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!

The day I understood shame

I didn't vote. I won't even disrespect you by dressing that up with a flowery, quirky intro. There is no intro flowery enough to mask the stench of those words. I did not vote. I don't even want to go into the reasons, evey reason sounds like the dog ate my voting slip. I will admit one thing - I mistook my Facebook feed for a cross section of society. I forgot that even when you pride yourself on being open to everyone and embracing diversity - like attracts like. 

I have always voted. I remember my first opportunity to do so as an idealistic university student, eager to help create change. I've let her down. I've read a lot of anger today, a lot of sadness and many others asking for less shaming, less blaming. I've seen and heard, we're all friends - let's not call each other out. I agree we should have respect for each other but we don't have to respect each others opinions. Please show your children that you are empassioned; that you believe in something, that you believe in yourself. Celebrate or commiserate with abandon, let them hear your truth, so that in time they might find their own. 

I don't have an opinion on today's results. I don't have a right to an opinion because I made myself voiceless. I have spent the last six months writing about accepting myself but I can't accept my inaction. For me this date will never be Independence Day or the day that Britain ceased to be Great, it will always be the day I truly understood shame. 

Post Comment Love

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

The Miseducation of Marco or This Is What They're Really Saying

It's Big Brother season again, the show where the general public watches strangers slowly descend into emotional instability. Once more a bevvy of young, beautiful people with hopes of winning the heady highs of a gossip magazine front cover are being analysed by the nation and this year two more than the others. For the joyfully uninitiated, let me enlighten you. Two of this year's contestants are Marco Pierre White Junior, son of Michelin starred chef Marco Pierre White and model Laura Carter, whose CV highlight seems to be a threesome with Justin Bieber. The two had instant and obvious sexual chemistry, and why would they not? She looks like Jessica Rabbit in human form and though he's a man child, mini Marco is hotter than a skillet on a stove. Within 48 hours Marco had sprinted past first, second and third base and the papers would have you believe he slid right into fourth. The nation was outraged and not just because we're a country of prudes but because Marco has himself a fiance in the 'outside world'. Marco explained away his antics by letting everyone know that his lady had given him a 'hall pass'. I feel a lot of sympathy for him, you see I knew that by hall pass his Mrs meant, 'I know you're going to be in a challenging situation and if you grow close to someone, I'm not going to let it ruin our relationship'; Marco interpreted hall pass as, 'SHOW ME THE P*SSY!' It was just a case of misinterpretation. So in an effort to support any other couples having frequent communication misunderstandings here's my guide (and let's face it, it's basically for dudes in relationships with us tricksy women) to what they say but what they really mean. 

WHAT THEY SAY: We're seeing each other.
WHAT THEY MEAN: I like you but not enough that I'm not open to some other bit of totty hitting on me in the Co-op. If that does happen I don't want to have to negotiate the arduous task of breaking up with you and if I say we're seeing each other I can just drop you a sayanora text. Of course I like you enough that the idea of you bumping uglies with anyone else doesn't appeal to me, so I know I better show a bit of commitment. 

WHAT THEY SAY: Whatever you want.
WHAT THEY MEAN: Whatever you want as long as it's clear that the thing you want is under no circumstances the thing you just said. 

WHAT THEY SAY: I'm not angry, I'm just a bit disappointed
WHAT THEY MEAN: I hate you with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns. If at this very second a pride of particularly peckish lions somehow found their way to our quiet suburban home and decided that you looked like a suitably satisfying snack - I would go make popcorn. 

WHAT THEY SAY: It doesn't really matter.
WHAT THEY MEAN: My life pretty much depends on it.

WHAT THEY SAY: I want to give you your space.
WHAT THEY MEAN: You have seventy five seconds to realise how frickin' awesome I am and you better spend it ordering me an 'I'm sorry I didn't realise how frickin' awesome you are' gift online. 

