A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JO LOVE – FOUNDER OF LOBELLA LOVES

DAY IN THE LIFE, motherhood

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Lobella Loves is a newly launched online shop full of beautiful treasures for your little one. Behind the digital shop front there is more! Founder Jo Love has built a business designed to make a difference and donates a percentage from every single sale to Cocoon Family Support, a charity supporting families suffering from pre and postnatal mental health issues.

Jo has also launched an amazing campaign called ‘Notes of Hope’ where she donates handpicked gifts to mothers receiving support via Cocoon, accompanied by a handwritten letter of hope from a mother who has been through a similar experience.

The response to the campaign has been overwhelming with supporters and postnatal depression survivors submitting letters sharing their personal experience with the condition and a positive message for those currently suffering. I can only imagine how comforting it must be to receive a lovely gift and a heartfelt letter of hope from someone who has been through it.

I love businesses that seek to help and support others and especially love the story and concept behind Lobella Loves, so when Jo invited me to choose a gift I jumped at the chance to be involved…

…Choosing which gift from all the options on the site was the hard part but eventually I settled on an amazing bright and fun neon cactus light! Jo kindly sent me one as well as sending one to a Mum currently receiving treatment for a perinatal mental health issue (either in hospital or on an intensive treatment programme). I only hope that when the Mum receiving it switched it on it brought a smile to her a face, as it did mine.

I think you’ll all agree the Notes of Hope campaign sounds pretty special. I certainly did! And I wanted to know more about the woman behind it all, partly because I’m nosy and partly because she sounds bloody amazing!! So what does a day in the life of a Mum running an online business and charity campaign look like?!

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This is the first post in my new ‘A Day in the Life‘ series where we get a sneak peak behind-the-scenes into the real lives of interesting and inspiring entrepreneurial women. Here Jo Love shares what life is like for her as she juggles her young family with running Lobella Loves….

I WAKE UP …very unnaturally anywhere between 5:30am and 7am depending on when my human alarm clock (otherwise known as my two-year-old daughter Bella) wakes up and starts singing the ‘Wheels on the bus’ on repeat at the top of her lungs!

MY TYPICAL DAY…starts as soon as the toddler whirlwind opens her eyes! The morning routine is a pretty chaotic dance between me and my husband trying to get everyone up, clean, fed and out of the door with minimal tears and spilled porridge. I have been known to come out of an important work meeting to find rouge Weetabix smears across my front. Luckily most of the people I’m meeting these days are parents themselves.

After childcare drop-offs I’ll usually settle into answering any emails I haven’t gotten to the previous day. I love the variety of entrepreneurial-life as no two days are the same. One day I can be in town socialising and networking with the Insta-mums or working from Google Campus’ co-working space in the City the next! This is very different to my previous, much more routine, life as a lawyer.

Until launching Lobella Loves I worked as a corporate lawyer for the best part of a decade, and although it was an incredible career, my new world feels far more suited to lifestyle and my entrepreneurial spirit.

Every day, whatever else I may be doing, I am on Instagram. I am an addict. It’s somewhere I find my beautiful products and wonderful sellers, but also an incredible support network. Many connections that started in the virtual world have now crossed the dividing line and have become my real life friends. If you’d said to me 5 years ago some of my closest gals pals would be people I’d met on the internet I would have called you crazy!

AFTER WORK…when you run your own business it’s hard to know exactly when work is done for the day. There is always something to do. However recently I’ve tried to get much better at switching off the laptop and having some time out. Self-care was for a long time a completely alien concept for me, now I actively try and switch off and have some me-time. Lately I’ve started using the Headspace meditation app which has really helped me get the most from those precious moments of chill.

THE WORST PART OF MY JOB…Is realising I only have a certain amount of time and therefore I really have to prioritise what needs to get done and when. In a similar way, I’m learning to get better at delegating and knowing when and what to give to someone else.

THE BEST PART OF MY JOB… Is being able to help other Mums struggling with mental health issues. We donate money from every single sale to Cocoon Family Support, a charity helping support Mums with perinatal mental health illnesses. I suffered badly with postnatal depression after the birth of my daughter, so when setting up the company I had a really strong urge to help others and it was a great tonic for me and helped my recovery. Giving back helping to fight the stigma and helping other mums have become part of the DNA of the company. My mantra is IT’S COOL TO BE KIND!

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And what an awesome mantra that it?? I think we could all do with a IT’S COOL TO BE KIND slogan tee!

Big thanks to Jo for being the first Mama to take part in my new A DAY IN THE LIFE series! I hoped you liked reading about Jo’s day as much as I did! I’m sure many of you will relate to the juggle/struggle and the difficulty with taking time out when you run your own biz. I certainly struggle with allowing myself time for self-care and knowing when to delegate to others.

If you want to find out more about the amazing work Jo does through Lobella Loves and how you can get involved and support (or just to browse and shop) make sure you visit Lobella Loves.

COME ON AND SUPERCHARGE ME

motherhood

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HELLO 2017!

It’s a new year and as always I’ve set myself a whole load of goals for the year ahead. I LOVE challenging myself and setting goals so the whole new year’s resolutions thing just gives me some extra momentum. Here’s what I wrote this time last year on the same topic. This year I want all the usual important stuff (healthy family, family etc) but on a personal level I’ve got three main focuses…

TO GET FIT!!!

I used to run a lot – I even ran a marathon in 2013! But since being pregnant with Arlo I haven’t run at all. 6 months after he was born I was pregnant again (!) with Foxy and he is now 9 months old. My last run was in fact the Bath Half in March 2014… almost 3 years ago!! Now that I’m not pregnant (not being pregnant this year is another goal FYI) and not breastfeeding so much anymore  I am keen to get back in the running game.  I have already been on 2 ‘runs’ this year so far. I say ‘runs’ but the reality is I dragged my sorry (flat) arse for a mile each time. I’m determined to get fit though so will be making exercise a regular thing. It helps that I got some snazzy new neon trainers for Christmas (thank you Santa). Oh and I’ve download this amazing app from the NHS called Squeezy and it prompts me do my pelvic floor exercises 3x a day (it also explains how to do them properly!!). I’m just mentioning this here because 3 kids, weak pelvic floor, running – you see where I’m going with this and it’s not somewhere I want to go. So squeeze and life, squeeze and lift, squeeze and lift.

TO GROW MY BUSINESS!!!

