2/5 This much I know.


So, parenting.

I don’t know, I’m sure some people manage it, but in my experience it is impossible to have a baby, and then not let said baby take well and truly over your life. Pregnancy, birth, feeding and raising tiny humans has utterly dominated my every waking moment for the past 4 years and has made up the fabric of my day, every day. Which has been both wonderful and totally bonkers, inspiring and, well, intense.

Right now though, I feel like some of the fog is lifting. I can sustain my attention for more than 60 seconds on topics other than cloth nappies and the best strategy for getting your toddler into their car seat without giving yourself an aneurysm. I am beginning to prioritise myself more, and my need to get fit and use my brain in different ways, rather than always feeling at the bottom of the pecking order. There is, oh my God imagine, space in my life for more than just babies. A dog! Why will no one let me get a dog?

Part of the reason for saying farewell to this blog is that the impetus to write incessantly about parenting has waned. But while I am still here, not quite clear of those all encompassing toddler years, I thought I would write down the most important stuff that I have learned. The pearls that I want to pass on, to other people still very much beneath the mist, trying to figure it out, with only 4 hours sleep and a strong coffee to their name.


The very most important thing I know: We all fuck up. Like, you can read all of the Janet Lansbury you like, rehearse all the right things to say in the midst of an epic toddler tantrum, be the most zen and empathetic earth mother to your three year old who has very specific cup preferences, but at some point, you will lose your shit. Not in a ‘I’m strategically raising my voice to get you to listen’ way, but in a ‘Dude, I am exhausted, my patience is in the gutter, you are pushing me to my goddamn limits and I am just yelling because I am full blown ANGRY with this TOTAL LACK OF COOPERATION YOU ARE TAKING THE PISS MY GOD!’. This is not a thing that any parent is planning on, and shit, when it happens on the way into Sainsburys with a thousand judgey old people staring at you, know that it will be one of the low moments of your life. But guys, we are human, and while I LOVE positive parenting sites like Janet’s, I think we need to be honest that sometimes a situation will just push a button and we will yell and it will be ugly. It’s okay, our children will not be emotionally broken as a result of this, and it absolutely does not undo all the other good stuff that we do. On behalf of mothers everywhere, I am officially cutting us some slack.

Parenting though, it’s a judgey game. Actually I think it begins way before we are even parents and we are in a restaurant and there is a family on the table next to us. Ipads are on, pasta is being thrown and the parents are just benignly drinking wine and pretending not to notice the breadsticks that are being crushed and then liberally sprinkled about the floor. And we sit there and we think, ‘That will never be me, I will never be that parent, I will do so much better than that’. It carries on when we have had our baby, and you see an eighteen month old in the pushchair chowing down on a packet of Quavers and you act all aghast, because suspiciously cheese flavoured reconstituted corn shall NEVER pass the lips of YOUR preshus angel. And then again when you’ve got a toddler and you see those big kids dominating the bouncy castle, bumping yours right out of the way and onto their faces, while their parents drink beer and literally could not give less of a shit, and you vow to never let your children be such obnoxious little brats that leap all over babies without a care in the world. We all judge, of course we do. Judgement is useful! When you are thrust into the oblivion, I think it is good to look around at what others are doing and syphon off the things that you like, and want to emulate, and the paths that you swear you’ll never go down. This is all a healthy way to work out the parent we want to be. But also, shit happens. The afore mentioned shit in the last paragraph for example. And it helps precisely no one if you are there, looking on, at parents having a hard time or wilfully ignoring their children, because they’ve had ENOUGH that day, and passing judgey judgement. I am trying my best to remember that, and to not be a dick.

So if we have ascertained that we are all going to have bad times, and that we will refrain from being too harsh on others who are having bad times, what about the rest? Repeat after me: there is no right way. I know amazing parents who put a ton of effort into their interactions with their children, set up wonderful Montessori style activities, and are mindful of everything they do. I also know amazing parents who work full time and drop their kids of at child care every day and let them watch a ton of TV in the evenings because they are all freaking tired. I have written a lot about the guilt that suddenly descends when you have kids and makes you feel like whatever you’re doing? Not good enough. NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH. But the conclusion that I have drawn is that if it is working out for you and you’re family? Probably good enough. I am definitely the geekiest parent on the block and if there is stuff in our family that is bothering me (my kid has started waking up in the night again, my kid hasn’t eaten any vegetables in a month, my kid has an all consuming obsession with sharks at the expense of any human interaction, let’s say, just as an example), then you can bet I will be up all night scouring the internet for ways to improve the situation. But I do try and separate out the stuff that bothers me, because it bothers me, and the stuff that is driven by what I think I should be doing, because a Mormon lady in New York is doing it.

