JO’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Having recently relocated to Devon from the big smoke it seems rather fitting that today we have a Devon-based Mum boss on the blog. Jo is a mum to two boys, sewing extraordinaire, charity worker and founder of Fox & Tootsie . Like many of us Jo is busy setting up a small business in those precious moments that exist between working the day job, keeping the kids alive and the house semi-clean. All in the hope of achieving that sometimes seemingly elusive thing; a work-life balance. For parents, that often means being able to work around the kids; being able to do the daily school run and be present for those special moments. Since most workplaces unfortunately don’t offer that level of flexibility, more and more talented women are leaving the workplace and setting up shop for themselves. For Jo right now that means late nights spent at the sewing machine but the dream is being able to focus on creating awesome kids clothes full time.

My boys have been wearing her harem-style leggings for a while now and they definitely get a big thumbs up from me! They’re made from the softest organic cotton, have a big stretchy waistband that’s gentle on the tummy and are comfy and unrestrictive, making them perfect for active kids. They are available in a variety of cool prints, are hard-wearing, wash well and tick pretty much every box you need when buying clothes for the smalls. And right now you can get 10% off with code ‘THEDOUBLEMAMA’ but only until 21.09.16. So do check out Fox and Tootsie and show Jo some mum love by following her on Instagram.

For now though, here’s what Jo has to say about her experience of motherhood from taking 15 pregnancy tests to having a peaceful, relaxed and beautiful planned cesarean section…

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Name: Jo

Age: 31

Location: Newton Abbot, Devon

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages: Henry, 4 and George, 2

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

Planned and very much wanted. I was desperate to become a mum, it was everything I ever wanted. I was one of those girls who dreamed of marriage and babies age 5, and couldn’t wait!!

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Excitement, shock, didn’t believe it (15 tests later it started to sink in!!)

How did you tell your partner?

Showed him the test stick with Henry. With George I just knew, but we did a test just to confirm!

His reaction?

Shock, pleased but apprehensive. All of a sudden we both felt really really responsible and I was only 5 weeks pregnant!!! If only we knew what was to come 😉

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

Loved it, but moaned a lot (woman’s prerogative?!?!). My Henry bump was neat and compact, my George bump was MASSIVE. He was 9lb10, say no more!!

Tell me about your birth experience…

Henry was breech, so I had a planned c-section. I was so nervous but contrary to all the horror stories, it was peaceful, relaxed and beautiful, with my husband Matt. He was wrapped in a towel and passed straight to me and I fell head over heels in love instantly. That feeling is indescribable.

George was a different story! I found out I had group b strep (something every pregnant woman should read up about as we don’t test for it as standard in the UK and the outcomes can be catastrophic). So, as soon as my waters broke (on my due date!!) I had to be admitted to hospital to receive IV antibiotics. He was born 24 hours later, forceps and emergency so he was rushed straight to ICU. I had blood transfusions and he had tests for everything. We were reunited 3 days later, and I totally fell in love with him. We went home after a week and he was given the all clear – those moments make you realise how fragile and beautiful life is.

Describe motherhood in a few words…

Gorgeous, intense, magical, brutal. Motherhood enables you to experience the highest highs and the lowest lows all in one day!!!

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Can you share any parenting highlights?

The time Henry told the supermarket checkout man ‘mummy is wearing a nappy’ is up there!!

The boys started randomly doing a song and dance together at forest school recently, it was hilarious and everyone started laughing and clapping! Little entertainers they are.

Can you share any low points?

Henry went flying into the corner of a skirting board when learning to crawl, he was like a frog and lept so far forward!! That was a trip to A&E and a glued head!!

George went flying off the slide at the local play ground recently – and I was too far away to catch him!! He was quite proud of his HUGE bump – oops!

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Mainly sew!! I love it, my hobby has now turned into my career and I couldn’t be happier! I’m also partial to watching films and gardening.

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Tell me about your fox & tootsie…

Fox&tootsie is my business. I hand make children’s clothing age 0-5. I source organic cotton and make gorgeous, fun and unique items for little ones.

My mission is to make everyday, bright and funky clothing and accessories for your little one so they can adventure in original, vibrant and fun clothes.

As a parent I have always found it hard to find funky prints and clothes that fit my chunky boys. So I am making loose stretchy clothing with the most adorable prints to suit any child with loads of room to get messy, have fun and explore!

