156 articles Articles posted in Parenting

The Expectant Mum: How to Treat Yourself

You might have that glorious pregnant glow on the outside but now and again that pregnancy feeling can leave you feeling a little icky on the inside.

woman-356141_1280Whilst you’re coping with the morning sickness in the first trimester and heartburn in the second, the delights of the third leaves you with shoes that are too tight and a far too stretched tummy.

So, it’s safe to say you are in need – and truly deserve a bit of pampering every now and again and here is exactly how you should be treating yourself during your nine months of pregnancy.

Show your feet some lovin’

Remember, you are carrying another person around so your feet are taking a bit of a battering these days. Your feet may also be swollen from an increase in fluid around your body, so be sure to get yourself a pedicure every now and then, whilst also placing them in some nice warm water with lavender. This will leave you feeling relaxed with super soft tootsies.

Eat something truly yummy

Yes, whilst we know it’s important to be eating a balanced diet yada yada yada – it’s also important to treat yourself now and again, so head down to your local bakery and pick up the ultimate cupcake.  As long as you’re maintaining a nice, healthy diet most of the time, this will have no impact on your unborn baby.

Treat yourself to some flowers

If no one is going to buy you flowers – buy them for yourself! I mean, you are carrying another human around all the time, you deserve some flowers! So, check out Serenata and take advantage of their deals and discounts and brighten up your home with a lovely bunch of brightly coloured flowers; they’re guaranteed to give your mood a boost.

Wear something pretty

Living in your partners jogging pants and baggy t-shirts is no way to treat yourself during your pregnancy. So, put on a nice dress and go for a walk; if you look great, more often than not you’ll feel great. Remember – just because you’re pregnant that doesn’t mean you should feel fat and frumpy; you’re still a gorgeous woman!

Have a movie night

Arrange a night for you and your partner to sit on the couch and relax in front of a funny film – this is guaranteed to give your mood the boost it needs.

With these small treats, your nine months of pregnancy will fly past!

Maternity Matters Week 4 #maternitymatters

I can’t quite believe this is the fourth Maternity Matters linky already! We really hope you’re enjoying the process of sharing and reading so many great posts as much as we are. Seeing how pregnancy and birth experiences vary so much from person to person is as beautiful as it is informative and that uniqueness is exactly what’s at the core of Maternity Matters.

As usual, we’d love it if you displayed our badge, either on your individual posts or in your sidebar, and we’d also be grateful for anyone who isn’t already to follow the Maternity Matters Facebook and Twitter accounts.



MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

Maternity Matters Linky Week 3 – #MaternityMatters

One thing that Susanne and I set out to do when we started Maternity Matters was give parents a voice, regardless of how difficult the subject they’re talking about might seem, which is why in the past few years, Maternity Matters has covered topics such as birth trauma, SIDS, Post Natal Depression and PND. Pregnancy and labour can be incredibly beautiful experiences, but they can also be difficult and potentially traumatic, and we felt strongly that by collecting stories from a variety of experiences we might be able to help people who needed information, or those who simply needed to feel that they weren’t alone.

If we’ve managed to help or educate even ONE person since we started, then I think I speak for us both when I say that we feel we’ve accomplished something worthwhile. Writing about our experiences has been hugely cathartic for both myself and Susanne and encouraging others in the same way is a huge part of the Maternity Matters ethos.

So, in that vein, here’s the form for the third #MaternityMatters linky – we’d love you to link up any posts, old or new, positive or difficult, anything pregnancy, maternity, baby or health related that you’d like to share. As ever, we’d love you to comment on as many of the shared posts as possible and don’t forget to grab our badge!



MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

The Return of Maternity Matters

When I started blogging in the Autumn of 2010, a large part of my need to get my thoughts out of my head was because of the birth trauma I’d suffered whilst having Sausage in August 2008. Skip forward two years and I’d joined forces with Susanne from Ghostwriter Mummy, someone I’d only ever communicated with online, but who understood me better than some people I’d known my whole life because she’d been through a traumatic birth of her own.

You don’t want to believe that trauma, depression and PTSD will be something that defines you for the rest of your life but, in my experience, it’s something that does stay with you forever – you just learn how to carry it more comfortably, over time, like a heavy bag with a rubbish handle.  And it’s out of this shared experience that Susanne and I started Maternity Matters, a place for us and anyone else to tell their stories, find some support and to join together in improving knowledge and care for families who’ve suffered a trauma.

