Advice

The More than a Mum Challenge

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So most of you will be familiar with what we’re about by now: More than a Mum is all about helping you to be the best mum you can be while rediscovering your identity as a woman at the same time.  Well, we’ve had quite a few posts on issues that affect you as a mum but we are equally committed to encouraging you, supporting you and inspiring you to remember you’re more than a mum; you’re also a woman.

So, today we are kicking off our ‘More than a mum weekly challenge’.  The rules are very simple:  You just have to commit to do one thing this week for yourself that will remind you that you’re a woman in your own right as well as a mum.

It’s so easy for us to lose our identity as a woman because it can tend to be swallowed up in the all-consuming role of mum.  From your comments it’s clear that many mums feel this way and that most mums recognise the importance of ‘me’ time – but just how do we fit it in?  This is where we want to help.

We’ve realised that rediscovering your identity as a woman need only be done in the tiniest steps, actions and even thoughts in order to make a big difference.  We may not all be able to afford the time or money to go away on a weekend spa break but we might be able to challenge ourselves to read a book that is nothing to do with parenting, join an exercise class where no one knows you’re a mum or even just paint your nails.

Each Thursday (I know it’s Friday today) we’ll be posting suggestions and ideas of what you could do this week to remind yourself you are ‘more than a mum’.  All you need to do is take up the challenge and then tweet about it using the hash tags #Thursdaychallenge #morethanamum.  Our hope is that this will not only publically commit you to seeing it through but will also inspire other mums with ideas.

So are you in?

L

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Working Mum V Stay at home Mum

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It is with slight apprehension that I begin to write a blog post on Stay at home mums V working Mums.  Mainly because, like most things in life, I don’t believe there is a firm black or white, right or wrong answer.  However, today I saw the Myleene Klass Yahoo channel ‘Bumps, Babies & Beyond’ programme and it was discussing the common debate – Can mums really have it all? – so I thought I’d dive in.

Until fairly recently, Ruth and I (who run this blog together) represented both of these worlds with Ruth staying at home to bring up Munchkin and me working (albeit part time) with Bear Cub in nursery 2 days a week and 1 day with Aunty.  So this is a discussion we’ve had many a time and we both see the pros and cons of each choice.  I say ‘choice’ when actually many mum’s are unable to afford to stay at home and not work and it doesn’t feel like a choice at all.  But from first-hand experience I’d also argue it’s an equal financial struggle to afford the astronomical childcare costs these days if you decide to go back to work!

The controversial bit:  Personally I don’t really see the point in having kids if they are in nursery from 8am-6pm 5 days a week.   It seems a bit like when people have a dog and then keep it outside in the kennel all the time – I just don’t get it. Having said that, I don’t think I could not work at all a) for my own sanity and b) for financial reasons.  So I opted for working part time. Bear cub gets a lot out of nursery and enjoys it but, there is just no denying if he had the choice he’d want to be with mummy full time.

One of the mums in the Myleene Klass video spoke of how upset she was that she missed her child’s first steps and this was what prompted her to become a SAHM.  However, the other guest described how working actually enabled her to be a happier and more fulfilled woman and therefore a better mum.  Both are incredibly strong arguments.

So in the interests of sparking some feedback and discussion let’s really go there with the good, bad and ugly of both options.

STAY AT HOME MUM:

Good – Won’t miss out on any key ‘first’ moments, give a secure start to your little one, form a close bond, educate them yourself, influence according to your family rules and preferences

Bad – Can sometimes be boring, may miss engaging your brain beyond child level activities, may miss adult company/interaction, may get frustrated with little person due to so much time with them, tiring.

Ugly – Lose your sense of being a woman in the role of being a mum, only talk about poo, Cbeebies and the latest soft play area, live in jeans and joggies

WORKING MUM:

Good – Having something for you can raise your self-esteem, by having time away from your little ones you may have more energy, patience and quality time when you are with them, makes you put make up on and do your hair, you can go to the toilet in peace and on your own!

Bad – May miss special/key events and first moments, bad habits can be learned at nursery/childcare, your child may have increased separation anxiety, nursery/childcare may teach different values/lessons to your preference, missing out in general as they grow up so quickly, tiring.

Ugly – You may have to learn how to walk in heels again (depending on your job) you have to work extra hard to keep all the plates spinning.

I’m sure you can think of many more to add (and I hope you will in the comments below).  One thing that really struck me is, whichever category we fall in, there is one accessory we all seem to wear as mum’s – altogether now – GUILT!!!!

