Category Archives: Family and Parenting

Curly Mum On The Mend

I’ve had a long while off from blogging. I felt I needed a break and it feels great coming back to it all again. It has reminded me of why I started blogging to begin with, and I’ve loads of ideas that I’d like to write about over the coming weeks. I’m really looking forward to reading the blogs I love again, and hopefully finding some new ones too! If you know of a blog that I should look at, let me know :)

I’ve been a bit up and down over my break, working with the doctor to find the right medication and dosage for me. He has been helpful and understanding throughout, and it seems like now we’ve found what works for me. Over the last couple of weeks I have felt much better than I have for a long time, and I’ve been returning to the things that I love. I’ve been doing a lot of baking, inspired by a book my mother bought me. (‘The Cupcake’, available on TheWorks.co.uk)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m also knitting Baby Turtle a blanket for her first birthday. I had no idea what to buy her as she already has so many toys from when her sisters were younger and I know my relatives are likely to shower her in gifts too, so I thought making her something that she can hopefully cherish for years to come was a nice idea. The only problem is that her birthday is fast approaching and I’m not sure I can knit fast enough!

The biggest news though, for me at least, is that I’ve finally managed to tell my parents about my depression. It took some mumbling, pausing, and a lot of help from my wonderful husband-to-be, but it’s done and it’s a weight off my shoulders. My mum has been as supportive as I knew she would be, and I should have told her much sooner. It’s a big step for me to talk about it, but it feels easier now that I have done it once. I feel much more happy and comfortable, and I think that’s really helping me to recover better. I urge anybody keeping their mental illness a secret from those that love them to try and muster the courage to talk about it, because it really makes a difference not having to hide, and having the support of others while getting better.

Is Piling On The Pressure Affecting Our Children?

The amount of pressure on the shoulders of our children and young people is a big concern of mine. Finding the right balance between encouraging my children to do their best but not pushing them too hard is something I think about (read: panic about) quite frequently.

Thinking back to my own childhood and teen years, there was so much pressure to study and do well, that by the time I got to my GCSEs – the time where things were actually beginning to matter – I was just tired. I stopped caring. Again and again, I had been told that this or that exam was so important, only to find out that really, it wasn’t. So why should I care this time around? It was only becoming pregnant with my first that gave me the drive to try and do well again.

I know that schools are under a lot of pressure to get good results for statistics and tables purposes. It’s not their fault. The fault is with the entire system. Schools are supposed to be put under pressure to ensure the children are being educated well. It’s for the children’s sake! But this has become so warped over time that now the pressure is being passed onto the children, and that is, in my opinion, detrimental to their wellbeing.

So, what sparked this rant?

Last weekend, Frog was sick. She threw up quite spectacularly several times, and was most certainly not herself. She did not eat for a whole day, and she spent most of her time sleeping. As a result, I kept her off school until she had stopped spewing vomit and managed to eat and keep down a couple of decent meals. I let her school know why she wouldn’t be attending. On Thursday, she managed to go in, well fed and feeling herself again. She bounced off, happy to go back and catch up with her friends. When she was walking back home with Curly Dad, she confided in him that she felt disappointed, because while the other children had been enjoying films to celebrate the end of term, she had been given work to catch up on that the other students had done earlier in the week. Curly Dad cleverly spun it be saying that when she had been at home she had been able to watch TV while her friends had been working at school, which made Frog feel a bit better.

My feelings on it were mixed.

I think it’s important that children learn good discipline from a fairly young age and get into good habits. Later on in life, she will be required to catch up on study/work regardless of whether she was sick or not. However, it was the end of term and the other students were enjoying films, and I can’t help but think that at five years of age she shouldn’t have to feel excluded in the way that she did. There is the possibility, of course, that she is not telling the full story. There have been times when she has done this in the past (unintentionally). So perhaps it wasn’t so bad, but it has had me thinking on this issue all the same. I don’t think that at her age she should have missed out on anything. If there was something she needed to catch up on, they could have sent it home with her to do over the Easter break.

I don’t baby my children. I expect a lot from them in terms of good behaviour, manners and consideration of others. I expect them to be mature, kind, good little people. They are children, though, and it fills me with dread the thought that in a few years time there will just be more and more pressure placed on them by school to study, by society to fit in. It’s one of the few times that I wish I could just hold them close to me and hide them from the world forever.

Does this sort of pressure worry you? What do you do to ensure your children are encouraged but not weighed down?

Image Source

Where Has My Baby Gone?

Last weekend, Frog was invited to a sleepover at her friends house. It was the first time that this has happened. She and Curly Dad wrapped up a present for the friend, who I shall call P, and I packed up all the things she would need into a little bag, along with a list of the things and all our contact details just in case. Naturally, Frog was hugely excited, bouncing around each day last week chirping ‘X days until I stay at P’s house!’

