Hey Mamas, It Does Get Easier

Daily tantrums. Over. Nothing. The wrong colour cup. They don't want to wear shoes. That dog looked at them funny. From the time my son was two, until a couple of months after his fourth birthday, our life was filled with constant tantrums. Sometimes they were small, and could be eased with a cuddle. Sometimes they were epic meltdowns that only subsided after mummy was bitten and whacked into submission. And by submission, I mean I would be curled up in a corner sobbing my eyes out.

But then things got easier. And I don't mean that I became better adept at dealing with the tantrums. Or that I became tougher at dealing with the public shamings and smackings. I probably did get better at handling them, but then the tantrums just eased. Considerably. My son no longer needed to fight about every decision. Dubz no longer needed to shout and scream whenever he disagreed with me. We could leave a park without floods of tears. All of a sudden, he seemed to gain some sense.

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It's Okay To Feel Happy When Your Baby Starts SchoolWhen my big girl started school, I felt all the usual emotions - nervousness, excitement, worry and sadness. Four years later, my baby boy had his first day of Reception. And while I was a bit nervous that he would be scared, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and happiness. I was happy to finally have a little bit of freedom. And of course, being a mother, I felt guilt. Ah, there's always some guilt.

I made the decision to become a Stay-At-Home-Mum over three years ago. Doesn't that mean that I should want to be with my children at all times? Maybe there are some mothers out there who want to be with their kids 24/7. But I am not one of those mums. It doesn't mean that I don't adore my children. It just means that I want, no, that I need time on my own.

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Is Punishing Your Child Akin To Child Abuse?Although I don't watch This Morning (sorry), parenting forums have been buzzing with today's interview by Bea Marshall. Bea is a parenting coach - I expect she tells parents what to do rather than offering encouraging words like 'you got this' and 'you are definitely not screwing up your child'. Anyway, Bea doesn't think children should be punished as 'any form of punishment puts the parent in a position of power over their child'. Wait, what?! Isn't that the point of being a parent? Aren't we supposed to be the ones in charge? Surely I'm not the only one who uses the line 'If you don't like my rules, then get a job and a family and make your own rules'.

What is wrong with having power over your children as long as you use the power to guide them and help them turn out into happy, caring, responsible adults? My daughter is eight and my son is four. I cannot imagine letting them decide whether they should do their homework, see the dentist or what time they should go to bed. I am an adult. With that comes years of wisdom and learning. I have learned some things the hard way, which everyone must go through. But some things have been learnt through listening to the recommendation of professionals. For instance, I know how important sleep is to children's growing bodies and minds. Letting my kids get six or seven hours of sleep a night is not going to do them any favours.

But I am not saying that we should blindly follow childcare experts. I sincerely believe in a parent's intuition. Many of us are taught to ignore our hearts, but there is something that tells many of us what is best for our own child. Obviously if your instinct says to give your six-month old some Coca-Cola, then maybe ignore those instincts. I also don't believe we should be hitting our children or punishing them in any way that is humiliating or physical. Kids need to feel safe and loved at home, more than anywhere else. A parent should be the one person who you know will always love you and take care of you and never inflict harm or pain on you.

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What I've Learned After Eight Years of Motherhood

Eight years ago, on this exact day, I became a mother. But the mother I was on that very first day is much different to who I am today. In the beginning, you go in 'all guns blazing', armed with your baby books and a heady sense of excitement mixed with equal measures of fear. But each day you learn, you grow. The fear sometimes lessen, and sometimes increases. You look at the books less, and you trust yourself more. So I thought I would share some of the things I have learned in the past eight years.

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It's Okay To Cry

The last few weeks have been tough. Dubz, who is two months shy of his fourth birthday, has been more of a handful than ever. In January, he began being afraid of sleeping alone and started sneaking to his sister's bed throughout the night and waking up early. He had always slept through the night, until about 7.30am. So waking up at 6am began taking a toll on him. In the past few weeks, he has started waking up at 5am. He cannot handle the lack of sleep, physically and mentally. He has been falling asleep in the afternoons, on the sofa or in the car. He wakes up angry and cranky. But if he doesn't sleep, he is much worse.

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Motherhood, On My TermsEight years ago today, I  was in the third trimester of my first pregnancy, seven weeks from giving birth. I was reading pregnancy books and magazines, preparing to be the 'perfect mother'. *cue howls of laughter* But nothing truly prepares you for parenthood. While I feel that I spent the first few months of motherhood playing by the book, it did not take long for me to find my own way of being a mother. You could even say that I've become a maverick mum. ...continue reading


To The Lady Who Offered Me Unwanted AdviceIt has happened to us all. You are out and about with your children, minding your own business, when an unknown voice intrudes into your space. This kindly, well-meaning person goes on to tell you how to best take care of your children. Perhaps your child is not dressed warmly enough. Perhaps your child is dressed too warmly. Is your child particularly small or big for his/her age? Maybe your child is hungry or thirsty. Could your child need a haircut? Or does our child not look enough like his or her own gender? Is that a boy wearing a princess dress? *gasp*

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Being An Okay Mum

I used to think I was a good mum. But then I had a second child, and was so busy focusing on keeping us all alive that I stopped thinking about being a good mother. But recently, as I seem to have gotten the knack of parenting two children, my thoughts have turned to parenting. My youngest is now three and a half and he is better able to communicate his needs and to engage in conversation. At home, things are mostly okay. The problems arise when we leave the house.

