Archive of ‘blogging’ category

Reaction or Overreaction?

Overeaction: To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.

There was a gif on social media last week that had a man laughing with the words, ‘for every male reaction there is a female overreaction.’ And yes, yes unsurprisingly this angered me. It was a man rolling his eyes at all women and branding us drama queens and emotional wrecks who flip at the smallest of things. And maybe in some way I proved him right by feeling annoyed by it, but the main thing I thought was, has nothing changed? Are women still viewed as these highly strung and hugely emotive, sensitive little souls?

And then I went to Blogfest16 and was proved very wrong. Women are not meek, they are not mild and as Shappi Khorsandi said, they ‘are running the world.’ There were amazingly engaging panels filled with inspirational women talking about issues in a measured and thought provoking way. The panel sessions discussed female presence on line, looked at campaigns strong women have led and are leading and talked about finding your voice when others want to silence you. And yes, by ‘others’ the speakers often meant men, because in their experience it always was white men who were trying to silence them. White men who send threatening tweets and attempt to make these women disappear through fear, by sending vile tweets or leaving hideous comments often attacking the women and their children. Miranda Sawyer described them as drunk men in a pub who should be left well alone, and I agree.

But I also agree that not all men are like this, and that sadly the many who are ruin it for the good ones. But yesterday the good ones joined in. They criticised a phenomenal event for not acknowledging them. They were upset by the ‘man bashing,’ and whilst I concur that bringing men down is never a way to thrust women up, the attacks weren’t personal. They were in context, they were real. Damn right Jess Phillips MP should get cross when asked if her husband is going to ‘babysit’ their children. And hell yes Sara Khan should bash the men who threatened to gang rape her in every orifice.

Mumsnet’s tagline is ‘parenting for parents’ and I know, I KNOW that means everyone – for there are many different people who come under that umbrella – but the event was headlined by big female names and many of the sessions were clearly focussed on women and were obviously going to have a strong feminist vibe. And if you were a man and you attended those sessions then I am not sure what else you expected. And it makes me angry that in an environment that should have been a safe space for women to come together and support each other and scream loud and clear about inequality (many of us technically working for free now until 2017 thanks to the delightful gender pay gap) and for me that was tarnished by the men who felt they weren’t acknowledged or catered for.

The friend I went with is running a blog for her business. She is not a mummy blogger and she knew full well that in some of the sessions she would have to work hard to take what she was listening to and adapt it for her purpose. She expected it to be pro female and strongly feminist, trusted the strong line up, and wasn’t disappointed.

Why couldn’t the male attendees do the same? Of course Mumsnet are going to target the majority of the audience and they do not need the men there, or indeed at home in their own little filter bubble, criticising the event for not meeting their expectations.

Every day women are made to feel vulnerable and repressed and out of place in their lives or not good enough. Women have jobs purely because companies need to tick a box and employ a certain number of females. Mothers are made to feel inadequate for staying at home and raising children. They are over looked for jobs they could be awesome at if there’s a man interviewing next to them. If they judge critically they are seen as moaners, if they are unhappy they will be criticised for saying so.

Sara Khan rightly said that there is ‘nothing more dangerous than a female with an opinion,’ and last night on Twitter she was proved right after I attempted to point out the hypocrisy of a tweet only to then be called a hypocrite myself, with my point being completely twisted and misinterpreted. I was not belittling daddy bloggers. I was not turning everyday sexism around and being sexist. I was not saying men were not welcome at Blogfest. I was trying to point out how this is how women feel ALL the bloody time and get shot down for fighting against it. That isn’t hypocritical. That is the exact opposite. Why the hell we can’t have an event for women about women without having a man complaining about it and trying to turn it into something it isn’t destined to be is enraging. We do not need men taking over everything. I think women would like to keep certain things just for themselves. And damn right they should to.

Blogfest16 for me was diverse, thought provoking and inspiring and I think women are even more wonderful now than I did this time yesterday.

And that is what I am going to hold on to. And I know I am not overreacting when I say that women, we really can rule the world.

Done

Done: no longer happening or existing.
“her hunting days were done”

Social media and I have had a bit of a falling out recently. I’ve not blogged for ages and have taken a bit of a step back from Twitter. I’ve been mulling over this a lot, and whilst I haven’t definitively come to any particularly conclusion as to why this is, I’ve certainly realised a few things.

Social media is a very powerful tool. It influences millions – sometimes positively and sometimes in not such a positive way. When I first joined Twitter I was breastfeeding a newborn baby and enjoyed stalking celebrities at 3 in the morning. Then, as PND took it’s hold for the third time, I frantically used it to find people going through the same thing, either to convince myself I wasn’t ill or to reassure me that you can indeed survive on very little, if not no sleep. I was becoming obsessed with confirming all of the things I thought in my very poorly head and whilst Twitter, blogs and forums provided some comfort and helpful suggestions there were also a lot of dark and dangerous things on there. I read some things I didn’t want to read and saw pictures that once seen, can never be forgotten.

