BEING WITH THIS WOMAN

Birth Stories, motherhood

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Today is International Day of the Midwife and I couldn’t allow the day to pass without acknowledging a woman who has had such a huge impact on my life. This woman who I now consider to be a dear friend, is my wonderful midwife Natalie, who has supported me through my last two pregnancies, births and postnatal periods. When I state that having Natalie as my midwife changed my life, I don’t say that lightly. The birth experiences I have had with Natalie’s support have changed me profoundly as a woman, as a mother, have inspired my career and shaped the path my life is taking.

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Natalie was with me for the birth of my second baby, who was born at home under the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree (you can read my home birth story here). Unfortunately I ended up transferring into hospital due to losing too much blood. The decision therefore about where to give birth third time round was complicated. I loved my home birth experience but the advice and medical recommendation was for me to be on labour ward due to being at ‘high risk’ of having another bleed. I did not want to be on labour ward and so Natalie created what is known as an ‘out of guidelines care plan’ to accommodate me in the birth centre.

I went on to have the most incredible and peaceful water birth with Natalie by my side, feeling safe and supported in my choices (you can read that birth story here). In the end I lost so little blood, far less even than what is considered normal blood loss after birth. Which just goes to show that what has happened before, doesn’t necessarily happen again! However I don’t ever regret not giving birth at home third time around. The birth centre was like a spa and I loved my beautiful water birth. Mostly I’m happy knowing I listened to my intuition and I chose a birth place that felt right for me. I am forever grateful that I was given a choice and supported in my decision. I have no doubt that I would not have had the same experience had I followed recommendation and been on the labour ward under continuous monitoring.

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In the period where I was making the decision about where to give birth, I don’t think I ever considered how Natalie was feeling about things in her role as midwife, which is shameful to admit. I suppose I was naive and a bit ignorant, thinking that what I was processing and going through would not be having an effect on her. I was wrong and it turns out Natalie was feeling just as torn as me. In this wonderful piece, written by Natalie herself, it becomes clear just how heavy the weight of responsibility weighs on the shoulders of midwives. Not just their responsibility to follow guidelines and ensure a safe delivery of baby (which is big enough!) but to also consider the value of the birth experience itself for the mother, to respect and support her wishes even when they go against medical advice and to recognise the importance of mental wellbeing as well as physical, and how achieving that enormous balance can sometimes be extremely challenging, leaving midwives questioning themselves.

The world is lucky to have such wonderful midwives like Natalie in it, so on this day, International Day of the Midwife, I’m sharing these insights, in Natalie’s own words…

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To be a midwife, to be ‘with woman’, is to support her, inform her, hear her, nurture her and sometimes challenge her. There is an art to this delicate balance of support. We want women and their babies to be safe and healthy, in mind, body and spirit. None of us should ever underestimate the power that the birthing experience itself has on a woman and her state of ‘health’. What happens then, when recommendations for safe care are in conflict with a woman’s dreams?

This woman, Siobhan, will tell her story. I am the voice of her midwife and we have been through two pregnancies and births together. Siobhan had a very empowering and healing homebirth with her second son, an experience which I believe will fill her with joy for the rest of her days. But she also had her second haemorrhage at this birth and required a transfer to hospital for ongoing care. As we began her journey into her third pregnancy I knew that birth planning would be harder this time around, I knew I was going to ‘pop’ her bubble.

It is a great responsibility to be a midwife; even the language and singular words I choose to use can have a life lasting effect, good and bad. How do I begin to say, I don’t believe it’s safe for you to have your baby at home again? When I know she’s living and dreaming the experience already! Do you approach it sooner rather than later, to allow time for consideration and thought, or does that stress take away a part of their pregnancy? There is of course no easy answer to this and knowing the woman helps immensely.