As you all probably know I am a hypnobirthing teacher and my little biz is called The Positive Birth Company. I feel so lucky to have found something that I genuinely love doing. I have to pinch myself that this is now my actual job. For so long I bounced around trying to find my *thing* and now I feel like everything I’ve done in my life sort of come together and led me to this point; my digital marketing career, my induction with lots of intervention first time round, my psychology masters, going on a hypnobirthing course with Hollie aka The Yes Mum then having my magical home birth then training to become a hypnobirthing teacher myself and finally experiencing my beautiful peaceful water birth with Foxy. I’m now putting everything I’ve learnt over the last decade into my little business and I’m loving it. I have monthly courses running in London and Devon and I’m hoping that these will be running fully booked by the end of the year! Plus I have lots of other exciting things in the pipeline including a positive birth app which is almost ready to be launched on the appstore, positive birth retreats (yes they’re coming soon!) and maybe even some positive birth merch for those pregnant mamas out there to remind them that they are amazing and GROWING ACTUAL LIFE. I like to dream big.

TO NURTURE MYSELF!!!

To counter-balance the above, I plan on *trying* to take some time for myself. I’m really bad at this. Being switched on seems to be my default mode and I find working 24/7 and pushing myself comes easy whereas finding the off switch or even the pause button or even just the ‘take a goddamn breath’ option much harder to locate. So in 2017 I’m going to be more mindful and invest a little time / money in my wellbeing, be that treating myself to the occasional massage or getting my nails done, or going to bed a little earlier than 2am so I can read a book (what a novelty!) or even just getting a nice shower gel and really enjoying those 5 minutes of me time. Whatever it is, however small it is, I plan on doing it mindfully and being that bit more present in the moment and actually *enjoying* the little things in life rather than doing them on auto-pilot whilst thinking ‘what next?!’.

ENTER SUPERCHARGED CLUB…

So to help kickstart the new year and get me going with my fitness, business and wellbeing goals I’ve enrolled on a 6 week mission with Supercharged Club. These ladies totally kick ass. The 6 week mission is about setting goals – “choosing your hard” – and sticking to them with support and motivation along the way. It’s like having your very own cheerleading squad. But it’s also more than that. For example you are given exercises you can do at home, recipe ideas, nutrition info. It’s an education. And you’re not expected to change overnight! It’s a 6 week mission so you just have to commit to changing one thing every week. The ladies behind Supercharged Club absolutely radiate positivity and I can’t think of anyone better to kick my arse into shape than them.

So here’s to 2017! I’m going to be blogging my progress on the mission over the next 6 weeks so will keep you all updated. I hope you all are starting the new year with fresh optimism and that the next 12 months are everything you hope for them to be – and more!

Siobhan x

ANNA AND LESLEY ARE IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Today we have a super special double whammy ‘in the motherhood’ featuring not one, but TWO amazing Mamas! It doesn’t get much more exciting than that around here folks. Lesley and Anna are mamas first and foremost but also the founders of Lara & Ollie, a teething jewellery brand. Their colourful baby-friendly beads and bangles are great for teething babes to gnaw on and are fast becoming the accessory of choice for stylish mamas.

I have had the pleasure of meeting this lovely mum duo now in real offline life and more recently I had the honour of ‘modelling’ for them, evidence of which can be found on the Lara & Ollie website (don’t laugh)! Their candid interview which you can read below brought actual tears to my eyes; it is so refreshing and eye opening and made me want to squeeze each of my children tight and thank my lucky stars.

Here they share what is it like to struggle to conceive and how it feels to become a parent at long last to the child of your dreams…

**Readers of the blog are being treated to 20% off with the code THEDOUBLEMAMA**

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Name: Anna Wicks & Lesley Newsholme

Age: 37 & 41

Location: Lee, South East London

Number of Kids: 1 each (at the moment)

Names and ages of aforementioned: Lara & Ollie, both aged 2

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Anna: Very much planned. 3 years, lots of tests (no identified problems), lots ‘not pregnant’ peeing on sticks so we chose to brave the IVF route. 3 rounds of IVF later we were blessed with pregnancy and an awesome little girl called Lara. And we’re braving it all again at the moment… big eek.

Lesley: Planned… 4 years in the making! 4 failed pregnancies, followed by a diagnosis of an early menopause, followed by a failed first round of IVF. Ollie was the result of our second round of IVF using an egg donor.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Anna: Massive massive relief after the hideous ‘2 week wait’. We’d also agreed we’d stop at 3 IVF rounds so it was kind of our last chance. But also petrified – we were only 3 weeks pregnant and has such a long journey ahead.

Lesley: Elation, relief, tears and huge anxiety that it would not result in an actual baby again.

How did you tell your partner?

Anna: I made him go and read the test so he knew before I did!

Lesley: He was there when I peed on the stick!

His reaction?

Anna: Speechless – and happy. He’s such a level headed person he didn’t get too excited and kept me calm

Lesley: Same as mine

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Anna: Luckily I glowed – no sickness, no tiredness, no water retention, I didn’t become a hormonal bitch (although I’m sure some people might disagree!)

Lesley: Glow – All my back pain (which I’ve suffered from for years) just took a hike for 9 months it was bloody marvellous!

Tell me about your birth experience? 

Anna: Lara was born in the labour ward at Lewisham hospital. My labour was pretty good really. I laboured quickly so no time for drugs or faffing around as I was fully dilated when I got to hospital. But she got stuck so I had to have an epidural, forceps etc. But we didn’t care, we just wanted her out safely. It was just my husband and I, then as soon as we were in the ward our families all rocked up together liked an emotional bunch of excited teenagers – it was really special. All straightforward, home the next day. Then discovered they had left a swab inside me which was pretty gross so rushed back in for another night – that wasn’t so fun. Long and boring story but resulted a full maternity department investigation, interviews and the works. And processes have been changed at the hospital because of it. We didn’t take it any further. The care we got was amazing and we were all fine.

Lesley: Unfortunately for us there won’t be a next time for us and I kinda feel sad that I won’t get to experience an amazingly calm and relaxing birth… It was fairly awful. My waters broke a week before he was born, but was told they hadn’t when I went to the birthing centre so was sent home! That resulted in an infection and a bubba with a high heart rate so I got whisked out of the birthing pool after only an hour and taken to the labour ward. After pushing for what felt like a lifetime with baby not even fully engaged, exhaustion kicked in and I had an epidural and a forceps delivery. When he was plonked on top of me the relief and joy we felt was immeasurable, and the pain of not only the previous 48 hours, but the pain of the almost 5 year struggle just vanished. It also made us not really care that much that we were burgled while I was giving birth… The fact I had to spend the next five nights in prisoner cell block 5 (AKA the Maternity Ward) was more annoying than our stuff getting nicked!

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Anna: Awesome, miraculous, exhausting and a massive rollercoaster from one day, minute and second to the next.

Lesley: Hands down the best job in the world!

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Can you share any highlights?

Anna & Lesley: Literally every day is filled with funny little moments – but probably only funny to us! We see each other most days and some of the things Lara and Ollie say and do cracks us up!!

Can you share any low points?

