Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Trouble With 'Me Time'

There's much talk in the parenting world about the importance of looking after yourself when raising your children. Filling your cup. Attending to your own wellbeing. Putting your life jacket on first. Getting some 'me time'.

Books, articles, videos talk about the importance of this, including (perhaps especially) in the world of gentle/attachment/positive parenting. You can't deal with the stresses that daily life with kids throws at you if you don't take care of yourself. You can't stay patient with your children when you're all strung out. In short, if you're not getting what you need, you can't provide for your children's needs.

And I agree with all this. I know that when I'm tired (which is always) I'm more likely to snap. I know from experience that always putting my child first and never getting any time to do stuff I like will lead to me feeling resentful, and projecting that resentment onto my child. I know that I need to take care of myself.

My question is this. HOW?

How do I make time for me?  When my eldest doesn't fall asleep until close to 9pm some days and my youngest wakes through the night. When my other half, who wonderfully takes the early morning shift after Ezra has woken at 4am, has to leave for work at 6.30am so I have to be up by then no matter what kind of night I've had. When my toddler is so active that the only time I can get stuff done in the day is when he's napping. When the evenings are so chaotic with two children with very different bedtimes that trying to get and keep both asleep is a two-person job. What space is there for me time?

I've recently started doing a bit of reading and crochet after the kids are in bed. It's great, I'm using my brain and my creativity, I love it. But it means sacrificing some chores so there's more to do the next day, or going to bed later so I'm more tired the next day. How is that an improvement?

The other thing is - and I'm hoping I'll get some chimes of agreement here so I don't feel so selfish - what little I can get is never enough. When my other half isn't working I'll often sleep an extra hour or more in the mornings, but I still feel tired. I can read a chapter of my book, but I'll want to read more. After nearly six years of broken nights, of giving up my 'me time' out of necessity, I really don't know what it would take for me to feel refreshed and reinvigorated again. The idea is that even a little bit of self care helps. But for me the effect is so miniscule that it may stop me being snappy mummy for an hour or two, then I'll go back to tired and stressed.

I wish I had the answers to these problems, but more than anything, I think it would help to know I'm not alone in feeling like this. Do you feel it too? Or have you found the solution? 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Review: Sticky Brick Tape

Eleanor loves Lego. She asks for it for Christmas and birthdays, she went to an after-school Lego club in Reception, and she insists on going to the Lego activity days that happen every school holiday. I love to see her building new things, and acting out scenarios with her minifigures!

The only thing that bothers me slightly is that she can be quite prescriptive in her approach. She likes to follow instructions on how to build certain things, and while she might modify those things slightly, it's rare for her to try something completely new without instructions. I'd love to see her be more spontaneous and creative with her builds, although I suppose that will come with time.

One thing I had seen that I thought would encourage her to think outside the (Lego) box is the new craze for tape that you can stick to surfaces and build Lego onto. I was so excited when Sticky Brick Tape got in touch offering me a chance to try some out!

We were sent 4 rolls of the Sticky Brick Tape in various colours. At first Eleanor was quite tame with her experiments, just wanting to try one strip on her wardrobe door, but she soon got really into it and wanted to embellish and create an 'E' for her name.

(Sorry for that last picture - that's her 'smile for the camera' face ...)

We then discovered that the tape is just the right width to stick on the edge of her desk so tried that, and Eleanor came up with the idea of using the curve as a slide for her minifigures.

Then we got into personalising objects with the tape. Coincidentally enough it fits perfectly inside Eleanor's clock, so we decided to use small Lego pieces as counters to represent the numbers around the clock. This was my favourite project I think - it looks really effective!

We had great fun playing with the Sticky Brick Tape and I was very impressed with it. I was concerned that it might not fit perfectly with Lego bricks but actually it was a doddle to build on. The only tricky part was when we tried to build over two pieces of tape for the 'E' - you need to be careful to cut evenly and line it up straight, but other than that it's so simple to use. It's also easy to peel off and move, so if you change your mind mid-design you can easily change position.

We probably only scratched the surface of what's possible with this tape - no doubt as it becomes more widely used there will be lots of inventive ideas around, maybe some that we'll come up with ourselves as we get more practised at using it!

If you want to have a go with Sticky Brick Tape you can order from their website, or they have a giveaway currently running for a set of 4 rolls of Sticky Brick Tape! Click here to enter the giveaway - it is running until Friday 29th September and you can find terms and conditions on the competition page.