WHAT THEY SAY: Did you take the recycling out? 
WHAT THEY MEAN: I know full well you didn't take the recycling out. I could see it written all over your pathetic face the second I entered the room. There is no appropriate response to this question. The only acceptable action would be to unlock all the secrets to space and time; build a time machine; go back to the scant few hours ago when I reminded you to take out the recycling; write TAKE OUT THE RECYCLING on your head in permanent red marker and get the, frankly absurdly simple, task done. If that is not an option the best you can do is look ashamed. 

WHAT THEY SAY: I'm fine.
WHAT THEY MEAN: Come on now, you don't really need me for this one...

Mission Acceptance - Accept you have enough

Photo by ODaddyBee

I'm feeling pretty stressed at the moment. Actually I don't like the word stressed. The word stressed is overused and undervalued. That being said 'I want to shut out the world, preferably by sinking slowly into a vat of chocolate ice cream' is not very succinct. So for now I'm gonna run with stressed. When I'm feeling stressed a curious phenomenon occurs - brown boxes start appearing at my door. They come at all hours of the day and they are delivered by wordless strangers; some of them are big, some of them are small and most of the time I have no idea what I will find inside them. When I am stressed I shop and because I'm a parent I do my best shopping online. I don't just shop online because of motherhood, I do it because it feels so unreal. You see the perfect picture of the pretty thing that will absolutely transform your life from abject drudgery to glossy glamour with one click. You type some magic numbers into the friendly box and then two to five days later, well to be honest, who cares what happens. I'm not really in it for the results - most of the time the item, when in my possession, only reminds me of my lack of self control and makes me feel a little nauseous. So my mission for the week was to accept I have enough without more stuff. 

I'd done a big shop, had heat, light and water so I budgeted enough for travel, a pre planned night out and a twenty for emergencies. I found myself stumbling within the first hour of my mission. It is one of my habits to buy myself a coffee from the The Flour Pot after dropping Roscoe at nursery. I was at the door when I remembered I was not allowed my steaming treat and (ooh go on then) almond croissant. I went home and made an effort to make myself a coffee in my favourite mug. It tasted fine, I'm not a coffee snob - as long as it's got caffeine I'm happy but I didn't even finish it. Without the coffee shop ritual and disposable paper cup, it wasn't the same. 

The next day I planned some free fun in the sun and Roscoe and I went to the sandpit. There's a lovely little cafe attached and usually I have a coffee and treat Roscoe to a babyccino or mini milk whilst we play. It's not a condition that you purchase something and I've certainly spent enough there over the years to have earned a free hours play but I felt uncomfortable - why did I need to spend money to feel valid? 

I thought a change of scene and a mid week trip to grandma's might help. I also knew that grandma's house was full of love and sugar and I would not need to shop if I stayed there. It was only when waiting for the train I realised I had no food for Roscoe for the journey. Now I've been doing this mothering gig for a while now, I never leave the house without a bag full of bribes, sorry, rice cakes. Yet I had. Oopsie, I thought, I'll just have to go to Marks and Spencers and buy the lad some snacks. I had a wonderful time choosing him some fresh fruit. Had I actually created a situation to allow me to spend some pounds? That same evening was the night I had planned to see my friend Gemma. My twenty pound budget played on my mind all evening. Twenty pounds should be more than enough to facilitate a chin wag with one of my oldest pals but this was London. Of course Gemma started the evening by suggesting we share a bottle of wine and before I could say 'budget' she had procured a cold bottle of sauv blanc. Oh well, I thought sensibly, I just won't eat. Of course half way through the bottle my resolve dissolved. I wanted to eat but I only had enough for one meal, 'Do you want to share?' I suggested. Gemma thought it was a fab idea. A compromise! Perhaps this spending thing wasn't as black and white as I had thought. 