I spoke of it early, around 28 weeks, I knew she would need time. My hospital guidelines strongly recommended labour ward care after two haemorrhages. I would of course support her in any birth environment and it was entirely her choice to make, but in the event of another haemorrhage, which seemed more likely than the last time, was home the right place for birth? I needed her to consider all her options, do all the necessary research and then feel safe in the place she chose. I think this challenge devastated her, the home birth vision slipping away amid fears of a catastrophic bleed. I am responsible for that, rightly so I think, but it doesn’t feel good, nor does the worry that you’ve used the wrong language, biased or pressured them?

Thank goodness for birth centres ☺

It’s not home I know, it never will be, but it’s a great middle ground. A protected space to make your own, a home from home with the philosophy of care to match but with medical assistance for that higher risk woman just around the corner, should you need it. Turns out, Siobhan didn’t need it, not this time. The birth of her third son was beautiful, she was beautiful and I was honoured all over again to be her midwife. It was calm and peaceful and this woman showed once again the immense strength that she has. But it wasn’t at home, and she didn’t bleed. Was I wrong, does she wish she’d made a different choice? Only she knows……

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(All photos by Susie Fisher: http://susiefisherphotography.com/)

Another factor that played a huge role in my experiences of giving birth was my hypnobirthing practice. Hypnobirthing is a bit like the psychology of birth and nothing to do with hypnosis or hippies! You learn how birth works on a physiological level so you are informed about your body. You learn how to let go of fears you are holding on to that are detrimental to the progression of natural labour. You learn techniques you can use to make your labour more comfortable. I guarantee by the time you finish a course with me, that you will be feeling excited and looking forward to giving birth! Because it can be amazing. You can find out more about hypnobirthing and the classes I run on my website The Positive Birth Company. I teach monthly in London, Devon and Birmingham.

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FAMILY LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

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We take photos ALL THE TIME, right? We take a million snaps of every moment to get a good one and our iPhones are almost always out of memory. We share tons of photos online every single day but how often do we ever get a photo printed and frame it or store it in a photo album? I’m going to guess never, or at best, very rarely.

When my first son was born, 10 years ago, phones didn’t have cameras or if they did, they were super basic. So instead of an iPhone I used my SLR. Sure I didn’t take as many photos but the ones I did were decent quality. Facebook was in its infancy at the time and Instagram didn’t exist, so occasionally I might upload an album to Facebook (remember that??) of a holiday or a birthday but most of the time if I liked the photo I would get it printed and frame it. As a result I have so many gorgeous high-quality photos of my first born.  When I say ‘high-quality’, I mean that they are at least in focus and high resolution.

By contrast I have so few decent photos of my younger two, despite the fact that technology has improved dramatically since 2007. I have a million times more photos of the pair of them but the vast majority are blurry ones taken on my phone – certainly not good enough for printing. I always think it’s ironic that the photos from 2007 look so much better than the photos taken in 2017. Surely the quality is supposed to get better with time?! I compare photos of newborn baby Oisin and newborn baby Fox (born 9 years apart) and I get confused because the photo of Fox looks like an older photo.

The other thing that makes me sad is that I have so many framed photos of Oisin when he was little, up to about the age of 3 and only one of Arlo and none of Fox. You wouldn’t know I had 3 kids if you walked into my house. Actually maybe you would judging by the mess by that’s not my point.

So recently I decided to address this issue and actually get some proper family photos taken. Also, how rare is it to get a photo with the WHOLE family in? I really wanted to get some photos of all five of us just hanging out and doing our every day thing.  I’m not a fan of studio shots, mainly because I feel super awkward/uncomfortable posing and also it would be impossible to get all 3 kids looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. I much prefer family life photography and candid informal shots. And it’s the every day moments I want to remember – be that a day out or day at home, changing a nappy or working on my phone whilst bouncing a baby on my knee. When I’m older and reflecting on their childhood I want a photo to remind me of what it felt like,  I want the photo to capture a moment in time. I don’t necessarily want to remember the (probably stressful) day we visited a studio and tried (and probably failed) to make the kids smile.