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with 4 rolls of Sticky Brick Tape for the purposes of this review, however all words, images and opinions are my own.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Review: 'Don't Wake The Tiger' by Carles Ballesteros

It's been a while since I've done a bookish post, but that doesn't mean we're not reading. Eleanor is as voracious a bookworm as ever, and Ezra has at last hit that lovely stage where he will walk up to me, book in hand, and plonk himself on my knee. I remember getting so annoyed with rereading the same book over and over with Eleanor, but having seen the results I'm loving this stage now. And it's easier than dragging him off the back of the sofa.

Our latest trip to the library turned up this little gem of a book, and it's one Ezra has become very fond of very quickly. Credit actually goes to Eleanor for finding it - that girl has a good eye for books. Rainbow Magic obsession aside.

It's a simple yet ingenious book - the sliding image trick has Ezra transfixed! The listener takes on the persona of a monkey trying not to wake the other animals, but with every turn of the page ...

I really cannot say enough good things about this book. It's pitched perfectly for very little ones - the right level of repetition in the text, fabulous bold and funky illustrations, and the wow factor of the changing faces. Ezra will turn the pages over and over to see the face change.

And actually, bigger ones seem to enjoy the trick too ...

It took me a few readings to get the tone right. At first, I read it as if the monkey was scared of the other animals, but Ezra took it a bit too seriously and started to get anxious (the worried 'ooh's I got were rather cute though). So I switched to a more jokey tone - more like 'oh no, what have you done now?' and exaggerated the need to be quiet. He's even started putting his finger to his lips and shushing as I read!

As you can probably tell I absolutely love this book and will be looking out for it in bookshops! Eleanor has even suggested there should be a whole series, with farmyard, sea and North Pole versions!!

I'm linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

Read With Me

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Things You Need To Know About Your Child's First Year At School

First Day of Reception
The first day feels like a big deal, but at most schools they're only in for half a day so by the time you've had a cry and a cup of tea it'll be time to pick them up. You'll be fine.

The first time doing something without your child feels unspeakably weird and might make you weep in public. (For me it was my first visit to the library without Eleanor - she normally pressed the buttons on the self service machine *sob*)

Book bags are very easy to get muddled. A keyring will help your little one find theirs.

Other parents are invaluable. Make friends, join Facebook groups (or set one up) - seriously, you don't know yet just how much they'll help you out!

Iron-on name tags don't stick onto labels properly. I learnt that the hard way.

If it's due to rain, always leave extra time to get to school. Especially if you're walking and your child has an umbrella. It'll take twice as long.

You will find 'artwork' in the book bag almost daily. Don't be too sentimental about it or you'll get overrun. Take a photo if you must, then sneak it into the recycling.

Seeing your child with their best friend will make your heart skip a beat.

Expect them to be exhausted by the end of the first half term. That's the hardest one by far. Once you've done that one you'll feel like a pro school parent.

Hairspray removes pen marks. Put something absorbent underneath, spray liberally and rub with tissue until you've got as much out as possible. It doesn't always get the whole stain out but it'll make it look a lot better. (You're welcome.)

If you want a good seat at Harvest Festival or nativity, get there early!

Don't buy cheap school shoes. They really are a false economy.

Don't ask, 'how was your day?' Or, 'what did you do today?' The answers to these questions are 'OK' and 'nothing' respectively. Try asking specific questions like, 'what did you do in numeracy today?' Or just wait till bedtime. They'll tell you everything the moment you reach for the light switch.

Make sure your craft cupboard is well stocked for the numerous crafty homeworks you will be subjected to, or for making last minute costumes.

Don't be afraid to talk to the teacher if something's up - it helps them to know what's going on.

Be organised. Get important dates - deadlines, special events, birthday parties - on the calendar and check that calendar regularly. Your life is about to get a whole lot busier.

Try not to compare your child to their classmates. They're all different. Just focus on their individual progress.

You'll view the holidays with a mixture of relief and dread. It'll be fine. And then it'll be over far too soon.

You'll get to the end of the year, look at your child, think back to the child who you waved off on the first day, and barely believe they're the same person. They will develop so much, and you'll be so proud.

But whatever happens, they'll still be your little one - and they'll still be themselves. Just a new version of themselves.

(Rainy) last day in Reception!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Inspiring Kids ... and an Inspiring Kid! (Plus GIVEAWAY!!)