Thankfully I have very wise friends and family who helped me channel my energies and into getting better and starting a blog. Wonderfully cathartic, it felt amazing to be able to write openly and honestly about things I was experiencing. Chats on Twitter were fun, supportive and honest, and some of the people I have met through Twitter and blogging are truly amazing. But recently, I’m beginning to wonder if it all offers a bit of a false sense of security. Some people claim they can only be themselves on Twitter, that they cannot be real in real life and that all of the friends they have are virtual ones. And some say that when they have a problem – sometimes an extremely serious problem – Twitter is the only place they feel they can go for help. Help from people who are not experts. Who do not actually know the person in distress, do not know their triggers or their history – in fact they know nothing about them at all. And I see people offering advice about babies they’ve never seen, giving mental health advice to suicidal people, and becoming outraged for someone they’ve never met, only ever hearing one side of the argument.

Now I’m obviously not saying don’t ever go to social media for support and advice – my goodness no it can be a wonderful place and so many people and organisations on there are doing amazing work for smashing stigma, supporting sufferers of mental health and aiding new and overwhelmed mums, and that’s wonderful when it’s done properly – but sadly social media lets anyone join, and when you’re vulnerable and fragile you can easily take the wrong advice, from the wrong person.

The deeper I have gone onto the world of blogging and social media, the more disillusioned I’ve become. In some parts it’s a hugely supportive and comforting group of people, yet in others it has cliques, comment rings and a whole load of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ shenanigans I had no idea existed until recently. Some people deliberately provoke, whilst others constantly seek attention. Some blog from the heart, and some do so for ratings and to up their stats. The lives and personalities people project online are often very different from their reality – even mine. It has all increasingly unnerved me over time, and do you know what? I don’t think I can do it anymore.

I’m tired of Twitter arguments. I’m sick of the monthly scoring system which seems to drive everyone bonkers and become totally competitive. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. And it can be extremely upsetting at times.

When I started blogging it saved me and has quite literally turned my life around. I was able to find my voice again after an evil illness. I found new confidence through writing and having people read, comment and enjoy my blog. It has opened doors to me that I never dreamt possible and the future is so unbelievably exciting for me right now. But I do feel I’m done. I’ve reached a point where I’ve no more to give with ‘mummy blogging.’ I don’t want to review endless products; the power of trusting your instincts as a mum has become so wonderfully recognised by so many; and writing about PND is about to happen in a novel. Put simply, my writing and I have moved on.

I will still write, I will always write (and tweet!) and I may even start a new blog all about that. But for now – with heartfelt thanks to all the blogging community has given me and to every single one of you who has read my blog – I’m trusting my instincts, and I’m done.

My 1st Blogiversary!

This week, on Thursday, my blog is officially one whole year old! When I sat down in my lounge – this time almost a year ago – and wrote my first ever post I genuinely never expected to become so involved and in love with a world in which, before that day, I barely knew existed.

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Blogging helped me recover from my third and most hideous episode of post natal depression. It helped me self publish my book ‘A Monster Ate My Mum,’ and support so many other mums suffering with the illness too. I’ve met wonderful new friends, taken part in this year’s epic Team Honk relay challenge with @ladyemsy and @caro_mad, and been to some excellent and inspiring blogging conferences. I have been lucky to become a BRITAX Mumbassador, and yes through blogging I have also, I have to say it, had the opportunity to review some pretty fab things! All in all blogging rocks, and I’m so proud of the fact that my blog is still going one year on!

The blog has changed a lot and evolved in ways I never imagined when I started, and I love the fact that anything goes. Having three children spanning in ages from 12 to 1 I always have material to write about, but have also enjoyed blogging about my personal issues, education, feminism, my (mostly unsuccessful) weight loss and even my baking! (probably responsible for said poor weight loss!) Linkies have been an amazing way to find new blogs and promote mine; Silent Sunday posts have got me passionate about photography, and I have re-found my love of poetry thanks to Vic Welton and Ellie All At Sea. Maybe one day I’ll even be brave enough to take part in one of Stephanie Arsoska’s amazing virtual open mic nights! (and finish off my Summer Of Words story!)

In the last year I have also been lucky enough to publish some wonderful guest posts from brilliant bloggers; it never fails to amaze me how we are always finding new ways to write about well known topics and how brilliantly inventive bloggers are with their words.

Blogging is like an itch that needs scratching; it’s cathartic, therapeutic….uplifting. When people comment on my blog I feel so pleased that someone has identified with what I’ve written or has been moved enough to comment. It makes me smile and I must find some precious time to comment on others more.

In truth I have been finding it hard to find the time to write as much as I used to; mainly due to going back to work but also – very excitingly – because I am so involved with many other projects that have happened because of my blog. Which is amazing!! But…I will continue to blog as much as I can, for I truly love it, and feel privileged to be part of such a wonderful community.