Anna: In Sainos a few weeks ago; after negotiating over pulling the wheelie trolly, nearly taking out old people with said wheelie trolly, running off at speed down the booze isle and trying to take everything in the naughty aisles I let her mess around in the buggy while I had 20 secs of peace to pay. Obvs she fell out backwards and hit her head hard. Cue a lot of screaming and a huge egg on her head. Then about 2 hrs later she was helping me cook standing on her stool and burnt her arm on the hot saucepan. Wasn’t a great day and felt very guilty about being such a rubbish mum. Until my mum reassured me by relaying a few similar stories!

Lesley: Ollie is the kamikaze king! So there have been a few bumps and scrapes for which I feel totally awful about. The worst one being when he face planted into a blunt chunk of metal in a play area and two of his teeth went through his bottom lip- right through to the other side, even leaving marks on his chin… Blood everywhere, a trip to A&E and a referral to a Maxillofacial (the fancy word for facial reconstruction) Consultant. He’s still got a lump of scar tissue, and every time I look at it I think ‘yep, my fault’.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Anna: Work, work, work. Oh and eat, of course. And try to have a quick conversation with my husband before he works too. Because we have no daytime childcare during the week it’s quite difficult to get anything done in the day for our teething jewellery business so nights and nap times are our only chance. Masses of admin – emails, DMs, customer stuff, organising ourselves for events, trade fairs bla bla, not to mention making and packaging products in an attempt to keep up with demand.

Lesley: werk werk werk on our little biz – ditto to everything Anna says!

Tell me about your business…

Anna/Lesley: We set up a silicone teething jewellery business called Lara & Ollie when the kids were a year old. When we became mums we put all our costume jewellery away and when we found teething jewellery we thought it was a brilliant idea, but couldn’t find anything we liked. So we sourced some beads, made our own and the rest is history…! Our aim is to help mamas feel stylish again and dress up an every day outfit with something fun – that also happens to be safe for a baby to chew and fiddle with.

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How to juggle it all?

Anna/Lesley: It’s a tough one trying to build a business with toddlers as they never sit still. Ever. But as we live close to each other we throw the kids in the garden with all their toys and talk shop as we supervise/break up arguments. We get together almost every day so talk shop whilst we’re Sainsbury’s, en route to play groups and have a ridiculous amount of Whatsapp chat as we think of ideas, remember things we need to do etc. It’s a massive juggle because we also try not to let it take over our primary jobs as mamas. However we’re super ambitious and excited about what we’re creating so sometimes it’s hard to just put it to one side and concentrate on being mamas.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Anna: Unconditional love from someone who doesn’t judge. Then there’s the laughter and silliness and the incredible sponge that a 2 year old is. She remembers everything and is so inquisitive and interested in the world – it’s amazing. Seeing her unconditionally love her daddy and having so much fun with him too that’s pretty special. And being a family unit – love it when the 3 of us hang out.

Lesley: So many best bits I don’t know where to begin… The unconditional love, the kisses, the cuddles – Ollie gives the best cuddles ever. And after the journey we’ve been on just being a family – the 3 of us together – I’m grateful for that every day.

What are the worst bits?

Anna: At the moment the constant negotiation to do anything – from getting dressed, leaving the house, getting in the bath. Then there’s the eating. How can someone be that fussy about food that is so yummy. Oh and the terrible 2s tantrums – oh the drama!!

Lesley: yeah he still doesn’t sleep 2 years on! Small price to pay though.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Anna: The worry – not all the time but worrying about their safety, injuries and the world she’s going to grow up into – the Internet in particular

Lesley: For me there is absolutely nothing harder than wanting to be a mum and not being able to fulfil that dream, so I find this really hard to answer. Yes there are tough moments, but they pass and are soon and easily forgotten.

What was the biggest surprise that you wish you’d be warned about/known before becoming a Mama?

Anna: that everything really is a phase and you worry like hell, then it passes and you’re onto the next phase/challenge and have forgotten all about the previous one.

Lesley: You can survive on very little sleep… for a very long time!

If someone agreed to mind your kid(s) for a week what would you do?

Anna: Go skiing with hubby – but in a 5 star luxury spa hotel so I could awesome food, amazing wine and a bit of pampering too.

Lesley: Worry about Ollie for a week!!

Is there anything you’d like to share with new mums / mums to be that you wish you’d known?

Anna: Breastfeeding is frikkin hard work and you’ve got to be dedicated, strong and determined – not easy when you’re sleep deprived and have no clue what to do with this small person! And everything is a stage. It passes, then there is another stage!

Lesley: Nothing is as straightforward as the books suggest… All babies are different and just because one does one thing at a certain age doesn’t mean yours will too. Take sleep for instance… Lara slept through from about 12 week, Ollie however only managed it at 14 months (and has since regressed!!!).

What do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to- be need to pack in their birth bag?

Anna: My bag was in the car until I was back in the ward so was chuff all use – I just drank a lot of water. Our NCT group had lengthy conversations about what we were going to wear to give birth in. Comedy!

Lesley: Ah those comedy conversations about what to wear in hospital!!.. You really don’t need to sweat it about maternity nightwear!

What’s been your best baby product?

Anna: Stokke Tripp Trapp (totally didn’t copy Cat on this one but massively agree with her). It’s amazing. A few family members said we were mad spending so much money but it’s worth every penny and more. And looks lovely!

Lesley: A sleepyhead baby pod – although it didn’t make him sleep through we certainly got more sleep after buying one. Then there’s the Kokoso coconut oil – it’s like a miracle cream for everything from nappy rash to cradle cap. Also a digital thermometer – boring but takes the ‘oooo did I do it right/for long enough etc etc’ out of temperature taking.

What was really useful in the early days?

Anna: Biscuits, cake, hubby and my mum – phoned her at least once a day to ask what the hell to do (still do ha ha!)

Lesley: Coffee and my other half (both still are!)

Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?

Lesley: That flipping sheep that claims it will help your baby sleep!

Anna: That frikkin sheep was ace – we loved it and Lara slept with it singing lullabies for months ha ha!!!!

What’s your ultimate mum product? 

Anna/Lesley: Our Lara & Ollie teething jewellery. Obvs!!!

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How many children do you dream of having?

Anna: Really hope we can have a sibling for Lara. And then that’s it. I don’t think I could cope with any more than 2 and frankly our bank balance couldn’t either!

Lesley: One was a dream come true

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?

Anna: Travel

Lesley: Go travelling again

What do you miss about life before kids?

Anna: I genuinely don’t miss anything. Ok maybe not having our house overtaken by toys, but I even like that! I get really annoyed when people constantly moan about parenting and their kids. When you’ve been faced with the possible prospect of not being able to have a family you feel grateful every day. And I’m definitely not saying it’s easy, it’s bloody hard work – way harder than a high powered career but it’s also a lot more rewarding and you get so much more back. Parenting is a choice!

