Tag: blog

November Chat with a Mum: Prabs of Absolutely Prabulous

Tell us something about yourself, your little ones and your blog.

Oh my goodness where do I start? I’m a day dreamer and have an ability to misplace (and generally do stupid things with) my keys that I challenge anyone to match. I’m a lifelong music obsessive (I think I’d rather go 7 days without water than music), huge film fan, beach lover (after being a hardened city girl pre kids) and born again runner (hilariously I’ve actually won my age category at a gruelling race which was possibly the biggest surprise in life given how I wanted to rip my own ears off whenever anyone mentioned running most of my life). I’m very ranty, too sweary and way too reactive in general (but hopefully the fact I’m also very friendly and will talk to anyone makes up for some of that). I can’t imagine a life without tea and toast although have amazingly curbed my cake addiction. I’m quite partial to my kids (girl of 12, boy of almost 10 and girl of almost 7) who are ridiculously well-behaved (to the point where they don’t provide much comedy material because there’s not much drama or bad behaviour…yet I still manage to yell at them almost every day. And I quite like my husband whom I met when I lived in Paris (although incredibly our parents actually only live ten minutes from each other). I started the blog partly so that I could use my language degree for something other than yelling ‘I don’t have a butler to switch the lights off after you’ 20 times a day and mainly so I had a legitimate excuse to show off my legendary talent for sarcasm. I’ve been blogging for three years and am in mild shock about how utterly clueless I still am about so much of it.

What were your children’s birth stories like?

At the risk of incurring wrath, I was totally terrified at the thought of natural birth (had been all my life) partly because of the pain but also as I had a very real fear of the baby being strangled by the cord (I think it may be because of it happening to an aunt when I was young). I was actually relieved when I was told at a 37 week scan that baby number 1 had to be a c-section although sadly it was because she was dangerously underweight, not thriving and breach. At that point I didn’t realise how much worse it can be when they take the baby out too early. It was 5pm, I had to be back in the next day and had barely bought anything as I was very superstitious about buying too many things for the baby before its birth and the last three weeks of kids-free coupledom were no longer to be! She came out super tiny and with the cord around her neck three times…

The next two were also breach and also had the cord around the neck. All three were c-sections. I probably would have had VBac for my son and younger daughter if we were still in the UK but Malta is c-section mad and the doctors wouldn’t hear of Vbac. Apart from the pain and longer recovery (and the attractive ‘shelf’ I now have on my tummy), frankly I believe in ‘better the devil you know’. All three births had their element of ‘drama’ (my second was born in the most hideous old-fashioned hospital that closed down months later and my third was born in the new hospital that opened afterwards which had fantastic facilities but racist nurses!!) The main thing is they got here safe and sound and I’m very blessed to have three utter angels.

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

To be honest, I never obsessed over this. Yes becoming a mum is obviously a total life-changing event but I was very involved in raising my siblings (very common in Indian culture) and did the whole nappy changing/weaning/everything duties when I was young so the practical side didn’t faze me once I became a mum. The rest of it…well, life is all about stages so I don’t feel it’s necessary to know much beforehand as long as you’ve done NCT classes and paid attention to what your pregnancy books say (and then take all of that with a pinch of salt and just wing it!). The rest of it, you’re going to learn anyway and the discovery/surprises are part of the parenting journey so I wouldn’t have wanted to know much beforehand even if I’d had a crystal ball.

How do you manage your “me” time?

Well I’ve always made sure I have it! We went out right from when our first was a few weeks old and I’m probably the only mum I know who didn’t cry the day her child started nursery. So I must admit the mummy guilt posts that crop up on linkies go over my head if I’m brutally honest as I just don’t think it’s healthy to spend your entire time with your kids. I was so happy to get some time on my own when my eldest started nursery and my son went from the age of five months as I needed a mental break to go for a coffee, do the shopping etc. My kids napped for years (not in one stretch ha ha…I mean they had daytime naps til the first two were about five!) because I needed that period during the day that was just for me to nap/watch some trashy TV. It’s not easy living somewhere with no family network or domestic help so admittedly I’m with my kids a lot but they’re at school during the day and are now old enough to stay home alone while I go for a run etc. so it’s all good.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

I know I’ll think of a whole bunch after this post gets published but can’t think of anything great right now! I can recall coming down one morning to find my eldest (then 18 months) on the kitchen floor covered from head to toe in rice krispies with the empty packet in her hand yet still maintaining she ‘didn’t do it’. My youngest is the one who comes out with randomness such as “My favourite part of the day was finding mice hair on the beach” (yeeeucch) or “Mum your eyeballs are so sparkly”. Lastly, I remember my brother picking hubby and me up from the airport and explaining how the kids had been while we’d been away for my 40th. There was loads to report on our eldest…but it took just a few seconds to describe our son: “As for D…well there is no problem that a banana can’t fix with that kid.”

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love?

I’m so bad at answering questions like this. That does NOT mean I don’t love my kids! I’m someone who always wanted three kids, got her three kids, does a lot for them (as is my duty) and never take for granted how lucky I was to have conceived first time around for all three with no heartache (apart from having a miscarriage with the very first) despite only getting started in my mid thirties. I love my kids to bits but for me motherhood is just a part of life so I’d have to say I absolutely love specific aspects of my kids as opposed to motherhood itself if that make sense? It’s the little moments: my 12 year old coming up to me and telling me I’m amazing or expressing admiration for a singer from the 70’s (take that Bieber!), my son who isn’t very tactile surprising me with a thank you hug and my youngest for just being so mellow and gentle and good natured.

On the other hand, if there is anything about motherhood you dislike what would it be?

The pressure to do and achieve pinterest perfect birthdays, Christmases, Halloweens etc. Most of my bug bears are about the issues society creates re parenting rather than motherhood: sexual images and messages in entertainment/music/beauty industry not to mention the device/iPad obsessed culture that makes it hard to raise kids to read books and be creative without resorting to a screen. And endlessly repeating myself because good as they are, they seem to be totally deaf the first time I ask them to do something.

What’s a typical day like for you and your children?

Well Monday to Friday is school routine and all that is involved in that. We’re lucky to live right near the beach so if we’re not up to our ears in homework and I’m not snowed under with the blog, we head there. Weekends are relaxed; they let me lie in and are very low key in terms of needing entertaining as they play with each other and are as happy staying home as they are heading out for a hike or to see friends.

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

I don’t think I’ve ever received any personally. I’m the eldest of four so there were no older siblings and anyway I was very resistant to advice as it tended to be offered by overbearing relatives who I didn’t feel were great role models. This doesn’t really answer the question but two things come to mind: One is the famous line by Jackie Kennedy Onassis “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” and a conversation with my brother (14 years my junior) one time when I mentioned how I didn’t want my kids to have the childhood I had. (My parents did their best by us in many ways of course but ultimately they weren’t around much as they worked long hours running a shop plus other factors.) He looked straight at me and said “You have nothing to worry about; your kids are not having the childhood you had. It’s such a privilege spending time with you seeing the mother that you are.” I’ll never forget that.

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If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

“Prabs, for pity’s sake woman, lighten up and don’t give them a hard time about the smallest things.”