Thank you, as always, for reading 🙂

If you like reading my blog then I’d love for you to please nominate me for a MAD blog award, I’ll leave you to decide in which category! You can nominate by clicking on the badge below. Thank you x
MAD Blog Awards

Honk Honk

If you are a blogger or read lots of blogs then you will already have guessed what this post is about…the Team Honk Blogger Relay Challenge!! However if you don’t know what I am talking about (where have you been?!) then read on…

So tomorrow sees the Team Honk baton – thanks to Team Oxford – reach Chipping Sodbury as part of this amazing challenge! It’s the start of three days where the baton reaches my neck of the woods – and it’s my turn to take part in the challenge and raise lots of money for Sport Relief!

Team Honk 2014 blogger Relay

So far there have been boats, running, onesies, and even elephants along the way – and an amazing sum of money has already been raised. People have pushed themselves out of their comfort zones and challenged themselves for this amazing cause!

The Team Honk Blogger Relay started in Lands End on the 12th January 2014 and finishes in John O Groats on the 23rd March 2014.
We aim to raise over £20,000 for Sport Relief!

In terms of modes of transport, you name it we have thought of it: pushchair pushes, roller blading across the Humber, boating round Bristol, #Honkopoly around London, fancy dress, onesies, bikes, scooters, planes, hiking, rafting and mountain climbing.
#teamhonkrelay involves over 200 bloggers, their friends and families in a route that zig zags up the UK taking in 38 regional teams.

Here you can see the official regional route details and dates for the relay : http://teamhonk.org/2014-blogger-relay/team-honk-2014-relay-route-and-masterplan/

And so tomorrow I shall, dressed as a pirate, take the baton and walk 13 miles from Chipping Sodbury into the centre of Bristol with @ladyemsy and @caro_mad! I’ve walked this far before, several times…but never without any training and to be honest I’m extremely nervous.

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We will be completing challenges (as if walking 13 miles with NO training isn’t challenging enough!!) like the egg and spoon race and the conga. And as if it couldn’t be any more fun (?!) it also looks like were on a serious weather warning for more horrendous rain!

Then, once the baton has reached Bristol, there will follow on Monday a ferry ride, a flash mob Zumba dance overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge followed by juggling, running, horses and the most amazing things happening in Portishead on our last day. If you go on to our team link below you can see all of the details of what is happening in Bristol as part of the relay, and see who to follow on Twitter for fab updates and photos of it all.

So please, please if you can spare any money sponsor our fab Bristol team! (And thank you to all of you amazing people who have sponsored so far!)

It’s easy to donate:

You can sponsor the Bristol Team here: http://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/bristolteamhonk
You can also do so on the Team Honk fundraising page :http://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/team-honk-relay
Or through the text donate number: Text HONK to 70005 and donate £5 to Sport Relief .

Every single penny helps….

• £1 could provide a hot meal for a child in the UK living in extreme poverty.
• £5 could pay for a mosquito net to protect a mother and her baby in Africa from contracting malaria while they sleep.
• £10 could enable an older person in the UK who just lost someone they love to attend a group activity.
• £25 could run a sports session for disabled children in the UK, giving them the chance to play with other young people.
• £100 could feed 200 children living on the streets in India for one day.
• £300 could provide a water point in the slums of Tanzania, giving hundreds of families access to safe, clean water.
• £500 could provide six months of support for a young person in the UK with mental health issues.

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The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.

You can also follow the adventures of the Blogger Relay on Digital Media…

Team Honk Twitter & Hashtags: @team_honk #teamhonkrelay

Sport Relief Twitter & Hashtags: @sportrelief #SR14

TeamHonk facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teamhonk

TeamHonk pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/LoveAllBlogs/teamhonk-2014-relay-teamhonkrelay/

And follow me (@instinctivemum) @ladyemsy and @caro_mad tomorrow on Twitter to see how we get on…wish us (lots of) luck!

What were the highs and lows of 2013?

Having recently had a bit of a blogging low (my stats are worse this month than they were in the first month I ever blogged…oops!) I was thinking about how I could do a post to look back at this year, and then this morning the lovely @kateonthinice tagged me to join in with this one. She’d answered these questions very honestly on her own blog and invited others to do the same on their’s…perfect I thought!

And so here are my answers…

1. What was your happiest event?

Oh where to start…publishing my book, attending wonderful blogging conferences and meeting fantastic new friends, recovering from post natal depression for the third time, my youngest starting to walk (and finally sleep through the night!) So many wonderful and happy events have happened this year, many of which if you’d asked me if they were possible at the start of 2013 I would have rolled my head back and laughed out loud in sheer wonder. But for me…the happiest event of 2013 was undoubtedly our family holiday to France. It was for two blissful weeks, the weather was stunning and the holiday magical. It will stay with me forever and has given me hope that it will be the first of many family holidays and opportunities to make some lifelong memories.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?