A word on parenting blogs: There are some amazing women out there who write inspirationally and honestly about their time with children (shout outs to Renegade Mothering, Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures and Recipe Rifle for keeping it so real). For the most part though, once a blog has paid sponsorship, they have to maintain their brand, and their brand is usually them, being a completely perfect parent. Of course they are dealing with the same crap as the rest of us, OF COURSE THEY ARE, but they are photographing and writing about fun trips to the pumpkin patch, or how they just weaved their own yurt out of felt. Which is cool, I love those blogs! I love felt yurts! But the phrase ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’, has never been so apt.

Here are some other things I know:

Never tell the mother of a new born to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, ‘savour every moment’ or that is all ‘goes so fast’. It does go so fast but a day when you’re up at 5am and your partner is away and it’s raining and the internet has broken also lasts a thousand years, so that kind of makes up for it.

Instead, take the mother of a newborn food: cake, coffee and meals she can reheat. Literally the only gifts worth giving.

This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass. They will stop doing that annoying thing that they do eventually. Sure, they’ll start doing some other annoying thing instead, but a change is as good as a rest right?

And seriously, if I was to pass on one piece of actual advice to the parent of small children it would be this: Ignore them sometimes. I am cultivating a style of parenting I like to call ‘conscious neglect’ (admittedly i might need to work on my branding), because honestly, it’s okay for kids to fend for themselves for a good chunk of the day. I think a lot about my Grandma, who raised three children in the North of England during the 1950s. She had a job and did all of the domestic chores without even a goddamn vacuum cleaner or washing machine, while her husband worked away a lot. Seriously, how was this even possible? Well she sure as shit wasn’t putting together colour match wheels and busy bags and making toast that looked like a little bear (although that bear toast? OMG). And yet she was still an amazing mother. So I think about her when I tell my kids that they have to entertain themselves for a while so I can cook, or get dinner ready or mess around on my iphone and feel thankful that I don’t have a mangle and that it’s no longer an expectation that I scrub my front steps every day. They’ll be okay on their own for a while, and it makes me appreciate the times when I sit down to do something nice with them all the more.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things. How to do a one handed nappy change on the parcel shelf of your car for a start, but that’s okay, you’ll figure it out. I need to go and do some other stuff: Plant some cabbages, swoon over yellow kitchen tiles, read a BOOK, Snap Chat a friend, secretly buy a dog. Stuff that still exists, waiting for you, when you emerge from the fog.

Sigh, no more.


A few weeks ago I was in a rut. I wasn’t sure I could keep doing this whole Stay At Home Mum thing because guys, here’s the thing: being at home, full time, with two small children, is really, really hard. Maybe I should change the name of my blog to areallyhardandsometimeskindofsuckyworld.com. I’m pretty sure the domain isn’t taken yet.

So in light of this revelation, I kept wondering if maybe it was time for me to go back to work. Would going back to work be easier? A break? Maybe?

The rather inconvenient truth though, is that even if I did get a job, I would still have to get up at 5.30am to feed the baby. I would still have to run around getting myself and everybody else ready fed and dressed for the day and into childcare or whatever. And then, crucially, after 3 hours of chaos, I’D HAVE TO GO TO WORK. FOR THE WHOLE DAY. And then! Ugh, I’d have to come home and make dinner and do the bedtime routine and tidy up and do laundry and cleaning and Oh My God working Moms how do you do it?

Oh, and here’s the real kicker, I would do all that, but after I’d paid for childcare for my two children, I would make basically nothing. Like, maybe a few pounds each month. HAHAHAHAHAH! I repeat: even if I wanted to add work into the heady mix of my day, I couldn’t even afford to work. I couldn’t. Afford. To. Work. Suck on that you ladies who ‘don’t need feminism’.

