Tag: motherhood

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.

clqtu7rm

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.

Confession Time: First Day School Blues

School Girl

It’s not T that’s for sure.  It’s actually me!  What’s even more embarrassing about this, is that this isn’t T’s first day in school, she came back as a Year 2 and is now actually considered one of the “older kids”.  I know I really should get a grip with myself.  I’ve been a bundle of emotions ever since she turned six.  Come on woman, stiff-upper lip!  No more of this nonsense! Yes, I have been trying to snap out of this soppiness.  I’m hoping it will be all gone come Monday morning.

Thank goodness T breezed through first day with nary a whinge or a tear.  Yes, she stood by my side and didn’t run around the playground like the other kids and only moved away from me when her friends came over to collect her.  When the bell rang, my husband and I said goodbye and she trotted off without even looking back, so different from the tearful reception girl two years ago.

As for me? I came home with a heavy heart.  I’m glad though that a good friend (mum of one of T’s closest friends) came home with me and as we chatted and sipped our coffee I felt a wave of emptiness wash over me.  My friend felt it too, even though she still has another child at home with her, we bemoaned what felt like the loss of our kids, even though in reality they were in school probably running around like loonies in the playground, not thinking about their over-emotional parents at all.

The truth is, if my husband and I had a choice we’d like little T to stay with us at home and wouldn’t mind homeschooling her.  I read blogs by mums who home educate their little ones and envy how much time they spend with their kids.  My husband and I love having our daughter with us. We love her company, doing things with her, and having little chats with her.  We genuinely like having her with us.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we’ve never used a babysitter.  If we can’t go to a place or attend an event that won’t allow us to bring her, then we’re not going.  It’s as simple as that.  Our daughter goes where we go.  But as much as we would love for her to be home-schooled, I’m afraid it won’t be a good option for T.

My little girl is a lot like me, you see.  We’re both quiet and reserved people.  T is friendly and will smile at anyone who smiles at her, but she won’t run up to other kids like her friends until she’s feeling comfortable enough to do so.  It takes her awhile to warm up, but once she has, she’ll run around like a loony and be like any other child her age.

We feel that home-schooling her might make her feel wary of people and other children.  I’m not saying all home-schooled children are like that.  All kids are different and we know our daughter well.

On the one hand though, she has an inner strength I really admire.  When her friends were quitting gymnastics because it got too “scary” for them, my little T persevered and didn’t quit.  She’s not a quitter and I’m really proud of her.  At the moment, we’re lucky that the village school she goes to is a lovely one, where the teachers and students are supportive and she loves it there. We will only consider other options, if the wind changes.  For now, we’re staying put.

What about you?

Would you consider home-schooling your kids too?

Do share.

The Mummy Tag

The Mummy Tag

I haven’t done this in a while, so when the lovely Yvonne from Double the Monkey Business tagged me, I thought it would be fun to reply.  Do visit her blog if you haven’t, it’s a must-read!

1. ARE YOU A STAY AT HOME MUM OR A WORKING MUM?

At the moment, I’m a stay at home mum and also do a bit of freelance writing on the side, although I must admit I haven’t had a decent writing contract in ages!

2. WOULD YOU HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY?

When T was younger, no, but now that she’s older, would love to go back to work since I’ve always worked since finishing Uni.  But at the moment and because of where we live, there isn’t much available work for me.  Thankfully, I do earn a bit from this thing called “blogging” 😉

3. DO YOU CO-SLEEP?

We did, yes and still occasionally do and I wouldn’t change it for the world no matter how some “parenting experts” think it’s not good “parenting”.  I love cuddling her in bed and waking up next to my little girl.  My husband knows how much I love sleeping with our daughter in between us, so when he wakes up, the first thing he does is carry her to our bed and we snuggle together till it’s time to get up.

4. WHAT IS YOUR ONE MUST-HAVE ITEM FOR YOUR BABY?

T is six-years-old now, so we I don’t really have any must have item in my bag, although we do always have wipes in the car and when we do day trips out, I make sure I also have some wipes in my bag.

5. HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU PLAN ON HAVING?

I married late and had T when I was 37.  Would love to have another one, but looks like it’s not going to happen.  It took awhile for me to come into terms with it, but I’m fine with right now.  I’m just thankful that I have her.

6. DATE NIGHTS? HOW OFTEN DO YOU HAVE THEM?

I’m afraid at the moment the only date-nights we have are watching DVDs in our lounge with T asleep on her bed.

7. YOUR CHILD’S FAVOURITE SHOW?

Like most little girls, she likes “My Little Pony”.

8. NAME ONE THING YOU BROUGHT BEFORE YOU HAD THE BABY AND NEVER ENDED UP USING?

We bought a dummy for T thinking it would help soothe her especially when she started teething.  The first time she had it in her mouth, she spat it out and didn’t like it.  On hindsight, I’m so glad she did just that.

9. YOUR CHILD’S FAVOURITE FOOD?

She loves jacket potatoes.  I didn’t even know that till she started having meals at school and every time we’d ask her what she had for lunch, she’d reply “Jacket potato”.  The weird thing is, she doesn’t seem to like it as much when we cook it for her at home.

10. HOW MANY CARS DOES YOUR FAMILY HAVE?

Just one.

11. WEIGHT GAIN, BEFORE PREGNANCY, DURING, AFTER AND NOW?

Oh yes!  I haven’t even lost the additional weight I gained after having T.  I used to be a size 6 before getting pregnant.  Now I’m somewhere between a size 10-12.  I know some people may think that’s not much, but when you’re short like I am, believe me, it matters … A LOT!  I know I have to do something about it, but honestly, I can’t be bothered right now, especially since I’ve realised that the trick there is to wear the right clothes 🙂

12. DREAM HOLIDAY WITH YOUR KIDS?

We’ve been to Disneyland Paris and would love to go to the one in the States, either in California or Florida, especially since we have family and close friends living there.

13. DREAM HOLIDAY WITHOUT YOUR KIDS?

I can’t imagine going on holiday without little T.  I’ll end up really missing her.  It wouldn’t be a dream holiday if I didn’t have my little girl with me.

14. HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE HAVING KIDS?

A lot.  I used to work full-time.  I used to have a life.  I used to have friends.  My life is different now, but I’m loving it too of course.  I love being a mum, even though admittedly I don’t really have much of a life outside motherhood.  But I’m fine with that too.  I’m lucky I had a good career and life before getting married and having her, otherwise I’d probably be feeling different now.

15. FINISH THE SENTENCE “IT MAKES HEART MELT WHEN…”

I see my daughter’s face 🙂

16. WHERE DO YOU SHOP FOR YOUR KIDS?

I buy most of T’s stuff from Zara kids, because I find them really cute and affordable.

17. FAVOURITE MAKE-UP AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS?

I don’t wear make-up.  The only skin care products I use are moisturisers and lotion.

18. HUGGIES OR PAMPERS?

Neither.  T is six 🙂

19. HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED KIDS?

Yes!  Like I mentioned, it would’ve been nice to have more than one, but I’m just really thankful that I have her.

20. BEST PART OF BEING A MUM?

Being with my daughter.  I just love every minute of it, even when she’s being difficult.

Thanks for the tag Yvonne!

I’m tagging the following lovely mums if they want to join:

Laura of Dear Bear and Beany

Louise of Little Hearts, Big Love

Laura of Five Little Doves

Jordanne of Life of a Glasgow Girl

 Kim of Northumberland Mam

Over to you ladies!

What the Little Girl Said

Feeling emotional just after her birthday I told little T. “Where has my little baby gone?” And gave her an exaggerated sad face.  For more dramatic effect, I added “My baby is gone!”  Gave her another woebegone expression and repeated …  My baby is gone!  Ended it with wailing sounds, giving Meryl Streep a run for her money and awards.  Then I turned to T and said “Instead … I have a little girl now!