One of the best things I’ve ever read about motherhood though came a few days ago from the wonderful astute Dawn of Rhyming with Wine who commented on an honest rather emotional piece I wrote for my eldest’s 12th birthday:

“Giving birth doesn’t automatically put us on a path to sainthood, it just makes us feel that we want to be so much more than we can realistically expect to be for our children. The fact that you care enough to want those things makes you the best mother in the world”

It just blew me away.

How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your family and other activities?

Well I’ve written extensively about my struggle with this on the blog actually! I came back from my blog break determined to make some changes as I couldn’t make it all work. It’s now 1.30 am so I don’t think my resolution to keep a sensible blog schedule worked. I try to get the main bulk of it done 9 til 1 three days during the week so that I can get dinner on before fetching the kids but it rarely happens. I’m trying not to blog on weekends but I do work most evenings and I hardly ever stop at 1pm during the week. The house is the thing that suffers.

Thank you so much Prabs!

You can stay in touch with her on  Facebook, Twitter and Instragram and of course do head over her blog for more of her “Prabulousness”.

And don’t forget to click here if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.

October Chat with a Dad: Simon of Man VS Pink

Tell us something about yourself (your blog) and your little one.

I’m a stay-at-home dad to a 4-year-old girl. I’ve been home with her since she was 6- months old when her mother returned to work. I mainly blog about gender stereotypes in relation to girls. As a Star Wars & superhero fan-dad, I was frustrated at how all merchandise was being overtly categorised & labelled for boys. I wanted to call this out, as well as demonstrating how girls such as my daughter engaged with these characters and stories too. I also blog about being a stay-at-home dad, as fathers also fall prey to lazy gender stereotypes.

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What was her birth story like?

The birth went well – my wife’s waters broke in middle of night, but she waited until morning when I woke to tell me and go to hospital. Our daughter was born about 12 hours later. My wife’s comment after giving birth was “Well, that was easier than I thought it was going to be…”

Post-Birth, my wife had very high blood pressure, so I took daughter home a couple of nights to give wife a chance to sleep and help bring it down. After 5 nights both were home, but less than 24 hours later my wife was rushed to hospital with complications related to her blood pressure. It was a horribly unreal experience as my wife was in a great deal of pain – we went to hospital separately, and let’s just say I was more than half expecting to be told my wife had died. Thankfully that wasn’t the case

But my wife did stay in hospital for anther week and I took our baby mosts nights. Memories of that time are bittersweet – while the stress and upheaval of what my wife was going through was awful, in hindsight there was another aspect – I had an intense period of one-on-one bonding with our baby. Perhaps that was a key moment in subsequent decision to become a stay-at-home dad?

Eventually, all came good and my wife was back home. One thing we decided on was to give up on breastfeeding, as it removed an element of stress that helped bring her blood pressure down.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?


I guess one thing, which has partly motivated my blogging, is my assumptions about girls – I’m embarrassed to say I assumed they were pre-disposed to like pink, princesses, etc. I’m not sure when this opinion changed, but reading the likes of Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein (a book I highly recommend to anyone having/with a daughter) made me question that in a positive way.

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How do you balance your time between work/blogging and fatherhood?


In the early days, I would blog at weekends. I would be craving time to myself after a long week home with our child and blogging was something I did for me. The luxury of having an idea and being able to follow it through to the end was immensely satisfying after a week of half finished tasks. When she started at pre-school, then nursery, this became another important blogging time. My daughter has just started school, so that has freed up a lot of time for me blog and pursue more writing gigs. I’m also an early riser – anything past 5am is a lie in!

Any favourite anecdotes of your kid?


I shared one recently on the blog. Our daughter gets quizzed a lot by men (dads) when wearing superhero or Star Wars stuff – I think these men don’t believe a girl really can be into this stuff. It’s known as the Fake Geek Girl syndrome. Anyway, she was dressed as Rey from The Force Awakens and a guy started quizzing her about her lightsaber – but she answered every question he threw at her including how they’re built, what powers them, etc. The guy was pretty shocked she knew so much.

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What is it about fatherhood you love about?


It’s hard to pin it down. I love helping her grow. I love introducing her to new ideas and experiences. I love cuddles with her. I love what she teaches me. Being a father is something I have wanted to be for as long as I can remember, and I love being one.

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If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?


The main thing I dislike about fatherhood is the way it is perceived by many. I think there is often a default in parenting to the mother. In fact, often the term parenthood and motherhood are used interchangeably. But many aspects of what people perceive as the preserve of motherhood are important aspects of my parenting and that of many other fathers.

 Best Advice you’ve received about Fatherhood?

To be honest, I can’t think of any.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

Don’t worry. You’ll get better at it.

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Thank you so much Simon!

If you haven’t visited Man VS Pink, please do so now.  And you can also stay in touch with more of his musing through FB, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you read last month’s chat with a mum yet?  Do check her out here.

September Chat with a Mum: Laura of Five Little Doves

Laura of Five Little Doves Blog

Tell us something about yourself, your little ones and your blog.

My name is Laura, I’m a 36 year old Mum of five, married to Gareth and together we live in Lancashire. I am a stay at home Mum to Lewis, 12, from my first marriage, Eva 4, Megan 3 and Harrison 2. My second son Joseph would have been 10 this July but was sadly stillborn in 2006. He is a huge part of our family and we feel his absence daily.

I started my blog last year during a time when I was struggling with ongoing health issues, battling fibromyalgia, ME, and undergoing neurological investigations that were, quite frankly, terrifying for my family and I. I felt that I needed something else to focus on, something to keep my mind ticking over, and writing has always been therapeutic for me, something I enjoy and in some ways, the only thing that, other than being a Mother, has ever come naturally to me.

What were your children’s birth stories like?

In a word – FAST!! Lewis was born very quickly, just eleven minutes of established labour, and for a first labour, I realise that I was very lucky!  Joseph was an induction and a long, gruelling, emotional one at that, but again, when I got to four centimetres he was born in just a couple of minutes. Eva, Megan and Harry were induced at 35 weeks due to being such high risk pregnancies and with all three, once I reached four centimetres they were born in under two minutes. Megan developed an infection at birth and was in NICU for the first two weeks and again, Harry needed resuscitating at birth and spent two long weeks, very poorly in NICU.

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What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

That it is the hardest job in the whole world, one which will push you to your limits, test your patience and your sanity. That there will be days when you feel you are failing, that you aren’t the parent you had hoped you would be, when as much as you love your children, you would give just about anything for ONE moment to yourself before you lose the plot entirely. But despite all that, no matter how bad things get or how hard the struggle, it will absolutely be worth it.

Mum and her two daughters.

How do you manage your “me” time?

Me time?? Remind me what that is again? I don’t think I’ve had a moment to myself since 2012! Having three under three was a huge shock to the system and now I consider myself lucky if I get to shower in peace, let alone use the toilet.

I do try to claw back some me time back when the children are in bed, working on my blog, writing, reading, watching trashy reality TV and eating way too much chocolate.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

Far too many to tell you about but one that happened most recently, during a disastrous shopping trip with the three youngest, was Megan pointing over at a rather large gentleman and shouting, “He’s got a big fat tummy like daddy pig!!”. Definitely a ground swallow me up kind of moment!