Lesley: Nada

What do you love most about being a Mum?

Anna: So much – I don’t know where to begin!

Lesley: Unconditional love and all the cuddles as a starter for 10. I could go on and on and on!

What do you wish you were better at when it comes to parenting?

Anna: I wish I had more patience. My fuse is so short and I wish I could be better at taking a deep breath and letting things go. Luckily my husband is very patient so he’s trying to coach me!

Lesley: Ha ha – more patience.

 

Thank you ladies for being so open, I’m sure your respective journeys to motherhood will resonate with a lot of women and give hope to those who are going through similar struggles. And for those of us out there who’ve not had this experience, thank you for reminding us how very lucky we are because on the hard days, I for one can sometimes forget.

Finally Anna and Lesley are kindly offering readers of the blog a cool 20% off any Lara & Ollie purchases using the code THEDOUBLEMAMA. Happy shopping peeps!

GIFT IDEAS FOR FATHER’S DAY 2016

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This blog is usually about everything relating to motherhood, but since Father’s Day is next week (take this as your official reminder!!), I thought maybe they deserved some airtime too, just for once!

Although we often resent them for being at work and having ‘time off’ whilst we’re stuck home 24/7 covered in sick and juggling a tricky new baby with demanding older ones (it definitely IS possible to simultaneously feel grateful and resentful about this – that’s just the kind of confusing emotional rollercoaster that motherhood is), and we moan that they get to use the toilet in peace and eat their food without having to hold off a toddler and begrudge them that they don’t get fat, or suffer stretch marks, or experience torn, blistered nipples, and we reiterate frequently that they can’t ever possibly understand what we have to go through (which is all true), but we should probably (even just occasionally) admit that they work pretty damn hard too.

From going to work on little to no sleep and missing those precious newborn days and baby cuddles and toddler firsts, to coming home every day just when shit is hitting the fan in the midst of witching hour, to help with the exhausting dinner, bath, bedtime routine and subsequent clean up operation, to the fact that yes they don’t suffer the side effects of pregnancy but they also never get to experience carrying or birthing a baby. It really isn’t an enviable job and more a case of poor them. I for one would definitely rather carry the extra few stone and get to experience the magic of giving birth and being a Mama, than miss out altogether, be on the receiving end of my irrational and hormonal pregnant partner and keep my figure. The few extra stone, tiger stripes and mild incontinence is a small price to pay for the joy that is having a baby.

With that in mind we can hopefully all agree they deserve a treat, so just as I did prior to Mother’s Day, here’s a little round up of gift ideas for the Daddy in your life…

1.Selfish Mother ‘Papa’ Sweater. If your other half has been stealing your SM sweater for too long, now might be the time to treat him to one of his very own. As with the Mother sweaters, profits go to support worthy causes so you can feel extra good post-purchase.

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2. There are also ‘Papa’ t-shirts, ‘Papa’ baseball tees and ‘Dadding It’ tees all available from the Selfish Mother Fmly Store (that’s not a typo, FYI…)

 

3. I’m loving these ‘Breaking Dad’ t shirts from Parent Apparel, not least because Breaking Bad was my most favourite TV series EVER.

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4. Also from Parent Apparel, check out their Dad Ass tees and badges. That’s Dad Ass like Bad Ass, for those who might now be thinking Dads also suffer from flatter and fatter arses post-procreation. (Spoiler: they don’t. That non-perk is reserved solely for mamas).

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5. YESMUM Pops. Dads don’t have to make do with affirmations made for regular humans anymore (although they are great too), because they’ve now got their very own tailored Pops range. What better gift is there than a daily pat on the back to remind them they’re doing a great job too?!

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6. Ticket to Dad’s Breakfast Club. These meet ups are organised by the uber-friendly @LondonDad and are a win-win when it comes to gift buying; Dads trot off (with the smalls) to have breakfast and make new friends whilst Mama chills at home child-free. See what I mean? Win-win.

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7. Another gift that Mama can benefit from too; a stylish unisex changing bag from Tiba + Marl. We know Dads change nappies too, so surely they deserve their own changing bag? I certainly think so. And if that means buying him the bag you’ve been long-time lusting over then so be it. Hopefully he’ll be none the wiser and you’ll be able to ‘borrow’ it whenever you fancy. Natch.

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All of these gift ideas listed above are from small, independent, parent-run brands. So when you make a purchase you’re not only sharing the love with the Dads you’re buying for, but also the wider community of parents who are out there working hard raising babies and businesses. So if you can, shop independent this Father’s Day.

JENNY’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

It’s back!! Y’all be pleased to know the supposedly-weekly (but not at all weekly) ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature has returned! This is where we get the opportunity to virtually meet and get to know the Mamas we’ve been busy stalking a little better, learn what motivates them and be inspired etc.

This week all those boxes are being ticked because we have the wonderful Jenny from Top Five Baby on the blog sharing her story and experience of Motherhood thus far. Be warned it’s not all rose-tinted as Jenny and her husband sadly lost their beautiful little boy Elliott at just ten days old. Here Jenny talks about how those experiences have shaped her journey and how she’s managed to turn the loss of Elliott into something positive for Great Ormond Street Hospital in his memory…

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Name: Jenny Walker

Age: 32 (although my daughter tells everyone I’m STILL 21).

Location: North Derbyshire now, near Bakewell (was Stoke Newington until recently, all my babies were born in London)

Number of Kids: This is always a tricky question for me, if I give the most honest answer this confuses people and stuns many into silence, but I’m a mummy to three and always will be. My second baby, a little boy called Elliott, died at 10 days old and I have two girls now.

Names and ages of aforementioned: Nia age 4; Cora, 20 months (born a year and a day after her brother) and Elliott.

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Very much wanted and planned for all three.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Pure delight.

How did you tell your partner?

I can’t remember exactly but I’m pretty sure I waved my wee stick in his face (probably every time!)

His reaction?

Very happy too (at least he seemed to be!) he was probably not too pleased about the wee stick in his face.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

All three were nauseating for the first 14 weeks and then much better during the second trimester, followed by obstetric cholestasis (again all three pregnancies) at around 37/38 weeks. So not exactly dream pregnancies but as is always the case, I remember them being a lot easier than they were.

Tell me about your birth experience?

All three were hospital births at the Homerton in East London.

Nia: horrendous induction followed by epidural and forceps. Yikes.

Elliott: induction again but this time without pain relief (not on purpose) and a much calmer, happier experience. I gave birth standing up and he (sort of) fell onto a pillow. I did a lot more reading about being relaxed during birth (thank you Ina May Gaskin) and approached the whole process in a more accepting way (contractions = rushes/sensations etc).