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

I do, I work for a charity part time and I am in the throws of setting up fox&tootsie. My dream is to do fox&tootsie work full time, so I can do the school run and enjoy my babies littleness rather than hear about their experiences from the childminder.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The adventures – seeing the world through their eyes – if you stop and explore in the way that they do, you see magic and adventure in everything. Practicing mindfulness when having kids is easy, they are doing it constantly – we could learn a thing or two from these little ones if we let ourselves.

What are the worst bits?

Haha, at the moment it’s getting dressed, seriously! You have no idea how angry my kiddies get about having to get dressed. Even when I have made them new clothes!!!

The tantrums are also tough, especially when you have to be somewhere!

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Juggling and that bloody annoying guilt fairy!! Who invented that horrid feeling anyway!!

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

The biggest surprise was how intense that feeling of love and protection is! I would literally do anything for my bubbas, and love them beyond where I thought was possible.

And the sleep, people tell you before you have them ‘get your rest in now’ and you’re like yeah yeah I can handle anything me. Then they arrive. Then 2 weeks later you’re in a state of sleep deprived shock!!

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

Ooooooo….sleep, then go out with the girls, then sleep!! I would love to go away on a mindfulness break, but I couldn’t hack a week away from my little glorious grot bags!! A few days would do 🙂

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

Just to be kind to yourself and accept the help. You don’t have to prove you are a hero, you already are because you have birthed this amazing being. So accept the help on offer. Oh and sniff your baby lots, what is it with that glorious newborn smell?!?!

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

Nice moisturiser – it’s hot in the hospital and my skin dries out quickly. It’s also nice to make yourself feel a bit better. Also lots of babygros for baby, I tried the whole outfit for a newborn thing and dressing him was harder than getting a degree!! Babygros all the way 🙂

What’s been your best baby product? 

Grobags!! Couldn’t have lasted without them at night! Also my littlest loved the grohush, white noise helped us a lot with settling and calming.

I also had a beko sling which was just brill – and still use it sometimes now for my 2 year old on long walks when he gets tired.

What was really useful in the early days?

My mum!!! No seriously, she was a lifesaver I wouldn’t have got through it without her. Also my friends, so I could share my joy and also my woes, I needed lots of hugs after having George and they supplied them in the bucket load.

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

Oh god loads – I had to have the latest gadget! I would say the bumbo seat was pretty hopeless because my boys legs were too chunky!! They always got stuck!! I also brought loads of nursing bras before the baby arrived – but I needed them 10x bigger so I would advise waiting!! Haha.

What’s your ultimate mum product?

Medela nipple shields in the early days, water bottle purifier as I was always thirsty, a good changing bag – especially with 2 as you had to take so much stuff for such little beings!!

Who inspires you?

My mum who is the most caring and generous person I know. My dad, who believes in my everything and my gorgeous husband who always has my back! Oh and my kidlets, who make me chuckle and smile every day.

I am always inspired by people who take risk and chances…

How many children do you dream of having?

I would love one more, but don’t want to compromise the love and attention I give to my boys. So I think we are more than happy with two – I just feel so so lucky that we have 2 gorgeous boys.

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?

More!! I would travel more because I could at a whim.

What do you miss about life before kids?

Nothing really – my kids have made me who I am now…they have brought so much to my life, and it’s everything I imagined and more (cliche I know, but it’s true).

What do you love most about being a Mum?

The cuddles and the laugh out load funny moments. Laughing as a family is a big thing in our house. Also the adventures, being able to go on a snail hunt, dress up for it and make a home for the snails, all on a Friday evening, just because!!

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

Getting less stressed when we are in a rush (which is pretty often when you have kids who aren’t keen on the concept of wearing clothes that aren’t superman/batman outfits!!)

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BIG THANKS to Jo for taking the time to answer the million and one questions above! Do take a minute to check out Fox&Tootsie – she makes some pretty cool baby dribble bibs as well as unisex leggings for babies and toddlers. Plus Jo’s offering readers of the blog 10% off until 21.09.16 using code ‘THEDOUBLEMAMA’ so if you want to make a purchase now is the time!  You can also find Fox&Tootsie on Instagram here.

