Archives for January 2021
BY HELEN ELFER (GUEST WRITER)
Hello mamas! I’m Helen, the founder of Stork, an online marketplace for pre-loved kids and babies’ stuff. So happy to be guest posting on That Mama Club to tell you all a bit about how I got hooked on pre-loved shopping….
Last year, I was obsessed with finding a pair of yellow wellies for my daughter. They had to be completely plain, no handles, no logos, and an iconic, daffodil shade of yellow. Sound familiar? Of course they do. It’ll be no surprise to many mamas reading this that I was on the hunt for Peppa Pig’s boots. Peppa, or ‘Pe-PIG!’ as my daughter calls her, is, let’s say, an extremely influential figure in our household (Screen time limits vs Peppa addiction is a topic for another day). I was hopeful that my little girl would be so thrilled to have the same boots as her favourite TV character that there would be no fuss about wearing them on muddy puddle days.
I had no luck on the usual kids clothes sites or in high street shops, but after a lot of social media-ing and asking around, I found a second-hand pair another mum was selling that were 100% perfect. I was already thrilled when they arrived, and then I read the handwritten note that came with them.
‘These boots have jumped in puddles, splashed in the sea and walked along the Breton coast. Here’s hoping they have more adventures with their new little feet!’
And err, well there must have been something in my eye… sniff! Before that moment, I don’t think in a million years I would ever have described shopping as a beautiful experience. But to feel that connection with another proud mum and another adventurous toddler was really, really special.
I first got hooked on shopping pre-loved when I was pregnant with my first child. Classic maternity wear didn’t suit me at all, plus I didn’t fancy spending much on clothes that I’d only wear for a month or so. I got into the habit of picking up oversized shirts or loose dresses from thrift shops every so often, donating them back once I was too big for them. It was fun and easy.
But prepping for the arrival of our baby was another story altogether. Like most other parents, I felt overwhelming pressure to buy, buy, buy to make sure she had everything she needed. Everything had to be perfect, everything had to be the most expensive I could afford, everything had to be brand-new. Pram, crib, Moses basket, bouncy chair, baby clothes, car seat, breast pump, nappy bin, nightlight, bedroom furniture, activity mat… it was a small fortune.
I wish I knew then what I know now. Firstly, to ignore all those department stores ‘must-have’ lists and check with other parents what products are actually essential. So much of what’s on the market is overpriced and unnecessary, marketed to play on our fear of not being the perfect mother.
Secondly, after having my daughter, I found I actually preferred her to have clothes and toys that came packed with stories, love and memories, whether that was from friends passing on their children’s outgrown things, or buying pre-loved from other parents.
A soft blanket another baby had been wrapped in was just as cosy as a store-bought one. She would have sweet dreams (and sleepless nights) in a crib lent by an old friend, just the same as if we’d forked out for a new one. A second-hand car seat was just as safe, plus came with the trusted recommendation that it was comfortable and easy to use. All these items had been used, were in great condition, didn’t cost us a fortune and were pre-loaded with the love of other families.
From then on I was hooked – I loved chatting with other mums when I bought things, asking advice and sharing tips. I really appreciated the lower cost, especially after maternity leave pay dried up. It was important to me that my money supported other families, instead of just being poured back into the same old chain stores. And I started to feel great about wasting less, as I’d resell, donate or recycle as much as possible once we were finished with it.
Gradually I started to realise that with the amount of people out there doing the same, the pre-loved community was actually a pretty incredible movement. There was a whole network of (mostly) mamas on social media who were managing to earn extra cash, support each other and keep their kids dressed in gorgeous little outfits at the same time. In and around naptimes/mealtimes/home schooling/all the rest of it, they’d somehow managed to create this wonderful, sustainable, circular economy. I felt totally inspired!
Fast forward 14 months, I was pregnant again and determined to carry on shopping pre-loved. But I knew what I was looking for this time, and it was often hard to find exactly what I needed. I didn’t want to rush or order things I wasn’t completely happy with, nor did I want to go back to using faceless chain stores, or impersonal and complicated selling sites. So in a welcome burst of second trimester energy, I decided to launch Stork for parents in the same position as me. It’s an online marketplace just for kids’ and babies’ things, and it’s full of kind, thoughtful, supportive, eco-conscious, thrifty, positive, entrepreneurial, and generally wonderful sellers and buyers.
You don’t need a lot of stuff or a huge Instagram following to join up, and you don’t need to sell instantly because listings don’t disappear down a feed. Everything is categorised by size, colour, brand and condition, so it’s really easy for people to find what they want. Plus if you have any questions about the products, or general advice about what you need, you can always just ask someone! So if you fancy being part of a real community of Pre-lovelies, come and visit us, have a browse or set up your own store. Everyone’s welcome!
YOU CAN FIND HELEN ON;
INSTAGRAM: THE STORK SHOP
WEBSITE: THE STORK SHOP
I think it’s safe to say that 2021 hasn’t been off to the best start, and (possibly quite naively) the start I imagined. 2020 was such a crazy year for me personally as I had a second baby, we went into lockdown & my partner continued to work as a key worker so I found my life consumed by a new baby & a toddler, it took me a while to find my feet. However I am determined to make 2021 the year that I focus a little bit more time on me. I am not going to be making any huge changes but I thought I would share 40 personal developmental goals that are super simple & easy to incorporate into your day.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENTAL GOALS
- Go for a walk outside every day – whether it’s 10 minutes or longer, just getting some fresh air can make the world of difference.
- Drink more water – I definitely need to do this!
- Try a new exercise – I have signed up to a zoom barre class! I used to do dance as a teenager and I can’t wait to get back into it.
- Eat a more balanced diet.
- Start a journal – I started a bullet journal at the beginning of 2021 and I love it!
- Limit your news intake, especially at the minute.
- Spend less time on social media.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Mute, block & remove people who don’t make you feel good about yourself.
- Try something new every month.
- Stop procrastinating, i’m a bugger for this.
- List 1 thing you love about yourself every day.
- Keep a planner.
- Learn to prioritise your tasks – this is great for feeling less overwhelmed.
- Stick to a daily to do list.
- Accept your flaws.
- Establish a skincare routine.
- Learn to say no.
- Read more books.
- Be more open-minded.
- Believe in yourself – have faith in yourself and your abilities.
- Be a better friend. It is so easy at the minute to get wrapped up in our tiny little lockdown bubbles. Reach out to a friend – send a text, arrange a facetime date…
- Ditch drama – this is something I definitely did more of in 2020. I was part of a group chat and it was such a negative, toxic place to be. I left and I am so glad because the drama is still very ongoing. I aint got time for that.
- Embrace the present. Be present in whatever you are doing RIGHT NOW.
- Quit a bad habit.
- Step out of your comfort zone.
- Do more of what you love.
- Learn to forgive yourself.
- Take lessons in something you want to learn.
- Take a course to further progress in a hobby you love.
- Find your tribe. The people who celebrate your highs & comfort you through the lows. Find your people.
- Set personal boundaries.
- Declutter your space – tidy space, tidy mind.
- Be comfortable with your own company.
- Treat yourself to something once a month.
- Go to bed earlier.
- Let go of the past.
- Become more resilient.
- Take 5 minutes to just sit & breathe.
- Create a healthy life/work balance.
What are your personal developmental goals? Will you try and incorporate any of these into your daily life?
BY AMY (GUEST POST)
WHAT IS DECISION FATIGUE?
In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual.
“Do you want this salmon?” asked my husband, from the fridge.
I do not know if I want the salmon.