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What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

Gosh what a difficult question, and one which I could answer in a million different ways. I think my favourite thing is when the children are all together, with their little heads bowed over a game or a book, when they are snuggled up on the couch with their bodies touching, holding hands, sharing a kiss or a cuddle. It’s those moments when I look over, or I spot them from a distance, and I can’t quite believe that they are all mine. After everything we went through, all those losses and all of that sadness, to know that they are all mine, that we have the family we never dared to dream of, that has got to be the thing I love the most.

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On the other hand, if there is anything about motherhood you dislike what would it be?

Absolutely!! The sleep deprivation, the screeching, the incessant whining, the days when they just don’t listen to a single word I say? The mountains of laundry that they relentlessly produce, crayon marks on my walls, the fact that it’s a military operation just to leave the house most days.

What’s a typical day like for you and your child?

In short, hard work!! Four children was never going to be easy, but three children in three consecutive years sometimes feels impossible! We try very hard to stick to a routine as that makes life much easier, but anything can throw it, a late night, a cancellation, a last minute change of plans. We do playgroups twice a week, the girls have nursery three times a week and in between we try and get out as much as possible if the weather is fine, if not we stay home and bake, play dress up and watch Frozen back to back, whatever it takes to get through the day. When I’m not refereeing another argument or being forced to sing my part of the Anna-Elsa duet, I try to keep on top of the housework, taxi Lewis to and from the many places he needs to be, and fit in coffee and cake with friends whenever possible!

Siblings playing dress-upBest advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Nobody cares but you. It’s my favourite saying and something I remind myself of often. When the kids are playing up in public and I’m dying of shame inside, when my house is a complete bomb site and I’m cowering at the door, mortified that someone will step foot into the aftermath of a day without cleaning, I remind myself that nobody cares but me. Everyone is far too busy going about their own lives, and dealing with their own kids, to notice that my hair is un-brushed, that my kids have bean juice down their t-shirts or my carpets haven’t seen a hoover all week.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

Trust your instinct. With my first I was so concerned with doing everything “right”. I read every book, every baby manual, hung on every word the Health Visitor spouted, and I actually ended up with severe post natal depression because of the pressure I put on myself. I wish I had known that my gut instinct was right, that nobody knew my child in the same way that I did, that the best thing I could do was simply go with the flow and find our own path, one that was best for the two of us.

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How do you manage your time, blogging and time with your family and other activities?

I try to blog when the kids are in bed, or on the rare occasion when I finally get an hour to myself. I struggle with the hypocrisy of palming off the kids so I can write about being a parent, I would much rather spend my time being a parent than writing about it. During the times when I feel that blogging is taking away from that, I take my foot of the pedal a little, sit back, re-assess my priorities and remind myself that as a stay at home Mum, the children will always come first. In that way, as much as I love to write, it is still very much a hobby.

Gaz and I spend very little time together on our own as a couple, something which we constantly promise to make more of an effort with, but in all honesty we are usually too tired, or too skint, when the opportunity arises! We tend to save up our babysitting offers for occasions we really don’t want to miss such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries and remind ourselves that one day, when the children are grown, we will have all the time in the world!

unnamed (8)Thank you so much Laura!

For more of Laura’s stories, do head over to her blog and don’t forget to connect with her too over at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

And click here if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.

August Chat with a Dad: Pete of M & M’s Daddy

Tell us something about yourself (your blog) and your little ones.

Well I began my blog a couple of years ago because emotionally I had reached a point where I needed an outlet for my grief after I lost my wife Mair to cancer when our son Merlin was ten weeks old and our daughter Martha was three and a half. I had (I thought) coped well for the first 2 years but a move from the house we shared and her second anniversary opened the floodgates so to speak.

I wanted to shed some light on what grief is like for a young dad bringing up children but also how the joy they bring in itself creates a balance.

People be it friends, family or otherwise were seeing a happy, smiling active person but underneath it I was curled up in a ball, in the corner of a room crying out for my wife to be back.

Martha is now seven (going on 17) and Merlin is about to turn four and they are a joy. Funny, cheeky, mad, full of personality and performance.

They have more activities than I can keep track of. We love our rugby. Martha has long since chosen to support Wales because that’s who mummy shouted for. Merlin, has of his own volition, chosen Ireland which I’m very happy about. We have the perfect Celtic balance. The girls (one in spirit) are Wales and the boys are Ireland

What were their birth stories like?

Ha ha ha – Martha was our first and I guess, as is often the case with the first, she arrived late but not before putting my wife through 6 days of labour. We had a home birth planned and my wife went into slow labour on the Monday evening…..which continued until the Saturday. I have funny images of my wife walking around the communal garden at the back of our terrace with me following her around carrying the oxygen for when the contractions came. Martha was as stubborn then as she is now at 7 and just wouldn’t turn enough so in the end we had to go to hospital and the bumpy ambulance ride was enough. She arrived very promptly and then we were back home again.

Merlin was very different because of what surrounded the entire pregnancy experience due to my wife’s cancer diagnosis.

She was induced in hospital to minimise the gap between chemotherapy but that said, the experience was a warm and wonderful one nonetheless. He arrived at exactly 8pm just as the midwife had predicted a few hours before. Both healthy, happy babies

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

Hmmm it’s a tricky question because my experiences of fatherhood have been of two extremes. The first, like any new dad, of the huge change it brings to your life, how identity changes, priorities change for good, for the better.

The second though is the loneliness, the isolation, the sadness of doing it on your own on a permanent basis. I know there are loads of single parents out there just like me and we do an awesome job be us male of female. Those moments when I cuddled our 10 week old, feeding him placing him in his moses basket, knowing that my wife would never again be there to do it too were heart-breaking in the extreme

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How do you balance your time between work/blogging and fatherhood?

I am very fortunate in that because I work from home I am able to get a great balance between the children, work and blogging. I’m not a prolific blogger by any means. Mine is more a case of when my head/emotions begin to spill over and I get a thought in my head and just start to type and before I know it theres 1,500/2,000 words down in front of me. It’s just how my head works.

What is great is that if the children have an activity or a club or sports or an assembly I can just be there 9/10 times and I love the joy on their faces when they see me there with the other parents, or being able to join in. Its something I am very grateful for and I think it gives me balance too because the nature of what I am talking about, what I am hearing and seeing in my work with Mummy’s Star is understandably emotionally difficult at times.

Any favourite anecdotes of your kids?

Merlin was being a bit whiny one afternoon in the car and I just said “Oh come on Merls, stop being such a whingebag”

Martha for some reason then responded to him with “Yes Merlin, stop whinging! Do you want to be put in the washing machine!”

I really should have said something responsible at this point in response to what Martha had just said but I just couldn’t stop laughing

What is it about fatherhood you love about?

I love seeing the interaction between my children, how they develop their own personalities, how what I teach them helps them develop.

Above all though I love the bond that the three of us have.

The loss of my wife has changed us all forever. I had 10 years, Martha had 3.5 years and Merlin had 10 weeks. But we bonded together to help us get through it together. Yes many people will say, but what understanding will he have with being so young when she died. He has what is explained to him. He has what he sees about her, the images of her. Martha has many memories.

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Yes there are times when we share the loss and the hurt it causes us and we’ve cried together but there is also the joy knowing how proud my wife will be of them and how they know now when they achieve something that she is incredibly proud.

There are things in life that are simply unmistakable and one of those are when a parent personality shows through in a child. I know when I see my wife in my children. Martha much more so than Merlin but he definitely has her influence too and it is so heartwarming to see and feel.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Doing it alone!