Cora: another induction but I had my superstar midwife Cate (who had been my midwife with Elliott so knew my history) by my side. She knew what I wanted and was so gentle, kind and wonderful throughout the whole labour. I am grateful to her every day and am now very lucky to call her a friend. We pinched her name for Cora’s middle name. She’s Cora Cate.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Awesome, happy, hard and the best thing I’ve ever done.

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Can you share any highlights?

Seeing my girls interact with each other and love each other so much. My four year old gets into bed in the morning with our 20 month old and (sort of) reads her stories. I watch and listen on the monitor and giggle in bed as it’s hilarious. Cora shouts for her big sister in the morning sometimes instead of us. Win!

Can you share any low points?

When my 4 year old tells me to “stop texting Mummy!” leading to the guilt. Why do Mummies have to have the guilt? I really don’t like the guilt!

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

At night I sleep! During the day I try and squeeze in some time to work on topfivebaby.com see below!

Have you got a business? 

I have spent much of the past year setting up a review site bringing together the best baby kit. It is called topfivebaby.com

I know there are other review sites out there but topfivebaby.com aims to make the research process super simple by doing all the leg work and narrowing it all down to five items in each of the categories covered.

Do you have another job (besides being a Mama)? 

Currently, trying to make topfivebaby.com a success! After everything we went through with Elliott I vowed never to return to an office. I’d been made redundant whilst pregnant with Elliott, and looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me as it gave me an excuse to live in a much happier way.

After Elliott’s death I focussed most of my efforts on fundraising for Great Ormond Street Hospital where he had been treated. We have raised a lot of money and managed to put in place a special end of life care room at GOSH in Elliott’s memory for families in similar situations to ours (nothing like this existed when Elliott died).

I squeeze all of this in around the little people so I never really feel like I’ve finished a job, but I’m learning that this is actually ok.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The cuddles and the kisses. I never want them to stop.

What are the worst bits?

Currently breath-holding. My youngest Cora, is punishing us with this. She breath-holds whenever she really hurts herself and it is terrifying for all of us to see because she passes out and goes blue. Given everything we’ve been through with Elliott we all panic every time it happens.

And losing a child. It really is an unearthly pain which very few people fully understand. We are extremely lucky to have had incredible help from Great Ormond Street after Elliott’s death. For anyone reading this who might be struggling, please do ask for help, it helps make something incomprehensible, eventually bearable.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Trying to get on with “normal” life after Elliott died.

If someone agreed to mind your kids for a week what would you do?

Go to a beautiful spa hotel and relax. But I’d miss them if it was a whole week. A couple of nights would be enough (I think).

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Go with your instincts, if you have just a tiny clue about what you’re doing then that should be enough. But if you’re still struggling, ask for help.

What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Lots of knickers, nursing bras, maternity and breast pads. Oh and all the stuff for the baby to wear plus nappies. I can’t think of just one thing, sorry!

What’s been your best baby product? 

I have to give you five 😉

1. The Medela Swing breast pump. It is really, really good.

2. The Stokke Tripp Trapp, so incredibly well designed and ergonomic. It allows your baby to be up at the table with the rest of the family right from the start (if you buy the newborn set).

3. Aden and Anais swaddles, they’re quite pricey but wonderful. We still use ours as bedding in the summer as they’re so lovely against the skin.

4. BabyBjorn soft bouncer. It is unobtrusive, easy to store, looks great and is a perfect, simple design.

5. I love my Ergobaby. Both our girls (still) go in them which means we can get to places we otherwise wouldn’t go with tired little legs.

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What was really useful in the early days?

My husband (he’s still useful though).

Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?

Yes, I bought our first buggy second hand thinking I was saving money. It was broken when I bought it (the brake didn’t work). I couldn’t do a thing about it as I had no receipt. I’ve spent more getting it fixed than if we’d bought new! So annoying!

What’s your ultimate mum product? 

Again another five!

1. Lovely smellies. I adore Neal’s Yard and recommend Seaweed and Arnica for post birth sore muscles. I also recommend their citrus hand wash and hand lotion. It is antibacterial and kind to hands that need washing every five minutes.

2. Concealer: I use Clinique’s All About Eyes. It’s really gentle, super easy to apply and seems to last forever.

3. Liz Earle hot wash cloth and cleanser. It makes cleaning my face super quick (including removing mascara!) with no need for anything else other than moisturiser and also lasts forever.

4. Bio Oil: not just for tums and thighs. I apply mine to my forehead and eye area at nighttime to discourage the wrinkles from getting any more obvious.

5. Eight hour cream. Massive “mum” cliche this one, but it seems to cure every little issue for all of us (Nia always seems to have an invisible scratch that needs attention) so I always have it on me.

Who inspires you?

My mum who managed four kids and a career and my sister who is doing the same.

Plus I’m constantly inspired all the time by friends just doing their best at this mothering malarkey, whether they go to work and do it, whether they’re running their own business and especially if they’re managing to get through full time without anything else but being a mummy superstar.

How many children do you dream of having?

Just one more.

If you could go back to your pre-child life,  for a short period of time, what would you do?

Cliche again, but I’d take a few more long haul flights!

What do you miss about life before kids?

Not having to book a babysitter whenever you want to go out and drink wine.

What do you love most about being a Mum?

The fact that I’m their mum and that I know no one else (apart from their dad) loves them like I do.

What do you wish you were better at when it comes to parenting?

There is a constant pressure on us all at the moment to “be more present”. What does that even mean anyway? Putting pressure on yourself to enjoy all the moments can make those moments a lot more stressful.

 

A big thank you to Jenny for sharing her journey with us; she is one brave, strong and inspiring lady! If you’d like to make a donation and support the family’s fundraising efforts for GOSH, then just visit their page here.

Also do make sure you check out Top Five Baby before making any baby-related purchases! I for one think it’s a FAB idea. I’m sure I speak for most mums when I say we’re a time-poor collective so anything that makes the process of deciding which bit of baby paraphernalia to buy a little easier, is surely a winner. You’ll also be happy to know the site is very clean, simple and user-friendly. Check it out!

Finally, if you’d like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, just drop me an email: thedoublemama@gmail.com

 

SOPHIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

She’s young, hot (mega legs), creative, talented and Mama to little Luna. She’s the owner, maker, admin doer and everything else in between, behind the creative homegrown brand Sophie & Co. This week we’re privileged to have the gorgeous Sophie Cummings in the (mother) hood, telling us what mama life is like for her…

Name: Sophie Cummings

Age: 26

Location: Highbury, London…for now. Soon to be Hemel Hempstead…

Number of Kids: 1

Names & ages of aforementioned: Luna Mary Jean, 15 months

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Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Somewhere in the middle of a lovely and a not so lovely surprise.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Oh, shit. Then, f***.

How did you tell your partner?