What I concluded from all this introspection was that, no, I did not need to go back to work. I needed a holiday. I needed a few days, without my children and their continuing insistence that I listen to them and cook for them and do the voices of an octopus or a manta ray and put them to bed and wash their clothes. I just needed a few days off you know? I believe in the real world it’s called ‘annual leave’. Imagine.

Now, I don’t believe in God, but if I did believe in God I’d be so angry with God right now because God, when I said a few days off without my children I did not mean AT THE HOSPITAL, you hear me? But the (fictional) Lord works in mysterious ways and that is exactly what I got. A couple of Saturdays ago I drove myself to the hospital with some abdominal pain and ended up staying there for four days and left minus some bits of my reproductive system. I didn’t even get to eat for three of those days and spend roughly six hours in pain that I described as ‘the equivalent of crowning’. I crowned for six hours. Yeah.

Anyway, they finally worked out what was wrong (stuff had basically tangled itself up and died inside of me. I saw photos, it looked like dead flowers), administered large amounts of intravenous morphine and then cut me open and took out the bad bits. I was better within a few days and there are no listing affects aside from wonky scar right next to my stretch marks, which I guess means that my dreams of being a bikini model will never be realised.

The weird thing was that because it was so unexpected I left both of my children with their Grandma and barely gave it a second thought. I assumed I’d be back within hours. When my husband came to visit me half way through the first day I tentatively advised him to buy some formula ‘just in case’, but at that point I was more concerned that I felt like I’d been stabbed, so y’know, priorities.

Over the course of my four day hospital stay I tried to pump once, but nothing came. I’m only feeding twice a day now and I had been severely dehydrated when my drip was left empty for a long stretch of the afternoon (and I was nil by mouth), so I figured that my body would just not want to put any energy into making milk. I just tried not to think about it and focused on getting better, safe in the knowledge that my baby was at home, being looked after by his Dad and doting grandparents, eating plenty of food and taking sips of formula here and there. He was doing fine.

Then I came home.

I tried to pump once more, but still nothing came and the reality that I would never breastfeed again hit me like a truck. This was not my plan, I was supposed to feed him until his birthday, this was not supposed to happen.

And also, just, the saddest feeling in the world.

My baby.

It was on the second day that I was home, and a full five days since his last feed, that I was taking a shower and felt some engorgment. I don’t have a super high supply, have never leaked and rarely get engorged, so this was a surprise. Was there milk there?

I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to try and feed #2, but he was in bed for the night, so I just had to rein it in and try not to get too excited. I knew that it was highly unlikely he would even latch after five days and two attempts at pumping had yielded nothing, so the odds were well and truly piled up against me.

The next morning my husband brought him up for a cuddle. I was still pretty immobile at this point, but I sat him next to me on the bed and stroked his soft little cheeks. After a while my husband had to pop downstairs to get something and I just seized my chance. What’s the worst that could happen? I curled him up in my arms and just tried.

The photo above was taken by my husband when he came back up. Can you see how tired and emotional and just so quietly, serenely happy I am? He had a full feed. He’s had a full feed twice a day, every day since. I don’t know how that works, but it worked.


So that was my holiday. My annual leave without the kids. Lying writhing around in agony for two days, then unable to walk for two more. Worrying about what was happening at home, worrying about my husband, worrying about my stupid boobs and my not so tiny baby eating formula in mashed banana like a champ.

A far as holidays go, I’ve gotta tell you, it sucked. But somehow it was just what I needed. My days aren’t so bad, they’re not so hard most of the time. We lie in bed together in the mornings with nowhere in particular to get to, we get dressed when we feel like it and we spend our days at the park and at the farm and in the garden and playing dinosaurs. It’s relentless. And I wish there was a magic fairy who would clean my highchair for me (maybe God, because he owes me one you know?), but it’s okay. I am okay.

And I get to feed him and hold him like a baby. For a little bit longer at least.

Are you making these baby sleep mistakes?

Totally embracing this one…
‘After a few weeks you’ll probably notice that there are general times of day when your baby is more likely to sleep in larger chunks. One of the first good chunks to develop is when they go to bed at night (generally after being awake for a longer period of time). So if you aren’t going to bed when your baby does, you’re missing out on the biggest window of uninterrupted sleep you’re likely to get all day. I know the house is a mess, you haven’t showered in a week, and the grass in your yard is so high that your neighbor’s 5 year old got lost in there. Forgetaboutit. Go to bed.’

