Monday 29 December 2014

Breastfeeding Exposed

It has been in the news a lot recently about breastfeeding mothers doing so in public in restaurants etc, especially after a mother was told to cover up in Clarridges.

It has made me reflect on my time as a breastfeeding mum. Breastfeeding in public was something I never really got the hang of mainly because of the added pressures of worrying if other people were feeling disgusted by me. Was that table over there watching me? What's that expression on their faces? Oh god, that man hasn't stopped starting at me the whole time, is he hoping for a shot of boob? 

After the stressful time I had with Callum and on several occasions moving to the disabled loo to feed and then working it so it was always a bottle feed rather than the turn of the breast when I had to go out (with Callum I could only feed from one side and expressed from the other to feed in a bottle), I swore I was going to get over it with Millie and breastfeeding in public wouldn't be an issue. I was going to buy lovely feeding tops and beautiful feeding covers. However, when the time came, I didn't have the money for such items as they were so expensive and, although I tried harder not to let it bother me, I still worried what people thought of me. With Millie it wasn't as simple as to be the only reason but definitely played a part with the end to my breastfeeding her.

Stuart and I were on a weekend away to Devon when Millie started refusing the breast in favour of the bottle. We went out for lunch and I was trying to be all relaxed and feed Millie but she would fuss over the nipple. Because she was fussing and crying for milk I became anxious about drawing attention. I was struggling to maintain my modesty because Millie kept pulling at the covers which made me stress more. The more anxious and stressed I became the more Millie fussed. I told Stuart I couldn't handle the public display so we went back to the car but it was uncomfortable and no better. Millie was obviously hungry but wouldn't feed. In the end Stuart ran all over Torquay trying to buy ready made formula and bottles to feed her.

Keeping covered in public when breastfeeding is all good and well when you have a cooperating baby but when things aren't going to plan, thoughts about what others may or may not be saying aren't helpful. I know this is my problem as maybe noone was saying anything. Maybe they sympathised and had been there too. Maybe they thought it was beautiful but the opinions bestowed upon me by my mum (who didn't breastfeed), my non-maternal and childless friends and the articles I see in the media make it difficult not to worry that everyone in that cafe or restaurant isn't against you.

I battled on (and yes it was a battle) for about a month longer before Millie pulled the plug on it altogether.

Like I said, the mental fight I had was my own doing and I know that but I do ask that people spare a bit of empathethy for the struggling mummy who is trying her best to meet the basic feeding needs of her baby rather than judge or make unhelpful comments (or looks of disapproval) and instead he her to keep her discretion and modesty.  As for the media, perhaps we can have more positive stories about how welcome feeding mothers are rather than how unwelcome.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Saturday 20 December 2014

Picture perfect Christmas

Every year I have this vision of a perfect Christmas and then stress myself out trying to achieve it. I get grumpy when no one is working towards the same vision as me and sob into my Baileys with cries of "it's all gone wrong".

One year, after a huge strop, Stuart banned me from ever cooking Christmas dinner again as I was unbearable. He stuck to it for a year and duly cooked dinner for 8 adults 2 teens and 4 little ones. This year, (there have been a couple of Christmases at my parents in between) he has handed the reins back to me.

Away from the situation I can see how ludicrous it is for me to behave like I do. It is so out of character for me. I'm really not usually that highly strung but some sort of Christmas madness comes over me.

We have once had the perfect Christmas though.

Callum was about 1. After a small stocking, we got up and went downstairs for scrambled egg, smoked salmon and champagne, as is our tradition. We then opened tree presents. Following which we headed to the local for a bit of Christmas spirit by their lovely warming log fire. After a couple, we walked back home and Stuart started on the starter of goats cheese and red onion tarts. I cooked the main of roast duck and roast veggies. The gravy reduction didn't turn out but it didn't matter, all was chilled. A while later we had pudding. I don't remember what we did that evening but I do remember feeling chilled out and really enjoying it. So much so I want to try to recreate it this year.

This does worry me as we all know it's impossible to identically recreate an event second time round so I'm trying to tell myself to relax and to have an idea of what I want to achieve but ultimately to remember the reason why it went well was because I was relaxed.

To also remember, it's not about me anymore, it's about the kids. It's about making sure they enjoy it. That the day is full of happy memories and magic for them.
What is important is that I am with the people I love and that is all it really takes to make a Christmas perfect.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Poorly Food. What's your's?

Millie Moo is poorly today. She had a temperature in the night and woke a couple of times. She perked up a little this morning and get temp had dropped so I took her into nursery but it was no surprise when I called to check on her to discover her temperature had risen again so I went to collect her. 

Poor little mite is on the sofa under a blanket watching Peppa Pig (I know what a shocking mother I am,  first taking her to nursery after having a high temperature and then letting her watch Peppa Pig) with some beans and toast in front of her. Unable to bring herself to eat it but won't let me take it away. 

Beans on toast with a glass of orange squash was always what my mum gave me when I was poorly and it is what I make for my children when they are unwell too. In fact, it is still what I make myself when I can manage some lunch if under the weather. 

My husband makes me cook him homemade vegetable soup when he is ill which I grudgingly oblige with but rarely silently as I can't ever imagine getting the same treatment back when I'm poorly but that's another blog post. 

What I was wondering is what is your Poorly Food? What do you make for your children or what makes you feel better? 