We were walking back from a romantic trip to our local Sainsbury’s when he pointed to a banged up people carrier for sale and jestingly suggested ‘we’ll be buying one of those next…’. Naturally, I made it all super awkward and let him know it may be sooner than he thinks.

His reaction?

Radio silence.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I spent the first few months unaware I was pregnant and drinking all the alcohol and eating all the seafood, soft cheeses & rare meat I could get my hands on, some of which was spent in Australia & Tasmania, so my body didn’t seem to react too badly to growing another human! I bloody loved being pregnant, I was very lucky it felt pretty natural.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I didn’t plan much for birth, the pregnancy seem to fly by and I really didn’t want to read too much in to it. Whatever happened, I had to squeeze another human out of my vagina and I didn’t really care where or how that was going to happen as long as I didn’t die. My two (loose) wishes were to have a water birth in the birthing centre and to be the first person to touch her, I wanted to pull her out. And that all happened after a 39.5 hours of contractions and half an hour of pushing, can’t complain…My only wishes for next time are to do all of that at home!

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Oh god where do I start; exhausting, hilarious and unpredictable. They’ll do!

Can you share any highlights?

This probably counts as a parent fail but I laugh every time I think of it; Monday afternoon having a smear test (go, me!), Luna’s safely strapped into her pram while I decide a packet of raisins would be the best snack to keep her distracted…except she can never get the sodding things out the packet so I spent the entire duration hanging over the bed drip feeding raisins to a toddler who perfectly timed working out how to get the lid off her sippy cup perfectly with a nurse inserting a plastic tube up my vagina. Water, raisins, everywhere. Dignity = zero. Once upon a time that may have been mortifying, I’m expecting worse.

Can you share any low points?

Oh probably the time I forgot I’d undone Luna’s straps to her pushchair, she fell face first onto a cold concrete floor. Never felt so guilty in all my life.

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What do you do when baby sleeps?

Complete orders & drink lots of caffeine.

Have you got a business?

Yes! Sophie & Co; I started it when Luna was around 6 months old, the thought of leaving Luna and returning to an incredibly underpaid job with a total lack of creativity made my heart hurt so I put my skills to use and started making infant and toddler clothing. Lots of exciting things to come and I can’t wait for the year ahead!

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What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Aside from watching Luna learn new things, which seems to be daily at the moment, my absolute favourite part of being a Mother is watching her eat so well. Is that weird? I get so much joy out of her not being a picky eater. She wouldn’t survive in an Italian family if she was but I’m also very aware that she will have her moments so let’s not all burst my bubble just yet, OK?

What are the worst bits?

The game changing. Why oh why do they change the rules all the time? One minute she self soothes and has 2 regular naps in her cot, the next she refuses to nap anywhere but strapped to my chest. And…tantrums.

What was the biggest surprise that you wish you’d been warned about/known before becoming a Mama?

That bonding with your child can take a few weeks, sometimes it’s not instant and that’s ok. So many people want to warn you about Post Natal Depression but no one seemed to shed a light on those first few weeks…

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Stand your ground, say no, and tell family members when they’re stepping over the line or downright rude. Looking back, I see now how important it is to have space and time to bond in those first few days…don’t let anyone jeopardise that. Also, go with the flow because it will all change next week.

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What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

People get SO into this don’t they? I had some clothes for Luna, a pair of leggings, fresh pair of knickers and my camera. Snacks went untouched, a nightie? For god’s sake why did I buy a nightie I was naked bar my bra which came off the moment she was born. Bare essentials ladies, bare essentials.

What’s been you best baby product?

Ergobaby 360 Sling, sleepy dust I tell you!

What was really useful in the early days?

My mum!

Who inspires you?

Again, my Mum. She’s a hardworker. If there’s anything I want to pass on to Luna it’s to not be idle, do something, anything! Be innovative!

How many children do you dream of having?

Always wanted 4, now I have 1 I think I’ll be happy with….1. No I joke, 3? 2? Ask me in a few years!

If you could go back to your pre-child life, where you weren’t so tired, for a short period of time, what you do?

EVERYTHING. It’s amazing how much you manage to squeeze in to nap time, just get shit done. Stop procrastinating and do it. I’d also be really spontaneous. Childless people don’t realise how lucky they are to just…go out. Even the thought of taking Luna to a coffee shop these days sends me into a cold sweat.

What do you miss about life before kids?
Friday nights and sleep. Nothing new there, hey?

What do you wish you were better at when it comes to parenting?

Patience. I can be quite hot headed and struggle to keep calm when Luna’s being frustrating, I’m really crap at just ‘being’ with her and not constantly thinking of the other thousand things I need to do. I also don’t take her to enough groups and feel forever guilty about that. Basically, lots! Parenting is tough?!

TOO RIGHT IT IS!! Big thanks to Sophie for sharing her experiences of Motherhood, from taking time to bond with her new baby to going for a smear test with her toddler in tow! Hope you all enjoyed reading what she had to say as much as I did.

Make sure you check out her shop Sophie & Co where you will find some absolutely gorgeous pieces of clothing for babas and toddlers, all available in a variety of fabrics, and all handmade by the lovely lady herself.

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And if you’d like to take part in this ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature, please drop me an email – thedoublemama@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you!

 

CAT’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

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…

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Name: Cat Sims

Age: 34

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.

His reaction?

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.

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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.

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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 thedoublemama@gmail.com 🙂

 

 

SIABA’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

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It’s been a while (sorry) but ‘In The (Mother) Hood’ is BACK!! And today we have Siaba the Mama behind Boo.B Smoothies. These aren’t just your average, run-of-the-mill smoothies, these are ingenious milk supply-boosting smoothies, created especially for breastfeeding Mamas (and they taste pretty good too). So here’s your chance to learn a little more about the Mum Boss behind this wholesome mission as we chat public breastfeeding, birth and the joys of getting your eyebrows done…

Name: Siaba Tumoe

Age: 26

Location: East London

Number of Kids: 1

Names and ages of aforementioned: Mannie Mansa, 9 months old

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Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Humm, it was unplanned and took me by surprise.

What were your initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

WHAT!!!! SHIT!!! OMG!!! I’m going to be a mum. How??

How did you tell your partner?

On the phone

What was his reaction?

“ Are you sure??”

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Everyone kept telling me “you carry very well”.  I was shocked at how amazingly my body carried my baby and didn’t make me feel like a balloon (well not until the last month anyway). I felt the sexiest I’ve ever felt in my life. Who would have known?