With that in mind I spoke to the lovely Phil of FAWN + BEAR and we got a date in the diary for a family shoot to take place at Hope Cove beach, near where we live in Devon.

The shoot was easy and took about an hour if that – we just hung out at the beach like normal and *almost* forgot that Phil was there in the background taking photos of us!

I was super excited to see the photos and Phil turned them round in record quick time! Within a couple days I was sent all the edited photos from the shoot. I was blown away. It’s shameful to admit but if I ever see a photo that I’m in, even if there are other people in it too, I straight away scrutinise myself and more often than not in a highly critical way. I’m sure others do the same… right?? I hate myself in most photos. I think I look too fat, my cheeks are too round or my arm looks too big or my ear is sticking out or my eyes are too squinty… the list goes on. But in the photos Phil sent me, I actually thought I looked nice. Which happens never!! It was emotional.

So now I have a whole bunch of lovely photos of the family to print and frame. I’m so happy that we did the shoot and I’m now 100% committed to having one done once a year going forward to capture the family as we all grow up. As you know babies change so quickly and we can’t keep them small for long. Having photos is one of the best ways to preserve those memories and for me the photos I now have are priceless. I absolutely love them.

I’m sharing a selection here so you can see Phil’s style and if you’re interested in booking a family life shoot then get in touch with her on email info@fawnandbear.co.uk or find FAWN + BEAR on Facebook. Phil covers both London and Devon and most places in between. She is currently offering readers of the blog a cool 15% off your total order – just mention THE DOUBLE MAMA when booking.

 

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COME ON AND SUPERCHARGE ME

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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

Top Blog Dogs

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I LOVE reading blogs. I have my own and obviously enjoy writing it but my all-time favourite thing to do is read all the amazing blogs out there. To sit down with a cup of tea and some time to myself and read… pure bliss. I used to love reading books, but to get through a full-on novel is too ambitious now; I’d have forgotten how it started by the time I got to the end. Blogs are bite-sized perfect though.

When I’m particularly busy the lists of posts that I desperately want to read grows and then I have to set aside designated blog-reading time to get through them (I keep a list in iPhone notes so I don’t forget!). So that’s what I did this morning and I was not disappointed. I thought I’d share these fab five so you can check them out too if you’re not already an avid follower/subscriber…

 

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This blog, written by the wonderful Cat Sims aka @notsosmugnow, promises ‘no bullshit baby tales’ and is truly brilliant. No attempt made by my tired brain to explain why would be adequately descriptive. You just need to read it, but make sure you schedule a good hour because every single post is an all-out winner.

The latest post tackles the subject of depression and is beautifully written, raw and honest, as is everything else on the blog. If you’re a Mum, unless you have somehow found this whole mothering / being-totally-responsible-for-another-human-being-24/7 thing a complete breeze (anyone??), then you’re going to relate and nod knowingly and enthusiastically as you read your way through the back catalogue of this blog.

Visit the blog here.

 

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This blog written by Clemmie Telford aka @peckham_mamma is equally brilliant but also completely different. The format of choice is always a list and so the posts are super quick to read, which is just perfect when you’re reading on your phone whilst simultaneously spooning weetabix into your baby’s mouth, throwing tea down your own throat and scanning the contents of your other son’s bag to make sure he has everything he needs for school, swimming and tag rugby (yes he does all 3 activities on the same day).

The latest post is a guest post and I warn you it’s so emotive that I had to stop reading half way through to take a break before I broke down. Disclaimer: I am 30 weeks pregnant so an over-emotional hormonal wreck of a human at present. Clemmie does a great job of mixing it up though and most of the posts will have you crying with laughter as opposed to heartbreak.

Visit the blog here.

 

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I cannot believe that I have only just started vlogs! I don’t know, am I behind the times???! Tell me I’m not. Please…!