I was not so sure about it all. In fact, I was quite terrified. It would be the first time she had stayed away from family. What if she was lonely or frightened? What if she was ill? How had she grown up so fast? I comforted myself with the thought that P lives only a five minute walk away from our house, and told Frog (probably about fifteen or so times) that she could call at ANY time if she wanted to, for any reason.

So I dropped her off at P’s house, and came back home. We ate our evening meal, relaxed, and I put Bird to bed. It was a strange feeling, doing all these normal, everyday things without Frog being there. Bird wasn’t quite sure what to do without her sister around, which was quite heart-breaking as she kept asking when she was coming back, but also heart-warming to see how much she loves her sister and wanted her to come home and play again.

I eventually went to bed with my phone nearby just in case Frog called, but she didn’t. I went to pick her up after lunch the next day, and in the five minute journey back, Frog laughed, smiled, stropped and cried, and then went back to smiling again – definitely a tired little girl! She fell asleep on the sofa shortly after we got home. She seemed to have had a good time, tiredness aside, but was also glad to be back home. I was definitely glad to have her back home with us!

It’s funny, before I became a parent, I imagined myself as a chilled-out mum, never too worried, never too stressed. How wrong I was! I think when we become parents, we also become worriers, nomatter how chilled we were before. Children are too precious not to worry about!

So, have your children ever stayed away from home? How did you feel the first time they did?

Hooray For Boobies! (A Breastfeeding Meme)

1. Why did you choose boob over bottle?

I don’t really feel like it was a decision. I just wanted to breast feed, despite most of my family (myself included) being bottle fed. The only reason I switched to bottles after a while with my first two is because I had concerns about their health, and I wish that I could have had more faith in my body and managed to nurse for longer. This time around I am really glad to still be nursing and wouldn’t have it any other way. I think if I had known before what I know now, I would have continued with breast feeding and not needed to use formula.

2. How long did you breastfeed or are you planning to breastfeed?

With my first two, I only managed a couple of months each. This time we are at 7.5 months and I have no intention of stopping until Baby Turtle decides she no longer wants to feed from me. Personally, I hope this is not for a long time as I love feeding her!

3. What is the best thing about breastfeeding?

The intimacy of holding her close to me, and having her drink the milk that my body has provided for her. Also now that she’s older, the way her face lights up a bit when she sees my breast.

4. Did you have to overcome challenges on your breastfeeding journey?

We have been really lucky. The worst I’ve had to deal with is sore nipples in the early weeks and around four months when she had a growth spurt. The soreness cleared up quite easily with some Mother’s Balm from Neal’s Yard Remedies that I was bought as a new-mum gift.

5. Who supported you the most with breastfeeding?

My partner has been great, and also a lot of women I’ve spoken to on parenting forums. I think it’s hard for some of my family to be as supportive though, just because they have no experience of breast feeding and don’t really ‘get’ it.

6. How did you feel when you first breastfed in public?

With my first I didn’t breast feed in public at all! I expressed milk and took a bottle out with me. By the second time I wasn’t embarrassed any more and now I feed wherever I am. I am proud of my feeding, and while I do it discreetly, I won’t shy away from giving Baby Turtle milk when she wants it. I’m lucky to have never had any negative reactions. Most of the time people don’t even notice she is feeding, even when they come up to coo and stroke her hair!

7. Have you been questioned for breastfeeding?

Not really. My family don’t really understand it. They seemed to think I was a little mad for having no routine and not knowing when she’d next want a feed. They accept that it works for us though. I expect that I might get questions as Baby Turtle gets bigger and if she chooses to feed later into toddlerhood or pre-school age. I’m not particularly worried about it though. I love nursing and will just answer questions honestly.

8. Has breastfeeding made you feel different about your body?

Yes, it has made me appreciate my body a lot more. I feel a real sense of pride in that my body is providing for Baby Turtle as she grows (and for Frog and Bird sometimes if I express milk!) and in the closeness we share when she feeds. It has also made me think a lot more about how I look after myself. I think much more about what I eat and drink because in essence it is also what Baby Turtle eats, so it’s making me more healthy in my effort to keep her healthy.

9. What do you wish you had known before making the decision to breastfeed your baby?

I wish that when I was feeding my first two I had known to have faith in my body’s ability to produce enough milk for them. I wish that I had known that even if my supply was lowered, it could be replenished if I persevered using formula just to top-up when necessary rather than switching completely.

I am tagging

Any boobie mum that would like to give this a go!

When To Wean Your Baby

“If you wean your baby too early, your baby will be fat…”

“If you wean too late, they will be a fussy eater.”

“They should be on solids by now!”

 So when exactly is the right time to wean?

The current NHS guidelines suggest introducing solids at six months, but as early as four months if necessary for the child. My health visitor, when I saw her at clinic on Tuesday, seemed quite concerned that Baby Turtle is showing no real interest in solid food at almost seven months. Up until today, I had just been making food available and following Baby Turtle’s leads, assuming that she would take food when she was ready for it. Up until today I had no concerns about my cheerful, active, alert little girl.