Thankfully I have been very blessed this year and our family hasn’t been touched by sadness. I have often been saddened by what has happened to others however – I really do wish that good things happened to good people. It all seems so unfair at times.

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?

Do you know I can’t think of anything in particular! Maybe I’m one of those people who has had so much thrown at them over the years that I’ve learnt to always expect the unexpected?! I guess I would have to say the fact that I self published my book has to be included in here – when I wrote the poem at the beginning of the year I never dreamt it would be what it is now and I am so excited for what it holds in the future. If you’d told me last January that by the end of the year I’d be a self-published author I’d have desperately wished for that to be true. Determination can get you so very far at times.

4. Who let you down?

If I’m honest I feel like my work have let me down. I’ve been at my current school for ten years and am about to return to work in January after extended maternity leave. I’ve been off for nearly two years and am incredibly apprehensive (and reluctant) to return to work next year, and sadly no-one at work has really helped with this. I’m entitled to ten keeping in touch days yet – despite many efforts to have them – I’ve been given none. No-one can fully tell me what my role will be (I do know I’m not class based) and I’ve been told there isn’t actually anywhere for me to work. I’ve also been told, several times, that once I’m back it’ll be like I’ve never left and not to worry, but the reality is that I’m not back yet and I am worried. Colleagues haven’t been in touch as much as I thought and although I know everyone is busy (me included) I feel a bit let down and uneasy about it all. Unsurprisingly I’ve blogged about it, will be live on Friday 😉

5. Who supported you?

So many wonderful people, some of whom I’ve never even met. This year, especially at the beginning, I needed a lot of support. My best friend, who is still adopting the fake name of Cynthia on my blog, has been utterly amazing. She is a tremendous support and I genuinely do not know what on earth I would do without her, she is pure gold. My husband has also been brilliant, he bears the brunt of my irritations, frustrations and generally unreasonableness and yet he is still here and still understanding, empathetic and fantastically tolerant. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not perfect, but he’s pretty damn close!

I am so very lucky to have so many wonderful friends in real life, and some totally amazing friends in the virtual world too. So so so so many brilliant people have supported me and my book, ‘A Monster Ate My Mum.’ I cannot mention them all by name for fear of missing someone out, but you ALL know who you are. For all of the retweets, reviews, help with self publishing, commenting on my blog posts, buying my book, spreading the word and so much more – you are all AMAZING and I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. And thank you forever to Helen Braid for the beautiful illustrations that brought the book to life.

6. Tell us what you learned.

I learned not to take everything so seriously.
I learned that accidents really can happen in the most unexpected simple of places, and to allow my children to be more adventurous instead of holding them back because of my own fears.
I’ve learnt that I am far more competitive and determined than I ever thought possible.
I’ve learnt to appreciate every little thing.
I’ve learnt not to put so much pressure on myself.
I’ve learnt that I am never going to be a size 10 again as life is too short and food is too good.

7. Tell us what made you laugh.

The beautiful and funny things my children have said.
Hilarious conversations during nights out with wonderful friends.
@Ladyemsy who never fails to make me smile.
Spending time with my mum, there is always at least one moment when we are both rolling around in laughter together.

8. Tell us the things that made you cry.

Reading about the tragic deaths of three women who were suffering from post natal depression.
Hitting the publish button and seeing my book became reality.
Watching my friends heart break and seeing her totally broken.
Reading many moving blog posts.
Watching The Time Traveller’s Wife. (seriously, I cried for like hours!)

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud.

1.) My middle child started school and embraced every second of it. A slightly nervous child, he was so tremendously brave and just went for it. During his first ever performance at the Harvest Festival I was proud he even made it onto the stage, even though he didn’t sing a single word. And then at the Christmas show when he sung at the top of his voice…smiling throughout the entire performance! Magic!
2.) Receiving wonderful feedback for my daughter’s teachers about her attitude and determination at school has made me incredibly proud. She may be challenging at home, but at school it seems she is thriving and the positive, fantastic reports keep coming.
3.) And the there is my youngest who is just awesome. Am proud of him settling into nursery and loving it. Am proud of him becoming a wonderfully social and amusing boy. Proud for all of the things he’s yet to experience and achieve for I know he will be cheeky and loveable all the way.

10. Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.

Um have I mentioned that I self published a book this year? Or that I beat PND for the third time? It’s not often I’m proud of myself but I really am because of those two things. It’s restored a lot of faith in myself that I never knew I had!

11. Tell the challenges you overcame.

Being a mum to three children, and with a tween as one of them, is in itself a challenge….but it’s the kind of challenge I really love!

12. Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2014.