Anyway I just have spent a great proportion of the morning watching these vlogs from the gorgeous Emma (and that’s not a throwaway adjective – take a look yourself). Emma aka @mamalinauk vlogs about all things motherhood but her YouTube channel is super organised and you can choose to watch anything from ‘How To’ videos to product reviews. She has posted a series of vlogs with each one offering 10 tips on a specific aspect of mothering. You can also watch vlogs that chart her pregnancy journey and her extensive travels (she’s off backpacking to Costa Rica this week with toddler and baby bump in tow! Yes, proper amazing mental). They are all just a few minutes long so suit my limited attention span / time-poor self down to the ground. I am now addicted. And also googling far-flung destinations…

Visit her YouTube channel here.

 

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Hollie aka @theyesmummum the powerhouse behind London Hypnobirthing and the woman responsible for introducing Hypnobirthing to the masses (myself included) AND the brains behind Yes Mum cards has started blogging again (must be because she has so much spare time on her hands). Anyway I for one am very happy that she has because she is an actual fountain of knowledge. She has tips for better sleep, info on independent midwives and a brilliant must-read post about birth by c-section.

Her latest post lists loads of great gift ideas for new mums and thanks to her heads-up, I have just treated myself to not just 1 but 3 Neom candles all to aid relaxation – and all half price in the sale! I’m saving money right there you see, it definitely doesn’t count as spending 😉

Visit her blog here.

 

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Anna Whitehouse aka @mother_pukka. Is this woman not everything?? She ‘jokes’ (least I hope she’s joking) that she doesn’t adult well (because if she’s not joking then I have totally and utterly failed as an adult) but in reality she is totally owning parenthood. Basically I JUST WANNA BE HER!!! And I’m pretty sure everyone else does too!

Her blog is hilarious and awesome (she’s a pro copywriter so think mag quality), her ‘The Great British Fake Off’ videos are pure comedy gold, she’s on an Avon ad, a Citroen ad (she’s a bona fide celeb these days), she’s just bought a house, started a new job (did I mention she works full time on top of the whole blogging / mothering thing?).  She has a cool accessible wardrobe (obvs her wardrobe isn’t open to the general public but you can buy most stuff in regular high street stores) and access to an even cooler wall (check out her IG feed to make sense of that one). Best of all Mr Mother Pukka is now onboard and he’s just as funny.

Too many posts to mention but check out her website here and YouTube channel here.

 

And that’s all my blog loving for now folks! Obviously there’s a bazillion other brilliant blogs that I’ve not mentioned but this is just what I’ve been reading this morning.

TIP: If you’re a new Mum and you find yourself up in the night a lot feeding, that’s a great time to read blogs. You can read on your phone so you don’t need to switch a light on as you would with a book, it keeps you awake (I used to always worry I’d fall asleep and suffocate my baby with my boob) and reading the experiences of others will help you feel less alone in this whole mothering malarky (which can happen when it’s 3am and it’s dark and you feel like you’re the only one awake in the world).  So check some of the above out tonight when you’re up feeding, you might even begin to less begrudge being awoken, maybe. No guarantees on that latter point.

THE DOUBLE MAMA’S XMAS GIFT GUIDE

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Ok so Christmas is officially LESS THAN 4 WEEKS AWAY (!!!) and if you’re anything like me you’ll be starting to feel slightly panicked right now. If you’re sat smugly reading this, with your shopping already done and gift wrapped, then well done you. But I’m going to assume that you’re not representative of the majority of people.

So to help you guys out (and myself), I thought I’d round up the stuff I’ve been buying, lusting over, or reckon would make an ace gift for the big and little people in your life….

If you’ve got any suggestions for stuff that should be included please let me know!

For the MEN in your life (be that husband, boyfriend, father, brother, other)

Beer 52 – subscribe and have a handpicked box of craft beers delivered monthly to your beer-loving loved one – or just buy as a one-off! Use this * link * to get £10 off your first order making a crate of 10 craft beers just £14!