Our toddler is howling from his highchair because he’s not just not up for breakfast today. I have been splattered with yoghurt. I have been poked in the eye with a tiny fork. The cat is screeching and grappling with my ankles because she can see a small gap between the biscuits in her food bowl, and my phone just pinged. My own breakfast is cooling rapidly on the table, I cannot think whether or not I want salmon with it. My brain is out of storage.
I have reached my decision-making capacity and it’s not even 9am.
“Erm, I don’t know,” I say. The fridge slams. He is angry. He thinks I’m being funny with him.
I have long been aware that my decision-making capacity has a limit, and that my threshold is low. I find it stressful to have to make decisions that don’t matter to me. Which parking space, which coffee shop, which side of the hotel room bed, what kind of toothpaste, what we have for dinner. I am happy to hand over 90% of choices to others, as long as I retain influence for the things I do have a strong opinion on. I don’t much care what cars we have, I want absolute sign off on the carpets.
“What do you want from the shop?”
“Oh! Surprise me” (I don’t care).
Since producing another human, I have found the number of decisions I face in a day increased at least twofold. I must decide what two people will wear (after first deciding which weather forecast to believe), what two people will eat, where to go on our morning walk, how we will spend our time in the afternoon. Overarching all of this, I have to choose a parenting style, a set of boundaries, a school. I have to choose from a panoply of potential child-related purchases and decide whether or not to let him eat chips or have a rock for a pet.
We know that there is such a thing as ‘decision fatigue’, which is not only emotionally draining, but can lead to decreased productivity, lack of motivation, impulsive behaviour, and poor choices. Perhaps most worryingly, it even affects our ability to perceive risk and anticipate consequences.
For me, it has been necessary to find a strategy to limit the daily demand of decision making. The following five things seem minor but their cumulative impact is significant.
- I have a ‘uniform’ of two outfits for each weather eventuality. This has increased from one outfit, bought three times, with or without a cardigan, which I wore for my entire first year of motherhood. All my decision making regarding clothing is now focused on my child.
- My default is now ‘no makeup’, an inversion of my former childless days.
- We have a solid morning routine. The exact same thing happens for at least the first 4 hours of the day.
- Sometimes (but not often enough) I prep food to avoid having to decide what to have for lunch.
- I seize opportunities to allocate planning time – nearly all my best decisions happen whilst walking or in the bath.
I’ll end with a quote from one of my favourite ever leaders…
“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make” – Barack Obama. 44th President of the United States.
YOU CAN FIND AMY ON:
BY RACHEL SALTER
Hello to every single wonderful mummy reading this, wait before we get into anything let me just put down this tea cup that I find is permanently affixed to my hand these days so that I can talk to you all a little better.
Two hands typing now woohoo! I know that you mummies know exactly where I am coming from on the caffeine front but that is not why I am having a chat with you today. I have been asked by the wonderful creators of That Mama Club to start up a conversation about mums with disabilities, invisible illnesses & rare diseases.
Let me begin by telling you all a little about myself. I am Rachel I am 31 and I currently live in Surrey with my husband and our 16 month old little boy Vinnie. I have a rare, invisible disability called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) – Well to be perfectly honest EDS is only one condition I suffer from however I wanted to focus on EDS in my little mini series where I will be chatting about other factors of EDS and the existing overlapping conditions caused by it or that go hand in hand with it.
So, what in the world are The Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and how the hell am I pronouncing that?
It is pronounced (ELLE-ERS-DAN-LOSS SYNDROME) and EDS is a group of 13 hereditary disorders that affect the connective tissue of the body. Connective tissues connect, support and bind organs in the human body. The disorders are generally characterized by joint hypermobility (joints that extend further than normal) Skin hyperextensibility (skin that can be stretched further than normal) and tissue fragility. The connective tissue a person with EDS is born with is not structured the way it should be. One type of The Ehlers-Danlos syndrome unfortunately can shorten a person’s life expectancy due to organ and vessel rupture. Every individual diagnosed with EDS travels along a unique life unlike another person with the same diagnosis. EDS will never manifest the same in any 2 people and to this day is still incurable. The most effective way to deal with having EDS is the management of each individual symptom caused by the syndrome. EDS is a bit of an annoyance that it can cause multi systemic (effects many organs/systems) issues within the body.
I look back at when I was younger ( a lot younger) and I remember feeling ill all of the time, being in pain constantly, not being able to do things others could do and so easily. I remember knowing I was very much different in the behaviour of my body to everyone else’s however one thing always stood out and strong and that was knowing in my mind and my heart that all I wanted from this life was to be a mum. The yearning and aching I felt to have a baby was so powerful and for many many years while I searched the planet for the elusive ‘One’ that so called ‘Mr Right’ and in true Disney form I kissed my fair share of frogs but alas never found ‘Mr Right’ so I decided that I would try my absolute best to get my body in shape because whether I had a partner or not I wanted to be a mother and if that meant travelling along that road alone then so be it. (This really makes me sound like Bridget Jones ha)
I spent time talking with my specialists because when you have EDS you have more specialist consultants managing your affected body parts and systems than you actually do friends ha! It was in one of my appointments that I told them what I wanted to do and it was at that point they told me that due to my syndrome & because I have endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome that I would struggle to conceive and find it incredibly difficult, however it didn’t stop there. They then went on to tell me that even if I somehow managed to conceive there would be a very high chance that my body simply wouldn’t be able to tolerate carrying and growing a baby due to EDS. It was a lot to take in and I felt that I had all of my dreams crushed in the space of 40 minutes.
In true story form I met Matt (my husband) at what I thought was the worst timing because I was ready to embark on the journey of attempting solo parenting and motherhood and all the scary things I had been warned about by all my specialists like being a mum who uses a wheelchair, or mobility aids, a mother who is heavily medicated due to the syndrome, the attempt of becoming a mother on its own and so much more. I remember thinking “god he’s so handsome, funny and I really want to date him but he’s really getting in the way of my plans” ha ha little did I know that he would accept me for all of my broken parts, flaws, diseases, syndrome, disabilities and most importantly risks.
I realised that my husband was my elusive Mr Right and so I put my plans of motherhood on hold and started building life with him until we were ready to take the plunge together. In the time between meeting Matt and preparing to try for a baby I underwent a lot of hospital admissions for my heart which is being affected by a secondary syndrome that is linked in with EDS called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTs). PoTs occurs because EDS can cause a permanent dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system in the body which is called Dysautonomia.
So, where did we get to – Oh that’s right the pants part of noticing a deterioration in my syndrome resulting in new and scary syndromes and conditions rearing their ugly head at what I was considering the most crucial and important time in a woman’s life. My heart was being affected, my immune system and lungs started to become affected by another linked syndrome of the EDS. I was getting the most medical help I have ever had in my life, an increase of medications to help with management alongside physios, dieticians, OT’s, and so much more but in my mind I had set out to attempt to achieve something and I was not going to go down without a fight for a chance at being a mum. I got my body into as best shape as I could considering exercise limitation, injuries from simply opening jars and bottles, dislocations of joints from simply coughing and sneezing but I was ready so we took the plunge.
Months and months passed by into what felt like absolute years of time while we waited to see if we could conceive. On this one day after many many negative pregnancy tests and nights full of tears and broken hearts and my husband picking up the pieces sometimes literally because I had sustained an injury from the EDS – I felt a little different one day while I was at work. I noticed food wasn’t tasting the same and I felt a different kind of sick (I have gastroparesis which is a delayed emptying of the stomach due to it being paralysed by the autonomic nervous system so I feel sick constantly) and it got me thinking….Could I be?