Over the past three years we’ve shared some incredible accounts of women of all ages and all walks of life, as well as collating news regarding maternity care in the UK, although life and babies (two more for Susanne and one more for me, bringing our collective total to six!) meant that the site has gone unloved for a while…until NOW! We’re hoping to bring Maternity Matters back to life and get it back on track. Susanne and I have a lot of new experiences to write about and we’re hoping that we’ll have lots of contributions from fellow bloggers and parents who want to share their stories.

In the meantime, Susanne and I will be launching the #MaternityMatters linky, starting tomorrow, for you to link up any article, blog post or story relating to:

fertility

conception

pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions/ complications

childbirth – of all kinds

breast/bottle feeding

postnatal experiences

parenting a baby

pregnancy/baby loss

The linky will go live every other Friday and we’d love to get as many of you as possible linking up with ANYTHING maternity-related. Also, if you’d like to contribute to Maternity Matters, please email jayne@maternitymatters.net with your ideas.

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Are Parenting Standards Slipping?

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”  ― Franklin D. RooseveltWhen it comes to parenting, for me there are two sets of things that kids need to learn: The Basics and The Big Stuff. The Big Stuff is stuff which only tends to come along once, maybe twice, like teaching kids about The Birds and the Bees, helping them to understand prejudice in society – you know, real ‘putting them on the right path’ type stuff which will help to mould them into worthwhile human beings. Then there’s ‘The Basics’. Stuff like putting your hand over your mouth when you cough or sneeze, how to brush your teeth and use a knife and fork, how to wipe your bum – all of the stuff that they’ll probably need every day for the rest of their lives.

Depending on your parenting style, you might include other things in The Basics. Husband thinks its hugely important for kids to learn how to use a knife as a tool, for instance. Okay, so the likelihood of them finding themselves alone in the wilderness, Ed Stafford-style, isn’t huge but basic survival skills can really set a foundation for kids and instil an important sense of resourcefulness in them from an early age.

Over the years though, I’ve noticed more and more that basic standards seem to be slipping. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to see kids getting neatly pressed and folded cotton handkerchiefs out of their pockets if they need to sneeze, but even a hand over the mouth would be better than nothing, and that’s what I seem to see – nothing. Kids cough, sneeze and splutter in public with not to much as a hand raise or snot being suppressed.

There’s a particular thing I’ve been seeing for the past few years which appears to be a bit of a ‘trend’, and I don’t know if this is my age talking, but it completely boggles my mind. It seems to be normal these days for boys and young men to walk along…with their hands down their pants! When I first started noticing it, it was usually a one-handed grab, but now I regularly see blokes with BOTH hands down there, just casually walking around like it.

My first thought was “If they fall over, they’re going to smash their faces in because they’ll have nothing to break their fall”, and then it dawned on me that there’s a very good chance that these boys are actually holding their junk. I mean, really? It’s not going to fall off if you don’t hold it all day!

The thing which really compounded the horror for me was seeing a poster up in my local surgery, which had been ISSUED BY THE NHS, reminding blokes that if they walk around with their hands down their pants (I believe the headline was “Are You a ‘Hands-Down-Your-Pants Kinda Guy?”) that they need to wash their hands more often otherwise they could be spreading urine and groin germs every time they touch something.

I mean, really?! Maybe if their parents had done a better job of teaching them more about germs, not to mention BASIC LEVELS OF APPROPRIATE PUBLIC BEHAVIOUR, they wouldn’t do it? When I was a kid, if we’d seen a grown man walking around with his hands down the front of his trousers, I’d have run home and told my parents that there was a pervert prowling the streets.

So, why do standards appear to have slipped? Are parents failing to teach their kids The Basics? What do you think, readers? Have you noticed a slip in basic standards? Do you have a personal bugbear, something you see that drives you potty? Do let me know.

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.”

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.

 

Should Unvaccinated Kids be Allowed Places in State Schools?

Should Unvaccinated Children Be Allowed Places in State Schools?With flu season upon us, my thoughts have been turning frequently to vaccinations. I’m passionately in favour of vaccines and feel that the results of mass vaccinations are indisputable. Anti-vaccination advocates often peddle myths regarding vaccines and their dangers, such as the link to autism, which has not only been found to be completely scientifically debunked but the journal which published the report have actually now retracted it because of the inaccuracies. Smallpox is one of the biggest vaccination success stories as it was declared eradicated by the World Health Organisation in 1979 after mass global inoculation programmes.

