewy biceps, I study their faces for signs of the emotional instability that must lie within. My main issue with exercise is that it's quite hard to do when drunk and yet without alcohol, it's just incredibly boring, so most of the time I don't bother doing it at all. My relationship with exercise could be described, at best, as sporadic; realistically its presence in my life is in direct correlation to the proximity of my presentation in a bikini. Unfortunately over the last few years a curious thing has happened, I think it is commonly known as metabolism, or more accurately lack thereof. Whereas previously I could eat a triple cheese pizza with all the extras and dance it off in one fun fuelled night at the Zanzibar, I now only had to look at at a digestive biscuit and add an extra inch to pinch. More importantly it seems to be getting harder and harder to make it to the peak of the hill on which my house stands - unless there's some Sussex based terrain altering conspiracy happening, this is a problem. I have understood for a long time that I need to make working out part of my regular programming and not a Christmas special and this week I felt it was time to stop my excuses and accept that I just have to move more.   

Given my tenuous relationship with exercise I decided to consult a professional - Jason Issacs is a Hove based personal trainer and he is definitely of the no pain, no gain school of coaching. Before setting me up with a quick routine he asked me what exercise I currently do. I told him I like yoga and he gave me a look that made it clear that he knew that yoga was basically just lying on the floor. 'It's fine,' he told me, 'you don't have to like it, you just have to do it.' He introduced me to HIIT training - performing a series of exericises, without resting, until you feel like your heart is going to leap out of your chest and beg for mercy. He explained that the beauty of this was with as little as four minutes a day you could boost your metabolism. I had four minutes a day. Didn't I...

My aim was to get up early and do ten or twenty minutes before waking Roscoe. He put paid to this by waking up unreasonably early in the morning (You people that get up before your children wake, to like do stuff, you sedate them right? You can tell me - this is a safe space) I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by walking into town to do our errands. I swear the moment I left the house the bus arrived and that never happens, it would have been ungrateful not to take it. The next couple of days seemed to be repeats of the one before. I couldn't work out a reason for my lack of motivation, if anything I wanted something positive to write about in this post, wasn't that enough? 

I had a think about why I couldn't find the fire within me to do just a few burpees and it occurred to me, I didn't really have a concrete goal. You see part of this acceptance malarkey is that I have started to feel differently about my body - what I once saw as thick, I now saw as strong and what I once felt was flabby, had become feminine. My exercise goals were always body related and with increased kindness towards my form, my desire to sweat was shrinking. 

The next day I decided to make no excuses, I even wrote it on my hand in biro and eventually (mid afternoon mind) I went hell for leather at a full 40 minute workout and sure I felt a little bit sick but I also very, very smug. And then my son came down with chicken pox and I didn't want to do anything but entertain and snuggle him but it did make me realise that he was more than enough to make me want to be healthy and fit. So I ended the week wondering why did everything have to be all or nothing with me and if I need a goal to exercise, why couldn't I be enough?


Cuddle Fairy

Mummy Fever - Share With Me
Run Jump Scrap!

Where did you get your shoes? - Donna

I'm so glad you asked this question! Do you want me to tell you why? I don't know why I even asked that, I didn't start a blog not to spew my opinions all over the internet. Anyway the reason I'm glad you asked is because this is my favourite new mum friend, initial approach question. This seemingly simple statement covers so many bases. It says: 

- I've noticed you
- I like your style
- We have similar tastes so we have something in common 

Also people like helping each other so directing someone to their dream pair of shoes is a simple way to start a new relationship on a positive note. Another advantage to this question is that as a mother I don't really have time to browse for shoes so even if I don't make a new friend I know exactly where to go for my next purchase. 

Back to the shoes. These beauties are Salt-Water Sandals. I say beauties but they are a very marmite shoe. Many people think they look a bit too orthopedic but that's kinda what I like about them. In my opinion they have a sort of ugly but cute pug like quality and I think they can help balance out a flirty little summer dress. 