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Alternatively if they are more of a coffee-drinker than a beer-drinker (or you’re trying encourage slightly more healthy habits) then go for a PACT coffee subscription instead. Another gift that keeps on giving, the guys at PACT will deliver a delicious bag of freshly ground coffee as frequently as you wish. If this sounds like something you’d like to try yourself, use this * link * to try a bag for just £1 including delivery! Be warned though, it’s addictive stuff!

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For the MAMAS in your life (be that yourself, your own mama, your sister or one of your mama mates)

Selfish Mother Sweater – I’ve bought a number of t-shirts for myself and friends but am yet to get my hands on a sweater. Definitely hoping Santa delivers me one this Christmas! Not only do these Mother Sweaters from Molly of Selfish Mother look super cool and comfy, they’re for a good cause – all profits go to Women for Women UK. (So far the sale of Mother sweaters and tees has raised an incredible £40,000 for the charity!). Go Molly!

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Cult of Youth MAMA chain – if you can get one, DO IT. Be warned though, they are massively in demand and frequently sell out but are oh so awesome.

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Tiba+Marl Bag – well if your kid’s going to have one (see below), you certainly deserve one. The best nappy bags out there by a bazillion miles. Launched just this year by a power mum duo, they are already stocked in Harrods! I LOVE my floral Elwood backpack but the Raf holdall is now top of my Xmas list. A girl can’t have too many bags, right?! Plus, new baby, new change bag. Seems only fair.

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Mere Soeur goodies – Perfect gifts for your best Mama mates. From Boob Appreciation Mugs (no I didn’t make that up) and Mums of Anarchy badges, to cool tees and useful tote bags. It’s all about the sisterhood and everything is really reasonably priced and many items are hand-printed by the lovely Mama behind it all.

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A Weathered Penny – Awesome AND affordable jewellery. Be warned though you will want to buy one of everything on the website. These pieces make perfect gifts… for yourself. Or friends. Maybe your sister. But mostly for yourself 🙂

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For the BABIES in your life:

This lot can be pretty tricky to buy for since they are so easily entertained with a cardboard box and some tissue paper, but here are a few suggestions for special gifts that Mama is sure to treasure (even if baby prefers the packaging it arrived in).

  1. A brightly-coloured, hand-crocheted blanket with pom poms (!) from Hollie at Flora Fairweather. Truly a gift to be kept forever. Check out her gorgeous Instagram feed here. She also makes beautiful, equally-colourful, hats and booties, all with fun pom poms of course!flora fairweather blanket

2. A pair of gorgeous, hand-made, leather moccasins from Amy & Ivor. I particularly love the little high-tops and have recently bought a pair for my Arlo Bear (unintentional rhyme right there). I also love the metallic platinum moccasins and the furry cheetah moccasins from the special limited collection. Oh and the pretty Erin shoes (if only a girl!). Really I just love them ALL. But if you want some for xmas, make sure you act fast because they are made to order and can take up to 2 weeks.

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3. A cute pair of PJs with a fun print from The Bright Company (and perhaps a pair for Mama too – #twinningiswinning afterall)

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4. An ultra-sweet Marta Mini for a baby girl – handmade by Sophie & Co and available in a variety of fabrics (this was top of my mental shopping list for baby no.3 but alas it’s another boy!).

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5. Alternatively absolutely anything from Cissy Wears is sure to go down well. The Mama behind this online concept store is the Queen of Enabling so make sure you have your credit card at the ready!

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For the BIGGER kids in your life:

1. Go outside the lines – buy a fun poster with an appropriate life motto for the kids to colour in. It can then be framed and hung (without ruining the minimalist insta-friendly vibe) in the home/their bedroom and makes a welcome change from the usual ‘art’ you feel obliged to stick up! Plus it’s always nice (and rare) to find an activity that keeps kids occupied and doesn’t involve any technology!

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2. Ruff & Huddle – I’ve just bought my big boy an awesome bomber jacket that I know he is going to LOVE. Check out their full range, all designed by a mega Mama.

