Mummy’s In A Half State.

‘Quality Time’. The ultimate phrase that basically kicked off the era of parent guilt.

My kids are now 9 and 3. While most parents seem to lament every year, month, week that passes I would place myself firmly at the other end of the scale. I relish every week, month, and year that passes. If that sounds callous, hear me out.

Kids Rock

Kids are awesome! Unless you spend a significant amount of your time around children (which I’m sure most of us here do, actually) it would be difficult to accurately describe how astoundingly amazing the little beastlings are.

They learn at a rate of knots, and all at once. While us dinosaur adults need to focus on one skill at a time, children are constantly learning. They draw upon every tiny experience and they’re always looking for more.

Let me pause here to make it clear that I am not talking about school. My 9 year old who has been a proficient reader for years now when faced with a change of teacher exclaimed ‘What if the new teacher doesn’t give us as much reading time?!’ also is the person who reads the least out of us all at home. Including my 3 year old. But even though she chooses not to read at home yet confesses to love it at school she is still constantly learning and changing. Not all learning comes from books.

…my 9 year old showed me this amazing video about climate change last week.

Anyway, I digress, my point is that my kids really astound me. Watching them learn and grow is genuinely incredible. My 3 year old can tell you the name of almost every dinosaur just because he’s really interested in dinosaurs and my 9 year old showed me this amazing video about climate change last week. Her world view is changing and her thoughts are beginning to reach more outside of herself. Whilst my 9 year old considers how big the world is and her possible place within it, my 3 year old is practising gross motor skills. He likes playing football and catch. Most recently, he’s really into sorting and measuring. He sorts his cars into colour groups and tips things from one container to another to see what happens, completely independently. We saw a stick insect today and he asked if he could touch it. I mean, he had no clue if it would bite, jump, or sting, he just decided ‘I wanna know what that thing feels like’. I love it.

Babies are cute and all but…

I must confess to feeling a bit confused when people say they miss their babies. Especially when they’re still only little kids. I mean, I can imagine wanting to jump back a few years when you’re dealing with teenagers! I think I’m a bit peculiar in this way and I don’t mean they shouldn’t say it at all, in fact I think it’s really sweet but when I remember my kids as babies I feel like I had that time and it was good at the time, you know?

Another indisputable plus is that the bigger they get the more freedom I have. Breastfeeding has stopped and I’m no longer the only person in the whole world who can put my son to bed. I can explain to him that I’m going out and I will be back for bedtime, or Daddy will put him to bed that night and he understands that.

I can arrange an evening coffee with a friend. I can do a ten week evening course. I can go for a weekend breakfast date with another friend. I can take a ten minute shower in the day while he plays with his toys. I even went to Venice for two nights. And I bloody loved it.

I Am Home

“I am home, I am the maypole around which all the ribbons are strung.”

BUT. What is this post about – Mummy’s in a half state? I am still the main carer. Numero Uno. I’m a stay at home mum while my husband works full time. It’s the way we’ve always done things since we had our first baby all those 9 years ago. That is pretty amazing in A LOT of ways (see above) but it also means that I’m the fall guy. As in, I am base, I am home, I am the maypole around which all the ribbons are strung. I am unmovable, reliable, constant. The top end of my allocated range is a two night city break.

Let me just intercept this bit here by saying…I really wouldn’t like to have it any other way. My kids are my life and fuck anyone who says they shouldn’t be.

I’m Not All There

I’ve realised that a lot of the time I’m with the kids I’m in a half state. Half reading a story, half folding laundry. Half washing dishes, half dancing in the kitchen. Half making a meal, half playing cars. I’m hardly ever all there. My attention is not all theirs. When Daddy is home that’s the only time there is a possibility I’ll get a break from 24/7 mum-ing. I might go upstairs to write or have a bath or meet a friend for a coffee.