These shoes are a bit of a mum staple but I wouldn't let that hold you back, I quite like spotting a fellow member of the Salt-Water crew, it's a bit like when people with Mini's honk at each other. The shoes come in a plethora of colours so you can express yourself by choosing one of the more shocking hues. I should also add that they are more comfortable than slippers and since you can get them wet (they were originally made as beach shoes) you literally never have to take them off.*

So back to your actual question, I got my shoes at Nola Boutique in Brighton. This store gets their Salt-Water stock in early April and is always sold out before May, so that doesn't really help you much. Don't worry though we all know the best place to shop is from your sofa, so look for your new shoes online at Toast, Office and The Original Salt-Water Sandal**. And the very best thing about Salt-Water sandals they come in kids sizes so you and your tot can have a matching pair - come on, you know you want to...

* You should probably take them off to go to bed
** This was a genuine question about shoes I actually own and any gushiness is the outcome of a genuinely magical shoe experience. This post is in no way associated with the product in question. That being said if Salt-Water want to send me anything retrospectively, you know where I am...

Mission Acceptance - Accept the lows

Let me tell you, I'm all about a bit of self help. I don't mean I'm light fingered (except for this one time in Sainsburys but I totally thought I'd scanned that Twix at the self serve) no I mean I travel the road less travelled, I can heal my life and I have my very own happiness project on the go. If I know anything about self help it's that you must think positive things, every day, all of the time - preferably whilst looking in a mirror. The problem is that sometimes there doesn't feel like there's anything positive to think about; sure every day is a brand new day but sometimes I don't even have the emotional energy for that. Mission acceptance is not about pretending everything is peachy all the time, it's about accepting everything - the highs and the lows. So this week the plan was to spend some time every evening ruminating on everything crappy. 

The first night was easy, I had had a meeting with my son's nursery about his development and whilst the meeting itself was positive, like any parent I experience motherhood as a deep well of anxiety. It was a sad process but it also felt honest and authentic and it was actually sort of calming to face my fears about my son's future. That night I fell into a deep, uninterrupted sleep.

The next evening I was kind of looking forward to my pity party. I really let loose on everything and everyone that I felt was letting me down in that moment. It didn't feel as cathartic as the night before in fact the deeper I dug the more I found; it was like popping a zit, it feels good at first but then it's just a bit gross and wrong and you're always left with the feeling that there's a little something left behind. 

It is a truth that the more you practise something the better you get at it and the next day I was quickly able to access the dark recesses of my mind. I found myself focusing on my career and the desperate reality of being a present mother and achieving my dreams. I had this acceptance thing covered and I had accepted that everything was hopeless. 

The next day at work it seemed I had carried my moody musings into the office - usually I'm a positive presence, always up for a bit of banter and head cheerleader for teamwork. As a support worker it feels indecent to bring your problems to work but still I shuffled in cloaked in my cloud of gloom. I set about a project that had been assigned to me, having never done it before I felt little confidence I could do it well. I asked one of my seniors if she could go over it for me. She reassured me that I could do it and reminded me that it was my responsibility, 'I wouldn't have given it to you if I didn't believe you could do it.' I snapped back that as she had seniority it was ultimately her responsibility, 'That's not the point,' she reminded me, 'I want to help you develop and we have to work together.' I told her that ultimately if I didn't do it, she would have no choice but to get it done, 'Yes,' she said calmly, 'but that would be really sh*tty'. And then I started to cry. I explained that I had a lot on my mind and I apologised for bringing it to work. She gave me a hug and got me some much needed cake. Just thinking negatively had turned me into a negative person - maybe there was something to this self help stuff. 