Don’t get me wrong, I have long since got used to it as it’s nearly 4 years since I lost my wife but each day nonetheless has heartbreak at some point. When you are happily married or in a relationship you look forward to bring your children up and watching them develop together. There are days when the kids are doing something funny and I want to shout “Mair, come here and watch this” and then there is that realisation that she can’t because she’s no longer here physically.

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Those conversations that you can’t have like “Oh she’s getting that from you” or “he looks just like you when he does that” Words can’t express how painful that feels like.

If you were given a chance to be a stay-at-home dad, would you take it?

A few years ago I would have said no because I found that the balance of parenting and going to a workplace ensured that I retained my individuality. That I was Pete, who is also a proud Dad, rather than a Dad who is also an individual called Pete if that makes sense

However because of how our life has changed against our will over the last few years I guess I now effectively am a stay at home dad to a large extent, and knowing the balance it gives me which I talked about earlier, then yes I think I’d have taken it

Best Advice you’ve received about Fatherhood?

I don’t think I ever really got advice about fatherhood because amongst our circle of friends we were probably the first to have a child.

If I were giving advice to someone about fatherhood/parenthood the thing I would say is don’t let it stop you doing anything. Yes children change your life, yes things need a bit more planning than when it was just two of you but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still do the things you did before (with a few exceptions).

I like to think that my children get to see and experience a wide range of things because I do what I want to do as much as I always have and the kids have learnt to love those things too as well as the things they enjoy

I find my children very intuitive in the sense that they know its tough without mum around for them and for me but they see what gives me peace and that peace is rather infectious

They are becoming more rounded as individuals

You can be as impromptu with children as you were without. We regularly have no plans during a half term/holiday period then within an hour. We’ve chucked a load of stuff in the car and disappeared somewhere for the day, for a night, a couple of nights, whatever

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

 

Enjoy the first 12 months. Yes you feel wrecked, yes you can both be at the end of your tether at times but don’t wish it away because its actually gone in an instant. Get out and do things, get the fresh air. Like I said above, do things you enjoy as well as baby

Thank you so much Pete!

Do check out his blog, you can also follow him over on FB and twitter.

And it would be lovely if you could also support Mummy’s Star, a charity founded by Pete in memory of his beloved wife.  It is the only UK charity that is dedicated in helping women and their families affected by cancer during pregnancy shortly after a birth.  Do drop by.

Click here if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Mum.

July Chat with a Mum: Charly of PODcast

Tell us something about yourself, your little one and your blog (age & sex).

Hi I’m Charly! I’m a business owner, blogger and photographer with 20 years experience in the marketing industry. Having spent many years working in London marketing agencies, largely at Marketing Director or New Business Director level, I set up my own business in 2012. While the focus initially was marketing and new business strategy, these days more of my time is spent helping agencies and brands with their content marketing. It’s a nice position to be in, knowing the industry and being a blogger!

Charly Dove - PODcast photo of Charly

Most people know me as Editor of multi-award nominated parent and lifestyle blog PODcast which has been around for four years now. I’m also Editor of family/adventure travel blog POD Travels, which launched in 2015, and Editor of the BritMums Photo Round-up. The Doves are a family of three living in Surrey – there’s myself, daughter ‘POD’, who was born on Christmas Day 2010, and husband Jonathan (aka ‘the POD Father’).

Charly Dove - PODcast 6 (1) What was your child’s birth story like?

It started well! As a ‘geriatric mother’ (their words not mine!), the consultant insisted POD to be born before her Christmas Day due date. While my contractions started an hour after securing a bed at the hospital, POD had other ideas taking a further 72 hours to arrive amid complications. The Salvation Army, who could be heard singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ from outside the delivery suite, marked POD’s arrival. Having had regular scans from 5 weeks through to 38 weeks, with a detailed look at her brain and heart cavities in-between, we were relieved she was born healthy. When the midwife asked what we were going to call her, we both said ‘Poppy’ at exactly the same time and without hesitation. So Poppy she became.

What do you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

Oh gosh many things from those hazy days of being a first time parent! I remember having an endless list of questions like why doesn’t she nap, why does she cluster feed and why does she always spill up! Looking back we were pretty much winging it while ‘on the job’ and trying to figure out what makes a good parent. If I had my time again, I’d want someone to sit me down and tell me what brilliant fun kids are. We had POD late in life and I’d change that in an instant if I could turn back the clock.

Charly Dove - PODcast

How do you manage your “me” time?

Parenting, working and blogging leaves little “me time” per say but I love the great outdoors. Grabbing my camera and blowing away the cobwebs for a couple of hours works wonders. I love breathing in the fresh country air and capturing what’s around me without a care in the world. It’s a great way to gain some headspace although a massage or a facial wouldn’t go amiss either!

Charly Dove - PODcast 4

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little one?

There’s a huge selection to choose from but slamming her bedroom door while shouting “you’re an old man and I don’t like you” at the POD Father has to be up there. She was three so I’m sure we have many more gems like that to come!

Charly Dove - PODcast 5

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

POD’s a little adventurer and adores exploring. I love the expression on her face when she discovers something new, her excitable nature and her limitless imagination. Her enthusiasm and boundless energy are totally infectious. I’m totally biased but she’s one amazing human.

Charly Dove - PODcast 2

On the other hand, if there is anything about motherhood you dislike what would it be?

We had a period where POD refused to sleep, coming downstairs umpteen times a night until 10pm, sometimes even later. She’d appear in our bed in the early hours then refuse to get up in the morning because she was so tired. It continued for six months but thankfully we found a solution by changing her routine and putting boundaries in place.

What’s a typical day like for you and your child?

During the week, it’s very much about keeping to a routine before and after school. POD has after school club until 6pm most days with the middle of the week reserved for her swimming lesson. She recently completed the six-week #TennisForKids course with the LTA too which was great. Saturdays mornings are normally fairly busy as she has gymnastics followed by Stagecoach – both of which she loves. POD has bags of energy so a day without activities, outdoor fun or a play date usually results in her going stir crazy! We do have quiet days though too with colouring, arts/crafts or cooking on the agenda. She also loves Netflix and would quite happily watch all day given half a chance!

 Charly Dove - PODcast 3

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Make time for each other every day – chat, laugh and try not to take yourself too seriously.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

Take on board all the advice you’re given but don’t forget what works for one child might not apply to another. Always trust your instincts, you know your child better than anyone else.

Charly Dove - PODcast 7

How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your family and other activities?

Paid work always comes first so the majority of my blog content is written in the evening and occasionally before the working day. Weekends are reserved for family time whether it’s heading somewhere locally or travelling further afield. I’m used to working in a high-pressured environment with many balls in the air – inevitably things don’t always go to plan! Blogging has enabled me to explore my creativity and work on projects that may have otherwise passed me by. I truly value the community spirit and I’m a firm believer that you should always stay true to yourself regardless of what you do.

Thank you so much Charly!

You can find Charly on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Visit PODcast and POD Travels.

Click here if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.

May Chat with a Mum: Tamsin of Chasing Esme

I admit I only feature bloggers whom I really read and follow over at Chats with Mums and Dads, so when the lovely Tamsin of Chasing Esme got in touch early this year, it was actually refreshing to say yes!  After all, I’ve never featured a young mum before (no offence meant to the past chats with mums, and it’s stimulating to hear the fresh voice of a young mum compared to ehem a mum in her 40s like me 😉  And like I keep saying, I do love discovering new bloggers especially when they turn out to be a wonderful read.