If you’d like to take part in the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series just drop me an email: thedoublemama@gmail.com

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KATIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Katie, aka co-founder of MUSH, is not just IN the mother hood but redefining it by enabling mums all over the country to create their own Mama gang. MUSH is a new app which has been accurately described as a mix between TINDER and NCT classes without the one night stands and the upfront costs. It’s a free app which makes it super easy for you to find like-minded mum mates in your local area.

Given I’ve just moved to Devon where I know hardly anyone, for me it’s PERFECT. I gave it a go last night and once I got past the whole awkward sending someone a message and trying to sell myself bit, which I’ve not had to do since my last online dating dalliance approximately 5 years ago, it was great. I ‘met’ a nice Mama with two boys of similar ages to my two littles and we have set up a date to meet IRL later this month. It really does feel like dating; similar levels of initial awkwardness when introducing yourself leading to nervous excitement and anticipation ahead of the date itself. Who knows what way it will go after meeting but let’s hope not as bad as some of my crash and burn plenty of fish-related moments.

Mum-dating (Mating?) aside, today we are lucky enough to have Katie right here on the blog telling us how motherhood is for her and how she came up with this corker of an idea. I’ve no doubt you will be able to relate to her experience of juggling work emails with swing pushing, having never-ending amounts of washing to do and a weak pelvic floor!.

Before I hand over though, GO DOWNLOAD MUSH!! Honestly, it’s my best App Store download in a long time!! For those of you who missed out on using Tinder (myself included), this is one way you can get your thrills without upsetting the husband. It’s fun, easy to use, innovative and means you can make mum mates who live on your doorstep. It gets a big massive tick from me!

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Above: Katie (left) and her business partner Sarah (right) with their children. Check out the big ad board in the background!!

Name: Katie Massie-Taylor

Age: 33

Location: Mortlake, South West London

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages: Tilly, 3 and Lyla, 1

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

Totally planned. As much as it ever can be. Actually, more laissez faire if we are going to be really honest! My husband would say opportunist. Miracle really.

Initial feelings when you found out you were pregnant:

Immediately morning sick! In awe, terrified, scream-in-your-throat excited.

How did you tell your partner?

Phone call with the first (boooo not interesting!). The second I sent him an email with an image of the pregnancy test! I was in UK and he was in New York at the time.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Challenging, rewarding, lonely (at times), frustratingly unpredictable, lots of washing, housework, cuddles, happiness, completeness (doh!).

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

I used to sleep too. Now I have a triple shot coffee and work!

Tell us about your business…

My business partner and I have set up an app called Mush. Mush is a free app that connects mums with other, local like-minded mums in their area. It is loosely described as Tinder meets NCT and is a new way for mums to connect during what can be a (surprisingly!) lonely time. We launched 10 weeks ago and have 20,000 mums on the app already, and growing fast.

How do you juggle the logistics of work and being a mama?

I have help, luckily. Ana is my nanny who comes every day so that I can properly focus on work. We did a lot in the beginning though during nap times/ after bedtime! We tried to have designated times to respond to emails/ work, but the reality is that we did it on the hoof a lot… whilst shaking a toy in front of the baby, whilst pushing the swing, on the move with them in the pushchair. Stressful to feel like you are doing two things badly, hence the childcare now. It is better for all of us!

What’s the worst bits of being a mama?

Grazes, falls, sad faces, big chest heaving tears, leaving them, them not going to bed when you want to be a grown up, refusing food you have cooked.

What’s the best bits of being a mama?

Having that bit in their necks that you can bury your nose into for cuddles. Hearing them learn to speak, first hearing the three year old make a clever and amusing comment on the world. (Can’t think of any- see question at bottom about what I wish I was better at!)

What was the biggest surprise after becoming a Mum?

The crushing loneliness of having a full day ahead with a small baby and no one else to share it with. The need to stay busy with a baby, despite not having anything much to do (above and beyond the all-consuming sleep, eat, poo cycle).

If you had a week off your children what would you do?

Go on a detox, no go on a bender, no go on a detox, no go on a bender. That’s a tough one!

Have you any advice for new mamas?

Download Mush. Find your network of buddies to share the highs and the lows of what’s ahead. I promise you won’t regret it.

Best baby product?

