OMG!! We’ve only got Cat Bloody Sims IN THE MOTHER FREAKING HOOD!! If you’re a fan of the blog Not So Smug Now (no bullshit baby tales) you’ll know who Cat is and if you’re yet to become acquainted (what the hell are you waiting for?!), let me tell you about Cat… She’s got great hair, proper platinum blonde, unlike my past attempts to go blonde. She’s married to a real life ROCK STAR. Her daughter has a wicked name (but then what child with rockstar parents doesn’t?!). She’s funny and candid and clever and massively supportive of the sisterhood. She’s a brilliant writer and it’s a total honour to be able to feature her here. So read on people and find out what makes this Mama tick…
Name: Cat Sims
Location: Harrow, London (just)
Number of Kids: 1 so far…
Names and ages of aforementioned: Billie Scout Sims (2yrs)
Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?
Definitely planned but not the easy ride we thought it would be. Between a distinct lack of ovulating and a husband on tour…we were lucky to get any time to bump uglies, let alone manage to do it at the right time!
Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?
Elated, terrified, disbelieving. The usual…
How did you tell your partner?
I think I screamed it through the bathroom door while he was on the loo. Totes romantic.
Elated, terrified, disbelieving. The usual…
Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?
I spent the first twelve weeks writhing in nausea-induced agony and throwing up into McDonald’s cups as I drove up the M40 to work. After that I felt great but never benefitted from the ‘great hair, great nails, great skin’ thing. I did get some AMAZING varicose veins though, so that was nice.
Tell me about your birth experience…
It wasn’t ideal. I thought I was prepared but when the time came I was woefully unprepared, especially emotionally. I was frightened by the power of labour and definitely suffered from an overdose of adrenaline. Labour was laborious and progressed painfully slowly – because of my fear and panic, I felt I was fighting labour and birth rather than embracing it. Billie was back-to-back which made it longer, slower, more painful and my dream of a water birth in the birthing centre quickly evaporated when I lost my strength and will and decided to have an epidural. In the end, that was the best decision I could have made at the time but it meant that I felt powerless and out of control and scared. Next time, I’m hypnobirthing and home-birthing my way through it.
Describe motherhood in a few words:
What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. And ‘love’…lashings of love.
Can you share any highlights?
The moment my daughter turned around to me while I was being super snarky to her dad in the car and said, “Mama, don’t be a dick.” It’s a mantra in our house (amongst the grown ups!) and I remember being shocked and then thinking, “Well, if that’s the philosophy she leaves our house with I’m ok with that.” We possibly could have phrased it better, but in the end, if you live your life thinking, “Just don’t be a dick” then there are worse guiding principles. Plus, she was right, I was being a dick.
Can you share any low points?
Not catching Billie as she plumetted face first on the concrete and broke a front tooth. Trapping her fingers in the front door. Epic fails.
What do you do when the baby sleeps?
Clean the house. I can’t do anything else until the house is clean so I spend the first 30-45 mins straightening everything out. After that, I’ll work, or read Grazia, or look at my phone. Who am I kidding…I pretty much look at my phone.
Tell me about your blog…
I started Not So Smug Now: No Bullshit Baby Tales when Billie was about nine months. At first it was just therapy, you know? I couldn’t find any blogs that were reflecting my experience which was positive but hard, really hard. I wanted to create a space where people felt safe to say “those first few months were the hardest of my life” without being called a bad parent, or a depressed parent. I wanted to create a place where there was no judgement – I didn’t care whether you breastfed or bottle fed your baby, whether you used Pampers or cloth nappies hand spun from the pubic hair of mythical elves hiding deep in the Himalayas…I felt that, regardless of our parenting choices, we were all women and all in this together. Parenting for me is like cage-fighting – there are no rules, we do what we need to do to survive.
I wanted to sidestep the competition, the way we had been pitted against each other seemed unnatural and unhelpful. Thankfully, through the blog I discovered a host of likeminded women who inspire me daily. There’s definitely a change in the air – the sisterhood is growing daily. It’s pretty cool to be a (pretty small) part of.
Tell me about your biz…
Last year I launched a consultancy company called Hustle + Fox with my business partner and all-round awesome lady, Gayle Haddock (owner of Carnaby Street baby boutique Carry Me Home). We had really complimentary skills – she was an expert when it came to the business side of launching products, developing brands and building businesses. All my experience was within pr and marketing, writing and social media. We both had great networks through the blog and the shop and when we came together we were able to really help and support new companies trying to create their own empires.
I’m really proud of the fact that many of the companies we work with are started by mums and dads – it’s awesome to see them create amazing companies in the spaces between their ‘real’ jobs, family, naps, nappy changes. You know? That takes real hutzpah and we get to be surrounded by their creativity and enthusiasm every day. That’s pretty inspiring.
How you juggle the logistics of raising children with work?