Let’s give ourselves a break ladies and do what we feel is best for our family.

As we’ve often said on More than a Mum, we firmly believe it’s possible to be a great mum AND a fulfilled woman.

L

Are you scared of spiders Mummy?

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Not scared in the slightest!!!!!!

One of the constant dilemmas I face as a single-mum to my 2 year-old bear-cub is how much negative emotion to try to ‘hide’ from him.  The other day we found a huge spider in his bedroom and I tried to calmly explain that we needed to take him outside so he could ‘be with his spider friends’.  When bear cub questioned why I was putting the spider in a glass and not picking it up with my hands I answered, through gritted teeth and with shaky hands, that I simply didn’t want to accidently squash him!  From the look on his face I don’t think bear cub was convinced for a minute.  I however, was actually quite proud of myself for managing to get that close to a big spider even if there was a glass between it and me.  Dealing with spiders is yet another new territory for me since becoming a single parent.

But there are so many questions here regarding fears.  We, as mums, instinctively want to do what is best and right for our little ones.  We cannot fight the overwhelming force which leads us to want to protect them from all harm at all costs.  On the other hand, most of us recognize how in the long term it does not benefit our children to grow up completely ignorant to some of the harsh realities in life that they inevitably will face.  The fact is, bad things do happen in life and it is not always a world of Cbeebies-happiness.  But how much should we educate them in the darker side of life and at what age? I constantly change my mind on this one.  As a child, I was exposed to the troubles of the adult world too much and too soon, the result being my sister and I were in somewhat of a role-reversal situation with our mum particularly in our teens and we were forced to grow up too quickly.  The positives are my sister and I are very strong, independent and calm in a crisis but we do some times wish we’d had a few more years of the care-free existence of a child who only has to worry about what they might not get for Christmas.  This experience has made me adamant that my son will not feel burdened with the responsibility of ‘making sure mum is ok’ or feeling guilty at having his own life and certainly that he will not feel that he has to be ‘the man of the house’.  Having said that, despite my best efforts, if I’m having a ‘difficult’ day which I feel I am handling internally I’ll often catch my little boy making an extra effort to make me laugh or smile.  It saddens me that he can so easily pick up my mood and want to or even feel responsible for turning it around.

My reality is that my little boy does not have his daddy living with him and although we’re trying to make that situation as smooth for him as possible he is beginning to become aware that this is not the case for many of his friends.  I’d be doing him a disservice as a parent to not sensitively communicate with him about this in terms he can understand.   I think we’d all agree it is not healthy to wrap our children in cotton-wool but I also believe it is good practice to let them know it is ‘ok’ for mummy to not be happy all the time and that sometimes people get sad.  More often than not, if it’s explained in an appropriate way they can handle it and move on.  After all, as I have discovered, kids are not stupid and know when you’re faking something anyway!

What’s your views/experience on this topic?

L

Rose-tinted spectacles

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I love my mother.  She is my best-friend and confidante.  She is the woman who brought me up.  She is an excellent Grandmother and a fantastic emergency, child-minder.  I value her opinions and trust her judgement… most of the time!

Recently, however, there has been one thing I have to disagree with her about and that’s the terrible-twos.

The munchin is not the worst behaved toddler I know by a long stretch, and I don’t think that anyone else would say that she is either, but she is two and she does have her moments.  I have made comment about those moments to Mum on the phone on a number of occasions.

I am usually at home on my own with her when she throws a real wobbler (thank goodness still appears to happen mainly in the house) and I often feel the need to off load.  Who better to call in the middle of the day and let off steam to than your mother?

Well last time I called and made comment about the ‘terrible-twos’ and a small barney that myself and munchkin had had over something trivial, mother decided that the best thing to do was tell me how she and her friends had all been discussing this issue and had come to the conclusion that it must be modern parenting which caused this, as none of them had ever had a problem with their children.  Way to make me feel better Mum!

We chatted for a while (with me no doubt sounding a little frosty) about why I didn’t think my parenting had created some sort of monster-child; how I wasn’t parenting all that differently to her and that one off refusals from a toddler are developmentally normal, but still she said, “I can see what you mean, but I think it’s just like stress, neither of them really existed in the past”!

I have decided that rather than falling out with my Mum on this one, (and I’m not even getting into the debate about ‘stress’!) I shall instead take a positive message from my mother and her friends’ rose-tinted spectacles.  No matter how awful those tantrums seem now, the memory of them must fade to nothing over the years. What other explanation could there be for an entire generation of angel-toddlers?!

R