If it’s been a trying week I might bury my face in my phone rather than get us out to the park (and then feel guilty about it). Or if I’ve had a titful of laundry and making meals and all the other stuff I might say to myself ‘right, now I’m going to sit down and have a break and go on Instagram’ whereas my 3 year old is thinking ‘Mum I’ve been entertaining myself all this time you’ve been faffing about and now I need some attention’.

We have the best time when we’re out of the house together and I’m free from the distraction of menial house labour. Even though feeling the pressure to wash up or get tea ready when we get back is inevitable.

Quality Time

We always have great fun in the summer holidays and I think that’s why, because we get out a lot and go on days out together. Marvelling at the beetles and running down inclines, feeding goats, touching stick insects and going on bumpy tractor rides.

Maybe that’s partly why I love holidays so much as well, because we’re all together and we’re all present in the moment. Or as the ‘parenting experts’ from 2006 might tell you, spending quality time.

So yeah, sorry kids you’ve been speaking to a half me all this time, I promise I meant to give you my all.

P.S. Am I the only one who reads this title as ‘Mummy’s in a half state – turtle power!’??

Finding Reliable Childcare

#Ad

*This is a collaborative post and was sponsored by childcare. co. uk*


There are many things that connect us as mums, however, I have found that there are two universal issues that we all face. One of them is time, or perhaps the lack thereof. Whether we are working full time, part time or stay at home, we are all short on time. The world and it’s husband is constantly vying for our time and attention. The second thing is the absolutely gut wrenching decisions we have to make when it comes to finding childcare. 

Returning To Work

I vividly remember the conversation with my mum friends about the much dreaded return to work. We were sat around my friend’s kitchen table one evening having a mum’s night off and catching up. We were a close knit group, we met at our NCT ante natal classes. Our babies were all coming up to the 9 month old mark and all of us were navigating the return to work. One of my friends was anxious but also excited to return to her role, another was pleased to return to full pay and not have to worry so much about the household budget, while I was outright terrified at the prospect altogether. However we were all feeling, all of us had the same concern as first time mums and that was, how do we find the right childcare? 

That evening with my friends seems like so long ago now, and at that time most of us went on word of mouth recommendations. All of our circumstances were different. Two of the group worked full time but in different cities, one worked part time, one was heading into self employment after leaving her corporate job and I ended up taking voluntary redundancy and becoming a stay at home mum. All of our families had very differing needs when it came to childcare and support.

Local Childcare

If we were having that conversation today, one of us could have recommended childcare.co.uk It’s an online social networking platform where you can search for all sorts of childcare providers who are local to you. It’s easy to use and creating an account is free. I have been looking for some wraparound care for some afternoons after nursery but I was also stoked to find you can find a doula on there too. Actually, I’d say they have every type of childcare covered and they also list childcare jobs too. 

Research

Each provider has a profile page where they can describe themselves and their service and list their fees and current availability. I have been looking for childminders who can do a pick up from nursery and lots of my local childminders have written on their profile if that is something they provide and which schools they currently do pick ups at. 

Safety

My favourite feature so far is the reviews. At the bottom of each profile there is a space for other parents to leave a review. This is a great way to get a feel for what other parents thought about the person or nursery. 

Our number one priority as parents is our children’s safety, and when finding childcare we want to be certain that our babies are safe and being cared for. We also want to know they are having fun and are happy! There are things we can do to vet the person or provider. We can check their DBS certificate and other qualifications such as childcare and paediatric first aid. We can arrange to meet them to see their care environment. There is a FAQ and safety section on the the childcare.co.uk website to help with this including posts like ‘avoiding scams’ and ‘choosing a nursery’.

Parenting Tools

You may have seen Childcare.co.uk on T.V. adverts. I have found it really useful as a one stop site which has collated all those word of mouth recommendations in one place. It’s great for us as parents and carers to be confident about finding the right childcare provider. I was glad to find it also has 5 stars on external review site Trust Pilot. The website is so quick to use and it’s a fantastic tool for parents and families. 


