Opinion · Parenting

Is Halloween Becoming Too Sexualised?

podvx59hoo1d1tcJust recently, I was asked to look at the results of a survey conducted by My Voucher Codes (which was also reported on in the Daily Mail) which showed that over half of UK citizens think that Halloween costumes have become too sexualised. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot myself lately, especially seeing as Sausage is now taking an interest in Halloween and insisted that we go costume shopping today.

According to the results of the survey:

  • Fifty eight percent of men did not think women’s Halloween costumes were over-sexualised.
  • On the other hand, 66% of women stated they thought costumes on sale were over-sexualised
  • The majority (76%) of those aged over 55 felt that the costumes on sale for children were not age appropriate
  • Thirty four percent of 18 to 24 years olds did not have a problem with the clothing on sale for children and did not find them inappropriate
  • Parents are not impressed with children’s Halloween costumes on sale, with 83% finding them to be inappropriate for the age at which they are marketed.

I have to say, having spent a good while trawling through rails and rails of costumes, I was totally dismayed to see how sexed up some of them were. Sausage is absolutely bonkers about cats and would have quite liked to dress up as one, but the only set we could find with a tail and mask included also came with a t-shirt which said “sexy kitty”. In a size 8-9 years. Needless to say, I left the shop in question rather sharpish.

When I was a kid, Halloween was a chance to be scary and outlandish – costumes came with a novelty meat cleaver and certainly didn’t have concern for how much cleavage one might be able to show, so this move toward the sexy rather than the scary is totally baffling to me and I certainly won’t be adorning my kids in any such nonsense.

Mark Pearson, founder of My Voucher Codes commented on the findings:

“Halloween is meant to be a time where you dress up in scary costumes, not sexy. Our results show that many women feel that the choice available to them is not equal to men’s choices with the main focus of the outfit being sexy rather than scary.”

He added:

“We can see that some outfits on sale for children are also inappropriate for the age ranges the clothes fit. Whether they are a scary film character a child should not know about or a rather revealing outfit for a young girl. Obviously many parents feel the same, which is why it is important to push for more family friendly costumes this Halloween.”

All About ME! · Beauty

Why I’ve Stopped Using Deodorant

Apologies for the slightly Take a Break-style sensational title to this post, but you should know by now that I’m a pretty straight forward kind of lady. I, friends, have stopped using deodorant. Here’s why:

I’ve never had a great relationship with deodorant. It makes my armpits itch terribly and I tend to jump from brand to brand, using each one until the irritation begins. I’m similar with shampoos, if I’m honest, and I think it might just be an all-over sensitive skin issue which causes the problems. Also, because of my diabetes, I sometimes get ingrown hairs or boils under my arms, which make using chemicals under there a real problem.

Just recently, I discovered a lump in my armpit, just behind where my breast meets my underarm and initially it was quite tender, so I went to the doctors and got some antibiotics, which took the tenderness away. In the meantime, Husband suggested that I stop using deodorant on my underarms to avoid exacerbating anything if it was a cyst or something else causing the lump, and keen to try anything which might help, I stopped. Obviously, I still showered every day and wore clean clothes, but I started to notice that I wasn’t having any obviously offensive body odour issues.

This was all about 4 weeks ago now and I’ve worn deodorant just once in that time. Weirdly, the day that I wore deodorant, I ended up washing it off because I seemed to be producing bad body odour. Husband has a bit of a conspiracy theory about certain cosmetics, such as face washes; use them on clear skin and suddenly, BOOM!, you’ve got a bunch of spots – so, you’d better carry on using the facewash, hadn’t you? I’m not saying that cosmetic companies are giving us spots and BO, but the products we’re encouraged to use don’t always protect us as well as we think and are mostly intended to make us buy more products. I even put this theory to my GP, who said that she actually agreed to a certain extent, and that her friends daughter, who was at medical school, actually wrote a dissertation about something almost identical.