Um well I’d like to write many more books, maybe one on post natal depression for those suffering, or from the viewpoint of a father who has suffered, or about supporting those with PND. I’d also love to write more children’s books too, and my InstinctiveMum book…oh and so many more. In fairness I think it’s quite obvious that I’d really like to leave teaching and write…but I know I have a VERY long way to go before this can become a reality. That doesn’t mean it can’t though….

I’ve probably forgotten to include a million and one things that happened to me this year and am slightly worried that I can only think of four reasons as to why I laughed when I know there are many more…but there has been so much that has happened and who knows, I may remember some more and keep adding to this post over the next few days!

So…it’s over to you. Any blogger can have a go at this one if they fancy reflecting back on the year that was 2013.

Thank you to @kateonthinice for tagging me in! And for all of her tremendous support xx

A Technological Christmas

Imagine you had just won the lottery, or had a delightful little windfall… Imagine the world of Christmas shopping is your oyster and all of your children’s Christmas wish list dreams could come true… Where would you shop, and what would you buy?

I know at this time of year every parent is embroiled in the dilemma of what to buy their little treasures for Christmas. So far mine have asked for new beds with ladders and slides, cars, a new house, some earrings, a dog and…an iPad .

Out of all of the above, the one I am most likely to plump for – if I had the money – would be an iPad. Whilst I’d love to furnish a brand new house with slides and ladders, essentially turning my home into one giant softplay, an iPad seems by far the safest and easiest choice. Yes yes, I know they are expensive and if you’ve got more than one child the thought of buying them one each is rather terrifying, BUT – remember the opening sentence, we are looking at this from the point of view of someone who has the money!!

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We have two iPads in my house, gifts from Christmas past before I went on extended maternity leave and had money 😉 I’m currently writing this on mine now and the other one is shared between my husband and our three children. All of their independent apps neatly filed away into their own personal sections. I think iPads are absolutely fantastic. They are both educational, and enjoyable! Technology is, as they say, the future. Children need to be tech savvy and many schools (I know the one I work in does) and nurseries now have iPads to be used as part of the teaching and learning process. From an internet safety point of view it is so easy to set up the parental controls; for every app, videos, songs and the internet. These settings can be done for a variety of different ages as well, so it’s not all or nothing.

There are of course many other tablets available, and they are also brilliant. The huge variety of apps you can buy or download for free also help to make them as amazing as they are. There is literally an app for everything. I mean…there’s even an app where you can turn your heating on when you’re not even in the house! Goodness only knows what they’ll think of next. If it was up to me, and apps could do anything, it would be these five… (use your imagination and go with me on these!)

1) Coffee-o-meter: I would love an app that somehow produced a cup of yummy coffee for me whenever I needed one. It would detect my energy levels and produce the perfect mug when I began to flag. Maybe it could switch to wine production after the children are all in bed…

2) Make me up: I love make-up – and let’s face it, it would be cruel of me to leave the house without any on – and would buy an app that applied the perfect make-up to my face every time I left the house. Not sure this would ever be possible though, maybe I’d need a robot for this job instead?!

3) Clean the place: Urgh I hate housework, which is ironic given that at the moment I am a housewife! If there was an app that could control my vacuum cleaner by remotely I would be a very happy woman! How I’d love a self cleaning toilet alongside this too!

4) Diet Buddy: This app would absorb all the excess calories I ate. Or maybe give me a gentle electric shock every time I reached for the biscuit tin or cheese shelf in the fridge. Hmm, no, not gonna work this one is it? I’d endure a lot before I put the chocolate down.

5) Find my stuff: The remote control, my phone, keys, my mind. This app would entrust that I never lost anything again as it would have details of where everything I owned ever was! I think this one might just be my favourite!

Maybe one day our tech savvy children will invent these delightful apps, now wouldn’t that be the perfect Christmas gift?! 😉

This post was written for John Lewis, for which I was compensated.

Incentivised Breastfeeding

Incentives: An incentive is something that motivates an individual to perform an action.

This morning I awoke to the news that in the UK they are trialling giving mothers vouchers in exchange for them agreeing to breastfeed their children. Incentivising them to do something that we all know is best for our babies, for we’re told often enough. Bribing mothers to perhaps make choices they’re not comfortable with or have no control over, thus adding to the pressure and guilt of parenting. I assume all babies born in the area where this is being trialled behave themselves and enable their mothers to gain financially…someone sent all unborn babies a memo about this right?

Yes I’m being deliberately obtuse because as a mother of three children who has both breast, formula and mixed fed I’m horrified at the suggestion. I’m appalled that the government is attempting to bribe mothers to do something they may not be able to, or want to do. And whilst I can’t fully understand why someone would choose not to breastfed, I believe everyone has a choice. Do I think more mums should be encouraged to choose to breastfeed…yes! But do I think this should be done through a finical incentive…no!