A sling for sure. As your baby gets older and heavier (and you add another kid to the mix) you will look back on the days of walking out with something strapped on to your chest, a nappy in a pocket, keys and a wallet and THAT’S IT with such fondness and nostalgia. Until you need to, avoid lumbering yourself with a buggy or a bag!

Most essential item in your birth bag?

Chocolate bars. For afterwards. And loose clothes! Here is a guide we have on Mush.

 Who inspires you?

Any mum who does well in her job, and at home, and who does it with a sense of balance and prioritising the right stuff. I think that is the biggest struggle for mums, and you are constantly trying to make sure one doesn’t take over the other.

How many children do you want?

Three or four!

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

Writing stuff down. Capturing funny moments to remember them later.

What do you miss about life before kids?

Camping trips, spontaneous sunset watching, drinks on beaches, staying out late, lie-ins. Bigger boobs, a better pelvic floor, fresh looking eyes.

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Above: Katie (left) and Sarah (right), founders of Mush, the ‘dating’ app for Mums.

A BIG MASSIVE thank you to Katie for taking part in our ‘In the (mother) hood series’ and for bringing Mush into my life at a time of need. You rock.

If you’re a Mum running a biz on the side of baby-rearing and would like to be in the (mother) hood, just drop me an email: thedoublemama@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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!

 

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!

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 🙂

 

 

How to dress like you made an effort (without making any)

motherhood

Everyone knows Mothers are time-poor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Mum with a full-time office job or one that is with child 24/7; children are totally time/life-consuming and there is never enough minutes in the day.

Nowhere does this become more apparent that when trying to leave the house. Leaving the house with kids in tow becomes a mission of mammoth proportions, depicted perfectly here by the brilliant Michael McIntyre:

So faced with such chaos each morning what is a mother meant to do? So often I have left the house before 9am (mostly on the school run) hoping and praying I do not see anyone I know. I often have not had time for a shower or time to wash my hair, or even brush it. On really bad days I’ve not even brushed my teeth! I usually quickly pull on yesterday’s clothes (found on the floor) and go out with old mascara smudged unglamorously around my eyes. Not infrequently I have had weetabix thrown at me. Sometimes I’m still wearing my bed socks… (Just to clarify, I do normally wash and re-dress later in the day when one child has been off-loaded to school!). But recently I have consciously tried to up my early morning Mum game.

I have not acquired more minutes in my day or decided to set my alarm for 5am, like some kind of super organised individual, giving me a full hour before the kids wake because I’m not that kind of girl; I hate mornings. They suck. So do not worry, I’m not about to gloat about how efficient and clockwork-like mornings in my household have become. There will be no envy-inducement here. All I have are 5 simple tips to help you look like you made an effort before leaving the house (without having to actually make any effort).

  1. The Statement Coat. Honestly I cannot over-egg this one enough. I was bought my coat of dreams last Christmas and it is absolutely brilliant; it hides ALL sins. You could wear your PJs underneath and all anybody sees is the coat. It doesn’t matter if you’re covered in weetabix or baby sick or your boob has leaked or you’re having a fat day; the coat hides all. I got mine from Whistles and it’s pictured below but any statement coat would work. I honestly get a compliment every time I wear it, and there’s nothing like a compliment from a stranger to give you a little boost!

Whistles statement coat

2. Shellac nails. Doesn’t chip, lasts for weeks, looks mega glossy and drys super fast  – tick, tick, tick, TICK. If all else has literally gone to ruin, if your nails are painted, it looks like you a) still make an effort and b) your life isn’t falling apart. Plus you don’t have to look at your tired puffy face throughout the day or count your grey hairs but you can admire your shiny manicured nails. I go for a bright colour like ‘lobster roll’ because I bite my nails (shame on me) and for some reason think bright colours make them look better…and helps get them noticed (therefore detracting from the less finished elements of your ensemble).