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3. Tiba+Marl Mini Elwood backpack – if it wasn’t enough that these guys make the coolest changing bags around for parents, they have just launched mini versions of the super-popular Elwood backpack for the little ones in your life. If you’re a fan of the #twinningiswinning trend (and who isn’t?!) then you need to get your hands on one of these (and one for yourself obvs, see above).

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For the SIGNIFICANT OTHER in your life:

This is perfect whether or not you’re a parent but especially so if you are, because parents are always in desperate need of a break, am I right? Or is that just me?! No, everyone needs a break (and Mums and Dads most of all).

What makes this gift even more perfect is that you totally get the benefit too. A complete ‘Win Win’ situation.

Introducing… THE WEEKEND AWAY. I’ve decided (although have never actually been) that Amsterdam is THE destination for the perfect long weekend away. Paris has been overdone. Any further afield (like NYC where I went for my b’day) and the excitement is somewhat mediated by the distance and the worry that sets in when you think about how many miles (and hours if there was an emergency) you are away from your precious monsters. So with that in mind, Amsterdam is just perfect. Plus you can get there on the Eurostar and BYOB, which I much prefer to Ryanair and paying a fiver for a bottle of water.

To help you plan the ultimate weekend away to Amsterdam, get your hands on an e-copy (which can be read on any device) of A Perfect Day in Amsterdam: Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall by Hilde Veeren and ensure you don’t waste a single precious minute. Hilde is not only a fellow Mama (based in Amsterdam), she also runs the international travel blog Fish & Feathers with her husband, is managing director for a fashion mag and writes freelance for Grazia and others. So it’s safe to assume she knows how to make best use of your time.

Buy the guide now and start plotting your escape immediately!!

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GIFTS for the GRANDPARENTS:

A personalised photo calendar from somewhere like Photobox is not exactly shopping independently (which I am making a conscious effort to do this Christmas) nor is it spectacularly imaginative and they do take a little time and effort to make, but grandparents seem to really, really love them. And you can just make the one and then order duplicate copies for the both sets (or more, if like me all four grandparents live separately!).

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The PERFECT gift for the whole family (including grandparents):

A voucher for Emily Gray Photography Services. This super-talented, in-demand Mama is offering personalised vouchers which can be put towards a photo shoot and prints. I reckon this is the perfect pressie for the whole family and gives you something you will treasure forever.

Check out my interview with the amazing Charlotte here. Plus get 10% off by quoting ‘DOUBLEMAMA’.

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The PERFECT Stocking Fillers for the whole family:

Yes Mum cards make the perfect stocking filler! ORIGINAL cards for the Mamas in your life (yourself included), MINI cards (for the little people) and HUMAN cards (for everyone else). Fist pumps all round!

yes mum cards

 

And for the TRICKY ones in your life / on your list:

Don’t Buy Her Flowers – Initially launched with new Mums in mind, a beautifully wrapped, tailored package of treats and goodies is the perfect pressie for anyone in need of some TLC and R&R. You can create the perfect package for your lucky recipient with a number of add-ons that include gin, fizz, luxury socks or even a COOK voucher. Akin to receiving a great big warm hug in a box, I am confident there is no woman on earth who would not appreciate this thoughtful gift.

don't buy her flowers recovery package

 

FILMS FOR FAMILIES:paddington bear

Christmas time feels like the perfect time for family films (or games, but films tend to lead to less fights than monopoly). However I have a very limited attention span and I resent spending 2+ hours of my life watching something annoyingly cheerful and full of song. So here are a couple films I’ve seen lately which I genuinely enjoyed and proper LOL’d at and would make good pressies/stocking fillers…

Paddington Bear

Big Hero 6

If you have any suggestions for films I can add to this list please let me know!

 

BOOKS FOR BOYS:

I’ve spent a long time trying to encourage my eldest son to read. It’s not that he finds it difficult, in fact quite the opposite, he can whiz through pages. But he finds it boring. Which breaks my heart. I spent so many hours as a kid reading late into the night, long after I was meant to be asleep, tilting the book towards the crack of light that shone in under my door from the landing. I used to lose hours of my life reading and I loved it, so I find it really upsetting that until recently he finds it just a drag to even read a chapter.

