Archive of ‘Parents’ category

7 Easy Date Night Ideas For Mums

cheap date night ideas

I became mother two years ago and I have a confession. In those two years, I’ve not spent too much time thinking about my relationship with my other half (Soz James).

I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve ‘been out’ since then and quite frankly if we did have the chance, we’d be too knackered. That’s parenting for you.

Recently though things have taken a shift. Fred’s started to sleep better. I leave the house a few days a week to go to work, hell I even did my hair the other day, so I started chatting to one of my mates about date nights.

She wants to do them. Her husband is up for it, but how? what? where? and when?

To help her out, me out and hopefully you, if you are up for it? I’ve created this quick list to give you 7 sure-fire hits for a date night that you could try this week!

1) Winner, Winner Let’s cook dinner.

easy date night ideas

Stick with me… You are sick of bloody cooking dinner, right? So you don’t wanna do that for a date but aside from your traditional takeaway or forcing your loved one to cook for you, what are your options? Well… how about a theme night?

Pick something new, find your meal ideas and join together to get them created. It can be fun, no babysitters required.

2) Movies

date night ideas for parents

Creating a movie night at home can be just as fun as heading to the cinema and loads cheaper. You can go as crazy as you like, grab some popcorn, set up your theatre or make amazing snacks (we like nachos in our house) and you could alternate who chooses the film.

 

3) Picnic

date night ideas for parents

A carpet picnic isn’t just for the kids. You can create a lovely setting in your own home, select your foods and get comfy while you chat about what’s been going on for each of you. It can be a really cost effective way to reconnect.

 

4) Tech Free 2 Hours

date night ideas for parents

You’d probably be surprised by how much tech-free time I enjoy. It infuriates me when my other half stares at his screen during meals, or programs, even when I chat but we can all be guilty of it so why not schedule and ENJOY some tech-free time! Two hours of no screens, normal chatter and catch up. it’s really simple but I think this one really helps.

 

5) Recreate your 1st date

date night ideas for mums

Ok, So I’m not gonna recreate mine. It was dire (ha ha) but if you want to feel nostalgic and romantic you could go ahead and recreate your first date. It will put you into the mindset of thinking back to all that new-ness and that can’t be a bad thing when neither of you can remember a full nights kip.

6) Game night

date night ideas for mums

As with the tech-free two hours above, how often do you actually spend time just doing something one on one with your partner? Probably not very often. A game night can help you enjoy something funny, take you out of your normal situation and also stir up some healthy competition.

7) Spa Night

date night ideas for mums

Fancy treating yourself as well as your loved one? This one is for you and trust me, men love a bit of pampering no matter how much they protest. Take an evening to indulge in so spa style activities and feel pampered and relaxed all at once.

 

So there we have 7 quick and easy date night ideas just for mums. Do let me know if you try one or if you have some great date night ideas for keeping things fresh in your house.

Girly Boys – Amy Holland

raising boys

I’m so happy to see that there is a lot more awareness at raising girls in a more gender-neutral way, teaching them to choose which toys they’d like to play with, not directing them to certain types of clothing, and raising them to be strong and independent. We are seeing the rise of lots of little feminists and even the media changing with amazing Disney role models such as Moana.

We are expressing to girls that they can be whatever they want to be. But are we really doing the same with our boys? Particularly as a mother of two boys, I can’t help but ruminate on the feelings that we seem to focus much less on nourishing the feminine side of boys. I feel strongly that we need to build and guide boys to feel confidence and strength in showing kindness, tenderness and love to everyone, including girls and women. The role that future men play in treating women with respect and equality is vital. Boys and men have roles to play with helping and supporting equality to progress.

Children are fundamentally undiscriminating, they don’t see disabilities, age, race etc. However, what they do seem to have their eyes wide open to is gender. Which starts from about the age of 3. Therefore, we need to get to work and start the reinforcement early. I have heard absurd things said to parents who nourish their boys’ feminine side, such as ‘you’ll make him gay’, and that they will get bullied or picked on, which is utter nonsense. I’m not saying for them to stop play fighting, running around like wild dogs and having pirate sword fights. I am trying to express the importance of not putting down females when raising our boys, to ensure that they don’t think that anything ‘girly’ is not ok, and therefore leading to girls and women not feel that who they are isn’t ok either.

