mums

Snap Slappers

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I just saw this meme and had to have a go (no I do not have anything better to do with my evenings!). Thanks to Five Go Blogging for thinking this one up and motherventing for showing me hers first! This meme is a great fun idea about pimping your photos, just for fun!

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Apologies in advance to @lor_fenton as I haven’t checked with her first about pimping this photo of us, but… here goes!

More than a Mum Lor and Ruth
Here's us before...
More than a Mum Lor and Ruth
Here's us all classy
More than a Mum Lor and Ruth
...and here's us in our true colours!

Warning: This meme could seriously affect your time perception!

Original Photo by Emma (the super-mum photographer who snaps with her baby in a sling!) Find her at EB Children’s Portraits

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Pelvic Floor Exercises (or… You must have pissed yourself laughing…)

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I am going to share a little more about me than I ought to in this post.  (I’ve had a few glasses of wine!) This evening I have realised that the phrase, “you must have pissed yourself laughing” can only have come from a woman…

Yes, I am talking about the lack of pelvic floor muscles I have post baby.  Yes, I do mean that post child an irritating cough or a mis-timed sneeze can have rather worse consequences than it used to, and yes, I am insinuating that “piss yourself laughing” could be rather more literal than it used to be!

To anyone reading this who may be pregnant, or considering becoming so for the first time, please follow the antenatal teacher’s advice and do those rather odd exercises to tense your pelvic floor muscles, it might just make the difference between being able to go to a comedy gig post- child and not!

I recently met up with 3 mates who I used to live with at university. We were once young and carefree, enjoying our late teens and early twenties in pubs, bars and clubs… Now, our discussion as 30 (plus) year olds is rather changed. 3 out of 4 of us have kids and the 3 who do were fervently persuading the 1 without to do pelvic floor exercises right now to save embarrassment later.

When I tweeted about my hate of coughing-fits with post child pelvic floor muscles I received support (I won’t embarrass anyone by saying who this came from!).  In fact, one person suggested that it was a conspiracy – who bothered to do the pelvic floor exercises and therefore who can tell you if they work or not?!

So the question I pose is this – what one thing would you tell a friend who had just become pregnant and why? I would definitely say “for goodness sake do those pelvic-floor exercises, no matter how ridiculous you feel.”  What’s your best piece of advice?

BritMums blogging prompt: WHO are you?

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So the BritMums blogging prompt this week is:  In 100-200 words WHO are we? (Really got to cut the waffle for this one!)

We are More than a Mum. We want to support women in being brilliant Mums, AND help them to rediscover their own identity.

We are Loretta and Ruth, two Mums who love being parents, but don’t want to lose our own identities or stop thinking intellectually. We both work part-time, to varying degrees; we both love a good socio-political debate; we both love sharing the hints, tips and traumas of motherhood and that’s what our blog is about.

Our posts range from the trials and tribulations of our own motherhood, to discussion of news stories that have a family resonance. We are going to blog about recipes (just sorting out my Sloe Gin one now!), craft ideas, and kid-friendly activities as well as parental concerns, me-time ideas and our own experiences. We also want to create a forum for other Mums (and Dads) to discuss some of the big debates surrounding childhood and parenthood.

We fancy being the Marie Claire of Mummy Blogs…We like to aim high!

187 words – done it!

R

http://www.britmumsblog.com/2011/10/britmums-blogging-prompts-defining-moments/

Men and babies

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I know that we are More than a Mum, but at the end of last week, I chatted with two men who challenged my preconceptions and made me re-evaluate what it is to be a Mum and what it is to be a Dad.

The first challenge came on Thursday night, when I chatted with Dean from @DaddyNatal. I was really interested in his idea of Daddy Natal, which offers “practical, memorable and enjoyable antenatal education for men, by men.”

At first I was a little sceptical, wondering if there really was this gap in the market. Do men want this sort of personalised Daddy-class? Is it all a bit too girly for them? Surely couples antenatal isn’t sexist…I didn’t notice. But then I mentioned it to my husband and his first comment was, “much-needed.” I asked him why he felt that and he said that sometimes it seems that parenthood has a ‘mummy club’ where women are told all the secrets of parenting and that men are strictly forbidden. He called it the ‘Mummy Masons’! (Though if you read BabyRambles you’ll know it’s not just Dads who feel like they’re out of the loop!)

Hubby said, that whilst he’d found the antenatal classes that we did useful, he felt they were feminised and geared towards the girls. I am ashamed to say I hadn’t even realised he’d felt like that. He’s very lucky with the Dads we met through the group and they do all meet for beers, but as they’re all working fulltime, they don’t do it anywhere near as often as us girls and I’m not sure that even with beer the men discuss parenting in quite the same way we do. So it seems that there is a need for a Daddy-centric approach to antenatal classes.

I was also interested to see that on the website, Daddy Natal also offers new Dad’s classes for Daddy and baby – no Mum’s allowed. Sounds like the tables are turning!

The second meeting that made me reassess my opinions was in my role as a breastfeeding peer supporter. I run a drop in group at the local Sure Start Children’s centre and the Health Visitors do checks in the room next door. On Friday I was introduced to a new trainee Health Visitor, Mike.  Mike, as you may have guessed, is a man.

After I had met him, I wondered how I would have felt if a man had turned up at our door in the first few days to check on us and our baby. I wondered if I’d have been comfortable; and then I checked myself and thought OUR door, US, OUR baby. I wonder if my husband would have felt more at ease with a male Health Visitor? More included? Mike will, after all, have exactly the same qualifications as any female Health Visitor.

R

What is a good childhood?

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As well as being a mum and a singer I also work as a radio presenter and producer. My show is for Unsigned artists and I meet some incredibly talented people.  This week an artist who is also a friend of mine (Jules Rendell) sent me a new track she has written which was inspired by the 2009 Children’s society report.  The song is called Never been Loved and it’s in response to the findings, which basically said that children are more anxious and troubled today than ever before.  It largely put this down to parents striving for material success and pursuing their own self-centered ends rather than the needs of their children.

Wikipedia puts it like this: The Inquiry’s report, A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age [8], was published in 2009 and received considerable media coverage, including from the BBC[9]. It found that ‘excessive individualism’ is causing a range of problems for children today, including family break-up, teenage unkindness, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and acceptance of income inequality.

The song is fantastic and speaks of discovering an unconditional love that can spur you on to hope but what really impacted me was the summary of the findings that she sent along with the track (above).

This ‘excessive individualism’ can be seen throughout our society and I agree that it’s spreading like an endemic disease. It is all the more deadly because it is not only seen as acceptable, but the norm. We are programmed from an early age to strive and compete to ‘have it all’.  In deed in this day and age we believe it is our ‘right’ and that we in fact deserve it.  What’s worse is many young people are growing up believing these ‘things’ should come their way without doing a thing to contribute to themselves or the society they live in.  This dissatisfaction with life is what I believe was at the root of the recent UK riots primarily amongst the youth: Young people who feel the world owes them more without having to earn it in any way.  And it is not just the under-privileged youths that have this attitude.  Middle class children who want for nothing, have the latest gadgets and get everything on their Christmas list are also turning into adults who ‘expect’ material gain with little effort.  But as super-nanny would say (bless her) usually it is not the child’s fault for their behavior and attitude.

Along with this, the lie is sold that by gaining these ‘things’ you gain happiness and fulfillment along with it.  Mums and dads who work all hours, most days just for a luxury 2-week holiday twice a year are modeling this same attitude.   I must say I get challenged every Christmas when I find myself wanting to buy BearCub every toy I see that I know he would love.  However I had a stark wake up call recently when he started to ask and expect a new toy every time we went out.  I had been spoiling my child.  At the risk of sounding all ‘when I was a wee lass’, when I was a child we had secondhand toys which we were overjoyed with and I remember my sister and I crying for joy when my mum managed to scrap together enough to get us a second-hand Commodore 64!

We ought to be showing our children what is important in life and the only way we can do that is to find out what really fulfills us and make sure we’re living our dreams too.  This will inspire our children that happiness and fulfillment equal success – whatever the route there may be for each individual.

L

That’s what (mummy) friends are for

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My part-time work is in media and today I was forwarded some very interesting findings from some research by Bauer Media into the women’s market.  Bauer Media own more than 80 influential radio, magazine, TV and online UK media brands, including heat, GRAZIA, Closer, FHM.  The research aimed to help advertisers find new ways to influence the conversation of British women.

The research concluded that five key roles are played in women’s conversation:

  • Queen Bee, the direct and unquestioned leader in the conversation – she is independent, strong minded and with lots of outward confidence, friends look to her to organise things, take charge and make group decisions when they are unsure of what to do.
  • Northern Star, the indirect but respected leader – she has a mind of her own, is highly influential and has strong inner confidence. She is not the loudest in the crowd, never forces her opinion, friends turn to her for advice and guidance as she is deeply respected.
  • Socialite, the catalyst for conversation or new ideas – she is lively and talkative and her friends often see her as the ‘funny one’. She gets her energy from interacting with others and doesn’t enjoy spending time on her own, often socialising with many different groups.
  • Little Sister, seeks support and guidance and uses her friends’ feedback as a way to process her world and anxieties, often lacking inner confidence. She prefers to make her decisions after discussing it with friends and is happy to talk about her feelings openly.
  • Social Listener, supporting and listening to others – she is often the glue that bonds a group. Her friends rely on her to listen to their feelings and support them when they have problems; she prides herself on being a good friend and puts others before herself.

