I used to think I was a crap mum. I used to feel that my family would be better off without me. I do not say these things for people to counter with "no you aren't" or "no you weren't". The fact is that I really did feel this way and I truly thought that MadDad and the boys would be better off without me. I suffered with Post Natal Depression, I bullied myself, catastrophised everything and was filled with terrible anxiety. I couldn't separate rational and irrational thoughts. I received fantastic treatment including cognitive behavioral therapy over five years ago now and it changed the person that I was and helped make me the mum and person I am now.
I was reading Kate's post earlier in the week about how scared parenting made her feel and it brought all those feelings back to me, but rather than let them take over me, I remembered that I am parenting in an imperfect world and my imperfect parenting skills are just preparing y boys for the road which they will travel. This is one of the biggest things that CBT gave me, it helped be put things into perspective and process them. I am not a perfect mum, but I am the best mum the boys could hope for, I am their mum and I love them with all my heart and every fibre of my being.
I have two quotes that help me navigate the waters of perfection, for as soon as I realised that I didn't need to be the perfect mother, that it was OK to give shop bought food and not beat myself up about formula feeding and ensured that if I was happy so would the boys be, things started to come together for us all.
"There is no one way to be the perfect Mother, but there are millions of ways to be a good one!" - Jill Churchill
"Being Happy doesn't mean everything's perfect, It means that you have decided to look beyond the imperfections" - Gerard Way
So on those days when I am screaming like a fishwife at my boys or wondering how to find the words to tell them about challenges that life may throw at them, I hope that I can remember that it is OK to be an imperfect parent in an imperfect world and give myself a break, for this parenting lark is the hardest, unceasing, but most rewarding job I have ever done or will ever do.
I have also vowed to be in the picture more, this was something that I did a lot more after my mastectomy. So I will be passing the camera to other people more often and instead of being the one behind it taking the pictures, I will be the one in THAT picture with my family.
You won't know that you did with yourself before they came along
There is nothing quite like being a mother
You will have so much respect for your mother once you are one
They grow up so fast
We heard them all and so many more, but we didn't listen. We had waiting many a long year to have a child. We both longed for children, but had convinced ourselves and each other that we were fine as a couple and that we couldn't keep on trying and failing at being parents. Then one day we had a little boy and then 15 months later another new born. Those first years past by in a blur of nappies, exhaustion, feeding and joy, inescapable joy. I can not put into words how lucky we are to have two amazing, unique and challenging children.
Those children, that each night before bed we both go and watch sleep, just as we did from the first day we brought each of them home. It is part of our nighttime routine. MadDad goes to one door and I the other, then we pass on the landing as we swap. Then we move on to our room safe that we have breathed in a special piece of our family to infuse our sleep with. I like to use the excuse that I want to make sure they are tucked in and their lights are off and books off the bed, but in truth I want to just watch them and breathe in their smell.
“This blog post has been written as an entry into the Tots100 competition in association with Boots Mother and Baby“
Like a lot of parent's, these last few days have been filled with the kind of horror that we do not want to imagine. The fact that April Jones has been abducted is horrible.
I have seen the conversations, both offline and online regarding blaming the parents for her being taken, but you know what. It is not their fault. It is her Abductors fault. This is not negotiable and is THE fact.
My boys live a pretty free range lifestyle, they are often out and about on their own or with their friends. They have boundaries and rules, which I hope that they stick too. The school has discussed stranger danger with them and in light of April's abduction we have also discussed not going with someone that you know unless Mummy or Daddy say it is OK and if we are not there and have not agreed it then unless they child is with them, then they are not to go with them, with the exclusions of family.
I do not live in constant fear of them being taken. I am well aware that some people might think I am being naive, but they are my children and this is my parenting choice. I feel that they gain so much from being allowed the freedom they are. We live in a village where lots of children play out. I let them get on their scooters and scoot to their friends house. I know where they are most of the time. They also take a walkie talkie out with them too.
I remember growing up with similar ground rules and I also firmly believe that we are more aware of the dangers these days, but they are not necessarily more people like this around, it is just we are aware of them more.
I'm loving this series of The Great British Bake Off, as are most of you guys judging by the #GBBO chat on Twitter every Tuesday night. Did you know that you can now also get the Great British Bake Off App which features lots of easy to find, easy to follow recipes from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. You can browse by baker, occasion, ingredient or difficulty. Once you have chosen what you want to bake you get an overview with a skill level, the ingredients you will need and the steps you will need to take to bake it.