It’s never easy. Inevitably you end up feeling like you’re not giving 100% to being a mum or running a business. I’m lucky in some ways because my husband is a musician which means that when he’s home, he’s home 100% meaning we can parent 50/50. The downside is that when he’s on tour, I’m a single-working parent living a hundred miles away from my nearest family member. That’s tough, but we make it work. You just do what you have to do.
What’s the best bits of being a Mama?
Having a buddy. Billie has a wicked sense of humour. I love seeing her personality develop and she makes me laugh everyday. It’s also opened up a whole new world to me of amazing mamas that have become friends. It’s also made me less selfish, more compassionate and way more chilled. I have perspective now.
What are the worst bits?
The laundry. Hangovers. Sleep deprivation. A useless pelvic floor.
What do you find hardest about being a Mum?
Managing the guilt. Am I doing enough? Am I being enough? Am I giving enough? It’s an endless internal battle.
What was the biggest surprise that you wish you’d be warned about/known before becoming a Mama?
Ha! The million dollar question! That transition from ‘me’ to ‘mama’ was the hardest one I’ve ever made. I’m sure people tried to tell me but you can’t hear it, you just can’t comprehend what that will feel like until you hoof a baby out of your woo-woo and bring it home and look at it and think, “What the fuck now?” For me, it was overwhelming. I don’t know if that makes me different or just willing to be open about it, but I wish there was some way of preparing women fully for that.
If someone agreed to mind your kid(s) for a week what would you do?
I’d pack a bag for myself and my husband and go to a fabulous beach. I know it’s not very original, but I’d spend a week in a bikini, drinking cocktails from 11am, reading books, eating fresh seafood, taking long walks and sleeping. Oh and we’d have sex. Lots of it. I fantasise about that week daily.
Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?
Yes. Rest. Don’t feel like you have to entertain. Batten down the hatches for the first ten days and stay in bed, watch movies, snuggle with the family and bond. Don’t let anyone in that hasn’t brought food and don’t feel the need to get up for anyone. Just be…there’s so much time to race around and make meals and host guests and do it all on 3 hours sleep that those first few days are the only chance you get to be entirely selfish. Make the most of it.
What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?
Obviously, pack all those boring essentials that are on every list but make it something special too. Pack brand new, gorgeous jammies, a bag of special gorgeous products to wash with afterwards. That kind of stuff. You’ll need some pampering after labour and it’ll feel great to treat yourself. Oh and lip balm. My lips got so dry!
What’s been your best baby product?
From the day she was born I used all the Naty products. Everything else either dried her out or was full of crap…but the Naty products were amazing everytime. Also, we bought the Stokke Trip-Trapp which at the time I was furious about – why didn’t we just get the IKEA one!? – but now that she’s still using it as an adjustable chair and will continue to use it I can’t recommend it enough. I’d buy another one for a second baby.
What was really useful in the early days?
My Connecta sling. Super easy to use, super comfortable, small enough to shove in a bag, not bulky. Best buy ever.
Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone-induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?
Not really but only because we were renovating a house at the time so there was literally no spare money to splurge. My husband would probably disagree.
What’s your ultimate mum product?
Anything at all that makes my face look acceptable. The Garnier BB cream works wonders for me. And trainers. Since becoming a mum I’m all about the trainers.
Who inspires you?
Oh…so many to mention. I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many amazing women – mostly through Mothers Meeting (thanks Jenny Scott!). I never thought motherhood could be so damn awesome. I was pretty much resigned to a life of soggy custard creams and manky soft-play but along came women like Anna from Mother Pukka, Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers, Zoe from Dress Like a Mum, Clemmie T from Mother of All Lists, Clemmie H from Gas and Air, Hollie from London Hypnobirthing and of course yourself. These women are almost singlehandedly changing the face of motherhood with compassion and sisterhood but with a shit load of humour too. And booze obvs.
How many children do you dream of having?
I’m going to be done with two. I know my limits!
If you could go back to your pre-child life, where you weren’t so tired, for a short period of time, what would you do?
Start a business. I wish I’d know how efficient I could be. It’s only since becoming a mother that I realise I can do what used to take me all week in a day. I’d literally be running the world by now if I’d known my own potential!
What do you miss about life before kids?
With a little bit of planning you can pretty much do everything you did before, it’s just harder to organise you know? I guess spontaneity. Just being able to do things because we feel like it.
What do you wish you were better at when it comes to parenting?
Playing. I’m pretty terrible at maintaining interest in building blocks or having make-believe tea-parties. I wish I was better at it but it’s really not my strength. I’m much better at planing adventures, getting out of the house, that kind of thing. Thankfully my husband is amazing at the play thing so he has that covered.
MAHOUSIVE THANKS to Cat for not only taking part but answering ALL the questions! I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading her answers as much as I did… Make sure you check out her blog Not So Smug Now (if you haven’t already) and of course if you’ve got a small biz that you’re trying to grow then get in touch with Cat via Hustle + Fox and I’ve no doubt she’ll be able to work her magic.
If you’d like to take part and feature here, In The Mother Hood, I’d love to hear from you! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