Grab a coffee or tea, and let’s find out more about this lovely young mum:

Tell us something about yourself and your family.

My name is Tamsin Mathias, and I’m a 20-year-old mum of one, living in sunny Pembrokeshire in West Wales.

By day, I work as a journalist for a newspaper entitled The Pembrokeshire Herald, and a news reader for a radio station called Herald Radio. By night, I’m a lifestyle blogger for Chasing Esme!

I’m the other half of a punk-rocker called Al, who is lead singer and guitarist in Trunk Shot, and we’re lucky enough to have a beautiful 1-year-old daughter called Esme, who is the inspiration for my blog and many other things!

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What was your birth story like?

I ran into some complications near the end of my pregnancy after having none at all. My due date was February 1, 2015, and that night I started having Braxton Hicks. I thought I was going into labour, but as morning came the contractions went away.

This repeated for two more nights, and I realised that my waters had started leaking. After contacting the midwife, I was booked in to be checked over at the hospital.

It was confirmed that my waters were leaking, and I was booked to be induced at 8am on Thursday, February 5. However, Esme had other plans, and at 2am, my waters broke. I felt, and I swear I heard, a definite ‘pop’. After running to the toilet, I realised there was meconium in my waters (baby’s first poo).

I didn’t realise that your waters leaked continuously, so when we arrived at the hospital, I walked around with Al, stopping after a few paces due to contractions, leaving behind me a little yellow trail of amniotic fluid. I felt like Hansel and Grettel!

After writing in my birth plan I wanted gas and air and pethidine only, I demanded an epidural at 3cm dilated. I managed to get a few hours kip during labour, and gave birth to my beautiful brown-eyed girl at 17.44 on February 5, 2015.

What do you wish you knew about being a mother before becoming one?

I wish someone had told me all of the grotty things that happen once baby arrives rather than sugar coating it. Not with the baby, but with your own body.

For starters, I didn’t realise that your belly didn’t go back right away. People had told me that I’d “snap right back”, and that they managed to give birth and “skip out of the hospital in my size 8 jeans.” I thought this would be possible for me, so felt a real shock when I looked down and saw what looked like a sagging, deflated balloon.

I wish that someone had told me how sore you would be “down there.” It felt like I was sitting on shards of glass every time my behind touched any kind of surface, and I was devastated at what I saw when I took a look with a mirror!

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In terms of babies, I wish someone had told me that sometimes they just like to cry all day, whether they’ve been fed, changed and winded or not!

How do you manage your “me” time?

I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful mother-in-law called Nanny Jill, who looks after Esme in the day. Esme also stays at Nanny Jill’s every Wednesday night, so that Al and I can have a bit of time away from parenting, and more time spent playing on the PS4 together.

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Normally, Esme goes to bed between 7pm and 8pm, so we manage to watch a few episodes of our favourite TV shows, topped off with playing either Grand Theft Auto V or Destiny: The Taken King on PS4!

Do you have a favourite anecdote of your children?

We realised when Esme was born that she was tongue tied, and after much research, decided to get it snipped when she was two weeks old.

A few seconds and it was over. Esme handled it extremely well, whereas I found it difficult not to shed a tear!

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After the procedure we were put into a side room, and had to stay for half an hour to give her a bottle to make sure she was feeding okay. As I was feeding her, I noticed she was damp. Now, I have no idea when this happened, because she seemed to be clean one minute and filthy the next, but she was plastered in muck from her waist down.

But it wasn’t everywhere, it was in splodges! A bit on a toe, some on a knee, and absolutely filling the nappy she had on.

I thought I’d better tackle it quickly, however I hadn’t packed a spare change of clothes. I undressed her, and stared at her for about 30 seconds in utter shock, because I had no idea where to start! In the end, I armed myself with a load of baby wipes and went for it.

Al drove off to Tesco (which is quite a way from the hospital) to buy her some new clothes, while I tried to clean up the never ending stink coming from Esme!

It wasn’t very funny at the time, but now I look back and giggle at my naive self. Who travells 45 minutes away with a baby and doesn’t bring everything except the kitchen sink?

What it is about motherhood that you absolutely love?

Feeling loved! Esme brings with her huge amounts of cuddles, kisses and laughter, and she brings me so much joy! I love being part of a family and watching her play with Al. She’s a complete Daddy’s girl!

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She learns something new every day, and never fails to make me laugh. She makes me proud to be her mum.

On the other hand, is there anything about motherhood you dislike?

Judgy people! I don’t understand why mums like to judge other mums. I don’t always dress Esme in what’s deemed to be girly clothes, mainly because I’m not girly, and I like to dress her like me!

Esme’s typical outfit is jeans, paired with either a superhero top, a Thomas and Friends t-shirt or something to do with music. Someone had the cheek to say that if I’d had a boy, I would be looking at dresses.

It’s not just clothes – people will judge you on just about anything.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little one?

If it’s a weekday, we’ll all be up and out of bed around 7am and out the door for 8am. I’ll drop Al off to work before continuing on to Nanny Jill’s house, where Esme will have her breakfast while I get ready for work.

I’ll be off out the door for 9am, and I won’t see her again until 5.30pm.

However, if it’s the weekend, we’ll be up around 7am as usual, and have breakfast for around 8.30am, followed by a bath, bottle and morning nap. She normally sleeps for around 45 minutes, and depending on the weather, we’ll either have a lazy day playing with her favourite bear, or we’ll go out to visit family members (with bear in tow).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood?

When I started weaning Esme, I was told: “Watch the baby, not the clock.” I was always worried about how much Esme should be eating, and was concerned that it was taking a long time to get food down her.

However, after lots of patience and persistence, Esme gobbled down her food! I stopped looking at how long it took to feed her, and instead looked to her to tell me whether she wanted more or had had enough.

If you could give yourself advice about becoming a mother, what would it be?

It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel like things are all a bit much and that you’re struggling, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

There will be bad days, and there will be good. And, there will be days where you feel so happy that you could burst. Parenting is a fantastic experience, even if we do put ourselves through hell! We need to remember to look after ourselves, as well as our little ones.

It’s easy to forget about yourself when all you can think about is your little bundle of joy!

How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your family and other activities as well?

I’m not quite sure! Most of my blogging is done very late at night, leading into the early hours of the morning, whilst sat on the sofa in the living room. I should probably invest in a desk or something.

Family time is mostly had on the weekends. I don’t think that Esme misses out at all, because she stays with family 24/7! Any activities we do, such as going to the beach or the park is done on a Saturday or Sunday, weather permitting!

Thank  you so much Tamsin!

Do check out this young mum’s blog.

You can also connect with her over at twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

And if you haven’t had the chance to read last month’s chat with a dad, come and have a read here.