Determined to complete my mission I went back to my bedtime brooding but I realised that enough was enough, I wasn't willing to leave it there. When I found myself in a 'what's the point' black hole I sat with it for a while and then I got myself a pen. Dark thoughts in isolation are just dark thoughts, dark thoughts followed by action is a plan. I drew up a mind map of the steps I could take to create change, it really helped to put my skittish brain to rest - fear ceases to be fear when you face it. Then the next day I actually put some of the plan to work and productivity feels great, no matter how it originates. 

I did the same the next day and it was pretty awesome - thinking negatively when you know you're going to follow up with solutions, ends up feeling like thinking positively - it's like some crazy emotions algebra. Despite this happy revelation, I'm glad the dog days are over - being glum just doesn't suit me. I found that there is some good in owning up and accepting life's little messes but from now on I'll only do it once a month. 

Where do you keep your dark thoughts?

Rhyming with Wine

How do I get tofu into her? - Caroline

We're a vegetarian family but my daughter refuses to eat tofu. What can I do? - Caroline 


When I was a kid, I hated meat. I referred to anything animal based as meat, there was no distinction between beef or rabbit; lamb or bacon - everything was just meat. The word seemed fitting to me - heavy, harsh and just a little bit sinister. In another family, at another time, it would have been quickly established that I was a vegetarian and I would have become acquainted with Linda McCartney and lead a happy meat free life. Perhaps this would have given me more of an empathetic stance towards my cousins of the animal kingdom, for although when I encounter a spider I have trained myself to scoop it up and deposit it safely in the garden, in my head I'm screaming, KILL IT! KILL IT NOW! IT MEANS YOU HARM!

I recently met a man who is colourblind. He very kindly and very patiently, given that it was probably the 9,608th time in his life he had done it, explained to me what the experience is like. He really, really tried and so did I but despite our mutual efforts my neurons could not grasp the slippery concept. I imagine that this is what it would have felt like for my mother if I had tried to explain to her that I didn't want to eat meat. Little girls in Caribbean families eat meat and that was the end of the story. 

So how did my mother turn me from a meat fearing child to the slow roastin, salami slammin' woman you see before you today - through stealth, persistence and not very thinly veiled threats. 

STEALTH - The wonderful thing about tofu is is soaks up the flavours around it, so start a project to stick the stuff into as many combinations as you can. If there are saucy based foods that your daughter really likes such as baked beans put the tofu in that. Makes sure you prepare two portions of the meal - one with and one without the tofu - there is nothing more disappointing than watching your lovingly prepared supper be deposited on the cat and having nothing else to serve.

PERSISTENCE - The definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, except when it comes to feeding toddlers. Just keep that bad boy on the menu until one of you admits defeat. Toddlers eat very instinctively, unlike grown ups who eat based more on habit than hunger - it just might not be the right time. Also try different shapes and sizes every time you serve it, we all eat with our eyes and you never know when a particular presentation will tickle her fancy. I have a friend, a very wise and accomplished woman - she is in fact the most rational person I know - who INSISTS that penne pasta is disgusting and yet eats all the other shapes. 

THREATS - Threatening children is a very 80's thing, these days we prefer a bit more carrot than stick. Think of how your own palate developed. Did you always love the taste of olives or wine? Perhaps not but you grew to like it because you wanted to seem grown up or because you were motivated to get very, very drunk. There's nothing wrong with casually suggesting that a mouthful of tofu might result in the procurement of a biscuit. All's fair in love and lunchtimes. 

That being said after all her efforts to convince me of the delights of meat, my mother became a vegetarian when I was in my teens and hasn't touched the stuff in over twenty years. I learned from this that the things you think are important today are very unlikely to concern you tomorrow. It might be a point of frustration but she will be fine if she never comes round to tofu and it will just provide you with an opportunity for some creative mothering. Did you know quinoa is a complete protein? It can be added to loads of meals as an alternative to rice or other grains. And if she doesn't like quinoa, well who can blame her. 

Want more on feeding toddlers? Check out this post.
Please help Caroline and share your tips for feeding kids. 

Admissions Of A Working Mother
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