The health visitor’s concern shook me up a little bit. I began to wonder if I should be more proactive with my approach to weaning. I started to think I had perhaps been a careless mum and wondered if I was unintentionally causing harm to Baby Turtle and her development. I posted about my worries on a forum, and the responses I received were unanimous. What a load of rubbish. A couple of mums shared that their children had also been uninterested in food long after the standard six month guideline, and that this had caused no harm at all. All of the mums agreed that breast milk would provide everything Baby Turtle needs at this age.

So I’m writing this with a renewed sense of confidence in my abilities and choices as a mum. I have no concerns about Baby Turtle’s health, so I’m letting her lead the way. Boob she wants and boob she will get, for as long as she wants it. It is her tummy we’re feeding, after all.

When is the right time to wean? When your baby is ready.

People are so varied at all stages of their lives, babyhood included, and are ready for different things at different times. It’s easy to get bogged down in all the guidelines, but I think we should remember that as parents and carers, we know our children best. Guidelines are just guidelines, not steadfast rules. As long as our children are happy and healthy, let’s not be afraid to do what feels right, even if that means doing things a little differently.

Curly Mum On Christmas

I don’t think there’s any use denying it any more. The weather is cold yet the streets are packed, High Streets have been decorated with lights and banners for a couple of months now, and every day my daughter asks me the same question: ‘Mummy, how many days until it’s Christmas?’ The festive period is in full swing and Christmas Day is very nearly upon us.

I have mixed feelings about this time of year. It’s stressful. There are presents to buy yet never quite enough money, and the looming prospect of the most complicated and difficult dinner of the entire year. Then there is the extended family and the politics that come with them: a game I really don’t want to play. There is the freezing cold weather and the bitter wind from the river, which I hate and which makes my knees play up awfully (at the ripe old age of twenty-one!). There is the very real possibility of oh-so-beautiful snow that brings the bus system to a standstill (not good for somebody so reliant on public transport as I!) and soon enough turns the roads and pavements into slippery rinks of doom. Having been bombarded with advertising and lights and sparkles – Christmas this and Christmas that – since mid-September, I am just about ready to scream. I don’t even want to think about how much worse it would be if we had television adverts to add to that.

Like I said, it’s a terribly stressful time of year, and I’m a little frazzled just thinking about it all. I spend a lot of time really struggling to be festive or even remotely cheerful at the idea of it, even with the excited faces of my daughters looking up at me. I feel affronted by the baubles dangling from the ceiling in the local shopping centre. I am more than a little irritated by the fact that I have been unable to find what I want in Sainsbury’s for the last month because they keep moving things around to fit in more and more Christmas stuff.

Then it gets to this point, with a week or so to go, the Christmas holidays here, and I forget about all that. I buy the Christmas food with a little seed of excitement just beginning to grow. I think about the crafty supplies stashed behind the sofa and about what decorations I can make with the children this year – they’re a little older now, and their attention spans a little better. There’s a little panicked voice somewhere, reminding me shrilly that I haven’t organised exactly what I’ll be buying for my partner, but it doesn’t manage to shout down this growing anticipation that has appeared. I go into Sainsbury’s for a loaf of bread and the mince pies catch my eye. Bah, I think, I’ll make my own! I wonder to myself about the most exciting way to present my daughter with their gifts, and picture the smiles that will shine bright right up to their eyes.

You can see where this is going now and so can I. By the time it’s Christmas eve I’ll be just as excited and unable to sleep as the children. Well, excited at least. Having a five-month-old that doesn’t like to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time means that I can usually sleep any time and any where I get the chance.

This is the time that I remember what Christmas is all about. I’m not a religious person. I don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus, nor does anybody close to me, but Christmas still has a great meaning for me. Despite all the commercialisation and the pressure to spend, spend, spend, Christmas is about family. It’s about taking one day of the year that is dedicated entirely to spending time together, to the love we have for each other, to making each other happy. It’s about relaxing, even if the turkey’s a little bit burnt and the potatoes haven’t browned and the veg is a little bit cool – never mind that we forgot the Yorkshire pudding completely. I suppose it doesn’t even really matter that it’s Christmas, that it’s the twenty-fifth of December, it just matters that it’s a day, one day, set aside simply to enjoy.

Would You Have Breastmilk Tea?

Today I thought to myself ‘I really fancy a nice cup of tea’, so off I went into the kitchen and put the kettle on. I poured the tea and went to the fridge, only to find that we had run out of milk. I was quite disappointed, until I thought that actually, I have milk of my own. So I expressed some breast milk into my tea. It was a lovely cup of tea – you wouldn’t tell it wasn’t made with cow milk.

Quite often though, I have read or heard people discussing this and saying that they wouldn’t drink breast milk, that it would be weird, etc. I personally think it’s a bit funny that we find it weird to drink our own human milk but not to pinch some milk from a cow/goat/whatever.

So I was wondering what you think.

Have you ever had breast milk? Would you?

Image nabbed from Google