February Chat with a Dad: Jason of One Good Dad

I don’t recall how long I’ve been following Jason, but it’s been awhile now.  Blogs like his is one of the reasons why I haven’t given up doing Chats with Mums and Dads.  It’s great to discover new ones, especially one this good and definitely worth sharing  One Good Dad to the whole of blogosphere, if not the world.  Read and find out why: 

Right off the bat, let me state I am answering these questions on extremely little sleep. My wife is preparing for trial right now (she’s an attorney), which means she has long hours at work, during which I take care of everything at home. Along with the tiredness, I have a bad cold and a shoulder injury. One more thing, to my own fault, I went to a Muse concert last night, which has added to my exhausted state. So I might nod off, babble incoherently, or break out into Uprising. Anyway, let’s get into the questions:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones:

I moved to New York City along with my wife 14 years ago with a huge dream in mind – to be an actor in NYC. My wife also was enrolled in law school. Because I needed a flexible schedule for auditioning, I picked up one retail job after another. After 2 years of living in the Big Apple, my wife gave me some news that changed our world. We were going to be parents. Our son was born between her second and third year of law school and I jumped all in into the world of Fatherhood. The only thing was, I was clueless about kids. I had never been around babies and kids. In fact, I abhorred boogers, snot, and the other bodily functions that accompany children. A new dream of becoming a great dad grew in my heart, and as my wife’s stomach grew, I impatiently awaited his arrival. Once he arrived, my old world disappeared and a new, wide-open one began. When my wife graduated law school, we decided that since she had the more promising career, I would stay home with the kids. We have added 3 more kids to our family since number one arrived and I love this role I play every day.

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My blog initially was meant to be an acting and playwriting marketing tool, which is why I chose the URL, TheJasonGreene.com. Every time I wrote though, only stories about being a stay-at-home dad poured onto the screen. After about a year of blogging, I added the URL, OneGoodDad.com, with the tag line, “One of Many.” My blog originally covered my life, but it has grown to include travel, social issues, and whatever else is keeping me from getting a good night’s rest. As if I needed more reasons.

What were your little ones birth stories like?

Like I said, we have 4 kids and each birth was a different story. For number one, I couldn’t believe I was a part of this huge, historical moment. At least it felt that way to me. Other babies’ cries filled the hallways and sounds of mothers yelling echoed from one room to the next, but my mind relayed to me that our little family was the only one to go through such a momentous occasion. We were prepared for labor and delivery, but I was not ready to see my wife in so much pain. Watching my son come into the world wasn’t a problem for me. Witnessing my wife painfully become a mother was. And she did it three more times!

Kids 3 and 4 shared similar birthing stories. Number 3 however made me feel like I was a pro at the delivery scene. At one point I even joked to the doctor, “I’ve got this.” Also, my jokes during all 4 labors were not always welcome.

My second child had a different birth story. My daughter arrived prematurely and her lungs weren’t strong enough for her to breathe on her own. She stayed in the NICU for 8 days, while my wife slept on a cot in the hospital and pumped because she couldn’t breast feed with all the tubes and wires that flowed into and out of our baby’s body. It was also hard for me to run back and forth from the house to the hospital while taking care of the little one at home. It was a tough time, but she made it through. All of us did.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

Learning in the moment helped me to become a better parent, so I’m glad I understood so little about parenting. I wouldn’t change what I did and didn’t know before holding my child for the first time. I was certain my sleeping patterns would suck, so I wasn’t shocked about walking through life with blood shot eyes.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

Since I’m a stay-at-home dad and a dad blogger, my kids are my job. But at the same time, I do need time for myself to write or simply take a break. We have great neighbors who help me and are available to watch my kids almost any time I need time off. And my kids love them like family, so that makes things easier. We started homeschooling last year, so I’m still trying to figure the balance out. Finding time to write blog posts and sponsored content is increasingly difficult. I’ll need to get back to you on this question after mastering time. It’s doubtful that’ll happen.

How do you manage child-free time with your wife?  Do you have date-nights?

It’s funny, because child-free time with my wife is sporadic. We’ll go through months where we go out monthly, then for whatever reason, our date nights are spent watching Jessica Jones on Netflix after the kids are asleep. My oldest son is at an age where he can babysit the other two kids for a short period of time with help from our neighbors. That short period of time is enough for my wife and I to grab a bite to eat or a beer at the local bar. My wife and I realized we are happier when date nights are regularly scheduled.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

My three older kids and I went into Manhattan one morning to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On the way home, my daughter looked by a tree and found a $20 bill. She picked it up and we looked to see if anyone was searching for dropped cash. Nobody claimed it so she pocketed the money. As we climbed down the stairs to the subway, my daughter daydreamed about all the things she would buy with the money. She brought up buying a doll, or candy, or putting it towards money she earned to buy something even bigger. While on the subway, a man with a deformed arm walked through the door. He cried out that he had no money and no home and needed money to buy something to eat. Without hesitation, my daughter reached into her pocket and handed the man the $20. The man thanked her for her sweetness and walked away, as tears of pride welled up inside my own eyes. My daughter looked up at me and said, “I did nothing for that money and he did nothing for his arm.” At that moment not only did a burst of love explode from my heart, but I realized that I’m doing okay at this parenting thing.

What is it about fatherhood you love about?

I love being a dad. It is the reason I was placed on this earth. I have the possibility to make the world a better place by raising great kids. And I can help change the face of manhood. I love my kids and to be around them as much as I do is a privilege. To watch them grow from diapers to iPads is really cool. I get to be a first-hand witness in watching someone grow up and leap from one stage to the next.

Little 3

Photo credit here (same with featured image).

If there were anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

The biggest problem in my daily life is the lack of privacy. I can’t tell you when the last time was I had an uninterrupted bathroom break. Within seconds of walking to the toilet, an impatient knock occurs or small fingers slide under the door. On occasion, I can even see an eye peering through the keyhole. I am so conditioned to locking the bathroom door that I even lock the door when I am staying in a hotel alone.

If you were given a chance to be a stay-at-home-dad would you take it?

I have been a stay-at-home dad for over 10 years now and I’ve seen a huge leap in society’s belief that fathers are as capable parents as mothers. You see less and less commercials portraying the bumbling dad stereotype. The increase in the number of stay-at-home dads had a hand in changing the image. I’m proud to be a part of this new face of manhood.

I used to hate the looks I would receive at a party when meeting someone and mentioning I was an at-home dad. Sometimes the looks would be one of sympathy, and other times they would discredit my status of manliness. I don’t care about the looks anymore. The most important thing to me is how I’m doing as a dad and a husband.

Best advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

I have a quote from Jim Higley from BobbleheadDad.com. While at a Dad 2.o Summit, he said, “Be the parent that your kids need you to be.” I changed “parent” to “dad.” Each kid is different and requires a different way of parenting. There are plenty of great parenting books out there, but the best way to learn how to be a parent is to jump right in. Learn by watching and raising your children. Each one of my kids needs a different way of parenting. So, like Jim said, I try to be the dad they need me to be.

If you could give yourself advice before become a dad, what would it be?

If I were going to jump in a time machine and give advice to myself about becoming a dad, I would actually focus more of my advice on being a husband. I liked learning to be a dad on the fly and it helped me become a better father. The advice I would give myself would be to go out with my wife more before the kids come. To enjoy one another’s company more and share more memories. Once children come into the picture, the dynamics of the marriage change. Much of the discussion between my wife and I center around our children. In the years leading up to the birth of our children, I wish had we focused on strengthening our bond together and less on ourselves.

Facebook: One Good Dad
Twitter: @TheJasonGreene
Instagram: @TheJasonGreene
Pinterest: One Good Dad

Thank you so much Jason!