So I rushed out and grabbed a pregnancy test in my lunch break & sat there waiting for that annoying spinning timer (the one everyone hates) to finally stop after what felt like a 5 minute wait. The usual feelings of seeing the word NEGATIVE were quickly flooded away by the most overwhelming tears of emotion and happiness I have ever felt in my lifetime as the word PREGNANT appeared on that tiny annoying screen!
I remember feeling the most incredible sense of achievement that the first hurdle I managed to get through regardless of my health taking a bit of a plummet. We were sitting in our very first midwife appointment and she literally could not believe as much as us, that we were pregnant. The team where elated at the news but concerned immediately too because now came the hardest part – Keeping the pregnancy, staying healthy, staying safe & giving this baby every chance to grow and survive as possible while preparing an already very fragile body for carrying a growing baby.
I was completely enveloped in happiness, pure fear, excitement & nervousness all wrapped up in a knot inside my chest. We were told straight away that we would have to have the baby via planned caesarean section due to the risk of significant tearing, bleeding and healing issues due to EDS while undergoing a normal delivery. I also was suffering from my heart and blood pressure significantly now due to the EDS and the midwives feared how my heart would cope with the pressures of bearing down during a normal delivery as my heart rate was incredibly high when doing things like standing, sitting up, sneezing, coughing and other very minimal things. The risk of preterm rupture was increased with EDS alongside the baby itself being born with EDS. It was at this point that it was decided I would be managed under an obstetrician and my son would be scanned very regularly through out the pregnancy and he would undergo a cardiac scan while I was pregnant to check for any defects or irregularity with his heart as I suffer from 2 minor leaking valves due to EDS.
The first trimester for me was okay, I was expecting and prepared by the obstetrics team to be quite ill as my body learned to accept the change and the hormonal changes happening but for me I just inhaled biscuits to stop me throwing up in the car on the way to and from work. I couldn’t have the heating on as the smell made me want to be sick ha and I loved tins of baked beans and mini sausages so I ate those like they were going out of fashion. I still had all of my usual EDS symptoms of dizziness, heart palpitations, painful bones, nerve pain, exhaustion, GI issues, easy bruising and bleeding but considering I was managing all of that and carrying and growing a baby – I was WINNING!!!
This joy continued right through until the final trimester when as suspected my health started to deteriorate slightly. The PGP (Pelvic girdle pain) was very bad, the episodes of dizziness were significantly increased, I was managing my nutrition via artificial food as my gastroparesis was so bad I couldn’t manage a lot to eat. I was incredibly tired & suffered a lot of pain and sprains to my joints while trying to move around and just live life. I had a few bad subluxations to my joints (partial not full dislocations) which took forever to heal and I couldn’t use them until they did. I won’t lie, the last stretch of pregnancy is difficult for any women but I struggled quite a bit with the pressure it had put on my EDS and the symptoms the EDS where causing me to have but every time I felt pain, every subluxation, every moment of fatigue, dizziness, through every cardiac scan, ultrasound and appointment I knew I was achieving something I only ever dreamt of doing and that the end result is worth every ounce of what I am experiencing now.
We had gone this far and achieved this much that our delivery date for our son was drawing ever closer and we couldn’t believe what we had achieved as we prepared for that all important date but my son had decided to give us the fright of our lives when one evening he simply stopped moving and I couldn’t feel him. I drank water (although very limiting because I have gastroparesis) and I changed positions, went for walks and took all advice from the midwives but it carried on and when he was usually active at 11pm at night and I felt absolutely nothing, I started to worry. We were invited into the hospital to get our son checked over and find out what’s happening. The entire drive into the hospital felt like hours, I just needed to know he was okay, alive and safe. We had come through so much and come so far I couldn’t lose him now and I was so frightened that our dreams of becoming parents were falling at the last hurdle because of my health. We arrived in the department and we were quickly greeted by a waiting team who took down my history and as all medical professionals involved in my care, took a very big inhale and exhale before attempting to understand my life, my pregnancy surrounding EDS. We were scanned straight away and instantly there he was, heart beating and all just having a lazy day apparently. Well!! That’s one bloody lazy day to put the fear of god in my eyes I can tell you ha. Vinnie was absolutely fine, his movements had reduced but not to a level of concern in fact this is where they realised Vinnie was somewhat smaller than originally anticipated. Our tiny little trouble maker.
Its time! 5am and we were getting the last things into the car ready to head out to the hospital for the most important day of our lives – DELIVERY DAY! My heart was racing, palms sweaty, everything including the kitchen sink that I thought at the time I needed, packed up high in the car with the empty newborn baby car seat ready and waiting for him.
The pregnancy was one hurdle now I have to survive the delivery of our son.
YOU CAN FIND RACHEL ON:
WEBSITE: BEAUTIFUL ADVENTURES
BY LAURA (GUEST WRITER)
I want to share this with you all, its not nice its a completely taboo subject, but it should have a voice, and should be spoken about and listened to. So it’s hard to know where to start… the exciting little secret that we don’t tell anybody because we are waiting for our ”safe 12 weeks..” but if we haven’t told anybody… how can people help us grieve?… I want to help raise some miscarriage awareness.
Maybe I’ll start with the drive home from work, full day at work completed never did I think my day would end the way it did. A funny little pain in my side that just wouldn’t go away. So when I got home I ran myself a bath (something I never do) as I thought it would help the aching feeling. It didn’t and I got inpatient and got out.
I went to the toilet and there was a tiny bit of blood, but that was okay, I had been there before and carried a healthy happy baby. But it wasn’t right.., I said to myself something isn’t right. I told my partner and he reassured me, you’ve felt poorly before, you’ve bled before you’ll be okay.
No I said! We’re having a scan tonight, so I called the private clinic and they could see me in an hour. As my partner was confident I said to him you stay home and put our little one to bed & ill ask my sister in law to come with me. Never did I imagine what we was about to encounter.
In the waiting room we joked about men being laid back and telling us everything is fine when we feel a bit funny and how its nice to get some reassurance. The workers were very touchy and nice but we joked about that to. I laid on the bed waiting to hear that everything was fine and I needed to take it easy.
The lady asked me to move in all different positions, lifting my bum up, holding my hands underneath. The other lady turned the screen off, I should of known at that point it wasn’t going to end well. The lady looked for ages on the screen. She pulled out the scanner and said the three words I never even imagined. “There’s no heartbeat”.
My whole world crashed before my eyes. No heartbeat, means no baby. That means no birth, no birthdays, no Christmas’, no sibling. I couldn’t even process the words, I didn’t even know what happened next.
How do I tell my partner that I failed to carry his child? How do I tell my parents my body failed to carry their grandchild safely. How do I tell my toddler that mummy’s baby isn’t coming anymore. My body failed…I failed… Why has this happened to me!?…
Is it because I ran up the stairs too fast? Did I stress to much? Did I buy the little outfit to soon because I didn’t wait for 12 weeks?! Was I not conscious enough, I told a handful of people our exciting news. But only because of the sicky mornings and because I would go out and not be drinking at weddings and hen do’s. So it was an exciting little secret to share. I’m sorry I did. Because now I have to tell you I’ve failed.
Nobody knows what to say. Everybody is sorry. There are so many questions I needed answers to but I had to be strong. I had to be grateful for the little one I have at home so I pushed everyone away and told them “it just wasn’t meant to be” but it was meant to be. Our baby was going to make us a family of four. I didn’t even know how I would tell people, Do I tell people I have two children? If I have another baby technically that’s my third pregnancy. So yes I have two children one which has wings or do I ignore that pregnancy because it was the worst nightmare you could ever wish upon anyone.
My dad told me to stop being so tough and broke down the wall inside of me which allowed me to cry and be sad. So actually my little bee deserves to be remembered because we did see their heartbeat looking like a little diamond ring flicking in the sunshine. And you know what I can feel sad and I can grieve for my baby.