I had the next day to myself. I found I kept absentmindedly wandering into shops before realising I was not allowed to be there. I found myself feeling quite down. I do not believe I'm a shopaholic by any means but I realised that shopping had become my only hobby, my quick fix. In fact today one of my favourite bloggers Accidental Mum is running her linky #HobbyMums and I have absolutely nothing to share. I needed a plan, the week was not about wandering round in shopping detox, it was about realising I had many wonderful things in my life already. My friend had loaned me a book that he had promised me I would love. I made a plan to spend the afternoon reading it. I was so pleased with myself that, until the deed was done, I didn't even notice that I had gone into a shop and bought a bag of sweets to eat as I read it. How sad that I could not even enjoy the activity I had planned without propping it up with a purchase. 

The last couple of days of my mission I was in work. I had no problems not spending because I could distract myself with the tasks at hand and actually I was really productive. I whipped through a tonne of admin and even got stuck into some of the pesky little jobs I had filed in my 'when pigs fly' folder. When I was feeling capable and productive I didn't need the ring of tills to boost my mood. 

And so I understood my excess spending was not about not realising I have enough, it was about not realising I am enough. Nothing I can buy can make me whole, I've bought enough by now to know that. So going forward I'm going to look for some other ways to fill my self esteem tank, where possible things that involve my son. I will try and plan my spending so that it feels like a treat and not desperate act of salvation and if I can't afford something it won't be because I don't have enough, it will be because I am enough without it. 

Tell me about your relationship with shopping in the comments and if you liked this post you might like this

Want to know my mission in advance? Updates here

Accidental Hipster Mum

My Petit Canard

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

My Kid Doesnt Poop Rainbows

Mission Acceptance - Accept their gaze

Over the bank holiday I went to the How the Light Gets In festival. An extravaganza of philosophy, music and if me and my mate Natalie are involved - gin. It was a wonderful heart and eye opening experience that ended with an amazing workshop run by Suzy Greaves editor of Psychologies magazine. The workshop was on finding your inner confidence; we all came away with some great tips for destroying that little part of you that is always a bit scared. The following day I had a think about what that little part of me was actually scared of. I concluded that it was scared of failure and humiliation; exposure and ridicule. I realised that it was scared of other people. It got me to thinking about the fact that toddlers seem to have limitless inner confidence - they say what they want, pee where they like, they're open and happy without fear of judgement. And then we teach them that to think differently. Children don't care what other people think of them until they are told that they need to care and they need to care a great deal but I'm starting to believe that this is simply not true. So my mission this week was to do whatever I please, without considering the judgement of strangers; I wanted to walk through the world with no fear of ridicule. Those that know me may think that this mission was a little disingenuous because I am not exactly a wall flower, I'll dance on a table if I think it can hold me but if I'm honest (and I am) those acts of abandon are quite calculated, sometimes my actions are intended to encourage the gaze of others. This week was not about inviting attention but accepting it.

DANCE LIKE NO ONES WATCHING I had my first opportunity on the way back from the festival. The trains were delayed because of a butterfly sneezing in Nairobi or something so there were many potential passengers crammed into Victoria station like a herd of disgruntled sheep. I don't know if this is a particularly British thing but when waiting for something we have a tendancy to bunch up close to the destination, as if this will make the something happen faster. This tendancy meant that there was a huge empty stretch of shiny station that looked rather like a dance floor.


In the spirit of my mission I decided that it was a dance floor, so I walked right into the centre of the space, put my handbag down and started to dance. I created my own music by loudly singing the chorus of song 'Pump Up The Jam', a tune I felt lended itself to the acoustics. I was shocked by the fact that as I started I felt pure, unadulturated fear -  about to be mauled by a bear, fear. Thirty seconds went by and nothing happened. As I reached the minute mark I grew in confidence and added an adapted Saturday Night routine. By the end of four minutes I was well into the swing of things and only stopped with the announcement of my train. No one commented, a few people caught my eye and then quickly went back to the business of pretending I didn't exist; I went home full of disco dancing endorphins. 

I LEARNED: You can gain confidence with just a little bit of practice and you can do what you like in central London and no one will bat an eyelid. 