5 Things Nobody Told You About Having Your Second Child

Having children is a wonderful experience no doubt about it, but when it comes to our parenting we all have doubts and fears that crop up from time to time. Having just got through all the ‘when are you having another one?’ comments from friends, family, and strangers in shops, let me give you the inside scoop on the stuff nobody talks about openly…

1. When you’re pregnant at some point you will cry that nobody will love your eldest anymore.

They will and they do, trust me. Babies are cute, but they don’t do much. Your eldest is probably developing at an incredible rate learning amazing new skills every day and becoming their own person and family will be just as interested in this as they always have been *whilst* doting on the new baby as well. You will find friends eager to include your eldest in the whole thing, talking to them about being a big brother or sister and maybe even putting a little something in with the baby’s gift for them too. Friends rock.

2. You will worry if you can love the second child as much as your first.

You absolutely will. Love is an amazing thing that you cannot measure out into jars or share out like skittles, and mum’s are awesome at it! You will have that rush of love every time you look at your second just as you do when you look at your first baby, and it will knock you off your feet.

3. You will be just as excited about development milestones

Watching a tiny human learn how to crawl and walk never gets old. You may have heard other parents blithely say it all blurs into one on your second baby and yes, you may not be able to remember exactly how old they are in weeks and hours but it won’t mean you feel any less invested in their physical and mental and emotional development. It’s all joyful second time around too, and you have another tiny person to celebrate it with too!

4. You will have a ‘what have I done?’ moment

Nobody really says this out loud but I’m sure we’ve all been there. I hold my hands up and say I definitely have. Some days are just harder than others and there might come a time where you’re stood outside the car wondering how one of you is supposed to get two of them and the shopping out, and in which order. It does get easier, promise.

5. Your heart will swell when you see them together

When you see your eldest trying to comfort your crying baby, or the two of them cuddled up on the sofa or playing a game together, something in your soul will go off like a firework in a way you never even knew possible.

Parenting is hard, whether you have two children, or one, or six, but there is always some beauty to be found in amongst it. A sibling bond is an amazing thing to feel part responsible for helping to cultivate. If you are pregnant on your second, don’t kick yourself for having these type of thoughts – you won’t be the first or the last. Siblings are awesome!

 

Should I Cut My Baby’s Hair?

I’ve been thinking about taking my little boy for his first hair cut. It’s one of the ‘firsts’ parents talk about and write in memory books. Beb is 15 months old and he’s still got that fluffy baby hair (I love it!) but it’s long enough that I find I’m side swiping it across his forehead to get it out of the way. I feel a bit unsure about getting his hair cut though and it was this feeling that got me thinking about children’s hair cuts in general.

Little Boys with Long Hair

Hanging around in the home ed community a lot lately, I have noticed a lot of the boys have long hair. Not long-ish, or grunge-y type long, but waist-long flowing golden locks. I’ve met so many boys with the same hairstyle I began to wonder if it is a home-ed thing? And if it is, then why? Why long and not blue or spiky or anything else?

Should You Cut Your Baby's Hair?

I like sharing pics of the back of his head on Insta.

I started thinking about Beb’s hair and when I should get it cut. The word should was what struck me. ‘Should’ according to what? Well-meaning advice? The infamous red book? I decided just as soon as it got a bit long I would take him for his first hair cut. He’s going to hate it. I just know. Then like a bolt from the blue it clicked into place. Maybe the mums of the boys I have met being the awesome thinking outside of the box type people they are, have chosen to disregard the unwritten rule book of children’s hair cuts. And maybe there are some very good reasons they have.

Rights and Decisions

Perhaps it’s more than just a hairstyle. Perhaps the thinking behind it is to enable their children make decisions about their own appearance and not enforce perceived norms upon them in the meanwhile. I mean, who decides boys or men have to have short hair? Do I have the right to decide for my child how he will look, or what is the ‘right’ way for him to look?