Are you making these baby sleep mistakes?

Baby Products: My Must Have List (Part 4)

Okay, ages ago I began putting together a list of all my must have baby products, which I want to keep as a permanent page on my blog. I got slightly side tracked, but am determined to finish, so here I tackle breast feeding, food and drink.

Breast Feeding

Well that’s the joy of breast feeding isn’t it? You need no equipment. In the early days my only recommendation is Lansinoh nipple cream. Apply it religiously after every feed. It’s the brand that midwives recommend and it healed my poor bleeding boobs.
I was never a fan of pumping and the mancub gets all of his milk directly from the source, but I did pump a few times in the early days and used a Medela Swing electric pump. It worked well and was easy to use and to clean and seems to be the most popular model out there, but to be honest, if you don’t need to pump, then I wouldn’t bother.
I bought a bunch of bottles and a steriliser in anticipation of expressing and bottle feeding, but it never happened and now I’m selling the whole lot, so don’t rush into buying that stuff, because breast feeding really is just too convenient to want to do anything else.

Food and Drink

Again, I chose the lazy option and did baby led weaning, meaning we didn’t really need a whole load of bowls, spoons, bottles or blenders. However one thing we did buy was a plastic table cloth and it saved me constantly cleaning the floor in those first couple of months. 
We also splashed out and paid mega bucks for a Stokke high chair, but you know what, it’s fantastic and I have friends whose ten year old still uses hers. It’s just a brilliantly designed bit of kit, which he sits well in and is easy to clean. Worth all the money.
My one other recommendation would be a Doidy sippy cup. These get your baby used to drinking straight from the cup, which actually uses the same sucking motion as breast feeding. They can see the drink inside and it is sloped so the cup doesn’t have to be tipped right up. Out and about we use a regular sippy cup as the Doidy doesn’t have a lid, but at home this is working really well for us.

Dropping milk feeds

I have posted a couple of times lately about our changing routines and the mancub’s increasing appetite for solid food. It took a while to work out, but in the last few days he has basically dropped all of his milk feeds except for first thing in the morning at about 6am and last thing at night at about 6.30pm. He now has solid food 4 times a day and sips water from a Doidy cup.

I was initially pretty worried when he didn’t seem to want breast milk at all, but he’s still sleeping through and I make sure he gets plenty of calcium through his morning porridge and by having yoghurt for pudding. I was fully prepared to breast feed beyond a year, but I guess he just prefers proper food, and I can’t really blame him!

Weird to be able to wear a normal bra again after all this time…

Fussy eating

Long time no see! I haven’t updated in a while, in part because I’m trying to get less screen time, but mainly because there have been no major developments. Life is just pootling along nicely.
We are still in between routines. We had made some headway in setting into 2 naps, but the mancub was getting tired and I realised that I was trying to keep him up, rather than listening to his cues, so we are back to 3 again for the moment.
However, the thing that is changing is his breast feeding pattern, unsurprising, given that he is now eating a decent amount of solid food three times a day, plus a small snack.
At first he dropped his morning feed, but we have reintroduced that as he likes to have a breastfeed when he wakes up as he finds it comforting. So now, somewhat strangely, the feed he seems least interested in is his bedtime feed. He has an afternoon BF at around 4pm, followed by dinner at around 5.30pm, then up for his bedtime BF at 6.30pm, (he has this feed before his bath and massage, so it’s not needed to get him to sleep). The length of this feed has diminished from 20 minutes to less than 10 minutes and recently he just fusses the whole way through it, pulling on my breast and grumbling. I considered that perhaps it was a supply problem, but on reflection I think that he just doesn’t want the feed and is probably still full from his food. He sleeps through the night, so I assume that he’s getting a sufficient amount.
So now I’m wondering whether to offer this feed at all. I always thought this would be the last to go, but I am considering replacing it with a quiet story and a cup of warm water instead. I don’t want to lose this lovely snuggly time, but it’s becoming a battle and I’m not really sure if it’s serving a purpose.
Does anyone else have any experience of dropping the bedtime feed, or of adjusting their routine to accommodate this sort of change? I may brave dropping it tomorrow and seeing how we get on..l I’ll let you know!