Tell me about your birth experience…

It was awful. I don’t even like talking about it because it just sucked. I had my son at Homerton hospital in Hackney, I choose to give birth there after some extensive research on the best hospitals in East London. It lived up to all my expectations; the staff there were all amazing. I had planned a water birth but that quickly went out the window because I was 12 days over due. I was induced on the 12th day and after seven hours of riding labor pains with only gas and air I decided to opt for an epidural. Within minutes, my son’s heart rate dripped and I had to be rushed off to get an emergency C-section. I felt like I had failed because I was set on giving birth naturally but I pulled myself together quickly because I could see my mum was petrified for me. My mum and I held hands and prayed quietly through the whole operation because there was nothing else we could do really. I hate hospitals and my mum hates blood so you couldn’t have two worse people in a operation theatre.  Soon after my son was pulled out, my my mum and I burst out crying. I will try and do it as natural as possible next time so I will definitely be in touch with Hollie De Cruz from London Hypnobirthing.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Thrilling, tiring, selfless and mad.

Can you share any highlights?

My son often plays a little joke on us and he gets us every time. Sometimes after brestfeeding he goes into a mini milk coma that makes him look like his in a real deep sleep. When I lay him down in his bed he stays still for just long enough for me to reach the door and then he opens his eyes and laughs out loud! I can’t help but crack up every time. It’s a sick joke to play on a sleep-deprived mother.

Can you share any low points?

Gosh! Which one do I pick? I think just the amount of crying I did in the early days of motherhood was crazy. I could have supplied water for Thames Water, that’s how much crying I did. All it did was give me a headache, so I don’t know why I did. 

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Make a cup of hot chocolate and drink it with a mouth full of digestives. Oh and I watch Girls on repeat. Gosh I love that show!! I discovered it when my son was a few weeks old and it got me through some long nights evenings and nights of non-stop breastfeeding.

Tell me about your business…

I have a start up business called Boo. B. Smoothie. I make smoothies for breastfeeding mothers made with lactogenic ingredients (foods that promote the production of breast milk). When I first had my son, my milk took ages to come in so my mother began feeding me plenty of lactogenic foods she had read about. She made me baked fennel, home made almond milk, home made carrot juice, and lots more. My milk come in floods. Because of that experience I became obsessed with reading about lactogenic foods. Doing extensive research on it became my new passion not because I needed them any longer but because I’ve always been interested in how foods affect the body. I stated blending the ingredients into smoothies because as a new mum I had less and less time to sit down and eat a whole meal. Soon after a friend of mine who was also breastfeeding asked to try the smoothies and a week later she called and told me how much she loved them. That’s when the idea of Boo. B Smoothie was born. The joke is before having my son I use to be one of those people that would pull faces at mothers breastfeeding in public (shame on me). Now I’m a number one breastfeeding advocate, I encourage everyone to do it for as long as possible. Breastfeeding my son made me realise just how incredible it is.

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What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Getting the best cuddles from someone that smells like baby powder.

What are the worst bits?

The lack of sleep. What I would do for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Being a single mum is hard full stop. Other than that I would say the lack of me time has come to a shock to my system.

If someone agreed to mind your baby for a week what would you do?

Sleep, walk down the road swinging my arms (buggy free), consciously eat my meals and get plenty of Boo. B Smoothie related work done.

Is there anything you wish you had known? 

Be kind to yourself! In the early days it will be very difficult to separate yourself from your baby, but if you can face it, just hand them over to Dad, or grandparents and take the time to do something small for yourself. Three weeks after my son was born I left him with my mum and went to get my eyebrows done. I felt like a new women after. It only cost me £3 to get them done but what it did for my mood was priceless.

What do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Very thick sanitary towels, loose comfortable clothing and chocolate. Breastfeeding lowers your blood sugar so you may find yourself wanting sugar (hence the chocolate) if you decide to breastfeed.

What’s been your best baby product?

My Bugaboo Bee buggy and Lanolin nipple cream.

What was really useful in the early days?

My Medela breast pump.

Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?

Hahahah, oh yes. Well I didn’t buy them, I asked family to buy them for me. The My brest friend feeding cushion was more of an inconvenience then a help. Not to say women shouldn’t buy it, I just personally never got round to using it more than two times. Also the Moby wrap was such a faff to tie that after two uses I decided it would be quicker to just cuddle my son to sleep.

Who inspires you?

My mum. She came to this country on her own with a child with very little money and has worked her ass off to be where she is now. She would leave home at stupid o clock in the morning to go to her cleaning job, leave me with a close friend then get back in time to make me breakfast and drop me to school then go back and work all day at various jobs. Now she is teacher. Her work ethic is insane.

How many children do you dream of having?

Two max.

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?

Travel more.

What do you miss about life before kids?

Just the freedom to up and go.

What do you love most about being a Mum?

How it’s changed the way I think. I’m a lot less selfish and think more about our world more.

MASSIVE THANKS to Siaba for taking part and answering all our questions! Make sure you all check out her Boo.B Smoothies… And I’m sure she’d be hugely grateful if you could also spare a like for her Boo.B Smoothie Facebook page!

If you’d like to take part and have a small biz you’d like to give a shout out to, then please email thedoublemama@gmail.com – would love to hear from you!

New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

motherhood

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New year’s resolutions seems to be like Marmite; people either love them or vehemently hate them. I fall into the first camp. I live by making lists, I love setting myself goals and making plans and enjoy a challenge so for me, setting some resolutions in January is a chance to do just that for the year ahead.

For those that hate such lists I can promise you there’s none of the usual ‘eat less, work out more’ – I’m having a baby in 2016 so have accepted weight gain is inevitable and exercise highly unlikely. I very much plan to have my cake and eat it all.

So here’s my list of goals/hopes/aims for 2016…

First up, the BIG FIVE:

  1. Build a business that I believe in, doing something that I love and find rewarding – this one is already in progress so watch this space!!
  2. Birth a healthy and happy baby boy – hopefully at home again – massively looking forward to this!
  3. Blog more bloody often!! Could be tricky with the irish twins 😉
  4. Buy a house (but obvs not in London) – maybe…
  5. Get back behind the wheel and buy a new Campervan for all the adventures we had planned prior to accident.

 

Next, is what I plan to do to be a better mother and partner…

6. Take Arlo Bear to a playgroup or similar at least twice a week because he’s a whole 1 year’s old and I’ve taken him to zero groups/classes so far (bad mother). Mainly because I’ve been busy juggling a number of jobs with completing my masters degree since the day he was born.

7. Spend 1:1 time with my biggest boy once a week and do something nice together like go to the cinema or to an exhibition in town or even just to a local cafe for brunch because he’s awesome company and more than deserves it. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve totally neglected him this past year since the arrival of his baby bro.

8. Commit to having a date night once a week (not just talk about it but actually ensure it happens). Whether it’s a gig or just a drink at the pub at the end of the road, we really need to spend more time together sans kids.

9. Schedule 1 night a week to do something for myself and make sure James does the same, whether it’s going out to see friends or just soaking uninterrupted like a pregnant whale in the bath. For him, it will probably be playing or watching footie with mates and beers. But whatever it is, we just need to make sure we do it.