I know this thinking will probably face some criticism, after all I choose his clothes everyday for him and so forth. I do make a lot of decisions for him and on his behalf, some of which he is generally unhappy about (nappy changes spring to mind). But while he is busy being a baby and later, a child playing or running around a park, not thinking about his hair or other people’s opinions of his hair, would it hurt for me to wait a while and let him make his own decisions about his appearance? Is his first haircut setting me on an oblivious path of only being able to consider my child’s autonomy when it suits me?  It’s such a minor thing, hair. I wonder if leaving his hair to grow out until he wants to make his own decision on it allows a stronger message to reach my kids about making our own personal choices.

Should You Cut Your Baby's hair

Another picture of the back of his head.

Prejudices

Maybe these Mamma’s have gone before me and reached the same fork in the road and have considered their actions the same way I am. Isn’t that always a comforting thought to remember people have walked the same path before you?

A simple haircut that seems a small thing has thrown up a chance to consider my parenting, and to help my children navigate their way through society’s pre-set ideas about how they ‘should’ look. I had a real a-ha moment there in my kitchen thinking about kids with long hair. Suddenly I had even more respect for the women and families who are encouraging their kids to be who they are by actions and thoughts as well as words. What an amazing gift to their children.

As a famous company strap-line says, ‘There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start.’ I’m glad Beb’s first hair cut got me thinking about these things. I still even after this soul searching will more than likely take Beb for his first hair-cut. What can I say, I’m not strong enough to confront society’s prejudices so openly quite yet? Maybe that’s another blog post.

 

Validation.

My husband said something really interesting to me the other day. It wasn’t so much what he said so much as the way he said it that struck me.

He told me that he thinks that what I do being a stay-at-home-mum is much harder than what he does going to work. Ahh how lovely, right? Which is what I usually think and carry on with my day but this time it was something about the way he said it that made me realise he actually genuinely means it.

The conversation was nothing to do with our home life, he was talking to a friend at work about paternity leave. This friend and his wife are sharing maternity leave so he was asking for advice about how much time would be good to take off work. So they were chatting about it and Rich said I wouldn’t like to stay off too long (back hackles up) because what my wife does is much harder than what I do (phew rescued yourself there son). Now, I have heard him say this before and always just thought that’s nice of him. But I could see he really meant it this time (mostly because he was laughing that said person was naively shocked that stay at home parenting is hard). But I was quite taken aback. I realised that all this time he’d actually meant it! And I felt really proud of myself!

Gin

Some days are easier than others.

Rich gets a lot (a lot) of validation at work. He works hard and is good at his job. As it’s a sales job when he hits his targets he gets bonuses, if he wins a big account his phone buzzes with well done messages from his team, there is a camaraderie and ‘in’ jokes and nicknames and so on and so on. But sahm mum’s don’t get that. Nobody ever walks past me doing the laundry and says “great job Kate, I see you are going out of your way to boil wash the sicky muslin, well done not slacking and just doing a quick 40 wash.” I don’t get a text message from my mate calling me Mrs Wonderflaps saying “Well done you’re killing this whole motherhood thing” and I certainly don’t get vouchers at Christmas or a bottle of fizz. But did I ever get that kind of pat on the back in my old job in the office? Not really. Do any of my hard slogging wonder mummy friends get any kind of notice in their day jobs or their home lives “You just helped that older person with dementia get the right care package and you’re an amazing mum too, here’s a £100 bonus.”

Award

He actually got a real life trophy.

I had my first ever PR invite for the blog a couple of weeks ago (keep your eyes peeled) and I was so excited. It felt good to have a little validation from outside the home. As a stay at home mum a pat on the back isn’t usually on my radar. I love staying home with my children, and I truly feel so happy to be able to. We work as a team in our house and I really do feel like that. But there was definitely something special in realising that my husband thinks I’m awesome. There was definitely a spark of excitement to receive an email about my blog because it’s something only I have done. And there was definitely something special about nagging my 6 yr old to keep her room tidy because I just cleaned it and getting the reply “Thanks Mum”.

Dear Bear and Beany

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday