‘I can’t cope’ she said, whilst coping.

coping

We’ve all been there. On the sofa, still in your nightie at 4pm, sobbing into a cold mug of tea, probably with one boob hanging out, wailing “I just can’t cope” to anyone who’ll listen.

Whether this scenario conjures up memories of parenting or just recovering from a the-world’s-gone-to-shit level hangover, I’m sure many of you will relate. Especially around the #JanuaryBlues post-Christmas, come down period.

But back to work blues aren’t just for those returning to the office – they effect those on maternity leave too. You go from having family around, an extra pair of hands, maybe even the odd nap, to being alone again. Well, not alone, there’s a tiny small human being to take care of. *panics at the thought*

At anytime of year, having a bit of a weep is par for the course for new mums, and dads too I reckon. But for some of us it goes a little bit further than that. Instead of having a ‘moment’ (albeit a daily/hourly ‘moment’) at some straw-breaking-back time of the day or night, we start to believe these three little words all of the time. I can’t cope. We fear being alone with our child for any length of time because we seriously doubt our ability to just get through. We start to believe we simple can’t do it.

That’s what happened with me any way. And around this time in January, when my husband was heading back to work after the Christmas holidays I pretty much lost my shit. No joke of a lie.

I mean, it wasn’t just that, there were lots of other crazy-making things that happened, like not getting enough milk to breastfeed, and having a particularly screamy baby. (I know all babies are screamy, but seriously. So. Screamy.) Anyhoo, I ended up in a post-natal mental unit for mums and babies, as many of you will already know.

Whilst there I learned many things that helped me return to reasonable levels of sanity. Among them was that I did, in fact, have some skill at this whole parenting lark. I knew my baby pretty well and, even though he didn’t go 4 hours between feeds (barely 2 sometimes) and ‘tummy time’ made him cry furiously and eat the floor, he was fine. And so was I. Shock horror.

The thing is, most of the time when we’re having a sob about not being able to cope we are actually coping, in that very moment.

Have I just blown your mind? You’re welcome.

While I was in floods of tears, thinking I could never cope without my mum/hubs around to help me, there was this healthy, vaguely clean and, frankly, alive child right in front of me. He wasn’t ‘the contented baby’ (a fictional character, in case you’re wondering) we all dream of, but he was okay. More than okay. I think I just thought I should be enjoying it all. And I wasn’t, which really, really worried me.

Let’s just getting something straight – looking after a tiny baby is tiring as all fuck. It is a barrage of newness and sleeplessness and epicly daunting responsibilities. And sometimes it just a bit shit. More than a bit. Sometimes you won’t enjoy it because it’s mostly dealing with bodily functions and crying. That’s okay too. It doesn’t mean anything about you, except that you’re a normal human being. It certainly does not mean that you’re a bad mother!!!!!! (there aren’t enough exclamation marks in the world to emphasise that point, so I thought 6 would do).

And because it’s all a bit crap at times, it’s also very natural to regard an entire morning with no company and no planned activity with a mixture dread and battle-readiness. That doesn’t make you weak or mad, and it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t be able to cope with a morning like that.

So, if everyone else going back at work whilst you languish in the nappy-laden land of maternity leave is striking fear into your very soul, I want to tell you this…

Thinking you can’t cope isn’t the same as not being able to cope.* Is your baby fed? Vaguely clean? Cuddled often? Well then, you’re doing fine. You are coping. You’re worry, and you’re tired and you’re probably a bit bored, but you’re definitely coping.  It’s a bloody slog though, isn’t it? Bleurgh.

You’re a good mum. You are. Really, I’m quite sure of it.

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* if you’re in a situation like I was and have PND then it is of course possible that you really can’t cope alone, and that’s okay too. I got to a point where I was afraid I would hurt myself and didn’t feel safe on my own. If that’s the case for you then please seek help and talk to someone. You can also go to A&E if you’re really scared.

 

 

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Baby’s first Christmas: a double whammy of ‘I should be happy’

Thinking about Bub’s first Christmas isn’t something I do a lot. Because, to be fair, it was a bit shit. Not objectively, but from my sleep-deprived, anxiety-ridden numbness. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, and have tried to do my bit for those who worry about not feeling the ‘right way’ or doing the ‘right thing’ by injecting my signature caustic humour into the ‘parenting advice’ fray.

Today, in an uncharacteristically sincere and personal post for Mumsnet, I’ve reflected on that time in my life. It still makes me sad to really look at it, but it has been quite freeing too. Because now I look back and know I was, at all times (even the ones when I felt actually mad) being a good mum. I was always good enough for my wonderful child. And so are you, just in case you’re wondering.

I think post-natal depression gets stereotyped as something that snaps in straight after birth; a non-attachment that needs fixing. It conjures images of a woman rocking in the corner, hands over ears, ignoring her screaming child. While it can be those things it can also be something that creeps up on you so slowly that – in your focus on getting the whole parenthood thing right – you hardly notice it’s happening until it’s too late. I don’t enjoy reliving my own story, but I think it’s incredibly important that as many of us as possible do. New mums out there need to know that it all being a bit shit is, frankly, quite standard. So do please read and share this post if you think it’s message could possibly help any one.

Cheers me dears.

P.S. Comical Christmassy post to follow. Probably. I have got a life to lead.

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The Ages and Stages questionnaire: return of the cheerio!

Last month Bubs and I attended his two year development check. It was lovely. No, really it was. The health visitor was attentive, relaxed and encouraging; she didn’t so the ‘tick list’ thing that happened when we went for his 9-month check; best of all Bubs said the word ‘triceratops’ during our appointment… Oh yeah I’m winning at parenthood right now. #PunchTheAir. 

The NHS and health visitors and all that are good and should be fought for. Obvs. What I am yet to appreciate it the big fat questionnaire that drops on your door mat a few weeks before.

Frequent readers may be familiar with my rant about the Ages and Stages Questionnaire over a year ago. Well, people, it hasn’t gone away! Nor has it got any less infuriatingly specific/patronising/unnecessary.

However nice they are, however much your rational mind tells you it’s all normal and fine, it’s hard to escape that squirming sense of failure, isn’t it?

Not so long ago a letter inviting me and Bubs to his two year development check dropped through our letterbox. While I am mostly past caring nowadays, these tests (which of course aren’t really test, just a series of assessed activities that are scored and produce an overall result which claims to have bearing on the level of my child’s development) do give rise to a ‘must do well’ mentality I could live without. There’s nothing quite like the prospect of sitting in front of a health professional and explaining why you’ve ticked the ‘not yet’ box on the Ages and Stages Questinnaire to induce a bit of parental neurosis.

 

My parental neurosis face.

 
What’s more, most health visitors I’ve spoken to think it’s a bit of a joke. So why is it even a thing??

Think I’m being unreasonable? Well here’s auick analysis of some of the 2-year ASQ’s most mind boggling aspects…

A cooperative toddler?

At the very beginning the 30-question itinerary (oh yeah, I counted), just after the bit suggesting we should ‘make completing this questionnaire a game that is fun for you and your child’ a helpful piece of text informs us:

At this age, many toddlers may not be cooperative when asked to do things.

#NoShitSherlock. It continues…

You may need to try the following activities with your child more than one time. If possible, try the activities when your child is cooperative. If your child can do the activity but refuses, mark yes for the item.

Oh, Dear Reader, where to start?! Bubs is often in a mildly cooperative mood, but the idea that this state of play would necessarily lead to him completing specific tasks at my request seriously underestimates the will and imagination of a toddler. Also, I would imagine that most parents don’t need to be told not to try and make their little one line four blocks in up in a row when they are feeling ‘uncooperative’ (i.e. being a grumpy little so and so).

  
And what’s all this about my child being able to do an activity but refusing? If I knew he could do the activity I would have ticked the box already, I do have a life to lead you know! So how do I know if he can do it if he hasn’t done it? I am not into speculation or bending the truth, but when I ticked ‘not yet’ on his nine months development check it was deemed his problem solving skills needed monitoring. They didn’t. So perhaps this time I’ll be a bit more generous…

Seven, one-inch blocks.

‘Does your child stack seven small blocks or toys on top of each other by herself? (You could also use spoons of thread, small boxes, or toys that are about 1 inch in size)’

This one is particularly fascinating to me. Why seven? Why not six or eight? It just seems a bit arbitrary me, but I sort of like the idea that some researcher somewhere has found that balancing precisely seven, one inch blocks is the benchmark of two-year-old block-building potential.

 

This block is precisely 1 inch. Nailed it. No pun intended.

 
As you all know I am a diligent and caring parent, and so I duly selected seven small building blocks for bobs to build a tower with. When he was in a cooperative mood, I am invited him to build said tower, I invited him to build a tower probably three times. But he didn’t, he prefers to knock them down. Now, I know he has the motor skills to build a five block tower and if he really had to (which would in no scenario be the case) he could probably stack seven. So I’m going to tick yes, but is that a lie? To be honest, marking the ‘sometimes’ box would feel more duplicitous, because he never does it but he could, so, yeah…

Good Lord, I’m getting palpitations already.

Elementary jewellery making

‘Can your child string small items such as beads, macaroni, or pasta wagon wheels into a string or shoelace?’

Does anyone in England know what the fuck a pasta wagon wheel is? And is this something that any 24 month old child can do? (gloating parents feel free to comment below)

My theory on this one is that it is a conspiracy by child labour lobbies to see if we can get toddlers making Primark necklaces. My answer would be no. I did try, good girl that I am, but my boy could not have had less interest or ability with regards to this one. However, I did fashion a rather attractive penne necklace whilst trying.

 

Chic, no?

 
While we are on the subject, there is a MAJOR difference between a piece of string and a shoelace. A shoelace has that closed thingy on the end which makes it much easier to thread through holes. And I don’t mind admitting that I am not the sort of person who has spare shoe laces in my house, I never will be. I’ve accepted that about myself.

When we went to the check she had a shoelace and a cotton reel. Now that’s just cheating.

Return of the Cheerio

Undoubtedly the most infuriating thing about this questionnaire is its unashamed Americanness. No offence to my lovely readers across the pond; I have nothing against the US per se, but the fact that no one has even bothered to CHANGE THE BLOODY DATES AROUND makes me incandescent. We are talking steam out of the ears, batshit crazy.


Another steadfast American quirk is this survey is commitment to mentioning Cheerios wherever possible.

After a crumb or Cheerio is dropped into a small, clear bottle, does your child turn the bottle upside down to dump out the crumb or Cheerio?

Why not just say ‘crumb’ and leave it at that? Was the additional example of a branded breakfast cereal really necessary? Apparently in the US wholegrain, sugarfree Cheerios are a staple of little ones’ diets, but here they don’t really exist. And any way, I’d rather my child’s welfare be kept well clear of the selfish shitturd of a corporation that is Nestlé, thank you very much.

What we really want to know

I am 100% sure that my lovely, experienced, knowledgable health visitor didn’t need me to fill in this comically specific questionnaire in order to assess Bubs. In fact I imagine being given a tick list to fill in is more irksome than anything.  My theory is that there are two things we really need to know from these check ups, and she gave me both:

First and foremost, we want our child to meet and interact with a healthcare professional and for said professional to confirm that they’re happy and healthy and making reasonable progress towards growing up into big boys and girls.

Secondly, we’d really like a parenting approval stamp, please. A reassurance that our witless meanderings through  parenthood haven’t stunted any growth or caused irreparable castastrophy. We want to be told we are okay, as well as our children. An acknowledgement of this every now and again is really good for our mental health and confidence, which is constantly undermined by the countless Daily Mail articles and internet forums that tell us how and how not to parent our own children. (FYI, you’re doing it all wrong)

So go to the check, and listen to your health visitor, but take the 1 inch blocks and Cheerios with a pinch of salt, you’ll be all the saner for it.

5 things that prove the world hasn’t gone to shit…

Watching the news (or even just your Facebook wall) it’s pretty easy to conclude that the world has finally, irrevocably gone to shit.

Well, Dear Reader, don’t let the man get you down!

Niceness isn’t news because it doesn’t sell, but also because niceness is a normal, everyday thing. All over the world there are people just being kind or pioneering or just bloody humane as they go about their daily business.

So here are 5 proofs that the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket quite yet…

There’s a new treatment for Leukaemia!

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Photo by Great Ormond Street Hospital

Clever scientist types have pioneered a gene therapy that reversed an aggressive form of leukaemia, thought to be incurable, in this adorable one-year-old girl.

People in Ghana are making poo into fuel!

poo power!

Okay, kind of gross, but properly ingenious too, helping to reduce ocean pollution and deforestation. Boom! (Warning there’s a lot of poo on the BBC video!)

Almost a quarter of people in the UK give their time for free.

  
Did you know that an estimated 15 million people volunteer in the UK alone? I didn’t, and I think it’s pretty cool. Nuff said.

There are dolphins in the Thames!

  
50 years ago the River Thames was declared ‘biologically extinct’, now there dolphins and whales and seals all kinds of proper good animals swimming around in its clean waters. Over 2,000 of them. #ActualDolphins #winning

And finally… Sierra Leone is Ebola free!

And to celebrate someone made the most joyous music video ever. I defy you not to smile.

Boom!

You can keep your ‘free’ childcare, I know the real cost: An open letter to George Osborne.

Dear Mr Osborne,

I watched some of your Autumn Statement during my lunch hour today and was filled with an uncomfortable mixture of amusement and disgust. Not towards you personally, I was actually surprised to find that you can be quite funny when you want to be, though I suppose you had someone else write the jokes. But I am angry at the way you very cleverly delivered a speech that appeared to be presenting a generous provision to a ‘prosperous’ nation. I can’t credit you with ignorance, so my only conclusion is that you’re involved in a serious deception.

What larks.

What larks.

Well, Sir, your smoke and mirrors can’t fool me. Quietly announcing 25% cuts to this and following it up with a lively patter on the £6 billion you will be spending on that; I know your game. In fact, while we’re on the subject, could you please explain something to me. Don’t the “£22bn efficiency savings in England and Department of Health to cut 25% from its Whitehall budget” sort of offset that £8 billion you’ve promised the NHS? I mean, isn’t that actually a £14bn cut in NHS spending? #justasking

To be honest, mate, I could go on all day about the many problems I have with the idea you put forward that your government is one that ‘delivers social justice’. I mean, we both know that’s nonsense. I can’t decide which example highlights this better: right now I’m torn between the rather under-played scrapping of grants for student nurses (replaced with loans, naturally) and or a more global issue. For instance, how the denigration of women and routine beheadings don’t bother you so much when it’s the UK arms-buying, cheap oil-selling state of Saudi Arabia doing it.

Nice one George.

Nice one George.

But I digress…

I’m writing this letter because I’d like to make you an offer: you can have my 30 hours of free childcare back, as long as I can tell you how to spend it. Because, Mr Osborne, I know the real cost of your finding money for middle-class ‘hard-working families’ and it’s not a price I’m prepared to pay.

In fact, most of your spending review actually benefits me. I am a middle-class, employed, married, straight, white home-owner; we should be best friends right? Except that we’re really, really not. Because I am not better off in a world that’s going to shit. Your ideological economic agenda will not make me wealthier if it comes at the expense of society’s most vulnerable, such as the poor souls (have there really been hundreds?) who have committed suicide in face of hopeless poverty or abject humiliation due your government’s cuts.

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No, that’s not the world I want for my son and no amount of free childcare bribery will convince me otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, childcare is atrociously expensive, and many families need serious help. But my family can manage. I mean, as long as we can scrape together the pennies for our weekly delivery of organic veg and a couple of cheeky bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, I think your should have concerns higher on your list. By all means, give free childcare to those who need it, and don’t cap it at 30 hours either. In fact, could I arrange for my extra 15 hours to be transferred to a struggling single parent? Why not? My mum got free child care in the 80s so that she could work full time whilst raising me on her own (and she did pretty well, I got into Cambridge dontchaknow). That’s right, even Thatcher was more generous than you lot in her early days. Even Thatcher. (I am aware that is, to you, in no way an insult, but let’s be clear, it’s meant as one).

Okay, so how about this. 30 hours a week… let’s say that’s 4 days. 4 days a week would cost me around £204, so £816 per month, so £9,792 per year. That is a lot of money. Let’s say the government gets a discount – you know, for bulk buying – so it’s £8,000 or something. Then let’s half it, as there’s already 15 hours free. £4,000, can I give it back please?

I’d like to give my £4,000, which you can apparently afford, so someone else. Can I give it to one of the people you’ve deemed ‘fit to work’, and in doing so in such an exacting, compassionless manner have actually made their symptoms worse? Or one of those who has lost their dignity and independence due to you revoking their Independent Living Allowance, perhaps? Or could I donate to a victim of domestic violence, a third of whom now have to court unrepresented because they can’t supply you with the required ‘evidence’?

Seriously, I don’t need your vote-buying money. Of course I’d like it, of course it would make life a bit easier, give us more in choices and even a nice holiday, but if it means you’re taking important, civilised social security and rights from others who really need them then I’d rather not be party to it. Really. I won’t allow you to masquerade as a man of the people while you rob from the poor and turn a blind eye to the ‘victimless crimes’ of those who fiddle our markets and carefully avoid paying their taxes.

This headline demonstrates everything that's wrong with the world.

This headline demonstrates everything that’s wrong with the world.

Of course it’s appropriate for people to consider how the government’s choice affect them, but it’s not right for us to only think about that. So I’m going to ignore the part of me that wants to punch the air when I think about not having to pay my son’s nursery fees, and do the right thing, if you’ll let me.

And if you won’t, will you tell me why you have decided to prioritise the childcare costs of families earning up to £100,000 over the funding of nurse’s education or the proper payment of doctors or the right of every person to dignity and legal representation?

I await your response,

Yours very, very sincerely,

Aileen Few

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Dear Reader, I don’t come out to play much any more, but this has made me need to scream in public. I’m sending this letter to George Osbourne any way I can, and if you’d like to tweet him with it (@george_osborne), or email it to him too, that would be fab, or at least mildly amusing. #KeepYourMoneyGeorge

Cheers x

Mental health services: a matter of life and death

On 4th January 2014 me and my mum turned up at A&E in Manchester. I was afraid of my own mind. I was the most tired I’d ever been in my life but when I tried to sleep by body was tensed with anxiety and horrible thoughts piled on top of me like a lead weight. I had a 10 week old baby to care for, but I couldn’t enjoy this beautiful, bonny boy because I was ill. I was very very ill. 
Without the love and support of my endlessly sensitive and understanding family, and the wonderful mother and baby mental health unit that’s took us in, I genuinely don’t know where I’d be now. I’m sure my boy would be okay, but I do believe those mental health services saved my life.
Even as I write this I feel self-conscious; what will people who didn’t know about it think of me? Will they see me differently? But I’m not ashamed, I’m proud to be a survivor of a condition that is as cruel and unbidden and potentially fatal as any physical illness. And this separation between ‘mental’ health and ‘physical’ health is a false divide; an incredibly harmful one at that.

When I came out of the unit I was still not strong. It was 12 weeks of therapy, followed by an 8 weeks mindfulness for depression group that really changed everything. Now I have the resources to protect myself against further episodes. I am stronger than I have ever been. I am so grateful to live in a country where health care is free at the point of delivery.

But this care is under attack. The notion that a body set up to protect the sick and vulnerable should be ‘economically viable’ when subject to vicious spending cuts is inhumane. But even if we took compassion out of the equation (which it often seems the Tories have already done) it’s utter fiscal stupidity. Without occupational therapy and ongoing support people with chronic mental health issues move from low risk to high risk, when that happens they either need intensive community based care or a hospital bed.

Now, I’m no economist but I’m pretty sure a group gardening class costs less than having somebody sectioned.

So Dear, Dear Readers, please share this post and sign this petition. If you live in Manchester please lobby your councillors and MP.

For some people this will be a matter of life and death.

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Don’t be a dummy: why pacifiers are just totally fine.

  
Breaking news: a four year old is seen with a dummy! Hold the front page! This whole Beckham pacifier debacle that’s got the chat rooms abuzz has drawn me back from a summer blogging-hiatus. Dear Reader, I am fuming.

Maybe it’s because I hate parents being hated on, or maybe it’s because this kind of nonsense passes for news while there are actual deprived children suffering in every nation of this world *screams into pillow*

If you haven’t heard (well done for avoiding the toxic judge-fest that is the daily mail) ‘experts’ have been warning that the Beckhams are putting their daughter at risk by still letting her use a dummy aged 4. As far as I can make out, this is total bullshit. Granted, if the girl was plonked in front of the TV every day with a bag of Haribo, a can of coke and a couple of soothers, there’d be an issue. But she’s not, is she? You can say a lot about the Beckhams, but they certainly seem to love and care for their children.

Before my son was born I thought I’d never use a dummy. Ever. I was all ‘children need to be able to comfort themselves…blah blah blah.’ Needless to say, I was a bit judge about the use of ‘pacifiers’. Well, it took me all of about 2 weeks to drop that self-righteous nonsense. 22 months on, Bubs still has a dummy, mostly to go sleep with, but also in the car, and sometimes just because. If he’s worked up it helps him calm down; if he’s teething it eases the pain.

So, as a dummy convert and a ardent opponent to the parent advice culture that most of us find ourselves drowning in at some point or other, I have decided to respond directly to some of the choicesquotes from the (literally) offending Daily Mail article directly.

“Last night parenting expert Clare Byam-Cook, a former midwife, said that the Beckhams were putting Harper’s wellbeing at risk.”

Did she? Did she actually say that? No, she didn’t. Neither is she a ‘parenting expert’, because that’s not a real thing. Ms Byam-Cook is a well-respected baby feeding expert, others might be experts in maternal health, childbirth, behavioural psychology, child nutrition, peadiatric dentistry… But not parenting. Even if was possible to have the wisdom, sensitivity and breadth of knowledge, you couldn’t possibly apply that to every individual child without spending a lifetime looking after them yourself. You know, actually being their parent? Moving on…

“I can’t believe she is still using a dummy. If she has a dummy in their mouth at this age, at four, it really can damage her teeth and it is very likely to hinder speech development. You are far less likely to speak if you have a dummy in your mouth than if your mouth is free. Many dentists will agree that dummy use at this age really is not good.”

This comment begins by sounding like a cliquey mum at a stay and play group and ends sounding like a Colgate advert. ‘I can’t believe she is still using a dummy!’ Give me a break.

But thank God we have an expert to tell us that if a child has something in their mouth they are less likely to speak, no one would work that out on their own and regulate their little one’s dummy use accordingly. Sigh.

“After about three months, most babies should not need a comforter. Children at the age of four really don’t need a dummy.”

New parents, here is a trick for staying sane: If you see any parenting advice with a) the word ‘should’ in it b) the words ‘most babies’ in it or c) an arbitrary age at which things should start/end, try not to take it too seriously. If all three components are present in the same sentence, run. Run away and never look back. This is not good advice, there is nothing constructive in it and therefore it has the potential to be destructive, at least to your confidence levels.

#JustSaying

“David and Victoria seem wonderful parents and I’m sure they give Harper lots of attention but, like it or not, they are role models and lots of people will see this and think that having a dummy at this age is normal when it is not.”

NO! No, Clare, there is no but – if they are wonderful parents then bloody well leave them be, God knows this world has enough people who really don’t care for their kids.

And, sorry, if your reference for what’s ‘normal’ comes from David and Victoria Beckham you have bigger problems. Also, if the pictures are so bad, maybe the Mail shouldn’t publish them. Just a thought. Finally, our first expert adds:

“It could be last child syndrome – because she is the youngest David and Victoria could be clinging on to her being a baby.”

Are your self-righteous bullshit detectors bleeping yet? If not wait until Sue Atkins wades in:

“It is an easy option for parents, because if you give them a dummy they shut up and are quiet. It’s the same as giving them an iPad really.”

Here it is people, the flat-out unashamed judgement of other peoples choices. No mention of the fact that we all need the ‘easy option’ sometimes; we shouldn’t feel guilty about using a soother (or an iPad) to quiet a tantruming toddler every now and then. It’s called real life, and every parent is just a human trying their best. Even the Beckhams. The idea that people who use dummies do so because they want their child to “shut up” is frankly insulting. Oh, but wait, she’s not finished…

“Some parents use them as an easy way to keep their kids quiet, and their language development is impaired by it because they don’t have to talk. It delays their vocabulary if they have them too long.”

Oh, just fuck off. Undoubtedly there are a few naughty/sad/ignorant people out there who just don’t want to engage with their children, but that isn’t most of us. This association between an ‘impaired’ vocabulary and dummies is at best a generalisation and at worst a nonsense based on extreme anecdotal evidence.

Just for the record, my son (the toddler with the dummy) counts to 5, sings the alphabet and knows the difference between a circle and an oval. #mikedrop

  

My son with a dummy. And what?

Okay, time to get a bit serious. This shit is toxic. What may seem like a fun ranty article to some people leaves others cowering in the corner, racked with guilt about their failure as a parent. I’m not exaggerating. It makes us doubt ourselves and our knowledge of our own children. This is damaging for all involved.

The world doesn’t need less dummies, it needs less overtly judgemental bullying of parents who are obviously doing a very good job in general.        

Funnily enough, shoved in right at the end of the article is another opinion. Though it is also from an ‘expert’ it is not included in the headline, probably because this particular person says something completely reasonable. And reasonable doesn’t sell newspapers…

“She said: ‘It is up to the parents – famous or not – to decide when their child is ready to stop using a dummy. It’s a personal decision in every family and they know best […]

The most important thing is that she feels loved, safe, secure and able to engage with the world.'”

Finally, a bit of bloody sense. The only experts we should listen to are ones who acknowledge that, when it comes to our children, we are the true specialists.

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What do you think? Is it all a bit much or are you really shocked by what the Beckhams have chosen for their daughter? Leave a comment below and I shall respond duly!

  

How to lose your baby weight.

how to lose your baby weight‘Baby weight’: should it be an actual thing? Should it be something we talk about and focus on? Is ‘baby weight’ a helpful idea/turn of phrase in any way?

When you become a mother it is very likely that you’ll feel your body is not your own for while. I mean the whole being-in-labour thing is enough to make most of us feel a bit odd, what with the world and his wife regarding your nether-regions with clinical disinterest for 24 hours. Then there’s the fact that you have a tiny human attached to you boob/general person all the time. (Like, all the f*cking time). Anyhoo, the whole newborn scenario is not exactly going to make you feel like you’re bringing sexy back or anything, and that’s totes normal, so, like, don’t worry about it.

Added to all this body-consciousness is the concept that you have some ‘baby weight’ that you must lose sometime soon. Because that is what people do, right? By people, I mean Victoria Beckham and Jessica Alba and Kate ‘The Duchess of Cambridge’ Middleton. You know, the kind of people who can afford a nanny for each child, personal trainer and chef. And the kind of people who get followed around by cameras ever darn day of their lives… I mean, I can’t think how/why they do it…

At first this whole issue may not bother you, but give it time. I have written previously about the few months of grace after giving birth where I could look in the mirror and think “yeah, my body looks different and that’s okay”, but then the inevitable happened and I looked in s three way mirror and tried to buy jeans. Foolish woman. Suddenly it dawned on me that I really did need to shape up! And by ‘shape up’ I mean lose weight and look thinner, obvs. I need to shed my baby weight.

But did I? Do you? 

Now, I’m not saying that women don’t put on weight when they’re pregnant. I’m obviously not saying that, because that would be straight-up wrong and silly. I’m not saying that women don’t put on more weight than the 6-10lbs their baby weighs either (again, wrong and silly). What I’m saying is that the whole idea of ‘baby weight’ has a certain, well, weight to it. It has an expectancy that at some point you really need to get your act together and return to your ‘normal’ body type. Like your body has just gone wrong for a while and it needs a gym membership and 10-day juice cleanse to get it back on track.

But what if – and bear with me because this is a pretty out-there suggestion – what if growing a person in your womb, going through major hormonal changes and having the skin around your torso stretch, like, a lot, means that your ‘normal’ body type has changed? If that’s the case then isn’t the idea it’s all just ‘baby weight’ that needs to get gone a bit, well, unrealistic. What with having to look after an actual tiny helpless human and everything, I just don’t think this expectation is one we should be putting on ourselves.

And while we’re on the subject, what body shape are we trying to get ‘back’ to anyway? The way we looked before we had kids? You know, that pre-baby physique that you’d always been so happy with and never wanted to changed in any way? Hmm… Ain’t hindsight a bitch.

Actually, I think most of us want to have the body we wanted to have before we were pregnant, not the one we had. There’s still part of me that wants to get ‘back’ to my ‘ideal’ weight. This weight was not the weight I was just before Bubs was conceived, on no, it’s the weight I was when I was 24 and vegan and went running regularly and was yet to become quite so fond of Sauvignon Blanc. Incidentally this was also the weight I was when lots of people volunteered their unbidden opinion that I was too skinny. Sigh.

The fact that half of the women we see modelling clothes we’re supposed to wear are teenagers doesn’t help here. I mean, what if we’re not all supposed to have the figure of an adolescent girl whose boobs have just ‘come in’ for the rest of our lives?’

I’m just asking.

Having a baby, whether you give birth to it or not, is going to change your lifestyle. You will be exhausted a lot of the time and less able to just ‘pop to the gym’ (apparently that is a thing that people do) whenever. You will most likely eat more quick and easy food, which usually means more frozen pizza.

And so what? I mean, maybe that’s just okay. It’s obviously not okay to eat chocolate for breakfast every day and live a sedentary lifestyle, but any parent of a toddler will know that the option of a sedentary lifestyle is but an illusive dream.

(Just as an aside, I think all parents of toddlers should, by rights, have really toned arms. Who’s with me?)

Bodies change. That is an actual scientific fact. So what if we just let them? I don’t mean what if we all become morbidly obese, obvs, (wrong and silly), but what if we don’t try to ‘get our figures back’? What if we try to love the skin we’re in, generally eat some vegetables, make sure we move about a bit, and also drink some gin and eat some chocolate?

Sure Victoria Beckham is the skinniest four-child-bearing mini you’ll ever see, but as the paparazzi aren’t particularly bothered with my everyday movements, maybe it just doesn’t matter that much if my arms wobble a bit. Maybe that’s even.. Nice.

Dear Reader, I am so sick of this crap. I am so tired of being surrounded by women on expensive, extreme diets, or talking about how ‘bad’ we were on holiday (i.e. we ate lots and enjoyed it). I am SO sick of all this body image stuff getting into my head and making me crazy and unhappy and stopping me just enjoying my ridiculously blessed existence!

So, I am turning over a new leaf, I am going to try to live a healthy lifestyle because I don’t want to die of a con colony heart failure when I’m 55, and if doing that means I lose a stone then I will be ecstatic (not gonna lie) but if I don’t, I am really going to try to feel good about myself anyway. Because why shouldn’t I? And why shouldn’t you? 

If you need further inspiration, check Amy Schumer’s acceptance speech at the Glamour women of the Year Awards. Nothing to do with baby weight, but the line 47 seconds in is priceless!

  

To CBeebie or not to CBeebie? That is the question.

Dear Reader, there comes a time in every woman’s life when she has to start asking herself the big questions. Questions like how many CBeebies related lists can I really put on my blog before it gets ridiculous?

Of course, this is a major issue in all of our lives…

No? Oh, just me then.

Soooo… I have decided to branch out into the world of Buzzfeed, where the created of sarcastic, pithy lists is accepted, nay, encouraged! For my first foray into this arena, I have outlined 8 CBeebies programmes that I would REALLY like to see late night specials made of.

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Riiiiiiight? How good would that be? It could be, like, a special series on BBC3 or something. Epic times. We should start a social media campaign, because BOY do I want to see Rasta Mouse solve a murder!

Enjoy this hilarious Buzzfeed, brought to you by your truly.

Sorry to those of you who follow me on Facebook and have already seen this, those of you don’t, sort your lives out!

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Parents: We’ve all gone a little bit mad.

Hi there good people. Just a little note today from you’re resident malcontent to say ‘Hey, are you feeling a bit mad?’ Well you’re not alone!

mad parents

As you may have guessed from the general (fucking hilarious) tone of this blog, I’m not exactly okay with the current advice-culture-quagmire we modern day parents have to wade through. And, frankly, I think we’ve all gone a bit mad. Why? Because there are so many bloody ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’. Neuroses about food and sleep and behaviour and development continually pop up on our Facebook feeds and get rammed down our throats in the form of ‘news’ articles and ‘helpful’ books. Seriously, I continually write about how all this stuff is utter BS but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me. It’s like how I get well angry with the general “be thin, be thin, be reeeeeeaaally thin” bombardment women face on a daily basis’ but also hate my upper arms (I mean they are utterly hideous, as showcased above) and read the calorie counts when deciding which sandwich to buy. Bleurgh. Continue reading