Breastfeeding is a divisive subject and one that all mothers have very strong opinions about. As I see it often those who found it easy claim it’s the most natural thing in the world and are dumbfounded as to why everyone doesn’t do it. Yes they say it hurt, yes they say it’s hard work, but they did it so why doesn’t everybody? Then there are the mums who choose not to and are vehement in their belief that they are good mothers in spite of this. Why should how we feed our children determine what kind of parent we are? And then there are those who desperately want to breastfeed, who struggle and try everything and yet, for many reasons, can’t. I’ve been all of the above mums at some point in my parenting journey.

When my daughter was born 12 years ago I exclusively breastfed. Ironically she is the only one of my children with asthma and eczema, but that’s another story. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed, I was a single parent and it was bloody hard work, but I did it exclusively until a lorry drove into the back of my car and the stress of the hideous accident caused my milk production to disappear instantaneously. Back then whenever I breastfed in public it was sat on the toilet, in a cubicle and out of sight. It wasn’t discussed it was just what we all did, and it was lonely, uncomfortable and boring, not to mention particularly unsanitary. Times have changed and with both of my boys I breastfed in public, but it wasn’t always welcomed and I think that before we judge as to why people don’t want to breastfeed and incentivise them to do it with money, we need to look at changing opinions of breastfeeding in public and in general. We need to make it fully acceptable. I was out for lunch with a new mum the other day who I didn’t know very well and she kept apologising every time she breastfed her baby, and this made me so incredibly sad. Why did she feel the need to apologise all of the time, who had made her feel that what she was doing needed an apology? And would paying her to breastfeed her child change the way she felt she was viewed? I doubt it.

Let’s look at why people don’t breastfeed exclusively for 6 months as is recommended. There are many reasons and for something supposedly so natural, Mother Nature certainly doesn’t make it easy at times. Cracked nipples, engorgement, mastitis and many more delights can make breastfeeding hard, painful and unpleasant. My middle child had very bad reflux, and once vomited blood after a feed, turns out it was my blood and not his. There are also difficulties faced by parents of children with tongue ties or cleft palate. At the end of the day, our role as a mum is only half of the breastfeeding story, the baby plays a part too; and for some, breastfeeding is sadly never going to work. Thank goodness there is an alternative! There seems to be a trend on social media this morning in response to the news report, saying that formula should only be available on prescription for those who can’t feed…taking away choice and adding to guilt. And just how malnourished would your baby need to get before it was deemed that breastfeeding was not a viable option. How desperate would the mother be at this point, how much of a failure would she feel and what lengths would she go to? It’s a disgusting idea and one that actually makes me angry at anyone who suggests it. Have the people suggesting this struggled or not been able to breastfeed? Have they been there, do they know how it feels? Or are people assuming things and judging others again instead of trying to empathise, support and see things from another persons perspective? Formula feeding mums are made to feel guilty enough as it is. Will formula feeding become illegal next?

I think if there is money spare to invest in breastfeeding mums then that money could be spent so much better than on vouchers, for sadly some children aren’t fed at all. And the more I write this post the more I realise that there is a much wider issue here and one that I cannot even attempt to cover in just blog post. Could the money be spent on support? On enabling mothers returning to work to continue to breastfeed somehow? On making breastfeeding in public accepted? Let’s be honest, mums don’t give up breastfeeding because of financial difficulties so why incentivise them with vouchers? Why should we be paid to feed our children?

This debate is still very much going on and who knows I may add to this blog post later.

What’s your opinion?

MAD Blog Awards

Jam and Heels

Feminism: Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.

Right, I can’t help myself…I’m going to have to write this post about feminism and Blogfest yesterday. But I am not going to write about how outraged I was at the panel, because, well (shock horror) I wasn’t; and I’m not going to convey my belief in why I’m proud to be a mummy and a blogger because, well that’s obvious isn’t it? And I’m not going to write about what feminism means to me because quite frankly (shoot me if you like) at 36 I’ve not entirely worked that out yet. But what I do want to write about is the shocking impact that a few misunderstood and very poorly worded opinions had on the entire room, and on why people were so livid and tweeting, blogging, shouting about what happened. (Clever old Mumsnet eh?)

For those of you who don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, yesterday I was at a blogging conference; a blogging conference run by Mumsnet, who are not unknown for debate and controversy. (and penis beakers) The very title of the session ‘Can you be a mummy blogger and a feminist?’ was designed to provoke, and, rather dangerously, made several hundred women p***ed off before the session had even begun. Now, I don’t know what you’re like when you’re angry, but when I’m p***ed off I can be a bit irrational, misinterpret things, take them very personally and often not hear them how they were intended to be heard, just ask my husband! My judgement can undoubtedly be clouded when I’m angry and I often decided that I’m not going to like what I’m about to hear. And yes…here is where I have to mention jam and heels…the question was asked as to whether a feminist can make jam…and was answered with (what I took to be) a very tongue in cheek ‘no!’ I thought they were being sarcastic at this point and taking the mickey out of themselves, and yes I agree, it was a bit silly that this was even mentioned, like I said…designed to provoke, buts it’s brave to think that a group of feminists on stage aren’t going to challenge their stereotypes. However, the audience, already seething and ready for a heated debate, took this ‘joke’ VERY literally…and tensions rose once more, before it was deemed that feminists could also not wear high heels. Um, am I missing the point here, but can’t feminists/bloggers/women do whatever the hell they like! Now, I don’t wear heels because I broke my ankle in them at a wedding dancing with a nine year old boy, true story, but if I want to wear them…I bloody well will!