SING IN THE STREET Roscoe's going through a phase of hating his buggy but he's also going through a phase of hating walking, which often hampers our progress. With a house at the top of a very big hill and a grumpy toddler, desperate times called for desperate measures. With the full force of my mama lungs I sang The Grand Old Duke of York and it did the job - Roscoe was distracted and strapped into his pushchair and we were on our way. It actually made a miserable situation really fun and many people looked but I decided they were just looking at some really good mothering.

I LEARNED: A few minutes of shame is worth five minutes peace.

TALK TO STRANGERS I was on the train, settled and ready to engage in my usual train practice of reading Grazia and passing Roscoe a steady stream of raisins, when my attention was caught by the conversation between the two guys next to me. They were discussing gay marriage and whilst they weren't being openly derogatory there was an air of mockery in their chat.

'Is your church against it?' said one to the other. Generally I would have ignored them, stayed in my public transport bubble but I abhor discrimination, I have volunteered for Stonewall and I was on a mission. 

'Do you not believe in gay marriage,' I said.
'I used to be gay,' said the guy next to me, 'but then I found the church and now I'm straight.' MIC DROP. I told him that coming out, even in this day and age, is not an easy task,
'If you were gay you did not do that for sh*t and giggles. You did that because you enjoy having sex with men.'
'People can change their sexuality,' said the man.
'Yes,' I said, 'but you probably did not. Please tell me you don't have a girlfriend.'
'I'm looking,' he said sheepishly.
'If not sleeping with men makes you happy please don't,' I said, 'but don't pull a woman into it. Promise until you meet someone you really truly love and are attracted to you won't start a relationship with a woman.' He promised.

I LEARNED: Everyone has their story and if you're willing to accept their reaction you might just help to shape it.

ACT LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE My boy is a special little chap, he doesn't really appreciate the usual toddler destinations - the library, the park are okay but his favourite places are everyhere he's not supposed to go. Any area wholly unsuitable for children is where he wants to be. I spend 72% of my life steering him away from potential hazards and then bribing him with rice cakes to keep him away. Today I decided to let him be because much of the time it isn't about him but me. I worry about where he chooses to explore because it makes me uncomfortable. Walking to Sainburys Roscoe decided that he wanted to check out My Hotel a classy little hotel and bar in town. It's the sort of place where you have to work for a week to buy a cocktail and definitely somewhere that makes this girl feel a little intimidated, especially when wearing tracksuit bottoms and designer eye bags. Roscoe trundled into the bar and had a good old look around before discovering a fish tank and pressing his little nose against the polished glass. I stood back, unapologetically waiting for him to be done. The staff looked at us curiously but not unkindly and no one dragged me out by my ear, as I had feared. 

I LEARNED: You can get away with a lot if you act like you belong.

PLAY AWAY Roscoe attends a nursery opposite a beautiful Victorian park. When I drop him off I walk home through it. On this morning I paused next to the playground. The zip wire  was tantaslisingly child free. All I wanted to do was climb up there and feel the wind in my 'fro and so I did. Then I went on the swings, I pumped my legs and closed my eyes and in the silent of the morning, it felt like I was flying. Why hadn't I done this before, why didn't I do it every morning?   

I LEARNED: How silly it is that I worry about people's gaze even when no one's there. Okay there was a couple of dog walkers but if I'm honest their eyes said, I wish that was me.

WEAR IT WELL I love fashion. ASOS is my spiritual home but you know what my favourite thing to wear is? My pyjamas. So I decided that for one day I would wear my favourite outfit all day. I washed and put on my make up and then stepped out the door in my lovely comfies. I'm not talking super chic fashion pyjamas, I mean faded, grungy sleepwear. To be honest it felt no different to when I strutt my stuff in heels and a dress and if I anyone noticed, I didn't notice; perhaps what they've been saying is true and confidence comes from the inside.

I LEARNED: The more practiced you become at not caring what people think the easier it is. And PJs are really comfortable

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
photo credit: Picky via photopin (license)