I along with 9 other bloggers are taking part in The Great Blogger Bake Off challenge. Each of the bloggers involved has been allocated a letter to put on top of their cakes, you can see Cass’s and her Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes. There will be a letter a week over the ten weeks of the series, at the end you can unjumble them to find a word.
These cupcakes were pretty easy to bake and went down a treat at home. They look much more impressive than they are to make and I will be baking them again with different fillings and toppings.
We received most of the ingredients to make the cupcakes, a complimentary copy of the Great British Bake Off Book and the app.
There is something about Autumn that sets me off on a mad cleaning frenzy. I know I should do it in spring, but for both me and MadDad it is an Autumn thing. We have just decorated the lounge, sitting room and hall, well painted them and I have the kitchen next on the list.
Cleaning is not my favorite past time, but since having the boys it is something that I get them to help me with. As I want them to help it is important to me that we use natural products, so that I feel safe having them use them too. My cleaning kit at the moment consists of white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, a gentle soap, borax substitute, tea tree oil and cloths.
All purpose spray cleaner
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 teaspoons of borax substitute
A dab of liquid soap
5 drops of tea trea oil
2 cups hot tap water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag. I have a bag full of old tea towels t shirts etc that we use in the kitchen, in addition to some microfibre cloths that we use for cleaning. I also have a post about 15 uses for white vinegar over on A Thrifty Mum.
The only time that I really use kitchen roll is when I am cleaning the bin or the toilets, as I can use the sheet and then pop it in the compost bin for hygiene reasons. But have to say that I like the fact that
I would love to know what you use to clean and if you make your own cleaning products, what do you use?
Both my boys have just been for their regular six monthly check up's at the dentists and I was devastated to discover that MIni is showing some signs of decay on one of his milk teeth. This means that we have been moved to three monthly check ups and also that I need to be more vigilant with their brushing.
Thankfully this has coincided with Aquafresh introducing the Aquafresh Club and producing a video about making brush time more pleasurable and easier.
They also have twenty top tips for encouraging brushing:
Get a 2 minute egg timer – you can get these at the dentist – so your kids know how long to brush for!
Let kids pick their own toothbrush – they will get really excited when it comes to brushing their teeth with the toothbrush they have picked!
Get your kids a (robust) mirror – they can make silly faces in it and watch themselves brushing
Play their favourite song while they brush to the beat – as most songs last two – three minutes it’s the perfect length
Brush your teeth at the same time – kids love to copy mum and dad!
Get an older family member to surprise your kids with their false teeth and a story about how theirs fell out – always a good incentive to get kids brushing!
If you have more than one child, turn brush time into a competition – the one who brushes the best gets to pick the bedtime story! Don’t forget to alternate the ‘winner’ though!
Tell your kids that the Tooth Fairy pays out less for decayed teeth – this will get them brushing better!
If you have an older child, get them to teach their younger sibling how to brush – this makes it fun and also reinforces good brushing tips for the elder one.
Let your child brush their favourite toy’s teeth – they will soon pick up how to do their own!
Sing "Brush, brush, brush your teeth, gently to and fro, up, down, side to side, teeth so clean they glow" to the tune of “Row row row your boat” – it’s a great brushing rhythm!
Give your kids a gentle scare by showing them pictures of people with bad teeth – or even your own – so that they know why they need to brush!
Make three animal faces for brushing: tiger teeth (together), hippo mouth (mouth open) and snake tongue (to brush tongue). It makes it more fun and gets their teeth in the right position.
With older kids, establish the link between bad brushing and bad breath – they will soon cotton on to this!
Get your kids to brush with disclosing tablets once a week – they will love the surprising effect and it can become a challenge to see who can get their teeth white the quickest!
Play ‘dentist’ with your kids – put them in a chair, inspect their teeth while they brush and provide a running commentary while they are doing so!
Reward charts with stickers work very well – once they have reached a certain number they can get a treat which is a great incentive!
Let your child ‘brush’ your teeth too – they are more likely to let you brush theirs if you can take it in turns!
Give your kids 1p in a piggy bank every time they brush properly – 2p per day adds up to £7.30 a year!
Let your kids be independent! You will need to brush their teeth at the end but letting them do it first makes them feel very grown up and it’s good practice!