Sunday 7 December 2014

Saturday 6 December 2014

Visit to Santa

Today we went to see Father Christmas. We've been to a few over the years.

We first took Callum when he was about 2 and knowingly too young to understand about Christmas but my reasons at the time were to kind of introduce him to Santa early enough to get used to him in the hope he wouldn't be scared of him later on. It was in our local garden centre in Godalming and was very awkward following Santa's opening line of "well think this visit is more about Mummy and Daddy rather than you" followed by some uncomfortable small talk! 

My least favourite Santa was the following year where we payed £15 for Callum, followed by £5 each for Stuart and I, to go to see him at Loseley House nr Guildford. The actual event was ok, few animals in the yard in a kind of nativity scene, but the visit itself didn't stand out enough for me to remember it but what I do remember is the rubbish present Callum got. It looked like a dog toy, it was a soft toy monkey (I think) rattle squeaky toy thing. Something you would expect for a baby not a 3year old and it barely cost a fiver. It was not representative of where our £20 had gone. I saw other boys walking around with these kind of noise maker toys, the kind you used to get a football matches I think. They spun round and made a racket. Don't get me wrong, what parent would wish for one of them but it certainly would've been more age appropriate for Callum. But bless Callum, he loved that monkey dog toy because Santa gave it to him. Our expense didn't stop there either as we foolishly splashed out for a polystyrene cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie which set us back a small mortgage too. Think the whole disappointing event cost us £30.

Since then, I won't settle for a mediocre Father Christmas, and tend to go on recommendation or previous experience. 

The first year we moved to Bournemouth we were told how great the Father Christmas was at Adventure Wonderland, the nearby low level theme park. The tickets were expensive but we got discounted tickets so couldn't complain. We went with much anticipation and excitement following my mum and sister's glowing reviews and an insistence from my elder sister that it really was the real Santa.

She informed me after the event that it wasn't the same Santa as usual and both my mum and sister agreed it wasn't as good as when they had been before. Again, Callum's present was a bit meh, but my nephew got a good gift. 

(It hits me at this point how materialistic I sound but the bottom line is that I expect to get what we pay for, with a gift that represents the amount we've paid for tickets (or would've paid if we paid full price) and a Santa that looks the part and tries to engage with the kids - we still build it up and follow it through for Callum even if I do consider them substandard, and he has never complained though did look envious of his cousin's marble run that year).

Anyway, the next year we went to a different place I'd heard so much about. Stewarts Garden Centre in Christchurch. This time it didn't disappoint. Father Christmas was great, the elves were lovely and really took the time to speak to Callum at his level, there was a winter wonderland scene while we waited and he got a great present, a helicopter where the propeller rotated when you pulled the string. Perfect for 5 year old Callum. And the reindeer, how could I forget? They had real reindeer!

So thrilled was I to have found a fab Santa's Grotto, I couldn't wait to book it the next year. But every other Dorset parent appeared to have had the same idea and got there before me so we didn't visit Santa that year.

This year I was determined not to miss Santa again so, in the last week of November, I though I would see if the tickets were being advertised. They were and, incredibly, every weekend running up to Christmas and the few days before Christmas were already fully booked. I'd missed out again. Gutted!

Bit all was not lost because a twitter friend told me they had managed to get tickets for their other store 20 minutes away in Broomhill. I held my breath as I looked online. Success! I managed to get the last 2 weekend tickets. 12.30 and 12.45 the next Saturday coming.

Would it be just as good as we had experienced before in the Christchurch store? 

We needn't have questioned it. It was great. The Father Christmas didn't look as perfect but he was very nice and sounded great (though Millie wasn't so sure). The gifts were excellent. They had real reindeer too and the elf was just as lovely.

Below are a few photos from today's visit and also a photo of the photo they took last time we went and one of the lovely elf from that same visit. We didn't purchase the photo this year because Millie was a little unsure and so I was trying a little too hard to get her to feel comfortable (I looked deranged). This post isn't in anyway sponsored and is just a post off my own back but I would definitely recommend either location of Stewart's Garden Centre for next years Santa's Grotto. Just don't book until I've got our tickets!!!


Thursday 4 December 2014

Teaching Them to be Children

Confessions time!

Recently, I've been thinking about the naughty habits I've willingly passed on to the kids.

There's this one:

Then there is this :

Blowing bubbles in milkshake. Splashing in puddles. I'm sure there are more. 

Is this bad parenting or am I just teaching them how to be children?

I am usually guilty of trying to grow my children up too quick. I think it is important to teach them to be independent and I've pushed Callum to be so from an early age. Doing things like making his own breakfast from 3 years old. Millie has a good go at making her own at 2 though can't be fully trusted not to pour the whole box of cereal in her bowl and all the milk on the floor. 

So this is just a slight rebellion and,  in my opinion, the important message is teaching them when it is acceptable to do the 'naughty' habits and when it's not. 

I remember a while back children were being banned from Peppa Pig because it taught children to jump in muddy puddles but surely that's a part of childhood and we just need to teach them that the right time to do so is when wearing welly boots and not when anyone else is in the splash zone! 

Admittedly, it presents a bigger parenting challenge but I'm willing to accept that challenge to give my children a few cheeky childhood habits. After all, they'll all too soon be grown up and having to act like responsible adults...until they can regress and teach their own children how to be children. 

So own up, what cheeky childish tricks have you been teaching your children?