Because Bee deserves to be remembered. And other Mummies and Daddies, and Aunties and Uncles and Grandparents need to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel sad, and angry at the world, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to remember.
I joined a group online to help. At first I thought it was rubbish and everyone was talking about their new pregnancies and rainbow babies – something I didn’t even want to think about. I saw a post about a lady that was pregnant and her words were “I wish I wasn’t pregnant this summer, none of my clothes fit me” – it took all of me not to tell her where to go. The group helped me to understand I needed closure. I felt raw and it was never going to leave me. A lot of families said how they buried their baby, with a plant or cremated the baby. Panic then set in – I hadn’t even asked where my baby was after the baby being removed by surgery my whole world was upside down. I didn’t even know where my baby was. My partner told me to stop reading them as he didn’t believe them. But it played on my mind too much.
I called the hospital to ask. The lady was horrified that we hadn’t been given the option to collect the baby after my surgery (the experience of loosing the baby is something I am not ready to talk about yet.) The lady was lovely, her name was Helen and she was calm and understanding. She looked into it and with about half an hour called back with something that made me smile. I was so relieved. The baby was there and we could decide what we wanted to do. I could bring our baby home. I could remember my baby and I will remember my baby.
So I’ve been told so many times, 1 in 4 women go through a miscarriage, I’m not a statistic. I never wanted to prove the statistic right or wrong. I am a Mummy, a Mummy of two and my baby is a baby it’s not 1 in 4 … it’s our baby, that we will miss dearly but will always have a place in our hearts, our homes and our memories.
YOU CAN FIND LAURA ON:
INSTAGRAM: LIFE WITH MUMMA
It is time for part two of our sustainable swap series! This time we are sharing easy sustainable swaps | bath & body edition! From toilet paper to period pants, we’ve got you covered.
01. SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER BARS; This is the one swap I was most sceptical about, I have really thick curly hair & just didn’t think bars would agree with my hair, possibly leaving it feeling greasy but I was SO wrong. They are such an easy swap and also take up a lot less room. (link)
02. BODY SPONGE/POUF; A really easy swap but switching from a normal sponge to a plastic free recycled one can make a huge difference. (link)
03. TOILET PAPER; Toilet paper actually creates so much waste & uses a LOT of trees. Companies like “Who Gives A Crap”, EXCELLENT name I know, deliver recycled toilet roll direct to your door, completely plastic free & in bulk (24 or 48 rolls), you can subscribe too which makes it so much easier! They donate 50% of their profits around the world to help build toilets. Did you know that roughly 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to a toilet? (link)
04. PERIOD PRODUCTS; It’s not secret that tampons & sanitary pads are NOT good for the planet! All 3 of us have made the switch to more sustainable alternatives, whether that is menstrual cups, period pants (my personal favourite) or reusable sanitary pads. We highly recommend giving at least one a go. (link)
05. NATURAL DEODORANT; I made this switch last summer & it is one of my personal favourites! I use Wild plastic-free refillable deodorant, I love the aluminium cases & the scents of the refills are incredible! I highly recommend orange zest. It has been especially formulated for a wide range of skin types including sensitive. It is delivered straight to your door & you can set up a subscription! (link)
06. BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSHES; Another incredibly easy swap for you! You can pick these up on Amazon for a couple of pounds and they feel no different to using a plastic toothbrush. They also last just as long! I have linked a pack of five priced at £5.99! (link)
07. SOAP BARS; This sounds like such an obvious one but how many of us use the pump bottles rather than good old fashioned bar of soap? Exactly. Go back to basics and grab yourself a bar – they do the job just as well. (link)
08. REUSABLE FACE CLOTHS; Rather than using cotton pads that go straight in the bin, I highly recommend face cloths or you can even pick up reusable cotton pads. Simply use them & pop them in the wash (with your Ecoegg, wink wink we mentioned that in our kitchen swaps edition) and repeat for a long time! (link)
We hope you enjoyed our easy sustainable swaps | bath & body post & we’d love to know if you make the switch to any of these.
Water play is one of the boys favourite activities (& mine to be honest) – there is something kids love about splashing in the water & it is definitely our go-to play choice. Water play is amazing in the summer but you really can do it all year round, bring it inside – put down towels (lots of them in our case), strip them off & let them have at it. I thought I would share our favourite water play ideas. I picked up this water & sand play table from Amazon for less than £10, it comes with 8 accessories including sand shapers, buckets and spades & a watering can.
Water play is great for developing skills such as fine motor skills & hand-eye coordination through actions such as pouring, filling & stirring. Water play also releases energy as it can be really relaxing & calming for children. They also build up muscle strength through filling buckets with water.
- Make coloured water (mix two drops of food colouring into room temperature water), then add objects of the same colour; building blocks, cars ect.
- Add some bubbles! Easy.
- Add in toy boats.
- Set up a pouring station with buckets, cups & jugs.
- Add coloured ice to the water.
- Add bubbles & use a silicone whisk to swirl and mix.
- Add ball pool balls, drop them into the water & make a little splash.
- Freeze pompoms into ice cubes and add them to the water, pompoms are perfect as you can re-use them once they are dry. They are also good for babies to squeeze once they are free from the ice and watch the water come out.
- Add rubber ducks and a little net – let them go fishing!
- Add sliced lemons & limes to the water and let them try to fish them out & taste them! Perfect for slightly younger babies who like to put everything in their mouths.
- Add a empty pop or squash bottle and insert a plastic funnel – watch them pour the water into the funnel & fill the bottle. This entertained Oliver for AGES.
- Add plastic animals such as fish or other sea creatures.
- Water beads are a new discovery of ours & whilst they do get everywhere, they are great for littles. Just make sure you keep an eye on them & that they don’t put the beads into their mouths!
- Add different textured & sized sponges.
- Add foam letters and numbers – stick them to the side of the water table to spell out words.
Those are just 15 water play ideas – there are so many more! You don’t need to do anything overboard or crazy, kids can have a whale of a time with just an empty bottle. I find Pinterest is an amazing place for ideas & inspiration.
BY NICKY ELLIOT (GUEST POST)
I have written this as a kind of guide to what happens during an IVF cycle, as I find there isn’t much out there on the detail of what to expect & I really would have benefited from knowing exactly what was going to happen.
Trying to have a baby is easy for some, not so easy for others. If you fall into the latter category it can quickly become an all-consuming pursuit. In an age where women are successful and independent it’s hard to face that some situations are beyond our control, and yet that’s fertility; we hand it back to Mother Nature and after likely decades of expressly trying not to get pregnant, we expect it to happen instantly. And when it doesn’t? It can be confusing, isolating and downright painful.
I started trying to get pregnant as soon as I got married in 2014. Three years later I welcomed my daughter into the world, and there had been what felt like a chasm of time between those two dates – of trying, and trying again, ovulation tracking, sex schedules, paying attention to body temperature and cervical mucus. Exhausting, and for me ultimately futile.
Considering IVF was not a decision I took lightly, and nor is it a miracle cure for infertility issues. It doesn’t always work, but after investigations we knew we had ‘unexplained infertility’ i.e. there was no specific issue for myself or my husband – it just wasn’t happening. I’m still not sure if that made it easier or harder to process. We knew that we had a decent chance of IVF working based on my age and our ‘vital statistics’ with regards to fertility, and we could have kept trying on our own, but the clichéd biological clock was ticking, and we decided to start IVF in early 2016.
IVF: three little letters that can feel heavy. There is a preconception of hormones and injections and it feels like a massive undertaking. For anyone considering it or about to go through it my only advice is to take it one day at a time. There are hormone injections, and the amount and strength of those depend on your specific needs, so it’s different for everyone. For me the idea of it all was far worse than the reality, and taking it day by day got me through it – twice!