T sighed and looked at me in the eye “But mum, if you didn’t have me.  You’d be sadder”, she said matter-of-factly.  Wise words indeed.  Wasn’t it Antoine de Saint-Exupéry author of the much loved children’s book Little Prince who said:

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

T must have been thinking just that by the look on her face and the tone of her voice. Today, my ever-so wise child goes back to school as a Year 2 student.

Yikes!

Does your child seem too wise for their age too?

Do share.

Little Hearts, Big Love

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.

unnamed (1)

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!

Little Girl6.

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.

Siblingsbrothers

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.

mother and son

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.

A Birthday Girl, Bad Weather and Mary Poppins

Birthday Cake with Lit candles

I took a week off blogging because my little girl turned six last Friday.  I look at her now and wonder how did my baby suddenly turn into a “proper” little girl.  She suddenly looks, talks and acts a bit different now.  The “baby” is gone.  She’s lost her baby fat, can explain herself too darn-well, it’s amazing how much she’s grown.  I want to cry out “Oh do slow down a bit, I’m afraid mummy doesn’t really want you to grow-up too fast.  You may be ready, I’m not“.  Sob, sob.

I have a video of her barely two-years-old, she’s running towards me in the headland and stops and says “Mummy run!  Mummy run!”  She gets frustrated because I wouldn’t run and was too busy filming her.  If I could just freeze or go back to that day, that perfect summer day, when it was warm enough for her to wear a cute summer dress and hat and she was absolutely beautiful, my little baby.

birthday_girl

Now at six, she suddenly looks all grown-up.  I keep asking myself, how did that happen?  I spent the week doing absolutely nothing and everything with her.  We had some close friends visit early in the week too and had a lovely time with them on the beach.

There were talks of a beach party for her and her friend (whose birthday was six days before hers) but the Cornish weather didn’t allow it and so we opted for a spontaneous “camping birthday” instead and only invited a few of her closest friends.

On the day itself though, even as my husband and I pitched our tents on our garden and in spite glaring and shaking our fists at the sky “declaring war” if it decided to pour, sods law, it did rain as her little guests started arriving.  What was supposed to be a barbecue ended up a “grilled-dinner” inside our home.  In spite the wet weather, and giggling girls (and one boy), we all managed to get some sleep in our tents.

tents

After breakfast, the next day we sang little T “Happy Birthday” and had birthday.  The sun then decided to grace us, so I took the water-slide out and assembled it in our lawn and all the kids had fun sliding down before calling it a day.

water_slide

Little T opened presents from family when her guests were gone and before we knew it, it was time to get ready to go and see Mary Poppins at Plymouth.

mary_poppins

If you haven’t seen it and have little ones, go grab some tickets!  We were thoroughly entertained, the cast, the costumes, the choreography was just absolutely amazing.

My daughter is now six. I still can’t believe it.  She and I have this ritual after saying goodnight and exchanging “I love yous”, I say “On the day you were born, and T likes to end it with “It was the happiest day of your life”.  It’s certainly true.  And I want to say to her, everyday with her is a happy one.  And as author Suzanne Finnamore once said …

You are the closest I will ever come to magic.

Here’s a little video I decided to mark her “growing-up” years.

 Do you also feel that time is happening way too fast and you just want it to slow down?

Do share.

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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

bath time kisses

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!

al and es

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.

That Second Child I might never have.

My husband and I wanted a second child after little T.  Admittedly, we didn’t try right away.  We were just too caught up in loving every single minute with her that we forgot one important matter to parents of a certain age: t-i-m-e.  You see I was 37 when I gave birth to my darling girl.  We should’ve seriously tried after her first birthday.

He wanted another daughter, I yearned for a little boy.  We tried when T was around three, but I guess it just isn’t meant to be and I’m okay with that now (I think).  Though admittedly, for the longest time, it actually felt like I was grieving for the son that I’ll never have. And sometimes, when I allow myself the “maybe-it-can-still-happen thoughts”, I feel a tiny minuscule flicker of hope ignite inside me, but as the months turn into years, that already small flame is diminishing little by little.