Interestingly enough, I read a little while ago that the concept of B.O. (body odour) was actually invented by advertisers who were trying to sell a new product to the masses. They effectively decided to convince us all that the smell of a normal human was offensive and needed to be covered up, and wouldn’t you know it, they had JUST the product to help! Up until this point, we’d all gone happily about our days, washing our pits when they needed it and understanding that humans sometimes sweat, which isn’t the end of the world.

While I’m not saying that we should all walk around stinking, I’m not sure that we all need antiperspirant as much as we think we do, and my armpits certainly feel a lot healthier without being caked in deodorant every day. I’ve noticed that certain fabrics, such as stretchy nylons, will sometimes make my armpits a bit whiffy but I think that’s because the air doesn’t circulate as well through these materials. Other than that, my pits have been fine – my Husband is very particular when it comes to personal hygiene and even he’s agreed that I don’t stink!

Do you have issues with deodorant and would you ever consider giving it up, or it the thought of laying off of the roll-on a massive no-no for you? Leave me a comment below!

Christmas

Thorntons Chocolate Hampers

53768If there’s one thing I love about Christmas, it’s the chance to enjoy nice things with the people I love. Last year, I was 7 months pregnant with BB and in the grips of insulin-dependant type II diabetes, so treating myself was really difficult and I struggled with keeping my morale up while everyone around me was digging in to the Festive fayre! Luckily, my Husband is a resourceful soul and discovered that Thorntons Hampers actually come in a low sugar variety, which really cheered me up.

This year, although I’m still diabetic, I’m no longer dependent on insulin and no longer pregnant so a little indulgence here and there won’t be a problem. One of my favourite things at Christmastime, apart from all of the chocolate, is Christmas pudding – last year it was well and truly off the menu for me, so Husband bought one and put it away until March when we shared it with lashings of double cream – heaven!

Christmas is going to be extra exciting for us this year – obviously, the fact that I’m not pregnant anymore is a bonus and I’ll be enjoying a little tipple, but mainly because it’s BB’s first Christmas. Sausage is already planning what she wants to buy her little sister for Christmas and we’re sticking to our tradition of making new decorations for the tree by making handprint snowflakes from both of the girls hands. On Christmas Eve, we’re going to the O2 to see Disney on Ice and on Christmas day, we’ll be out of the house, celebrating with family, so we’ve got a pretty full schedule over the festive period.

We like to spend at least one day at home – it always seems mean giving kids a bundle of new toys and then dragging them straight out of the house for two days, depriving them of the chance to play with things, so our day at home usually means yummy canapes, Lego building and chilling with the pooch.

Chocolate makes a fantastic gift, too. This year, we’ve all decided that we’ll just buy presents for the kids and just get little token gifts for the adults, and I think chocolate would make a great gift. It’d probably work out to be excellent value if I were to buy a Thorntons hamper and split it up to give as presents to people and I know for a fact that the grown-ups in our family all have a sweet tooth.

Do have a look at the Thorntons page and let me know which hamper you’d choose if you could – you may well give me some choc-spiration!

Competitions · Giveaway

Mum’s the Word 4th Anniversary Giveaway!

prizesOn 4th October, I realised that it had been 4 years since I started Mum’s the Word (you can find my first ever post here) and it felt like something which should be celebrated. You see, I’m rather flighty when it comes to personal endeavours and I’ve never, EVER stuck at a hobby or pastime for as long as this, although seeing as blogging is now my job as well as my hobby, I guess you could say it’s evolved into being so much more than a way for me to get my ramblings out.

ANYWAY.

To celebrate, I thought I’d do a bit of a giveaway and I’ve got some lovely things to be won! Each prize has it’s own Rafflecopter widget below and you can enter as many of them as you like.