BUT WE HAVE HAD A BREAKTHROUGH!the boy in the dress

Here are some books my 8 year old son actually enjoys reading (so if you have to buy for any boys of a similar age this Christmas, chances are they might be into these too)…

Any from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Any from the Tom Gates series.

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

 

 

And finally, a gift of LOVE…

the love box campaign

This week (watch this space!) I’m launching The Love Box Campaign. The aim of the campaign is to deliver 100 boxes of love to older people in the community, who might otherwise not receive anything this Christmas. Please support the campaign by buying a Love Box here and sharing the love online using #theloveboxcampaign #100boxesoflove. It’s a sad truth that many older people in the community spend Christmas alone, so let’s do our best to let those most in need know they’ve not been forgotten this year.

the love box campaign

 

I hope you find this list helpful and if you think of something I should include please let me know! You can email thedoublemama@gmail.com or find me on Twitter or Instagram.

 

NOW LET’S GO SHOP!!!!

Perks of a having a Pre-pre-teen

motherhood

 

  pre-teen girl     IMG_6163

You survive the early years; the no sleep; the fear; the colic; the reflux; the tears; the weaning; the tantrums; the potty training; the sick in the hair; the wee on the carpet; the food being thrown all over the damn place; the korma poo from tip to toe; the frustration; the crawling; the toddling; the accidents; the trips to A&E and then you emerge wiping yourself down with a pre-pre-teen. And by God, it’s GOOD.

I know that the teenage years will come around too soon and then he’s likely to turn into an angsty horror with doors being slammed, swear words being thrown, sneaking out at night, me driving around trying to track him down, fearing for his safety, and of course the whole not loving/liking me– that’s going to hurt. But right now, this transitional period, where he’s more of a help than a hindrance, is pretty sweet.

Here’s why…

This list has been a collaborative effort by myself and midwife/mama extraordinaire Clemmie of Gas&Air fame – both of us Mothers to 8-year-old pre-pre-teens.

1. He’s an early riser so he makes me a cup of tea, almost every day.

2. Sometimes he makes me breakfast too!

3. She makes breakfast for her little sister

4. He can make a sandwich for himself (and me)– a good one.

5. He looks after his little brother so I can cook dinner, take a shower, have a rest

6. She takes her little sister downstairs leaving M&D to have a lie-in

7. He fetches me things

8. He fetches his own things

9. She does jobs for me

10. She can use the sky remote without my help

11. He remembers stuff that I forget – like what day it is or where my keys are

12. He tells me interesting things he’s learnt at school that I don’t know

13. He doesn’t need me to wipe his bum or dress him

14. She ties her little sister’s shoelaces

15. She does her little sister’s seatbelt up

16. He doesn’t need me to keep a constant eye on him

17. He reads to himself (phonics can be pretty frustrating)

18. She reads bedtime stories to her little sister

19. He writes me sweet messages and leaves little notes for me

20. He promises me he will never leave home or get a girlfriend or want to go travelling without me

21. He makes me promise I will always live with him

22. He gives proper hugs

23. He gives compliments, fashion advice, life advice.

24. He tells me I look like a teenager (!!)

25. I can read his writing and make sense of his school work

26. We can hang out and it not totally exhausting

27. We can go watch feature-length films together and we don’t have to leave the cinema half-way through

28. We can go out for dinner and it’s actually enjoyable

29. He can read and order from the menu, making his own decisions without coaxing or force

30. He’s funny, like real funny with an actual sense of humour

31. We have shared interests – such as listening to Hozier and singing along (he knows all the words) etc.

32. He can make his bed and tidy his room

33. He puts the washing away

34. He hoovers

35. He can ride his bike for miles

36. He can ski as fast as me