Here are my top 4 things to think about when raising boys:

Challenge What Comes Out of Mouths

raising little boys

We can start by correcting and challenging the language that our boys and others around them are using. Without knowing it, we are being sexist too and letting sexism thrive in our homes and communities.

“Boys will be boys”, is a big one where we are ultimately teaching boys that it’s ok to be overly boisterous. Rolling our eyes at them going too far in wrestling and shouting or even bullying.  We are communicating that it is fine for them to be aggressive or in some cases even abusive.

“That’s girly”, is seen as such a negative thing by boys. A girl or women over hearing this means that they feel that who they are isn’t good enough, and that they are less than boys. The same goes for ‘you run like a girl’ etc.

“Toughen up” and “only girls cry”, is damaging language, as I discuss below. We are teaching our boys that it is wrong to be vulnerable and to show empathy to others. Which is crazy to me when we verbalise the meaning behind these phrases.

So, I like to respond to these when I hear them in ways such as, “yes I know it’s so cool isn’t it?”, “I bet she goes really fast”. Or simply “oh thanks”, does the trick into getting them to speak differently.

Let Them Lead Preference

challenge gender stereotypes

Put your own bias aside and constantly challenge this. We can be proactive in our reactions and concerns towards boys playing with dolls, wearing dresses and liking pink. I think that toys, activities and clothes shouldn’t be gender exclusive. Let them lead with what they truly like and explore a variety of different toys, clothes and colours. We have a hell of a job to do here, trying to again challenge the mindset that they pick up from school and peers.

When it comes to birthdays and Christmas, until they are about 5-6 years old, we choose most of the toys, based on our gender preferences and what we ‘think’ they will like. If they want to have a doll to play with, then encourage this, it means they are working on being a good dad one day. If they show interest in role play with food and a kitchen, then embrace this, this little boy may be a future cook. Or if your son wants to make a sling for his toy rat, like in the picture, then why the hell not! Don’t always go for the obvious of soldiers, war, guns, and swords for boys. Ensure that they have a total mix. My boys tend to put their animals into a helicopter.

Be aware of when we are watching a film with them of the bias and sexism that comes in. So pointing out that it would be cool if there was a spider woman, and they’d be able to swing just as high between the rooftops. Also, that Owlet from PJ Masks can fly and is an important, equal member of the team.

Really tune in to what they are curious about and roll with it. Especially at a young age. As they get older, making them feel comfortable to have friends that are girls, wear nail varnish and get behind some female role models. Let’s start listening to them and what they’d really like.

What better way to embody equality than to throw on a dress and a pair of heels?

Only Girls Cry

encourage boys to cry

This is one that I feel so strongly about, as we know that suicide amongst young men is a huge issue. I believe that it’s harder for men to speak about how they are truly feeling, and to show basic sadness such as to cry. I think drumming into them that you need to ‘toughen up’, ‘not to be a baby’ and that ‘only girls cry’ does a lot of damage to boys. I have seen parents say that children are ‘brave’ when they don’t cry when I have witnessed them desperately holding in the tears.

In fact, we should nourish this side of our children. Giving them the permission to nurture the caregiving side to boys and making this just as important as other ambitions that they may have.

When they cry, we can acknowledge that something hurts and that sad feeling. “I can see that has really upset you” and “I can see that this means a lot to you”, are phrases that I say a lot to my boys.

We so often hear men being sexually aggressive in conversations and bullying, which is disguised as ‘banter.’ I believe that we can redefine strength so that it is more gender neutral.

I am also teaching my boys about how to stick up for themselves, how to be assertive and to hold their own. But I am also talking to them about their feelings and acknowledging their need to cry and be hurt.

Female Role Models

female role model

Women are constantly being portrayed in a misogynistic light by lots of different outlets including media, education, social media and their peers. We can’t shelter them from this, however, we can get their brains thinking about whether this is fair, loving and kind.

We can flood their brains with amazing female role models in the things that they like. This may take a bit of good old googling. But you can encourage both gender role models and ensure that their mindset shifts so that they see this. Female athletes are an amazing example of role models that will help to challenge the stereotype that boys and men are always stronger and more athletic. Women are often seen as weak and bad at sports, and that men only have physical power. Well, tell that to Serena Williams, Nicola Adams and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

When they decide on their preferences, making sure that they know that women/ men do that too. Exposing them to both genders in their loved hobbies and activities. For example, what about taking them to see women’s football match, if they love football.