Do head over to One Good Dad for more of his heartwarming stories of fatherhood.

And if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a mum, click here to read.

And there’s even more of them here.

Cuddle Fairy

Everything is Lovely except the Weather

The deed is done.

And yes, the weather looks crap outside but my blog looks shiny and new!

I’ve finally managed to move from wordpress.com to wordpress.org.  I’m now a self-hosted blogger.  But I tell you folks, it was a nightmare!  I tried to stay calm the whole time, but it was stressful.  While the folks over at TSO did the migration for me, I still had to do a few technical stuff on my end.  And when it comes to anything to do with coding, no matter how little, really freaks me out.

The first time my blog was migrated, post from the years 2014-2016 disappeared.  And although I tried to stay calm, I knew my old site was still there and therefore all files were in tact and a friend assured me (thanks K) that these folks knew what they were doing and had back-ups, it was still nerve-wracking to me.  But all’s well, in spite the rocky start.  The TSO support did a great job at helping a non-techie like me move her blog without going berserk.

I also had to buy a new theme, even though I just bought one last year for my old site.  I’m loving the new one.

What do you think?

While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out my edited “About Me” section. Hint:  I’m finally out of the closet.  Not gay, but posted a photo of me for the very first time on this blog and it’s not of my back!  But nope, you won’t be seeing more photos of me.  That’s about it.  I prefer to be behind the camera, than in front of it.

I do hope that old readers/friends won’t have difficulty accessing my blog, my old site is supposed to be automatically redirected to the new one.  I have a question to my friends though who are with wordpress.com, does my blog still show up in your reader?

For those who have done the same move, did you have an easy or difficult time migrating?

My …

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September Chat with a Mum: Fiona of Free Range Chick

I’ve mentioned this before, but will repeat it again.  One of the reasons why I love blogging is that you get to know other bloggers whom you know that if they lived in the same neighbourhood as you do, chances are, you’ll end up as friends!  And Fiona who blogs over at Free Range Chick is one of them.  She’s lovely!

If you are like me who enjoys genuine and heartfelt writing you’ll enjoy her blog as much as I do. This interview  will say it all:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

Hello! I’m Fiona Chick of blog Free Range Chick, which a lot of people refer to as ‘The Only Free Range Chick’ because of my confusing URL. I couldn’t have ‘freerangechick.com’, as someone else has it, so I’ve improvised!

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I’m in my mid-30s and am from SW London. I live in my in-laws’ house with my electrician husband Ian and two sons, Finley aged 3 (4 in November) and Fraser, 2 years and 3 months.
I’m a qualified nurse, but no longer practice, instead choosing to look after my children at home. Someday I may return.

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What were your children’s birth stories like?

Pretty amazing. After an excellent pregnancy, we tried for a home birth for Finley. Unfortunately we had to head into hospital after it became apparent that there was meconium in my waters. He was born at 8lb in the labour ward with little drama – all pretty straightforward and everyone was happy and healthy (apart from Ian, who had the actual flu at the time).

Fraser’s birth was incredible, and I’ve written about it a few times, on my own blog and as a guest blogger.

My pregnancy with Fraser was harder than Finley’s. Both of my boys were big for my 5’1 frame, and it must have taken its toll on me carrying Fraser, with loads of aches and pains and a rather painful pelvis.

Going into labour was a relief. We headed for the hospital and were aiming for a water birth. After kipping overnight at the hospital, by the morning I was ready to give birth. We headed for the pool and after a couple of hours of hard-slog with contractions, Fraser was born straight into the water. I fished him out with my own two hands and it was just amazing.

I had a natural third stage too, which meant that I delivered his placenta without inducing drugs. And as an icing on the cake, I needed no stitched after I birthed his 9lb body! Water birth is absolutely incredible.

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

I read a blog post recently by awesome blogger (and my real-life mate) Renee of Mummy Tries about how first-time motherhood is wasted on first-time mums. Most of what Renee wrote resonated with me – how you just don’t treasure that precious time with your first baby as much as you could, because it is such a whirlwind, such a disruption to your previously easy life.

But it isn’t until you do it again – you have that second (third, fourth etc) child that you realise how blooming easy (sorry!) it was having that mere one baby to look after. Doing anything with more than one is suddenly a huge handful, and on those rare times you get to take just one of them out, you realise that those months (in my case) of having just one child should have been treasured way more.

I guess that is the only thing. Because really, nothing anyone says or you read truly prepares you for parenthood. You learn it each day on the job, and no matter how many times anyone would have told me about the ins and outs, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the real-life, raw experience of it.

How do you manage your “me” time?

My ‘what’ time?!

Up until fairly recently, I have felt that I didn’t own any ‘me’ time. My kids are 18-months different in age, so when Finley was still a baby, I had another baby. My husband works full-time, doing horribly long hours, so most of the parenthood duties fall on me. My kids are still little, and time with them up until recent months, has been pretty intensive.

I didn’t prioritise taking time out for myself, or attach much value to it. ‘Me’ time started when I started writing my blog, but that wasn’t giving me ‘real’ time. As therapeutic and enjoyable as I found writing, it didn’t give me the buzz of real-life interactions with my friends.

We hit a bad patch of sleeping (or should I say, the children did), late last year going into early this year. Each and every night I spent camping out on a cot-bed mattress in their room, because Fraser would wake up crying and would only be soothed by my presence. If we’d been living in our own space (not with my in-laws), we may have managed the situation differently.

But for those months, I felt trapped at home, unable to go out to socialise, knowing that if the kids woke up, Ian would be in trouble without me.

Happily, I’ve started to regain a great social life. Ian and I take it in turns to go out, seeing our friends and letting our hair down. It has done me the world of good. There is a huge value to be attached to a healthy social life, and it is so easy to forget that when you’re in the throes of new parenthood. The kids are at an age where it easier for me to leave them with Ian, and they’re both happy with that.

I feel that my mental health has improved since I’ve started seeing my friends socially and long may it continue! So in a nutshell, my ‘me’ time is when I get to cut loose and see my friends. Ian is really supportive of me going out, as I think he realises that I’m a better person when I get to go out, as opposed to a little bit angry and resentful the entire time!

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

Too many. Each day they both say or do something absolutely hilarious/clever/entertaining/sweet that touches me. One of my favourite ones at the moment is Fraser’s name for me. For some reason, he calls me ‘Gorgeous’. If he sees photos of me, he says, ‘that’s Gorgeous’. Or if he’s with someone else, he’ll say, ‘want to go to Gorgeous’, before running in my direction.

I think my most favourite observations of the kids conversations are when I listen to their conversations with each other. I hear them over the monitor in their bedroom when they wake up, and hear ‘hilarious’ things like Fraser declaring, ‘I want to do a poop’, (he isn’t potty-trained yet). Or Finley starts coughing and Fraser comments, ‘that’s a cough’.

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

I love the love. I love all of that uninhibited, absolutely genuine affection and love that they give you, because you are their world and you’re all that they look up to and look for.