LOBSTER ROLL SHELLAC NAIL VARNISH

3. Lipstick. The matter and longer lasting the better. I’m a big fan of Mac Ruby Woo because it stays on for hours and hours (sometimes overnight!). If you’ve no time to apply a full face of make up pre-school run (and let’s face it, WHO DOES?) simply swipe a bit of lippy on (a BOLD LIP as the wonderful Mother Pukka calls it) and you’re armed to face the day. Also, here’s a fact*,  if you wear a bright lipstick, people are more likely to look at your lips than the dark bags residing under your eyes. Not only that but a red lipstick helps make your teeth look really white.

mac ruby woo* might not actually be a fact

4. Number four is seasonal so we have a sunshine option and a more cold weather option. Where there’s sunshine, wear sunglasses! Also known as a tired mother’s best friend. The bigger, the better. People will never know you have crows feet, puffy bloodshot eyes, no mascara on and massive bags. If the glasses are big enough they might even partially hide the eyebrows which no doubt are in need of a deep thread. In colder grey weather, where sunglasses will make you like a wannabe rockstar (not a look most mums aspire to), wear a hat! A knitted one with a big pom pom works really well but I can imagine a large fedora would work equally well. Not only will the hat hide greasy /unwashed/ unbrushed hair but it will also detract from the face. Win win.

rayban clubmaster

5. Finally shoes! Do not leave the house in slippers. I did this once. I went to the supermarket in my slippers. It was embarrassing and is best avoided where possible. Invest in a good pair of comfortable shoes that still look good. Both elements of that sentence are important here: You are going to be pounding pavements for a long time; comfort is key. Equally you are nowhere near old enough to consider embracing middle-age so don’t buy solely for comfort. A colourful pair of flat loafers, a pair of Nike hi-tops, a pair of boots with a small block heel, whatever takes your fancy – all are good options.

leopard print boots

So there we have it! You can overhaul your hot (cold) mess look in minutes and look like a mega mum from head to toe with just a statement coat, decent shoes, a bold lip, shellac nails and a pair of sunnies or a woolly hat!

Keep the coat and shoes by the door, ready to pull on and hide whatever it is you find yourself wearing at 8.40am. Try and get the nails done once every few weeks if you can. Running a bit of lippy across your lips as you leave the house whilst sticking a pair of sunnies on (or woolly hat) takes no time at all and I can almost guarantee you will feel 100x more fabulous for it! And as you swish your way confidently to the school gate you’ll know that at best, you look absolutely amazing but at the very least, you’re not of those women, doing absolutely nothing in their active wear:

Disclaimer: all of the above is written slightly tongue in cheek. Most days I do not manage to nail it but when I do the above, it does make a difference to my day!! Give it a go this week: Coat, Shoes, Lippy, Sunnies, Nails. BOOM!

Also check out DRESS LIKE A MUM for TONS of style inspo and good advice for breastfeeding-friendly outfits! Zoe, the Mama behind it all, is single-handedly inspiring a whole generation of millennial mothers to preserve their identities post-procreation, whilst changing the world’s negative opinion, Instagram post by Instagram post, of what it is like to dress like a mum.

ROBYN’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

This week we have first-time Mama Robyn Wilder sharing her experience of motherhood so far. She juggles pen-wielding with baby-rearing on a daily basis writing for Buzzfeed, The Pool and her own blog The Parent Crap. She’s married to the man behind the hugely popular Man with a pram column. You NEED to read it ALL, but for now, here’s what Robyn has to say on pregnancy, birth and baby loving…

Name: Robyn Wilder

Location: Ashford, Kent

Number of Kids: One

Names and ages: Herbie Heritage, 8 months old

robyn wilder

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

A planned surprise. Got engaged, came off contraception because I’m a little bit elderly in babymaking terms, so thought I needed to air out my uterus or whatever. But I fell pregnant immediately! Luckily Tiffany Rose make some gorgeous maternity wedding dresses.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Just a rush of adrenaline. I ran around the flat like a deranged spaniel for about half an hour, shouting “oh my god, oh my god”.

How did you tell your partner?

My husband was out, and I was all set to play it cool and surprise him when he got back with a coy smile and a cake. Then I snapped and barked the news down the phone to him while he was getting fitted for his morning suit. Which was interesting for him.

His reaction?

“WELL THAT’S NICE WE WILL DISCUSS THIS LATER.” Later, obviously, we just stroked my belly while occasionally emitting high-pitched laughs at each other, until the news sank in.