The IVF Cycle process is broken down into roughly five phases (and these may vary depending on your protocol so don’t panic if yours is slightly different to the below). Down regulation is the first phase, where you start injecting to counter-intuitively ‘quieten’ your ovaries before the next phase, which is called stimulation. It’s what it sounds like – stimulating your ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible in one cycle. If you normally produce one or two eggs per cycle then you’re aiming to produce one or two dozen here, so this is where the discomfort can come in.
You know that pre-period bloat? Multiply it. You do feel bloated, windy and uncomfortable but it’s for a very limited time. You might also feel insanely emotional – the hormonal storm that is occurring thanks to a massive influx of hormones is not to be underestimated BUT it is manageable, as long as you go easy on yourself, limit your expectations of what you can do during that time, and make sure your partner is understanding, supportive and completely on board with the process. As with everything to do with bringing babies into the world the hard work is down to you. My husband was an awesome support in this time, and that helped me get through it all knowing I could have as many meltdowns as I wanted, without judgment. During these phases you’ll be scanned regularly via an internal ultrasound to check on the progress of your follicles (which contain the eggs). When the time is right the doctor will tell you do a trigger injection which triggers ovulation at the exact right moment to prepare for the next phase – egg collection.
Once the follicles containing your eggs are the optimum size and you’ve done your trigger injection you’ll be sedated about 36 hours later, and the doctor will remove the eggs from the follicles. This step terrified me but it was like having a nice sleep – I went through this process twice and didn’t feel a thing either time!
When you wake up you’ll be told how many eggs were retrieved – some eggs may be immature and some follicles empty, but the ones that are good to go are put together with your partner or donor’s sperm and left to do their thing! There are fertilisation reports in the subsequent days where you’ll hear how many eggs were fertilised, and some of those will likely drop off and stop developing, while others will go from strength to strength. If possible your doctors will aim to put what’s known as a blastocyst back inside you on day 5 after your egg collection – a blastocyst is a fertilised egg on its way to becoming an embryo. This may happen at the time or the blastocyst can be frozen and transferred after a break if necessary which was the case for me.
Embryo transfer is the next phase – a tiny tube is passed through your cervix into your womb where the doctor will use ultrasound to find the perfect spot in your uterus to put the blastocyst. You might be able to give your little guy a wave on a screen before it goes in (it’s about one sixth the size of a dot drawn with a ballpoint pen at this point, so you see it under a microscope!). And then you’re good to go and the final phase – the two week wait – commences.
This can almost be the hardest part even though the hormones and prodding and poking are over. Now you’re on high alert for every twinge and every feeling. Are you pregnant or is it period pains? Has it worked or not? There is absolutely no way of knowing and it can be stressful wondering and waiting to take that pregnancy test. For me the best way to manage my anxiety in this period was to take it relatively easy, but keep up my usual routine, and to give it back to Mother Nature – I lit a candle for my blastocyst every day and just looked at its picture. I told that bunch of cells that we loved it and were ready to welcome it into our family.
I’m one of the lucky ones and in early 2017 we did just that when our daughter was born. In 2019 we started the process from scratch as our remaining embryos from our first cycle didn’t take, but a second fresh cycle got a great batch of embryos, and we now have two amazing children to keep us on our toes!
For anyone who is considering IVF there are many things you can do to prepare yourself physically, and the ‘right’ things to do on that front are different for everyone, but to prepare yourself mentally I would just say – be prepared to go easy on yourself, to trust the process, and to have hope. If it doesn’t work and you hoped it would you won’t be any less devastated, so don’t beat yourself up for having it. Alexander Pope said “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” My advice is: if it’s there, hold onto it.
Did you know all about IVF cycle, and what goes into them? Have you been through IVF cycles yourself?
YOU CAN FIND NICKY ON:
WEBSITE: WILDER ONES
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Every new mother wants to ensure that they are doing everything in their power to nurture their baby to the best of her ability. How you care for and nurture your baby will have life-long effects and can improve their quality of life overall. Your relationship with your child is of paramount importance. How you treat your baby really does matter, nature can only take them so far. How you nurture your baby will affect their emotional, social, intellectual, language skill and motor skills. Therefore your role is of paramount importance.
Trust is the cornerstone of your baby’s development. Without it, your baby will have difficulty in building relationships, will have a lack of confidence, and will find it hard to move forward. It is your job as a mother to create their availability to trust. You can make them feel secure and loved. You will give them faith in life. To do this, you need to be responsive to your baby’s needs. Cradle and hug your baby, show they are loved and listened to. Speak, sing, read stories and give your baby a lot of eye contact. As your baby grows, so will their needs. You need to be attentive and acknowledge the little things they do. Ensure that everything you do is catered to your baby’s particular temperament. This is a clear indication that you understand them. As time goes on, you will come to understand your baby better. If your baby is not developing as you expect, it is possible that they suffered a brain injury at birth. This means you may be entitled to compensation to help you through this heart breaking predicament.
Children learn through imitation, and if you are impatient, so will they be. Do not get enraged every time something goes wrong. Instead, carefully, calmly, and systematically work out your next step so your baby can see this behaviour. Play games with them and show them how to behave. Being patient will also enable you to understand your infant better. Watch facial expressions and their movements. It won’t take long before you understand them better, and you can then begin to give them the right feedback. Also consider that toddlers do not see time in the same way. Ten minutes to them is a lifetime. Avoid giving numbers to timescales. Instead, tell them what you are doing before you can help them so they can watch you and learn in the process.
The more empathetic you are to their needs, the more their social competence will be raised. In order to develop socially and have meaningful relationships, you have to be able to understand how someone else feels. When your child is old enough to grasp what you are saying, describe how their action can affect others. This is a process that will need a lot of work but is essential to their ability to act in the social world. Also, consider the effects of television on their behaviour too, as children will model what they see. Additionally, pay close attention to your child’s needs to show then you care about their feelings.
BY VICTORIA BEDDOW (GUEST WRITER)
My fiancee proposed on my birthday in January 2019, we had just celebrated our 9 Year anniversary and I could not wait to start planning. Planning our dream wedding went so smoothly. We both had a vision of what we wanted our day to look like and we had no arguments over it. He was the perfect companion and apart from bridal appointments he turned up to every booking we had. Whether it be the venue or flowers he was there. We finished planning our day with about 10 months to just chill and relax with our date being 09/05/20. Then Covid-19 happened. As did a postponed wedding & not just once..
YOU CAN FIND VICTORIA ON:
BY AMY MCLAREN (GUEST WRITER)
When I gave birth it was quite surreal and traumatic, I ended up with an emergency section and can’t remember much of the first moments with my daughter, I couldn’t hold her until I came to which was at least an hour after she was born, I woke in recovery to find my partner feeding her which was amazing too but I was upset that I didn’t get that skin to skin I hoped for. I had to stay in due to a post dura headache caused by the epidural and I couldn’t look after her much and due to the pandemic my partner was only allowed in for half an hour each day. I remember one of the girls in the ward saying to me when it gets to day 5 and you can’t stop uncontrollably crying don’t worry it’s just the baby blues and you will feel better in time.
3 days later I got out and wow it hit me like a tonne of bricks, I was sobbing uncontrollably and felt like I couldn’t bond with my baby, it sounds strange but I couldn’t believe she was mine she was so perfect and I actually thought what if they’ve given me the wrong baby.
When I couldn’t stop crying I turned to my partner and said do you think I could have postnatal depression and he asked the question that will always stick in my brain “well do you love her” obviously I did so It can’t be that I thought.