Project Baby Weight Update

9 stone 2

So I’m not really updating weekly any more as I’m technically not losing baby weight any more, BUT stoked that I’ve lost another 2 pounds. I stuck to my goal last week of taking packed lunches when we head out for walks or into town and this has definitely saved me £££ and a few toasted cheese sandwiches.

I wrote yesterday about how, after a month of only napping in the sling, the mancub is back in his cot, so I was excited to dust off the old Tara Lee post natal yoga DVD and I will be heading out for a run early next week. Excited! Especially since last time I ran it was freezing and now it’s all Spring sunshine and pretty flowers.

I bought myself some nice new skinnies from Gap as a treat for losing a full stone and they are rocking my world. I love a bit of rockabilly and 50s land girl look, so I have been attempting Victory Rolls and bought a couple of new head scarves too. Feels good to have my figure back 🙂

So, the stats:

SW: 144
CW: 128
GW4: 126

Exercise goal this week: Now the mancub is back in his cot I can get my run on.
Food goal this week: Drink more water! It’s hot outside!


A break from the old routine

Well, that was the issue really, there wasn’t an old routine. We were fully paid up members of attachment parenting when it came to the mancub and it worked really well for us. He fed on demand, napped when he was showing signs of tiredness and played the rest of the time. And just by good fortune he was a reeaalllly good sleeper. He first slept through the night at 10 weeks and although there were periods where he would need extra night feeds, his normal pattern was to sleep from 7pm til 5am and then again until 7 or 8am. Awesome. We knew we were lucky.

And then.

First, for no apparent reason, he stopped napping when we rocked him in his crib. He either just lay there wide awake or cried. Not knowing what to do we put him in the Moby wrap and he slept happily in there for pretty much every nap. However, carrying a sleeping 6 month old baby for over an hour 3 times a day is not always practical or kind to your back, especially when i also baby wear whenever we’re out and about, which was adding up to a whole lot of sling time. So then I started feeding him to sleep, but he would only stay asleep on the condition that my nipple was in his mouth the entire time. He was back in the sling and again this was fine, but let’s face it, not an ideal scenario.


The nights got bad. I know I have absolutely no right to complain as we have been blessed with great sleep from a really early stage, but he was suddenly waking up in the evenings and then every 2 hours through the night and wanted to be fed and fed and stay latched on. In short, he seemed to have suddenly lost the ability to self settle, and we were starting to go a little bit crazy. What should we do before this became the norm?

Ah routine, that dirty word. That thing that mothers do because they want the baby to fit in with their life right? Crow barring your child into these patterns to suit yourself rather than them right? Definitely not within the realm of baby led parenting. BUT IT WORKS! By God it works.

We started by switching around the bed time routine. Whereas previously I had fed him to sleep, we nursed quietly at 6pm and then followed that with a quiet bath, a cuddle and some songs, a massage, pyjamas and cot. The first night he grumbled. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say cried, but he definitely grumbled for around 10 minutes. Tonight, our fourth night of ‘routine’, he grumbled for approximately 20 seconds and then hit the hay. Every night since we did this he has woken in the night for a few seconds, grumbled, settled himself back to sleep and slept through until 6am. I’ve then given him another feed and he has slept again until we get up at 7.30am. WHY DID NOONE TELL US TO DO THIS SOONER?

And here’s the next thing, we now have a regular get up time. I thought that people that woke up their kids in the morning were MENTAL, but you know what, it makes everything else a whole lot more predictable. And it’s not like we shake him awake, just switch the bedside lamp on and start chatting in low voices, and he wakes up with a big smile and comes into bed with us for a cuddle. Perfect.