We kept little T’s buggy and car seats (from baby to toddler) up in the attic. But last month, when we cleared old stuff because of the move we thought we were doing, we decided to give them to a friend who gave birth a few months ago.  They are all gone now. All her baby toys and clothes she’s outgrown.  There won’t be another baby to use them, at least not ours.  We saved a few bits that we really love like her first shoe, first winter duffel coat and other special things.

A week or so go ago I blurted another “What if once we finally move … with all the stress behind us … What if I get pregnant again?”  My poor lovely husband gave me a tired smile and said “Yes, you’ll never know, it might just happen”.  But I knew that sad smile also meant “My poor wife, she’s still hoping …”  Later on that very same day, I was happily chatting to one of our mum friends and I also mentioned it, she agreed “Yes, you’ll never know”.

Then that night, as I lay in a hot nice bath I tried to remember my age.  You see, I’m the kind who keeps forgetting.  (Now whether this is done intentionally, I have no idea 😉  I called to T who was just in the other room and asked her “How old is mummy, sweetie?”  She hollered back “43 mum” and then my heart sank.  Forty-bloody-three, who am I kidding?  I’ll never get pregnant again.  It took us ages to get pregnant with T.

It’s easy to write about the happy days, isn’t it?  Or about the awful English weather outside, how it paints a grim picture as I sit and type this. Or the sunshiny days we’ve been having lately, or how lovely it is to live in a small village by the sea.

But I struggle with the words to describe how I feel about my hypothetical other child.  The one that I’ll never have. All I know is this, every time it’s that time of the month, my heart breaks a little, even though I know the chances of me getting pregnant is slim and getting slimmer by the day.  Who am I kidding?  I’m afraid time is more of a foe right now.  Yes, I know it can still happen.  A blogger friend insists that it can still happen, because it happened to her.  But each year goes by and nothing happens and I’m slowly accepting that perhaps, it just isn’t meant to be?  And I know some of you may think, oh but you should be thankful that you have little T, some keep trying and aren’t even lucky enough to have one child.  Yes, I am thankful every single day that we were blessed to have her, but given the chance, I’d love to have that second child.

What’s the most difficult reality you’ve had to accept?

Do share.

Mummy Magic: A Mother’s Day Post

Does anyone remember this advert of a mum walking with her daughter?  I think it was a bank advertisement.  The mum would pay for everything using her phone, which made the child think that her mum has magic.

I was that kid.

When I was a child, I believed my mum had magic too.  She had this magical ability of making all my worries and hurts disappear.  As a mother of a young child now, I believe I have that magic too.  I think this mummy magic is passed on from mother to daughter, over one generation after another.

Like all children, little T believes that my kisses are magic.  If she hurts herself, any bit of her body, be it her thumb, her elbow, her knee, she’d offer it up to me, or I’d bend down and kiss it and just like magic, she’d stop sniffling.  In her heart she thinks that her mummy’s kisses has made them better.

She cries for me in her sleep, and just like magic, as soon as I touch her forehead, she calms down, turns around and falls back to sleep again.

Of course there are days when I think my mummy magic is fading.  After all, she is five now.  But she hasn’t said anything to me.  I think she still believes in it just as she believes in Father Christmas or the tooth fairy.

And I also know that the time will come when T will discover that of course just like Santa, mummy has no magic and that her father and I both have feet of clay, but at the moment though I’m revelling on the high this “mummy magic” gives me because I know it won’t last.

It isn’t Mother’s Day yet,  but I try not to blog on Sundays and I also know that most of  you will probably have plans, so I’m going to greet you all lovely Mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!  And a reminder to all of you, to all of us, that we are doing a grand job! 🙂  Now let’s pat each other on the back, pass the bubbly and say cheers!

My word of the week is Mother’s Day.

Does your children believe you have mummy magic too?

Do you have any lovely plans for Mother’s Day?

Do share.

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