To sum up, postnatal anxiety & depression is not what you might think. The comment made innocently by my boyfriend “do you love her” still sticks in my mind 6 months on. Before I had a baby that’s exactly what I thought postnatal depression would be, that you don’t love your baby, you can’t look after them, you can’t get out of bed, look after your appearance, house etc. In actual fact it’s sometimes loving so much and the overwhelming feeling of responsibility that can make you feel this way & that’s ok, what’s not ok is suffering in silence & I would urge anyone who feels this way to speak up I feel 100x better since being diagnosed and treated.
YOU CAN FIND AMY ON:
From day one of weaning, I have given both Teddy & Oliver the same foods we would eat, whether that’s snacks or meals, I very rarely make anything special (except his pinwheels & yoghurt drops – who am I kidding? I love the pinwheels for myself!). I thought I would share with you my top tips in a sort of “Baby Led Weaning For Beginners” post.
As soon as I had my first little boy, Teddy in 2017, I knew when it came to weaning him onto solid foods that we would take the baby led weaning route. Firstly because I watched my sister do it with her (then) youngest child and it fascinated me! Secondly, It’s so much more time & cost effective. I’m not cooking meals that I wouldn’t already (with the exception of a couple of things), I’m not having to buy copious amounts of baby jars – they aren’t exactly cheap & I’m not having to spend time in the kitchen whizzing up lots of homemade purées to store & freeze.
BABY LED WEANING FOR BEGINNERS
*Babies should not be weaned onto solid foods until they are 6 months old, sitting up unaided for a period of time & able to grab things and put them to their mouth. All these markers must be met before you wean.
look on Instagram, Pinterest or in recipe books for inspiration & meal ideas. Save the ones you find on Pinterest to their own board, that is what I did & then I could find them easily enough when planning meals, writing shopping lists ect. I started doing this about a month before we were due to start, just so I wasn’t going in completely blind.
don’t feel like you have to go out & buy the most fancy, expensive looking high chair (we have learnt our lesson!) Baby Led Weaning is MESSY! My tip is to buy a high chair without a fancy-ass cushion in! Sure, they look nice but they stain like a bitch. The ikea high chair is fab & ridiculously cheap.
*Side note: you shouldn’t attempt BLW until your baby can sit on their own, unaided for a certain length of time! This helps prevent choking.
PREP THE AREA –
As soon as I put Oliver in his high chair I get his wipes, facecloth & bib ready. There’s nothing worse than disaster striking & you running round trying to grab some wipes to clean the mess up. Keep them all on hand within easy reach.
LESS IS MORE –
We used to strip the boys down to either their vest or nappy when we first started BLW, because I guarantee if you put them in a nice set of clothes, a food bomb will go off & you’ll be trying to scrub stains out of everything.
*side note: If you have any stained or marked clothes put them in the sunshine (I put them over the back of Oliver’s nursing chair in his nursery, which is in front of the window & by the next day the stains are completely gone! Trust me.
We don’t really bother too much with bibs anymore, only if we are eating out ect but I would definitely recommend buying the full bibs, you know the ones that are like a coverall? With long sleeves, they velcro fasten at the back & cover their top half completely!
CUPS & PLATES –
When Teddy first started weaning we picked up the Munchkin Miracle 360 Training Cup & the Tommee Tippee First Cup, this one is fantastic for when you first introduce water to your little one as it just flows out, that way they at least get a taste & don’t have to worry too much about figuring out how to get the water out. The Munchkin 360 is an all time favourite of mine as it doesn’t leak! It’s honestly the snazziest thing ever (you know you’re a mum when you find a kids cup snazzy…). The cup uses lip activation around the rim & it knows to let the liquid out. The spout free technology is also better for their teeth!
*side note: Up until 12 months old, you should give your baby cool, boiled water to drink.
FIRST AID –
Brush up on your first aid, you can find really useful videos on YouTube to watch when you have a spare ten minutes. We haven’t had any choking episodes yet but I think it is important to know what to do just in case. Choking is very rare & it’s good to also google the difference between choking & gagging. Gagging is a natural thing for your baby to do when they are eating solids. I used to sit on my hands to stop myself from intervening all the time! We have baby led weaned two children over 3 years & only had one very mild choking incident with Teddy, when he was 7 months old.
“Food Is Fun Before One“, don’t worry if your baby is eating much before they are 12 months. Anytime before that is all about experiencing new textures & tastes. They will still be getting everything they need from their milk at this age. Your baby WILL start to eat eventually, just see it as messy & sensory play before then.
FOOD SIZE –
Cut food into finger sized sticks or wedges at first! Foods such as peppers, carrot & cucumber are great for this. It means your baby can get a really good grip of the food. Also cutting meat into strips that are easy to manage. With meat we used to cut it up either into strips OR so it was very small.
We use silicone suction plates for most of our meals, we got ours from Amazon as they worked out more affordable & they came next day with Prime. We also have a Nuby Silicone bowl which is really handy for cereal or chunky soups. I swear by the suction as they prevent baby from throwing it off, making even more mess & to be honest.. they look pretty.
ENJOY IT –
I found BLW so much fun! So did Teddy, and Oliver is a huge fan and they both eat amazingly. Like I said, it’s a huge change for your baby so don’t panic if they aren’t overly keen straight away.
We hope these tips helped! We have a post coming up full of snack & meal ideas when you first start baby led weaning, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
January is upon us and I am getting ready to have the mother of all clothing clear outs. Now that I am not pregnant or breastfeeding, I want to finally create a capsule wardrobe. I am looking at creating a main one with pieces I can wear and adapt all year round, and then bits that are seasonally appropriate when needed.
When you open your closet doors every morning do you feel peaceful or overwhelmed? If you’ve ever thought, “I have nothing to wear” before you decide on an outfit, your mornings may be more stressful than they need to be. Advertisements teach us to want more, to want new, to need the same exact item in every colour available. In this article I want to show you in which areas decluttering your wardrobe can bring you consciousness and how to start the process.
Having a clear out and trying to reduce our clothing always makes us more conscious of what we have and what we need. We question items we have bought in the past. We automatically become more aware of the pieces of clothing that we really like and ones we have never even worn.
You feel beautiful and confident in everything because they are all pieces you love to wear over and over – It’s why you chose them!
Time & Attention
You save yourself so much time and attention every morning when deciding on what to wear. This is because now you have a limited choice and everything goes with everything!
Save More Time.
You can save yourself even more time by choosing your clothes that are well made. Clothing that will last longer and save you time fixing them or replacing them over and over.
You save yourself money. Not only because you own fewer items of clothing, but because you buy buying unnecessary or non matching items.
Less Clothing = More Space
Because of the fewer items you have in your wardrobe, you now have more space for other things. Or even just more space! Just because you make space doesn’t mean you need to fill it with something else.
As you continue to dress with less, you’ll figure out what you really enjoy wearing, and what best fits your body & your lifestyle. It’s not that your clothes will look better on you, but you will look better in your clothes & more comfortable in your own skin.
Create your own capsule wardrobes and if you fancy it, have a look at a few minimalist fashion challenges. Ones such as project 333 – you have 33 items that you wear for 3 months or ones like 10×10 where you were just 10 items for 10 days! Let us know if you have ago at any of these! We would love to see them!
BY RACHAEL BLAKEY
We are only a few weeks from the day of loveeee and we thought we would share with you our favourite romance books. There will, hopefully, be something for everyone as we are going to cover all basis ranging from light-hearted fluffy romances to all out smut, because lord knows we all need a little spice in our life right now.