Firstly, my lovely friend Donna at Little Lily Pad Co. has given me a gorgeous pink baby sock bundle (seems appropriate seeing as 2014 was the year I gave birth to my second baby girl!) to give away, which you can win by filling in the Rafflecopter Widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Next up is a gorgeous handmade treat from a lady I love dearly and who is insanely talented, Mary from Keynko. She’s giving away a pair of handmade bookends and a handbag which has been upcycled from silk scarves. I’m seriously wishing I could enter myself to win these! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our next prize is something that I’m so in love with; my friend Jenny, who blogs at Cheetahs in my Shoes, is one of my favourite photographers in the world – she was recently commended at an awards ceremony by the Zoological Society of London for her nature photography and is going to be published in one of their books! She’s given us a canvas print of a rose that she shot herself, my favourite flower.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Next, we’ve got a truly beautiful prize for all you babywearers, a Rockin’ Baby pouch in their Peacock print, which fits newborns up to 18kg. BB and I have been testing one of these recently and will be giving you our review next weeek! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last but definitely not least is a brand who BB and I absolutely adore, Sophie La girafe, who’ve given us an utterly adorable dress-up tabard which comes in sizes 3 months to 3 years.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please do enter as many of the giveaways as you like, and here’s to another 4 years of Mum’s the Word!
Terms and Conditions
Winners will be chosen at random on the closing date of 31st October 2014. All decisions are final. Winners will be contacted thereafter. No cash alternatives will be offered.

Family · Parenting

Too Much Choice?

CluelessStill11As parents, we’ve always tried to maintain what we felt was a good balance of gentle guidance and egalitarianism in the household. Sausage is a bright child and we’ve tried to allow her the freedom to make choices for herself, in the hope that this would both encourage her to learn how to make good decisions, as well as make her feel respected, and like her voice is heard as an equal member of the family. In a lot of ways, it’s worked really well and she can be assertive when she needs to be, without the need for foot-stamping and demanding behaviour, which is something she has never done.

However, I’m starting to wonder if, by giving her too much choice, we’re overwhelming her and putting too much pressure on her?

We’re not the sort of household which is very regimental; dinner is ready when it’s ready and more often than not we wait until after the school run to even work out what we’re having, which usually means a quick trip to the shops of an afternoon. Most days, I’ll ask Sausage what she wants for dinner, applying a little of the gentle guidance mentioned above when she requests things like Supanoodles or Coco Pops, but largely we work together to work out what our family dinner will be.

We do it with other things, too; on our walk to school in the mornings, there are two routes we can take and most days I’ll ask if she has a preference over which way we walk. I let her choose her own clothes when she’s not in uniform and she has freedom over what books she reads (although Husband and I both took a sharp intake of breath when she eyed a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover last week!), TV she watches and what games she plays.

Just lately though, I’ve been noticing a pretty dispassionate response to my questions. She’ll often answer “surprise me”, which I think is a way of removing the pressure on her to make a decision, and just this morning, I asked what she wanted on her toast and she answered “I don’t know, Mummy. You decide”. Is she shying away from making decisions because she’s feeling the weight of expectation on herself too heavily?

Husband came from a household where dinner was on the table at roughly the same time every night, everyone ate the same thing and there was no discussion about what it would be, by and large, it was simply prepared and served by his Mum. My upbringing wasn’t quite as regimented, but there certainly wasn’t anywhere near as much autonomy Sausage is afforded and, while I always thought this was a good thing, I’m unsure now.

Parenting means doing things in the way that you think is right for both yourself and your kids, but sometimes the way you do things can end up being the exact OPPOSITE of what your kids need and I’m really keen to identify issues like this and change them before they become too much of a problem. Husband has been telling me for months that we should just give Sausage her meals rather than asking her what she wants all the time, because of the stress she’s started to show and I’m starting to think I should have listened to him long ago.

Are we, in giving her so much choice, ladling too much pressure on her? Do you give your kids a say in every day decisions or do you make the majority of their choices for them? Do your kids ever show signs of being overwhelmed by too many options? Leave me a comment below.