However, there are still estimated to be almost 2 million unvaccinated children in the UK alone, putting us 7% below the WHO guidelines for protecting the population from the spread of diseases. With more and more cases of measles and other potentially fatal illnesses popping up (remember the measles epidemic in Wales last year?), it got me to thinking how I’d feel if my children were being put at risk by unvaccinnated classmates.

It’s easy for parents of vaccinated children to feel that, if their child has been inoculated, they’re no longer at risk of the spread of infectious diseases, but this is not the case and its this mentality which is causing the problem. Here’s some of the ways in which unvaccinated children pose a risk to others (from the Vaccine Times):

  1. There are many children that cannot be vaccinated, for various reasons such as an autoimmune disease, allergies, or simply being too young to have received the vaccine. These children have no protection against the disease. If they are exposed to it through an unvaccinated peer, they are at risk of suffering and/or even dying.
  2. Unvaccinated children are protected by the herd immunity created by the vaccinated children. Herd immunity basically means that if enough people are vaccinated it becomes really hard for the disease to find hosts it can survive in and spread. The more children are unvaccinated the greater the risk that herd immunity will fail. If herd immunity fails, all suffer for the reasons described below.
  3. Vaccines do not offer 100% immunity towards disease. The efficacy varies; some vaccines offer higher rates of efficacy, some lower. Having received a vaccine doesn’t guarantee that a child will not get sick when exposed to the disease. Vaccines reduce the risk of contracting the disease, if exposed, dramatically, but there will always be a number of children for whom the vaccine will not provide protection. Those children will be at risk, from other unvaccinated children who may contract and spread the disease.

I feel I must say that I do struggle with this issue; I’m passionate about the right to make personal decisions freely, especially when it comes to ones children, but I also wonder what the implications of those decisions are when putting lots of other children at risk. Should schools be asking to see a completed vaccination schedule before kids are placed into mainstream schooling and should unvaccinated children be refused a place in publicly funded schools? After all, not vaccinating will directly undermine Government initiatives in public health concern, so why should the public majority, most of whom have vaccinated their children, fund their education?  Should certain standards be met before we hand out places?

In Sausage’s school, if a child has an upset tummy, they’re asked to stay off school for 24 hours until after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting to protect the other children. If they have chicken pox, they cannot return until all of the spots have dried up, not only to protect the other children but to safeguard pregnant mums or staff, as well as adult males who can be left very ill and potentially infertile if they contract the illness as an adult. Why, if a child has the potential to spread measles (which can cause encephalitis and death), mumps, rubella, whopping cough etc. are the rules not the same?

One thing I’ve gathered whilst researching this post is that the vast majority of anti-vaccination literature peddles lies and propaganda; vaccines don’t contain high levels of mercury, nor do they cause autism, SIDS or any other potentially fatal side effects. The WHO website has a great page dedicated to squashing the myths surrounding immunisations, which you can find HERE.

So, what’s your opinion? Should unnvaccinated children be allowed in state-funded schools? Would you be happy to send your child to school with unvaccinated children? I’d love to hear your opinion on this so please leave me a comment below.

11 facts about vaccinations:

  1. In the past 60 years, vaccines helped eradicate one disease (Smallpox) and are close to eradicating another (Polio).
  2. Vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million deaths each year.
  3. The impact of child vaccines is magnified when used in conjunction with other health efforts like antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, bednets, and vitamins.
  4. New and underutilized vaccines could avert nearly 4 million deaths of children under the age 5 by 2015.
  5. Vaccines cause “herd immunity”, which means if the majority of people in a community have been vaccinated against a disease, an unvaccinated person is less likely to get sick because others are less likely to get sick and spread the disease.
  6. Vaccines helped reduce measles deaths globally by 78 percent between 2000 and 2008. In sub-Saharan Africa, deaths dropped by 92 percent in the same period.
  7. There are existing vaccines that could stop rotavirus and pneumonia—two conditions that kill nearly 3 million children under the age of 5 every year.
  8. New or improved vaccines are currently being developed for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases. Researchers estimate that a viable malaria vaccine could be ready for children in the developing world as early as 2015.
  9. Not all vaccines are given as shots. Vaccines for rotavirus and polio, for instance, are distributed orally.
  10. The GAVI Alliance has supported the immunization of more than 288 million children and as a result averted more than 5 million child deaths since 2000.
  11. Most diseases prevented by vaccines are no longer common in the United States. If vaccines weren’t used, just a few cases could quickly turn into tens or hundreds of thousands.