FAVOURITE ROMANCE BOOKS
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
We couldn’t share our top book recommendations and not include our book club pick, could we?! We have been reading this through the months of January & February and it has gone down so well! “Quinn and Minnie are born on New Year’s Eve, in the same hospital, one minute apart. Their lives may begin together, but their worlds couldn’t be more different. Thirty years later they find themselves together again in the same place, at the same time. Maybe it’s time to take a chance on love…” A really quick & easy romance, perfect for that feel good vibe we all need right now. You can find the book here.
The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon
One of our TOP romance book recommendations! We following three sisters; Phoebe, Rose & Eliza. They wouldn’t be more different if they tried but they all have one thing in common. They are all in love with Angus. I read this in one sitting, it is addictive, fast paced & emotional! Paige Toon is one of my favourite romance authors if I want something easy to read that I know I will love. You can find the book here.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
If you are after a feel-good romance then this is one for you! This is the story of Leon & Tiffy. They share a flat. They share a bed. They have never met! I know I know, one works night shifts and the other works during the day. So they are passing ships in the night. They communicate through post it notes. It is the most wholesome story & you’ll love it. It is funny & heart warming. You can find the book here.
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
I share this recently on our Instagram page and it went down really well! Sophie Kinsella is such a hugely popular romance author, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of her books! Poppy has lost her engagement ring.. and her phone. What is she going to do?! All hope seems lost. Until she finds a phone dumped in a bin – finders keepers. Except the owner of the phone, Sam, doesn’t think so. He wants his phone back… The book had me laughing out loud, I completely fell in love with the dynamics & blossoming relationship between Poppy & Sam. You can find the book here.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
If you want sexy romance, then you can never go wrong with a Christina Lauren book! They are the queens of FIREY romance with all the sexy times. We follow Olive & Ethan, arch nemesis but they have to get along for the sake of their siblings – who are dating each other & getting married. However at the wedding, everyone falls ill due to food poisoning, except Olive & Ethan (they are allergic to fish so had something different). Long story short – the honeymoon was won as a competition and can’t be rescheduled so Olive & Ethan go on it. It’s sexy & hilarious. Enemies to lovers is my FAVOURITE. You can find the book here.
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
If you want romance, sex & intense main characters – Colleen Hoover is the author for you. Ugly Love is my favourite by her. Miles Archer is an airline pilot (sexy right?) and the story centres around his relationship with Tate Collins. They are friends. Just friends. Who have sex. He doesn’t want love & she doesn’t have time for a relationship. It’s the perfect set up, as long as Tate can follow two rules: never ask about the past & never expect a future. What could possibly go wrong? You can find the book here.
Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill (amazing rep that we don’t see enough) computer fanatic with a goal… a goal to get a life, after having a almost near death experience. She enlists the help of tattooed motorbike rider, Redford ‘Red’ Morgan. As they spend more time together, Chloe realises maybe she wants more…. This story is fun, hell-a sexy & smart! You can find the book here.
Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Please tell me you’ve seen the classic movie, staring Deborah Messing? Well this is basically that story in book form and it is GREAT. Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist. Drew has been invited to his ex’s wedding and is in need of a plus one.. You can find the book here.
We hope you enjoyed our romance book recommendations, keep your eye out for our next book post which will be filled with LGBTQIA+ romance recommendations!
Does anyone else hate being stuck indoors all day when its raining? To be honest, as much as I love a good old duvet day every now and then, nothing beats a bit of fresh air. Rain or shine. Our little family always tries to embrace the weather and go out as much as we can, regardless of the conditions. The last few days however have been ever so wet. So, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the rainy day activities I do with Molly. Yes they are all outside, in the rain. Just stick your tiny human in a puddle suit and some wellies and you’re good to go!
BY WHITNEY DAVIES (GUEST WRITER)
Whitney is a primary school teacher based in Staffordshire. She has been teaching for nine years and is now part of the senior leadership team in her school. She is also the SENCO (Special Educational Needs coordinator). Whitney shares her life as a parent to two year old Rory over on Instagram as @mommy_davies. We have asked Whitney to share her top home learning tips.
HOME LEARNING TIPS
Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to That Mama Club for asking me to write this guest post. As a primary school teacher with almost 10 years experience, I can honestly say these have been the hardest and strangest months of my teaching career to date. With the majority of the country’s stuck at home, there have been many new ways of life we’ve had to become accustomed to. I’d like to share some home learning tips, resources which you may not know are accessible to you at home, and some positive affirmations to help you through these unprecedented times!
You Are Not Home Schooling!
Now this is a bold and controversial statement for me to begin with, but I feel the term is misunderstood. Yes your children are at home, yes your children are completing school work, but it is not home schooling. If you were home educating your child, they would not be enrolled in a school, you would be responsible for all of the lesson planning and you’re subject to inspections from the local authority. This time around, teachers are providing much more for children at home, with many providing live lessons. 12 months ago, remote learning wasn’t even a thing, and now it is law for schools to provide a minimum of 3 hours learning a day (higher in Key Stage 2!) for children at primary level. In the first lockdown, learning was being set, but with less pressure from the government, and with the beautiful summer weather on our side, it was a little easier. Now, the learning is much more structured and formal, and with more people working from home now than ever, trying to find the balance is tricky.
Parents, just like in most other aspects of their child’s life, are there to guide and support their children whilst juggling work, but ultimately, your child’s teachers are still responsible for their academic progress. When you decided you wanted to become a parent, you didn’t ‘sign up’ to be teaching them the national curriculum during a pandemic whilst working full time. Nobody expected to be living life like this, and teachers didn’t expect you to be doing their job for them – these are the things they don’t teach you at university! Tap into the resources school are providing, whether that be a video call, resource packs, or an email address where you can bombard the teacher with questions. Us teachers are here for you and working harder than ever before.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Something is better than nothing. Children are far more resilient than we are as adults. I can say from experience, that our children returned to school after such a long time off, and you wouldn’t have known they’d had almost 6 months off. Their passion for learning was still there and they were so eager to get back into school.
Routine & Rules Are Key!
We know that routine is good for everyone. We’re all trying to get our heads around establishing a new routine. Just when we thought things were getting better, it’s been thrown right back up in the air. When schools reopened to all children in September, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We never imagined that we’d be back to pretty much where we started. We’ve done two weeks now and we’re all still finding our feet. My biggest piece of advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself, and do what works for you. I know this is easier said than done, but a routine that works for one family will certainly not work for another. Depending on what your home life is like will depend on what a good routine is. I have families whose parents are working 8-4 from home so ‘school starts at 4pm. I have families whose parents work nights, so they sit and work with their children as soon as they get home before they go and catch up on sleep. I’ve got learning being submitted at all hours. Yes there may be live lessons, or meetings which you have to attend at particular times, but otherwise, there are 24 hours in a day and you can use them in a way which suits you.
Once you’ve found your flow, stick to it. Getting up each morning knowing what your day is going to look like will alleviate a lot of anxieties. For example, making sure everyone is up, dressed and ready for ‘school’ at the same time will get you all in the right frame of mind and ready to tackle the day ahead. We don’t want our children to lose that desire to learn, so if it’s a constant battle trying to get them doing 8 learning assignments a day, then don’t do it. The time parents have with their children is precious enough as it is, you shouldn’t have to spend it arguing about doing some learning. As I said earlier, something is better than nothing. Short bursts of learning split up with breaks is much more effective than slogging over the same piece of work for 3 hours. Remember, children will probably get their learning done much quicker at home as they’re working on a 1:1 ratio rather than 1:15 or 1:30 they may have in school.
Technology Is Your Friend!
Another controversial topic! There have been debates surrounding screen usage and screen time since it ever became a thing. Whether you’re an advocate of screen time or not, we cannot deny the fact that it is a huge part of our lives today.