**N.B. The giveaway mentioned in this post is now CLOSED!**

As I may have mentioned a few times before, my daughter is a confident type. But even confident kids have the occasional wobble. As we near the end of the school year I've noticed that, while she has developed in so many ways, there are also areas where she has become more doubtful.

She is more aware of differences between her and her friends - which of course is great, it shows she's seeing others as individuals! But it does mean she worries about the fact that she doesn't like 'Frozen' but her friend does, or she wears trousers when most girls wear dresses or skirts.

She's also becoming a bit of a perfectionist, getting upset if she makes a mistake in her work or if her work isn't as 'good' as somebody else's. I tell her mistakes are how we learn, and the important thing is she tries her best, but still she finds it hard.

I know how important it is for children to have a growth mindset - to believe that they can get better at things, that their abilities aren't fixed - and to value their own individuality. So I've been looking for ways to teach this to Eleanor.

I was contacted recently by the founders of Socky Wocky, a fab new company that specialises in funky kids' socks with positive affirmations written on. The story behind Socky Wocky itself is inspiring - it was set up by nine year old Safin, who is described on the website as a 'regular boy'. Yes, you read that right. He's NINE! And he's set up his own business! Pretty amazing, right?

Image courtesy of Socky Wocky

Safin set up the business with the intention of making people happy, encouraging and motivating other children to believe in themselves. With some help from his mum, he has created some fantastic designs and chosen some really inspiring affirmations. I think my favourite is 'Be Yourself - Everyone Else Is Taken!'
Image courtesy of Socky Wocky

Image courtesy of Socky Wocky

Image courtesy of Socky Wocky

Image courtesy of Socky Wocky

The socks are currently in production and due to go on sale later this year, but if you feel you and your child needs this positivity in your life sooner, Socky Wocky do have downloadable affirmation posters that you can purchase through their Etsy site. And I am really excited to be able to offer a set of three downloadable posters to two lucky readers! You will be able to choose which three posters you receive, and will be able to download them in a variety of sizes, even printing off extra copies to give as gifts to friends and family!

To enter this competition, go to the pinned post on my Facebook page, like the post and leave a comment with your favourite affirmation or positive motto. You can choose one from the Socky Wocky website, or one of your own! You don't have to like my page or share the post to enter, but it would be lovely if you did anyway!! The giveaway will close on Tuesday 25th July 2017 and the winners will be announced on the Facebook page the following day.

Good luck!

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. The prize for the giveaway is kindly provided by Socky Wocky, however this post is not sponsored by Socky Wocky and all words and opinions are my own.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions


To enter the giveaway, please go to The Ish Mother Facebook page, go to the pinned post (which will include a link to this blog post) and do BOTH of the following:

  • Like the post, and
  • Comment on the post with your favourite affirmation or positive motto.
Only one entry per person. Shares and page likes are appreciated but not required.

The giveaway is open to entrants aged over 16, excluding employees and relatives of The Ish Mother and Socky Wocky.

The giveaway will run until 11.59pm on Tuesday, 25th July 2017, and two winners will be randomly selected the following day. If successful, you will be contacted via Facebook and announced on the Facebook page. You will then have 28 days to confirm your e-mail address and choice of posters, and the digital downloads will then be e-mailed to your address within 7 days of confirmation. If the winners do not confirm this information within 28 days another winner will be randomly selected.

The winners' names will be announced on the Facebook page and will be made available by The Ish Mother on request.

By participating in this giveaway, entrants confirm that they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

This promotion is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

5 Words Or Phrases I Irrationally HATE

I'm not going to lie to you, reader. This isn't going to be the most coherent, inspiring or thought-provoking post I'll ever write. But I just need to get this off my chest, OK?

We all have certain things that annoy us, don't we? Well, with me these things are often words or phrases. Ones that I hear once and think, "hmm, bit annoying but OK" but then over time become so overused that they set my teeth on edge. Here are the words and phrases that irritate me the most at present:

1. Hack

Everything's a flipping 'hack' nowadays. Writing hacks, parenting hacks, cleaning hacks, breathing hacks probably. People. Think about what a hack actually IS. It used to mean something dodgy or badly done. If someone was a 'hack writer' they were sensationalist, formulaic, even dishonest. Do you really want to call these handy tips you're sharing HACKS?