How to Get Your Kids to Talk to You About School

talking to your kids about schoolOne of my favourite parts of the day is the walk home after I’ve collected Sausage from school. I tend to spend most of my day missing her like rotten and even BB is at her smiliest when she sees her big sister for the first time since the morning. We have brilliant chats on the way home where she fills me in on all of the things she’s done during the day, but it hasn’t always been this way.

I’ve heard hoardes of other parents also bemoaning the fact that as soon as their child steps foot over the school boundary they seem to forget everything they’ve done that day and “what did you do today?” is met with a sullen “I dunno…”. Sausage was similar to this so I developed a way of talking to her which engages her AND jogs her memory at the same time, which means I get pretty detailed answers out of her. Instead of asking “what did you do today?”, I ask a bunch of specific questions and I get really good results. Here’s an example of what I might ask her:

“What lessons/topics did you do today?” 

“Who did you play with at lunchtime?”

“What did you have for lunch?”

“Did you do any maths/English/reading/P.E. today?”

“Did you have assembly today?”

Inevitably, asking these questions (and any others which pop into my head!) leads Sausage to remember other things about her day and really help to get the conversation flowing. It’s a small effort on my part but it massively improves communication with my child and we’ve been doing it for so long now that often she comes straight out of school and volunteers the information herself.

Also, if you try this and still get the same old “I dunno”/”I don’t remember” answers, I’d encourage you to stick at it and still ask the same questions every day. Eventually your child will know that you’re going to ask certain questions and the repetition might help them to retain the information a little better.

Obviously I’m not suggesting that you grill your child all the way home; some kids might need a bit of time to get into a more chilled out headspace after school. School can be pretty intense with everything that they squeeze into a day and some kids simply need time to decompress before they start chatting about everything they’ve done, but I think most parents will realise if this is the case with their child.

Most of all, I try to make our conversations fun and I really hope that as Sausage grows up, she’ll look back fondly at our afternoon chats. So many parents seem to lack effective communication skills when it comes to their children (I hate how many Mums and Dads I hear snapping and being brusque with their kids for no apparent reason) and it only takes a little effort to get yourself back on their level.

Go on, give it a try – let me know how you get on!

They Grow So Fast #PowerOfSoft

Having a six year old and a seven month old in the house really brings certain things into sharp focus. Having BB made Sausage seem suddenly so grown up and independant – on the one hand, I’ve got a daughter who needs me to fulfil her every need and on the other I’ve got a daughter who wants to tie her own shoelaces and ever so occasionally treats me to her own unique brand of sass! BB is just starting to get her teeth while Sausage is just starting to lose hers and the juxtaposition is all too stark a reminder of just how quickly they grow.

It only seems like yesterday that Husband and I were umming and ahhing over whether Sausage needed to go to nursery and now she’s in Year 2 and schooling me on the Great Fire of London! I’m not wishing to go back to when she was small as I’ve enjoyed every stage of her development, but I wish I could just slow it all down for a while.

Fairy has produced a beautiful (if a little tear-jerking!) video reminding us that our kids grow all too fast and that they’ll never be as soft again as they are right at this moment and I challenge you to watch it without getting even the tiniest lump in your throat:

Husband and I have so many wonderful memories already, accumulated in the six short years since Sausage was born and we can often be found, after the girls are asleep, looking through the thousands of photos we have on our hard-drives. It’s hard to believe that the baby in her incubator, covered in tubes and wires, has grown up to be the clever, strong-willed little lady that she is today or that six whole years have passed since then, or even that we’ve managed to make another stubborn baby girl in that time!

 And yet, when I think about everything that we have done in that time, it makes me excited about what’s in store for us over the next few years. I’m not sure we’ll be making any more little people in that time but we’re finally finding our feet as a family of four rather than a family of three and there’s so much fun to be had for all of us! BB said her first word today, or at least a very close approximation of ‘Mum’, and her big sister was right next to her cheering her on. They absolutely adore each other and I cannot wait to see their relationship bloom as they get older.

So, you see, as much as I scares the life out of me when I think about how quickly time has passed, it doesn’t have to be all bad, especially if you think about what the future has in store…but I’ll still give both girls an extra squeeze before bed tonight.