The video comes on the back of research that Aquafresh conducted of 1,500 mums of children aged 2-12 that reveals that more than one million under-fives in the UK have at least two fillings, as mums struggle to get kids to brush their teeth. Other findings from the research are:
• One in six (17 per cent) mums say their child has at least 3 fillings
• 13 per cent of mums have children who have at least one filling by the time they start school (aged 3)
• Almost one in four (24 per cent) mums say their children only brush their teeth once a day and one in fifty say they don’t brush at all
• The research showed that almost half (47 per cent) of kids under 12 have been told they have dental decay, one of the most preventable diseases in the UK
• Over half of mothers (53 per cent) admit to finding getting their kids to brush their teeth stressful – potentially leading to arguments in over 2.5 million families
• One in fifty mums even admitted that their kids never brush their teeth.
One of the wonderful parts of the Mad Blog Awards for me was seeing all the amazing bloggers dressed up in wonderful glamorous outfits. Not only did they look amazing, hopefully they all felt fantastic too. I helped organise the sponsored outfits for a lot of the attendee's and it was fantastic seeing what outfits they had chosen.
With Christmas and the party season soon upon us, it was great to see all sorts of affordable and achievable outfits and it is great to see good old Marks and Spencer have got together with Twiggy to bring out her own range of clothing. I particularly love the coat above and the uneven hems on the dresses.
On the day we also were lucky enough to have a fantastic team of Hairstylists from Regis and Make-up Artists from Arbonne to help the finalists make any finishing touches before the ceremony kicked off.
Merry, pictured in the centre of the above picture was dressed by M&S and looked amazing, so when I was asked to blog about M&S dresses I was more than happy too, knowing just how wonderful the perfect dress could make someone feel.
I take thousands of pictures. I make sure that they surround us in our home, on the walls, in digital photo frames and on mobile phones, but I do not take much video at all. I always worry that it will look pants and that the quality will be poor, so when Panasonic offered to loan me a full HD video recorder (model HC-V500), I wasn't sure that I would use it. But once we did use it and see the quality I am a convert. I have a flip camera, but the quality is not a patch on the Panasonic HC-V500.
The camera has a 50 times zoom and records in full HD. It is lightweight, compact and very easy to use. It is child's play. So much so that both the boys could use it. The thing that really sold me on it was the fact that it has image stabilisation, so no picture shake, even when you are running after children on the underground.
We went to London a couple of weekends back with Frugal Family and I decided to capture our day trip using the Panasonic and I am in love!
Take a look at the very short edited video and let me know what you think of the quality. I was really impressed at the footage taken in the reading room at The British Museum as the light was really poor and photographs without flash did not turn out, whereas the video camera took perfect pictures. The camera retails at £240 on Amazon and I really wish that Panasonic had given me one rather than just loaned it to me! So if you are reading this Clara, it got lost in the post, OK!
I adore Autumn. I love bringing out my thick tights to wear under my skirts and dresses and long sleeved t-shirts to add as an extra layer under them.
Just because the weather has changed doesn't mean that you need to put your childrens summer clothes away either, especially as most children will have grown out of them by the time the weather changes for them to be able to wear them again. It is all about layers. So I thought I would supply you with some hints and tips for making those clothes last over the colder seasons.
Layer shorts and short skits over leggings and tights
Ads a long sleeved T-, vest or thermal top shirt and tights under dresses
Encourage children to wear vests, either long, short or capped sleeves
Add a plain long sleeved t shirt under a short sleeved one
Wear leggings under trousers when the weather gets cold
Make sure any roll up trousers are warn unrolled
When my boys were small I used to add long sleeved all in ones (the ones with poppers) under their tops
Buy your children thermals to wear under the PJ's or clothes. You can get some really pretty girls ones and my boys are happy to wear sports underwear like footballers do!
Buy thermal or boot socks, wellies can be very cold
Whilst we are talking about helping clothes last longer, there was a great post by Design Mom on the secrets of a well mended wardrobe, which is great and after reading Miss Thrifty this week ordered Sew and Save and can not wait to read it more and teach the boys the art of looking after their clothes and making them last longer. I will be back with a full review once I have had time to look through it a little more.
We are great lovers of Curry in The Mad House and even the boys love it too. Mostly I make one from scratch and you can find my Nice Easy Basic Curry recipe over at Frugalicious Food, butI am not adverse to using curry powder especially when I have less time and we have what has fondly become know as Fridge bottom curry. I have to admit that the inspiration for this curry comes from Chris at Thinly Spread and is based on her Baked Bean Curry.