We all have baggage, we all feel guilty and have our own personal battles, and everyone has achievements they are fiercely proud of. What we all need to remember is that alongside these things we all have experiences that have shaped our opinions and beliefs…and unless we know another person 100% or walk in their shoes we will never fully understand the events and reasons behind these opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s different to yours and instead of condemning and verbally attacking someone whose opinion differs from our own, maybe we should listen and try and understand what brought them there, who knows we might just learn something.

Yes we need to be careful about how we voice these opinions, and I agree that yesterday some were very poorly worded and could and did easily offend. I speak in reference to the reference that ‘women without degrees cannot be good mums.’ Yet this technically isn’t what was said, it was the panellist’s own opinion about herself and her own parenting. She said that she thought that about herself and not all mums, yet frayed tempers and personal situations made this another verbal battle. Do we know why she has his opinion of herself and why her inner voice was telling her that she’d have failed as a mother if she didn’t return and complete her degree? Was it drummed into her by the media, by her mother, her child’s father? Dig a little deeper and maybe we’d find a mum not unlike ourselves who struggles with the guilt of working, not working and a whole host of other things. But yesterday no-one wanted to dig and no-one wanted to see…they were too consumed by perceived rage that she was somehow attacking them. Personal issues were brought to the forefront of everyone’s conscious and fuelled the debate. Private and personal battles were rearing their heads and argued ferociously in public.

As mums we’ve all felt shit about ourselves or our choices, I know I have; from media reports, medical research, and through the many perceived rights and wrongs of parenting. Instead of battling against one another because of all of those things we should be supporting each other, learning from each other, supporting each other, listening to each other, empathising
with each other. Standing together as equals…isn’t that feminism personified?!

There is always a reason for people’s opinions and why they fight passionately for what they believe in. We do not know their history or what they have been through to get to where they are. But there’s always a reason and maybe we need to look behind poorly chosen words and be more understanding and supportive.

Being a mum makes me happy, being a blogger makes me happy, but watching and listening to mummies and bloggers disagree so fervently without the knowledge and understanding behind the words makes me sad. Yes some phrases were poorly worded, yes some things could have been taken personally, but it didn’t need to descend into such mayhem. It was not a healthy debate. It was uncomfortable and raw. But then again…isn’t attack the best for of defence?!

MAD Blog Awards

Blog-crastinating

Procrastination: Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. According to Freud, the pleasure principle may be responsible for procrastination; humans prefer to avoid negative emotions, and to delay stressful tasks.

Recently I’ve been having another one of my blogging blocks. Blocks where I’d quite like to write a blog post, and yet I cannot find a subject I’m motivated to write about. I like to write about things that have meaning, that could maybe help some one, or things where I need to get something off my chest. But I struggle at the moment with believing I can do them any justice. I believe in quality and not quantity when it comes to writing blog posts and don’t want to just bash out something I don’t think is very good. (as I’ve said before I have unrealistically high expectations, about everything!)

Last week I would have liked to write a blog post on playground politics, however, as you never know who actually reads your blog I decided this probably wasn’t a good move. I’ve considered blogging about my tween daughter who is suffering a recurrence of her anxiety for an unknown reason (or she does know the reason and is choosing not to tell me at the moment) but she’s started to become more aware of my blog and I’m not sure she’d like me to write about things personal to her on here.

So, in short what do I always do these days when I have a question I need answering…why I asked Twitter what to write about of course! A couple of lovely people replied; @sophieeroseex suggested I write a post about myself, a top ten of things you didn’t know about me. But I could only think of one; that aged 13 I went to a Chesney Hawkes concert and became all overcome at the front of the crowd when he pointed and winked at me as he was singing. And upon having this thought I wasn’t sure over-sharing any more embarrassing things about myself was such a wise move, I want to keep my readers after all! (however I do promise that one day I shall dig my teenage diaries out and type them up on here, because that would actually be very amusing!)

Next @GreatNorthMum suggested a post about writer’s block itself…to which after a couple of tweets we started listing things we do when procrastinating…which soon turned into a list about blog-crastination!

And so, here are my top ten ways of blog-crastinating…

1.) Ask Twitter what to blog about. Obviously this was going to be first on my list. Twitter is up there at the top of every procrastinating list be it housework, cooking, supermarket shopping, sleeping…you name it, and you know it, quite a lot of the time we are on Twitter when we really ought to be doing something else! Even now, in the middle of writing this post, I’ve decided it isn’t funny at all and I’ve gone back onto Twitter to complain about it!