OK, so let's go with the idea that it's come to mean something that saves time, effort and/or money. But the hyperbole around these lists of 'hacks' is ridiculous. '16 Life Hacks That'll Change Your World'. '20 Cooking Hacks That'll Blow Your Mind'. Sorry, read them back. Are they really that mind-blowing or life-changing? Yeah it's handy knowing you can pull baby vests down to take them off, but it's hardly revolutionised my life. Calm down.

2. Bantz

This is another one that seems to be suddenly everywhere at the moment. I'm not even fully sure what it means but it provokes a visceral reaction in me. I loathe it. I avoid anything attached to the word. Besides, from what I gather it seems to cover everything from well-intended teasing to being plain obnoxious or worse. If you want to be rude, be honest about it. Or, y'know, think about what being rude will actually achieve and realise it's probably not worth it. Either way, don't hide behind 'bantz'.

3. Date Night

I don't even know why I hate this one so much. Perhaps it's nothing more than bitterness because my children are currently so rubbish at going to bed and/or staying asleep that inflicting them on a babysitter is out of the question. But it's just so twee. I'm not dating any more, I'm married, my dating days are well over. If we do ever get to go out again, I'll call it just that - going out. Going for a meal. Going to the cinema.

There's also the pressure that goes with it. 'Oh you must have date night', 'oh you should have a date night at least once a month'. I often wonder if our grandparents ever got 'date nights'. I doubt it. There are other ways of keeping a relationship healthy than having a monthly trip to a restaurant, I'm sure. Besides, if we do ever go out we'd probably just talk about the kids anyway.

4. Good Baby

Every parent knows this one. 'Is s/he a good baby?' Yep, we know what you're asking. You're asking if s/he sleeps. And you know the answer don't you? The answer is NO s/he doesn't sleep, s/he's a flipping BABY. Yes, some people get lucky with a good sleeper but by and large all babies suck at sleeping. Why put a value judgement on that? It's not that s/he's good or bad. It's just what babies do. Stop making mums worry that their baby is 'bad'!

5. Butter Wouldn't Melt

I've saved my most irrational til last. Ever since I first heard this phrase I've hated it. It actually makes me feel a little sick because it makes me imagine having a mouth full of butter. But the thing I think that bothers me most about the phrase is that it's meant to describe someone who's cool, but it's possibly the least cool phrase in existence. It's painfully old-fashioned. It's a bit like when people say 'the bee's knees'. It's an anachronism, an oxymoron, it has no place in modern society PLEASE STOP MAKING ME IMAGINE HAVING BUTTER IN MY MOUTH.

And breathe.

Do you agree with me on any of these? Or do you want to put up an impassioned defence for one of them? What words or phrases make your skin crawl? Do let me know!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Review: Hotmilk Nursing Bra

I have a confession to make. As much as I love breastfeeding, one thing I don't love so much is the restriction it places on what I wear. Every top or dress needs to be accessible for feeds, and as for underneath, I'm getting a bit fed up of shapeless nursing bras.

Or rather, I was. Until Hotmilk Lingerie offered me the chance to test one of their nursing bras. I was so excited - after nearly six years, I get to wear underwiring again!

Hotmilk have some gorgeous nursing bra designs, from 'everyday' T-shirt style bras to more lacy affairs, and even sports bras. I'm not really a lacy kind of girl, and do nothing even approaching sport, but I live in T-shirts so I went for the Forever Yours design in Nude.

I won't beat about the bush: I love this bra. I was worried that, after so long not wearing wires, it would be uncomfortable but it isn't at all. It's a great bra for everyday wear. The fabric is supersoft and the thick band adds extra support and comfort - and comes with six width options so it can be worn during pregnancy too.

The cup is very full - a bit fuller than I've worn before, which took a bit of getting used to. But it does mean that on days when, ahem, my supply is up I feel contained and comfortable! Getting the cup down to feed also took a bit of adjusting to but after a day I got it down to a fine art!!

And how does it look? I think it creates a great shape and sits nicely under the tops I've tried it with. I was surprised how much of a difference it made - suddenly I had a curvy silhouette I hadn't seen in years!!

Overall, I'm really impressed with the look, quality and comfort of this nursing bra, and I'm sure I'll be using it plenty from now on! You can find Hotmilk online here for the UK site and here for the US site.

DISCLAIMER: I was given the nursing bra featured for the purposes of this review, but all words, photos and opinions are my own.