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On the one hand, if there were anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Genuinely nothing. I wanted, more than anything to be a mother after Ian and I got together. I take the rough with the smooth and although there are some less pleasant parts of being a mother, without those unpleasant things, motherhood wouldn’t truly be motherhood.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

We get up somewhere between 6am and 7am. The boys sit down together at their little red table to have their breakfast – cereal. Then I encourage them to go and play with their toys. We live with my in-laws’, so it sometimes really hard to get them to play independently, because they frequently go and find one of their grandparents to ‘perform’ to if I’m busy tidying up after breakfast. We’ll frequently head out in the morning, either to go the park, or the shops to get lunch bits.

Some days I’ll see a friend for a pay date, and once every couple of weeks, we’ll have a full-on all-day trip out where we’re not home all day.

To be honest, our days are a touch tricky at the moment. I’m anal about their sleeping patterns. If they nod off in the day, it spells a total disaster a bedtime. I try not go too far from home in the car at the moment, because I am usually dealing with both of them falling asleep in the car, and completely unarousable if we travel any distance.

In addition to this, Finley is at an age where he can walk around well and take an interest in things. Fraser just wants to run away when he’s let out of his buggy, so Finley’s fun is usually prevented because we have to tailor our outings around keeping Fraser safe.

I spend the days making sure they’re adequately entertained, but ensuring that they stay awake at all costs. I do not want them awake at 9pm.

It is annoying, because the sleeping issues and the running away issues stops me from doing nice things with them in the day. All being well, we’re hoping to be in our own house by the end of the year, so our lifestyle and routine will be a lot different in our own space.

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Not to beat myself up about stuff that is essentially not a big deal. And if you pay attention to parenting sites and social media, you’d be forgiven for believing that there is a lot of stuff out there to beat yourself up about!
If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

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I would definitely refer back to most of what Renee said in her blog post about first-time mums. And to not have spent the first few months of Finley’s life beating myself up about a lot of stuff!

How do you manage your time or blogging between work and your little ones?

I am home full-time with the kids, so there is very little time during the day that I can afford to blogging. At one point, I was doing a lot of blogging in the evenings after the kids had gone to sleep, but Ian was beginning to get a bit sick of the sight of me attached to my laptop.

I also found myself dedicating a lot of time to my social media efforts, more time than I was actually writing posts, which was frankly bonkers.

So now, I’ll blog on the weekends when Ian is home. I’ll blog while the kids are watching the TV, or I’ll blog some evenings.

I’ll usually wait until an idea hits me, and then I’ll just bang it out. Some of my best blog posts have been ones that I’ve written really quickly and spontaneously. I used to treat my blog posts like my degree essays. They would take ages to write, and in my head they would be more hard work than they needed to be.

Now, I’ll try and make them shorter where possible, write totally from the heart and they usually flow out really easily.

I love writing – I’ve always been a writer – but I’ve had to cut down on blogging recently in order to strike a balance in my life. I have no intention of turning my blog into a big-bucks site, so there is no need for me to plug away at it as if my life depended on it. For me, it sucks the joy out of blogging itself.

That said, my lack of activity has shown in my latest Tots100 ranking, where I fell 400 places in one month! That’s fine though. It isn’t a reflection of my writing ability or content – it just means I haven’t read and commented on a lot of others’ blog in the last few weeks. One day I will have more time to do more of the things I want to do, but until then, I shall focus on enjoying family-life before the kids are banished to full-time education for 20-odd years!

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Thank you so much Fiona and your beautiful family!

Do head over to the Free Range blog right now for more “clucking good” stories about everything to do with parenting.

 And click here if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.

July Chat with a Mum: Carie of Space for the Butterflies

I adore Carie’s blog Space for the Buttefiles and I have serious envy over the beautiful things she can make.  I think she has magic hands! 🙂

Carie makes the most beautiful quilts for her children and  I swear she’s also a knitting goddess.  When I grow-up (as if I’m not! 😉  I want to be like her.  And I honestly think she should’ve won in the BiB Awards for the Crafts Category.  As if that’s not enough, she also takes beautiful photographs.

I know I’m gushing, so before I end up embarrassing myself any further, do come and meet her lovely family:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

I’m Carie and I’m Mum to Kitty age 4, Elma who’s 2 and our little Pip Squeak has just turned 10 months.

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What were your children’s birth stories like?

Wildly different! Kitty was born at 42 weeks 1 day after an induction on top of early labour. My whole labour start to finish was about 48 hours and at one stage I was utterly convinced that I was going to be in labour for the rest of forever!

Elma on the other hand was just a smidgen quicker; I turned up on the labour ward having done a good few hours at home only to be told I was only 4 cm, “but you’re a second time mum, we’ll just keep you in for an hour to see if things pick up” That was about 4.15, at about 5 o’clock my waters broke with a force that knocked my breath away and Elma was born at 5.11 having narrowly avoided being born in the bathroom of the assessment ward.

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And Pip was different again, my waters broke before labour had started and as there was a smidgen of meconium and I was showing no signs of going into labour any time soon I was induced again, but it was a lot easier – and shorter – than the first time.

My birth plan with Kitty said that I’d really like to use the birthing pool for labour and possibly delivery – three children later and the nearest I’ve got is being in the room next to it!

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

Quite how fierce a mother’s love is for her children. I look at my three and the rush of feeling that I have for them is overwhelming. My family is my whole world.

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How do you manage your “me” time?

I don’t sleep! With three little ones there isn’t much time for me time in our everyday until they’ve gone to sleep and I’m terrible for staying up later than I should just to have that mental space. I’m sometimes tired but mostly happier if my day has ended with a bit of creativity.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

Oh this is so hard to choose. I think one of my favourites of all time I’ve actually only seen on video; my husband took Kitty and Elma to the Natural History Museum when I was at BritMums last year and we were a bit worried that she’d be frightened by the animatronic dinosaurs because as a rule Kitty hates puppets and things of that ilk. But instead I have a clip of a tiny little girl striding up to an enormous T-Rex and shouting “Talk to me dinosaur! Talk to me!”

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

It’s true unconditional love, in both directions. That feeling when you realise that you are the one person in the world that your baby wants, that no one else will do,and that only you can bring them comfort and happiness; that’s a pretty powerful feeling.

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On the one hand, if there’s anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Honestly, it sounds silly, but accidents/nappysplosions on the sofa. I sort it out serene and calm on the surface but inside my head is saying “Nooooooooooo!”

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

At the moment I’m on maternity leave so I’m home full time with all three. Kitty goes to preschool two days a week but other than we have a little rhythm of the week at home; getting the housework done, reading stories, going shopping, having lunch, and then most afternoons we head up to the park or play out in the back garden. I’m a huge fan of spending as much time as possible outside, especially in the summer, and the side effect is that the house stays quite tidy too!

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Never take all of the credit or all of the blame.

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If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

If everyone is fractious you need to get outside or sing, or both. It works a treat and it took me a while to work it out!

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How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your little ones and other activities as well?

I don’t generally blog during the day. I might nip in and out if I’m reading my phone while trying to get Pip to take a rare nap not in the sling but we try to be as screen free as possible with the children and that generally means leading by example. So blogging and reading blogs all happens in the evening. Occasionally I’ll knit or plan some sewing during the day but mostly the days are about the house and the children and the evenings are about spending time with my husband and pursing our hobbies. And see above comment about not enough sleep – I have definitely not got this figured out!

Thank you so much Carie!

If you haven’t taken a peek at her blog yet, do so now 🙂

And if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a dad, you can head over now and have a read.