2.) Eat, a lot. When blog-crastinating kicks in so does hunger. I mean, you can’t blog without a cup of tea and some cake right? And if there is no cake then obviously I have to bake one and put off writing for a bit longer. Win win!

3.) Phone People. Funnily enough I often put off phoning people, I’m not talking ringing friends and family, but I put off making phone calls that need to be made…to end contracts, switch broadband providers etc. I hate making these phone calls and it is only when I’m trying not to do something else that they actually get done. Daft I know!

4.) Check my emails. Because someone is bound to have sent me a really important email since I last checked two seconds ago aren’t they? Er no. I rarely get exciting emails these days, less so since I’ve gone self hosted and my PR ranking has vanished into thin air. And even though I know this I still feel the need to check every minute, you know, just in case!

5.) Clean. Haha nah, who am I kidding, housework is always bottom of any list. I mean, my house is tidy-ish and clean-ish, but with five of us living here it is a constant uphill struggle. So I’ve decided to embrace the ‘lived in look’ at least until I can invest in some more boxes where I can shove stuff so my house doesn’t look like it vomits crap all of the time.

6.) Read and comment other people’s blogs. Something I wish I had more time for. I find there aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes to write posts, join in linkies and read and comment on other’s posts as well. I feel guilty when I haven’t the time to link up, or comment on many of the amazing blogs I read, or even reply to the lovely comments I get on mine (although I do always get round to it in the end!) I know how valuable it is to receive feedback and so I try as much as I can to do this. Sadly I don’t have the time to do it as much as I’d like to. Maybe I should blog-crastinate more?!

7.) Internet (window) shopping. Ah I do love a good browse on Etsy, Stork Up, eBay or Amazon. I can convince myself I need many a thing I in fact don’t need. Thankfully I often don’t have the money to buy everything I’d like to or my house of crap would be even more untidy and out of control! But browsing on the internet is a great way at passing the time, and mentally spending an obscene amount of money. If I ever won the lottery I know exactly where the money would go!

8.) Write lists. Who doesn’t love lists! They are so useful. Shopping lists, wish lists, Christmas present lists… Although when blog-crastinating, ironically my lists tend to be of ideas for topics to blog about. One day I’ll get around to writing them…one day…

9.) Watch TV. Bit of Phil and Holly. Bit of Diagnosis Murder (yes, really…love it!) Lot of Friends. I have to admit in this house some days the TV can be on quite a bit when it’s nap time. Mostly in the background as I’m tweeting, but still on. I don’t watch box sets or soaps, or have Netflix, but I do have a lot of Sky channels to aimlessly flick through in the hope of finding something vaguely amusing to watch.

10.) Paint my toe nails. Sometimes without even removing the nail varnish that’s already on there. Yes I know, how classy!

And on that delightful note there are the top ten things I do when blog-crastinating, of course all very tongue in cheek! I must remember that no-one sets rules of when and how often I should blog and that if one week or two I don’t blog, it won’t hurt! A break is always good and needed sometimes, for everyone! @StephArsoska, a fellow blogger, once told me that when you’re in a block one of the best thing to do is write, write anything and it can help unblock your mind! And I have to say today it worked, hence the above post! A bit different to my usual ones, but hopefully something you enjoyed reading.

So, what do you do when blog-crastinating?

Advice

Advice: Advice (noun) or advise (verb) may refer to: Advice (opinion), an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct. Advice column, a regular feature on a website or in a newspaper or magazine. Academic advising, in academics. Legal advice, the giving of a formal and binding opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law

I did something today that made me look very closely at my blog. And when I looked closely at my blog I saw many different things. I saw posts about parenting; trusting our instincts; poetry; reviews; recipes…and the list goes on. When I originally started blogging it was to spread the word about trusting our instincts as parents and how powerful they can be (something I am still very passionate about) and then over time my blog evolved, as all things do, and as I joined in different linkies and made new blogging friends the content changed. I found a new love for writing poetry; I found writing about postnatal depression helped both me and others and I became obsessed with taking the perfect photo for Silent Sunday.

I have been thinking about the content of my blog for a while now and my instincts are telling me that maybe there are too many different types of posts on there. That maybe I have weakened my voice and original intentions through taking on too many other things? I still have many Instinctive Mum tales to tell and blog about, and whilst I have loved linking to poetry, weightloss and cooking blogs, I am wondering if it is time to get the focus back on the original thought behind my blog.

So lovely readers, the more I thought about this the more I thought about you! And I quickly came to the conclusion that the obvious thing seemed to be to ask you what you think! Do you think there is too much variety on my blog? Or do you like all of the different types of posts? What would you like to see more/less of? What topics would you like me to write about? For I blog not just for me, but for you too.

Let me know what you think, after all content is so important…I want to get it just right! 😉

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