The reason why I mentioned technology here though has nothing to do with the learning side of things…for now. It is just as important to look after your own mental health as it is your child’s, so if they sit watching YouTube for an hour so you can reply to emails, put a load of washing on or just so you can have a hot cup of tea in peace, that is absolutely fine and you are not a bad parent.
Our children are growing up in a society where technology is all around them, and they’ll be training for jobs which don’t even exist yet. Allowing your children to have access to technology for a range of purposes will support them with their future prospects.
Life Skills Are Important!
This is one thing that I think we can all take away from lockdown. We’ve all suddenly become Mary Berry and Alan Titchmarsh rolled into one. When you think of learning, people automatically think of reams of paper full of maths questions. However there are so many skills that we can’t always teach at school that are invaluable. Maths is found everywhere – playing shops where children can buy and sell things from the cupboards in the kitchen, baking cakes where they have to weigh out the ingredients. These are the types of activities where children will learn far more than they would doing a worksheet but are often overlooked. Getting them to help around the house with simple chores will also help them develop a sense of responsibility, but it also helps you out too!
Use What’s Out There
Especially this time round, there is an abundance of resources which you can tap into without paying a penny. This is where I’m going to come back to screen time but talk about it from a learning perspective. Here is a list of resources which I think are great and use them as a teacher myself in school and at home.
The BBC have done a brilliant job by carefully selecting the programmes they are playing on their channels. Most programmes on CBeebies are educational without children even realising. Why not rely on Andy & The Oddsocks to teach them a bit of History or Joe Wicks to get them active? Don’t waste your energy reinventing the wheel if it’s already there at your disposal. As I said earlier, if you know they’re engaged in that, it leaves you free to do whatever you need to do as a parent.
The Oak National Academy has approximately 10,000 resources and lesson plans which are totally free of charge and accessible to parents. If you’re unsure of a concept in Maths for example, your child can be taught by a qualified teacher before completing their task – told you technology could be your friend! In addition to this, if you’re on particular phone networks, accessing the website will not eat into your data allowance. https://www.thenational.academy
Teach Your Monster To Read is a wonderful app which does exactly what it’s name says. It’s jam packed with activities to support children’s development in reading, from learning initial sounds in phonics, right up to confident readers. This is aimed at children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 (up to Year 2) and is currently free to download.
Phonics Play is another fantastic online resource which has been made freely accessible throughout lockdown. This is used in many schools as a great interactive tool when learning phonics. It’s full of games and printable resources which will support their phonic development. This will be a familiar resource to many children so they will like the continuity between home and school. Just use the username ‘jan21’ with the password ‘home’ to access the free resources.
White Rose Maths is a popular scheme across the country that many schools (including my own) use for teaching. Their activity workbooks for each area of Maths for each year group is available to download for free on Amazon. Download the Kindle version (and download the Kindle app to a device if you don’t have it already) and away you go! These are lovely colourful activity booklets the children can complete as a short Maths activity.
Remember, these times are not normal, and the priority for everyone is to stay safe and happy. When children feel safe and happy in the environment they are in they will thrive. Just like every other aspect of parenting, do what works best for your family, and it will be the right thing to do.
I hope you enjoyed my home learning tips! We must be thankful that we’re in a digital age where our children can still access learning despite being at home, so embrace it and remember, us teachers are here to support you in any way we can!
Mommy Davies x
YOU CAN FIND WHITNEY ON;
INSTAGRAM : MOMMY_DAVIES
BY KIERA (GUEST WRITER)
I had always wanted to at least try and breastfeed, I had told myself that I wouldn’t get upset if I couldn’t do it. Looking back I think I probably would have but I had bought myself bottles and a steriliser just to make sure. I had also bought a few different types of breast pumps too. When Thea was born I was amazed how quickly she latched on, It came so natural and it was just so comfortable. I think Danny will agree with me that we were both in awe. That being said, I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey, the benefits & any tips I have!
I think I had it quite easy compared to other mums who really struggled. I remember about three days in and my nipples were so sore and painful. I never had any bleeding but for the first 2-3 weeks Lanisnoh was my best friend! I can remember the searing pain every time she would latch on that would last for about 10 seconds but it was the kind of toe curling pain that I had to brace myself for. Even though it was painful I loved breastfeeding and still do. The bonding that it gives you is just incredible.
My first outing where I had to breastfeed in public was at a garden centre with my dad. I had a big muslin cloth and I remember trying to pull my top up and bra down whilst holding a new born and feeling a bit overwhelmed and like everyone was staring at me, my dad bless him was so supportive and helped cover me up. I felt so embarrassed, I really don’t know why I felt like this because I honestly didn’t care what people thought. I was feeding my baby and that was that. I feel more comfortable around certain friends and family than others, although my cousin doesn’t bat an eyelid when I just whip it out around her haha! I am more confident now then ever, I am quite discreet about it in public but If people don’t like to see it they should look away.
I have been breastfeeding for nearly 18 months and so so SO many people ask me when am I going to stop…. well I don’t know? Am I ready to stop my breastfeeding journey? Thea has dropped quite a lot of her feeds now because she drinks cows milk at nursery and has a cup at home but every morning and night all she wants is booby. She will only drink from my left side now, she wants nothing to do with my right side and I have no idea why haha!
I did find that even though I tried 3 different breast pumps it was never the same as the real deal, I know some mums that exclusively pumped and gave breast milk to their baby which is amazing. I just never got a lot and would still feel full afterwards. Its something to give a go if breastfeeding doesn’t work.
The one downside I ever had was when I got to around 13 months of breastfeeding I had my first experience of mastitis. I was out with my cousin and her bridesmaids when I started feeling really unwell, I felt faint and sick. The girls were super helpful and when I got home I realised that my left breast had a solid mass, it progressively got worse and I ended up on antibiotics for 2 weeks. I had a few hospital appointments to double check everything and I got very mixed advice. One Doctor told me that I should stop breastfeeding altogether. I was super shocked and I actually called my health visitor who was disgusted with the advice, I actually felt a lot better when I did breastfeed as the milk was draining instead of building up. It just shows you how many misinformed people there are.
This post isn’t bashing formula feeding at all, I am all for feeding your baby. Whichever method you use. this is just my experience with breastfeeding and a few facts about it if you are thinking about giving it a go!
Its actually not that hard to find on the internet some of the benefits breastfeeding gives you and your baby. I had a look and this is some information that I got from the NHS website.
I didn’t realise but in the UK, more than 73% of mothers start breastfeeding. I honestly thought that it was much lower, but The UK has one of the lowest rates in the world for breastfeeding after one year at 0.5%!
Here are just some of the reasons why breastfeeding is so good:
- your breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby
- breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases
- breastfeeding provides health benefits for you
- breast milk is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it
- breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby
Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits.
Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of:
- infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
- diarrhoea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- childhood leukaemia
- cardiovascular disease in adulthood
It is recommended to give nothing but breast milk for about the first 6 months (26 weeks) of your baby’s life.
Breastfeeding and making breast milk also has health benefits for you. The more you breastfeed, the greater the benefits.
Breastfeeding lowers your risk of:
- breast cancer
- ovarian cancer
- osteoporosis (weak bones)
- cardiovascular disease
The other great thing is that it is completely FREE! Winner Winner.
Before I finish I just wanted to note that if you are breastfeeding in public you are protected under the Equality Act 2010 for as long as you wish to breastfeed and covers all public places from parks and leisure facilities, to public transport, shops, restaurants, hotels and cinemas.
I hope you enjoyed reading all about my breastfeeding journey? Did you breastfeed?