The research had the following conclusions:

Three main reasons for talking have been identified – affiliation, the need for bonding and belonging; mood uplift, for entertainment and escapism; and finally, a need to be ‘in the know’, to help make decisions.

It was fun thinking about my friendship circles and trying to identify the various different roles and characters (and I’m sure you can’t help but do the same when you read it) but, it also got me thinking about the power of talking and of friendship to women.  The three reasons identified in the conclusions perfectly describe the needs of every mum and indeed every woman.

When I became pregnant hardly any of my close friends had babies and one of the things I was most worried about was being lonely and isolated because I was sure I wouldn’t have a thing in common with typical mummy-types and couldn’t stand the thought of a mums and toddlers group.  I attended NCT classes just to be more informed about the birth and what to expect and inwardly rolled my eyes when most of the other mums expressed their reason for attending – to make friends with other new mums!  What would I, a singer, radio presenter and former baby-phobe, have in common with any of them?  The answer was and is a resounding ‘A LOT’ and in more ways than just the fact that we have children of the same age.

My mummy-friends turned out to be my biggest cheerleaders of my outside mummy achievements, supporters when times were tough, feeders of cake when things were desperate and providers of laughs and wine at book club (as you heard from Ruth earlier this week).  These ladies are not just my friends they are my heroes.   We have laughed together, cried together, shared failures and celebrated successes together.  I had no idea as a pregnant first time mum what a lifeline these women were going to turn out to be.  The understanding of a mum who is going through the same sleep-deprived-madness of that first year of motherhood is unsurpassable. I guess I may have still secretly wondered if the friendships would drop off when we began to more resemble our pre-baby selves when the kids turned one year.  But, I am pleased and proud to say we still regularly meet 2 years later and my mummy-friends have become ‘friends’ even without the mummy part.

To look at us we are like a carefully picked sample of all kinds of professions, cultures, religions, backgrounds and world-views and there are less than a dozen of us.  It’s a beautiful mix of life experiences and outlooks and makes for fun and stimulating company.  I cringe now at my judgemental assumptions before I got to know my mummy-friends and I’m just grateful they didn’t have the same narrow-minded view of me.

It amazes me to think that it’s my mummy-friends who most help me to remember I’m more than a mum!

L

Book Club Mum

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Book Club Books

I am proud to say that I am a member of two book clubs, (even if my husband has christened one of them wine club!) and they are definitely a part of me being more than a mum.

I am an English graduate and an English teacher, but when I had my daughter 2 and a half year ago, I hardly read at all, and it wasn’t because of birth or pregnancy, but reading had become work. I hardly ever read a book for pleasure.  If I was reading, it was usually a book I was going to teach or an Educational theory book and to be honest, I had got to the point where reading bored me.

In pregnancy I found I was too tired to read and when your tiny baby is asleep in your room, it is difficult to leave the light on and read, so all in all I wasn’t reading.

Then the group of Mums I knew from anti-natal classes and I started a book club.  The main intention was to do something which was completely adult and also stimulated us intellectually.  We take it in turns to host.  We read everything and anything, from teen-fiction to literary classics and from parenting guides to historical novels.  It is the host’s duty to chose the book and provide a meal, whilst the rest of us bring wine.  We give ourselves 4-6 weeks between meetings in which to read the books and on the night we chat about the book and drink and gossip! Some months we discuss the book more than others.  Sometimes we have discussion questions; sometimes we seem to need to gossip and drink wine more than we want to discuss the book (hense the hubby’s ‘wine-club’ comment!); but either way is good, because we are being more than mums; we are being adult women in an adult environment.

The second book group I belong to has a slightly more high-brow reading list.  It was also started by a friend of mine who is a stay at home mum.  She wants to read more of the classics.  She also has friends all over the world with whom she wanted to read.  She started a facebook group.  We also read books over a 4-6 week period.  We vote for books we’d like to read which we feel fall into the category of ‘classics’ and we have an open discussion that starts on a particular day on our facebook wall.  This group challenges me to read things that would not normally have been on my reading list, or that have been on my list for some time, but I’ve never quite got round to.

I love both my book groups and wouldn’t be without either of them.  Some months I read both books easily, some months (like this one) things conspire against me and I end up finishing my book on the bus on the way to ‘wine club’ and will be contributing late to the facebook wall of the classics book club, but neither group is judgemental so it doesn’t matter.

I think the most important things about my book groups are that they keep my brain active, they make me sit down and read, and they allow me to discuss grown up things in an all adult environment.

Are you a member of a book club?  If you are, what would you say are the most important things about your book group? If you’re not, what type of book club (if any) would you like to be a part of?

R