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

I glowed for precisely 2.5 weeks after finding out, then I was hit with hyperemesis gravidarum and a “highly likely” result for a serious genetic disorder (Herbie is fine, as far as we can tell). Next I developed gestational diabetes and anaemia, and later even broke a rib. Pregnancy wasn’t fun at all – I was constantly nauseated, in pain, or dizzy, and had to take a lot of time off work. Although I did enjoy the feeling of this little life growing inside of me, I definitely didn’t enjoy suddenly not liking coffee, or not being able to rely on my body anymore.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 38 weeks due to gestational diabetes, and whereas inductions normally take a few days to get labour going, I was fully dilated within 20 minutes of starting the procedure. However, then the epidural slowed things down again, and 14 hours later I still hadn’t progressed, and ended up going into sepsis with the baby in distress. Eventually I was wheeled away for a C-section. That was actually the least stressful part – three minutes from incision to delivery. When they placed the baby on me, though, I passed out through blood loss. Labour was nothing like I had hoped for – I have quite a severe anxiety disorder and found it difficult to cope with the pain, anticipation, and how medical and impersonal everything was – like a really long, really intense dental operation. I think my mental health could have been accommodated better, and will be talking to my hospital about it. I have PTSD from the birth, and I think Herbie is affected, too. C-sections all the way from hereon in.

Incidentally, my husband wrote a fuller account of the birth for The Guardian.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Joy and poo. And fatigue. And forgetfulness. Hey, did I mention joy and poo?

man with a pram baby

Can you share any highlights?

We got really excited when Herbie seemed to say his own name. He was babbling on the changing mat and shouted “Her!” Then he shouted, ”BEE!” and we were overjoyed. THEN he said what sounded very much like the N word, so all bets are off, basically.

Can you share any low points?

The other day a wasp flew at me and I found myself running away from it – and my pram, which continued to roll down the road. The baby was fine, and more recently I ran away from another wasp with my pram, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Herbie’s not very good at sleeping alone, so I try to put him down away from me as much as possible, and get on with writing. He is very cuddly, though, so often I sack off and either curl around him and doze off myself, or let him sleep sprawled on top of me while I sink into a box set and just let the oxytocin flow.

Have you got a blog?

I’m in awe of those Pinteresty parent blogs where willowy first-time mothers float around their airy upcycled homes with perfect skin and messy side-braids and show you five steps to making your own organic hemp soy almond fair trade chia seed babycinos. Mine’s not one of those blogs. It’s about how I really don’t know what I’m doing, but am muddling through parenting anyway (mostly?) successfully.

What’s the link?

theparentcrap.com

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

I work at BuzzFeed as a staff writer, but I’m freelancing during my year’s maternity leave. Experience has taught me to change how I work because I don’t have the luxury of spending hours at the computer anymore. Now I try to make notes and edits on my phone while the baby sleeps on me, then do the actual writing while he naps, or his father has him. So far it’s doable…ish. I don’t know how it’ll all work when I return to the office – I’m basically ignoring the prospect for now.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Just that I have the requisite biology to CONJURE NEW HUMAN FRIENDS INTO EXISTENCE. Isn’t that amazing? I could go mad with power. Also, I know it’s a cliché, but I have never felt love like this. It’s almost painful.

What are the worst bits?

Being trapped under a breastfeeding baby during a growth spurt when you’re recovering from a C section and you have postnatal depression is a special sort of misery. But then you’ll wake up to a tiny perfect hand stroking your face, and it all seems worth it somehow.

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

I’m still breastfeeding and I’m dairy-free because Herbie has a milk protein intolerance, so probably eat loads of cheese, leak breastmilk everywhere, and cry myself to sleep because I’d miss him so much.

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

Okay, you know when you see really lazy products in the supermarket, like pre-diced onions and pre-grated cheese, and you wonder who that’s from? IT’S FOR YOU. For at least the first three months after your baby’s born you’ll be doing stuff onehanded, so maybe go onehanded for a day while you’re pregnant so you can figure out what you’ll need.

Is there anything you wish you had known?

I wish I’d known that birth trauma was a) a possibility, b) something I could get help with, c) something that passed, because when no one tells you that it’s a thing and suddenly you find yourself hallucinating and terrified when you should be happy and picture-perfect, it’s very hard to process. Birthtraumaassociation.org.uk can help.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share….

I write about parenting for The Pool and my husband writes a parenting column in The Guardian.

robyn wilder

Huge thank you to Robyn for finding the time to share her refreshingly honest experience of motherhood. Be sure to check out her brilliant blog and her husband’s column in The Guardian.

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