10. TRY and go to bed at 10pm but aim to be sleeping by 11pm week nights. Going to bed in the early hours every night and getting up at 6.30am for work is not sustainable and does not make for happy parents or a happy household.

11. In relation to my relationship, try and live more by this quote and do things differently this year because it’s so easy to fall into a cycle of arguing and being grumpy with each other and putting your relationship last when you have a baby and are permanently exhausted/busy…

quote-Albert-Einstein-insanity-is-doing-the-same-thing-over

 

Businesses, babies, blogging and house buying aside, I’m really hoping earlier nights, more sleep, weekly date nights and taking time for ourselves (individually) once a week will help keep our relationship on track with the arrival of no 3. It’s so, so important to remember who you are (besides being a Mama/Dada) and why you love each other so you can work together as a team, yet it’s all too easy to neglect the relationship you have with your partner when all the little people in your lives are so demanding and time-consuming (plus there’s always work and boring life admin to factor in). So in 2016 I’m going to try and do things differently so we avoid the negative parent trap. I’m determined to remember who I am (besides being a triple mama!!!) and put my relationship nearer the top of the to-do list. Also I’m hoping by better managing/allocating my time and being more organised in general, and taking Bear to playgroups and spending 1:1 time with Osh each week, that I can be a better, happier and less guilt-ridden mother this year. Fingers crossed!

BRING IT ON 2016… whatever happens it’s going to be a HUGE YEAR!

 

 

 

CHARLOTTE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

This week we are lucky enough to have yet another inspiring mum boss on the blog. Charlotte, who you might also know as Emily (all will become clear), is responsible for some of the most-liked photos on some of the most popular Instagram feeds, yet we rarely catch a glimpse of the lady herself! The reason being is this Mama is more commonly found behind, rather than in front of the lens. YES! We have Charlotte the owner of Emily Gray Photography (herein lies the name confusion).

As well as juggling a successful business and finding time to be creative, Charlotte is also responsible for raising two smalls. If that didn’t keep her busy enough she also recently raised an amazing £3238 for Save the Children’s Child Refugee Appeal by organising a marathon all-day, non-stop photo shoot for local families in Hackney, where she lives. Here she shares her experience of motherhood and best of all, she has an extra-special, pre-Christmas treat for readers of the blog…!

Charlotte Emily Gray

Name: Charlotte

Age: 33

Location: Hackney

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages: Iris (3) and Vivienne (1)

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

It was planned, but it’s still a surprise!

What were your initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Shock! I wasn’t sure it was going to happen for us. I was totally floored and ran to the chemist to buy another couple of tests. They came back positive, so I ran back to the chemist to buy their most expensive test, which told me I was 5+ weeks pregnant. Turns out I was actually 10+ weeks!

How did you tell your partner?

He found me sat on the bathroom floor surrounded by tests when he came home from work!

His reaction?

Shocked but happy!

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Once the initial exhaustion was out of the way I felt good. I had aches in my hips but nothing serious. I found my second pregnancy slightly harder, as I was working on photo shoots up to 39 weeks, running around after a non-napping one year old and dealing with 4 flights of stairs up and down from our flat every day.

Tell me about your birth experience…

My two births were different, but thankfully both very quick. The first was in hospital. I’d labored at home and came in at 9cm dilated. I’d wanted to deliver in the birth centre, but I was put on labour ward. At the end of the day we were both fine, but I wasn’t listened to and I didn’t feel like it was a good experience. I actually felt quite numb afterwards. My husband said it was like I’d shut down. Between two and five weeks after the birth, I had 3 secondary post-partum hemorrhages and eventually they removed some retained placenta.

For my second baby I knew I wanted to be at home. I was convinced I’d have a better experience, I’d be in control and I was also concerned at the speed that the baby might arrive. I went to the loo at 10.00pm and thought I felt a pull inside me as I stood up. Five minutes later I had a cramp, five minutes after that the cramp started to come in waves and then the contractions started. My husband started filling the pool whilst I called the midwife and Vivienne was born at 11.54pm in our kitchen. I delivered the placenta without the injection and made sure that the midwives examined it with me so I could see it was all there! Amazingly this all took place on Iris’ second birthday, so I have two winter solstice babies!

Describe motherhood in a few words: Relentless but amazing.

Can you share any highlights?

I love watching them play together. They sit opposite each other at the dinner table and they have such a laugh. They are often quite cheeky and I start off trying to discipline them, but they just descend into giggles and it’s hard not to join in!

Can you share any low points?

When Iris trapped her finger in her bedroom door in the middle of the night when she was 2. It is a fire door and it was nasty – I had to take her to A&E and she had surgery on it.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

I ignore the mess and just sit straight down at my computer and work. I can only do this if it’s a day when Iris is at nursery.

Have you got a blog?

I do have one, where I am supposed to post about all my latest photo shoots. But I don’t, I’m useless at that. I just post to Instagram instead. I really should do something smart, like link them up…

Have you got a business?

I run Emily Gray Photography. I offer relaxed and natural family photography, from newborn shoots with 4 day old babies, to big family get-togethers. I also shoot kids fashion, take portraits and head shots of people for their business or blogs, do a bit of product photography… For people looking to buy someone close the gift of a photo shoot, I offer personalised gift vouchers.

emily gray photography

Why ‘Emily Gray’?

My middle name is Emily so it’s not a completely random choice, though with hindsight wasn’t the best branding decision! I studied at the Royal College of Art and wanted to use a different name to the one I used for my art practice, to keep them separate from each other. I figured that it would just be a little bit of work that I did whilst on maternity leave and that I would be back in my studio quite quickly. Obviously that didn’t happen! The business took off, it’s getting busier by the month and I have to explain to every client that my name is Charlotte not Emily!

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The giggles and the love.

What are the worst bits?

Cooking meals and struggling to juggle it all. I often feel like I’m not giving anything the full attention it deserves – my kids, my husband, my business. The flat is a constant mess but that’s ok! I’m learning to be kinder to myself and love the Yes Mum cards, which I use as a reminder!

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Catch up with all my work, have long lie ins, play my music loud in the evening, go to the cinema.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

People tell you to savour every minute, which is hard as it can be so tough, particularly in the early days. Instead I’d say be kind to yourself. It isn’t always easy but it’s the most amazing experience.

charlotte emily gray

BIG THANKS to the mega talented mama Charlotte for taking part this week! Be sure to check out her website: Emily Gray Photography and give her a shout if you need any professional photos. ALSO she is kindly offering a 10% discount if you quote ‘DOUBLEMAMA’ so what are you waiting for?! Perfect family Christmas present or what?!

If you’d like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please drop an email to thedoublemama@gmail.com 🙂