And since he is now able to settle himself again, we are able to put him down in his cot for naps, which has just revolutionised our days. Again the first time he protested a bit. I kept going back and patting his tummy, but I could see that he was tired and not getting up to a real cry, so I left him to it. Now it takes a couple of minutes and he will get himself off to sleep. He used to cry for longer that when I sat rocking him to sleep sometimes. And because I know what times (roughly, it’s not hard and fast or anything and I still very much rely on his tired cues), he will nap I can make sure that we’re back home in time, because I think to be honest he gets a better quality of sleep in the cot than in the sling.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t something that I’m evangelical about (hit me with cloth diapers if you want me to get evangelical on your ass), but it is working for us. The whole laissez faire approach worked for us too for 6 months, but I like things being a bit more consistent now, and yes, I admit, I like being able to put him in his cot and do things that I can’t do with him strapped to my chest (yoga, gardening, cleaning the Goddamn bathroom to name a few). And I like that he wakes up happy and full of smiles and that I can play with him and make the most of those awake times, because I’m more rested too and can put all of my energy into him. I still feed him on demand, but again, I can predict pretty much when that will be and make sure we are in a convenient spot.

So Gina Ford I am not (like, really fucking nowhere near), we have flexibility in our day and there’s still a good amount of baby wearing and a whole lot of breast feeding happening, and i totally respond to his need, but I no longer feel that routine is such a dirty word after all.

Mother’s Guilt

There is so much to feel guilty about as a mother. You’re not breast feeding? Bad mother. You breast feed your baby to sleep? Bad mother. You put your baby down to sleep and they cry? Bad mother.

When did this list of things your baby should be able to do become common place? And I’m not even talking about things that of course babies are expected to do. Things like eventually walking and eating solid foods and saying Mama while pointing in your general direction, although possibly at the dog, it’s hard to tell. No, I’m talking about these rules for motherhood about routine and independence and creating bad habits and rods for your backs.


But there’s the guilt. And the unnerving sense that in other homes, mothers are just putting their perfect babes into the cot and the baby looks up adoringly at the mother and then, giving a little wave, simply falls into a blissful 2 hour slumber. This is better I think. This is better than feeding and rocking and putting on the hair dryer and hearing crying 45 minutes later. These mothers are better than me.


In times like this I read Food of Love by Kate Evans. It sanely and humorously reminds me that the ficiticious and judgemental mothers of my imagination do not matter. As long as a I feed my baby when he is hungry and get him to have a little bit of sleep when he’s tired and more importantly, if I cuddle him and kiss him and tell him that I love him and think about my parenting choices and don’t feed him strawberry milkshake or leave him in the middle of the road amidst a sea of broken glass and syringes. As long as I do all that, then I’m not a bad mother. I’m a bloody good mother actually.

Project Baby Weight: Week 9 / 10

9 stone 6 (loss of 2lb)

So this update covers 2 weeks and I’m kind off track with which days to weigh in on, as we went away for a few days and things got all mixed up. But, a loss of 2lb! Freaking awesome. I feel so close to being back to where I was before having the mancub: My face looks slimmer, my clothes fit better and it’s much less hassle to walk up the hill to get home.

Exercise has sadly almost ground to a halt. We are currently having major napping issues, which was previously my exercise time. The mancub used to be an absolute napping star. I would put him in the gliding crib, stick some music on and rock away until he dropped off. Then, out of nowhere he just stopped going to sleep when I rocked him. He was clearly still tired, grizzly and yawning, but eyes open and seemingly wide awake. I did a few days of letting him nap in the sling, but to be honest it is hard work on my shoulders and not really workable in the long run. So at the moment I am feeding him to sleep, but the trouble with this is that a lot of the time he wants my boob in his mouth for the entire nap. If i try and take it out he wakes right up and roots around or cries. Not ideal. This evening I experimented with playing white noise and this allowed me to get him onto the bed without waking up, although it could have been a coincidence. Or that glass of wine i had at lunch time 😉 I’ll try again tomorrow and see what we can do, as I need those nap times, not just for exercise, but for getting housework done, eating lunch, and for my general sanity!

Anyway, enough of napping. The weight loss continues, which is great. I’m happy to let it come off at this nice steady rate, so my cake amnesty this week is less about weight loss and more about will power. I haven’t missed the chocolate these last couple of weeks to be honest, so hopefully going cake free will be as effortless…. Hah!

So, the stats:

SW: 144
CW: 132
GW3: 130

Exercise goal this week: Go for a run – week 4 of c25k (nap dependent) and a swim in the evening.
Food goal this week: Time to pull out the big guns. No cake this week.