Yesterday I took Dubz out for a rare treat after his speech and language therapy appointment - a chocolate biscuit and juice at a cafe in our local Tesco Extra. After scoffing the biscuit in two minutes, he wanted to run around the cafe, then he begged for more biscuits and then he ran off to look at Star Wars clothing. I manged half my tea before giving up. It is easier just staying home.

Dubz argues about wearing socks, which shoes to wear and how many toys to take into the car. Once in the car, he argues about where he is sitting and whether he can put on his car seatbelt on. Then there are the arguments about where we are, what we are doing and whether he can have a chocolate muffin. I am okay until about noon. Then my patience is all gone. And by the time we pick up Moozles from school at 3.30pm, I am on the edge. Ready to erupt.

And erupt I do. Every afternoon I start shouting at my children. Yes, they're annoying.  But I don't actually think they can help it (most of the time anyway). But I tell myself, 'don't worry, you're not a bad mum, you're okay'. But is it acceptable being an 'okay mum'? Should I not be striving to be the best mum I can be? I'm not talking about being perfect. Just being better than okay.

But I've decided that okay is the best I can be right now. Beating myself up will not make me a better mother. I let my children know that they are loved. I kiss and cuddle them. I take care of their needs, I clothe and feed them, read to them everyday. I do not lock them in the cupboard under the stairs. Okay, this latter point is basic human dignity, but sometimes you need an extra win. Sometimes I shout. But that doesn't make me a bad mother. So, I'm not the best, most patient mother. But I'm the most okayest mum I can be.



Trusting Ourselves as ParentsDo you remember the day you first held your child in your arms? And you swore that you would do everything right. But let me tell you, there is no right way. There is listening to your heart, and listening to your instincts. There is trusting yourself. Trusting yourself a a person and as a parent.

But this is easier than said (or written). It feels like we live in a society that encourages self-doubt. We start out as confident babies and toddlers. And as childhood progresses, we start to worry. We begin doubting our capabilities. By the time we are teenagers, we are often drowning in negativity and we have lost belief in our instincts. It can often take years to gain back one's confidence. Some people never get it back. It wasn't until my mid 20s that I started to trust myself.

Becoming a parent is a time when many of us begin to lose faith in our instincts. How can you trust the way you want to raise your child when a million experts are telling you a million other ways. It is not always easy to follow your instincts. But we must. We should trust ourselves, as people and as parents. Trust that no one knows your child better than you. And yes, we all sometimes need some guidance. But if we let go the fear of doing things the wrong way, then we can finally trust ourselves.





The Burden of Breastfeeding

When I was first pregnant, I would imagine holding my precious newborn baby in my arms, gazing at the person I had created. I wanted to do everything right for my girl, from having a natural birth to breastfeeding.  All the research said that breast is best. For the baby, and for the mother. What I didn't expect was how tough it would be to breastfeed my baby.

You may have read that my natural birth turned to a caesarean section when my daughter proved determined to be breech. It was tough enough dealing with the c-section, the shame and the pain. I didn't expect that it would take a few days for my milk to come in, and by then Moozles was hungry and jaundiced. At the hospital we had to give her formula from a little spoon. It was such a stressful time, and I just wanted to go home.

But the midwives at St Thomas' Hospital, London, did not want me to leave. They kept pressuring me to breastfeeding, even using the pump. But nothing. No milk would come. They told me that I would not get such support at home, that the hospital was the best place for me. Normally one will be discharged from the hospital 3-4 days after their c-section, if there are no complications. I stayed for five days. On the fourth day, the midwife said that my heart rate was high and that I needed to remain in the hospital. And even on that fifth day, they wanted me to remain but Husband and I were united and strong that we would not be staying another night.

At home, my milk came in. But by then Moozles wanted nothing to do with my breasts. She screamed every time I tried to bring her close to me. It hurt my heart. So Husband went to Mothercare and bought a breastfeeding pump and a breastfeeding book. That evening Husband used the new breast pump to withdraw my milk. I remember the pain of the first pump. He had to do it for me (luckily it wasn't a manual pump) as I was crying in agony. But we were able to finally feed our baby with breastmilk. But it was not how I had imagined it.

For one week, I expressed my breast milk for Moozles. And she continued to reject my breast. I planned to quit breastfeeding after the first three weeks. I knew I could not continue with the heart break. The only positive for me was that Husband was getting the opportunity to feed our baby. But then, we followed a tip from the breastfeeding book. I used nipple shields, and all of a sudden Moozles would take the milk from my breast. It was not exactly how I had pictured it, but it was more like the idealised version. I decided to give myself small goals--breastfeed for two months, then four, then six, then we would see. I used the nipple shields until she was five months old, and then I breastfed normally until she was almost one.

I am so glad that I breastfed my daughter (and later my son). But I never felt like I was a better mum than the mothers who fed their babies formula. I think some people don't realise that breastfeeding has its own problems, and many of us struggle and feel inadequate. As mothers, we put enough pressure on ourselves. We do not need other mothers or health professionals putting unnecessary stress. Whether we breastfeed or bottle feed, surely it is about doing what is best for our child and ourselves. As long as a child is well fed, it should not matter where their milk is made. As long as it is given with love.

The Burden of Breastfeeding