Ultimately the message to our boys is that girls are equal and can do the same things as them and that they too deserve love, respect and kindness. The feminine, ‘girly’ and caring sides to our boys are also so important and loved by us. The boys that we are raising need to be aware of the role that they play in equality and to help eliminate girl hate.

You can get this amazing T-shirt  from Bloody Nora Pam HERE

This post was written by Feature Writer – Amy Holland.

Amy is Director of Social Enterprise Single Parents Wellbeing/ Wales, to find out more and to join the community:

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Five reasons why my toddler might actually be an evil genius

toddler trike

I love my daughter dearly, but there’s a small part of me that thinks she might be a diabolical dark-lord, hell-bent on world domination. Here are five reasons why my 18 month-old might actually be an evil genius:

 

evil genius toddler

1. She has already identified physical weak spots that when exploited with minimum hassle on her behalf, yield maximum pain for me. When I refused to let her drink bubble mixture the other day, she threw the mother of all toddler-tantrums and squirted the mixture directly into my eyes. I spent the rest of the evening feeling like my eyeballs had been dipped into a madras.

 

mascara in my eye2. And it’s not just the physical abuse she is adept in. Her ability to mentally cut to the core of my innermost insecurities is already finely-tuned. The other day she was playing on the floor by my dressing table whilst I was putting on my make-up. I finished the last flick of mascara, looked to her and said, ‘how do I look?’. She slowly turned to me, evaluated my face and simply said, ‘more’. What a metaphorical dagger to my ego that was!

 

toddler trike

3. She has an amazing memory for what really grinds my gears. A few weeks ago, she accidentally knocked the wooden panel below the oven off when she pushed her trike into it. I immediately re-attached it with a warning that messing with the oven is dangerous. Seeing how concerned I was about this ‘magical panel’ must have stuck with her. More recently, when I said she couldn’t have chocolate for breakfast, she ran to her trike and pushed it full-pelt into the oven to remove the panel once more. As it fell to the ground she looked at me, smiled and said ‘uh-oh!’. That level of malevolence is only reserved for future dictators and traffic wardens, surely?

 

kids jumping on furniture

4. They say that a true sociopath can absolve themselves of any wrong-doing even when they’re caught in the act. To anyone with a toddler, does this behaviour sound a little familiar to you? When I found my daughter jumping on our coffee table and I asked her – whilst she was on the table – if she was jumping on the table, she looked me dead in the eye and shook her head. I think I fear and admire that level of confidence in equal measure.

 

5. Finally, anyone who has checked their baby video monitor at night to find their child sat up awake in bed must agree that they look a little freaky. In the night vision light, her eyes wide and staring, I can only conclude that her night-time manoeuvres must be for future world domination.

 

Or maybe she’s just being a normal toddler. Only time will tell. But you might want to start building that bunker in the back garden just in case. 

 

 

This is an amazing guest post by Charlotte who writes her own blog at Musing mum

You can click here to read her blog or find her on Facebook & Instagram

Top Tips for Nurturing Your Mental Health – The Guest Post

single parent network

It’s the closing day of Maternal Mental Health Awareness week and this subject is very close to my heart and a lot of other single mums. As a single parent you are twice as likely to be depressed than a mum in a coupled relationship. I had Post Natal Depression with both of my children, and I want other mums to know that they aren’t alone in their dark feelings and thoughts at this difficult time of having a new baby. I also think that you are the only person that can make yourself well again.

The feelings I had after my recent relationship breakdown of being lonely, isolated, not part of a ‘normal’ family and feeling heartbroken, were so overwhelming for me. But even more so was the stigma, self criticism and failure that I felt as a newly single parent. Eventually, I learned that my post natal depression was a ‘gift wrapped in sandpaper’ for me. As in 2016, with a need to prove that I wasn’t a failure, I, along with a fellow single mum, started a Social Enterprise for Single Parents with a focus on wellbeing called Single Parents Wales. I wanted to reach out to others and end the stigma, instead replacing this with love and compassion.

My top 5 for Mental Health Nurturing.

1) Peer Support.

The best thing for my mental health was to go out and find other people who were in a similar position to me, who truly understood what was in my head and heart. I could feel the judgement and stigma disappear because they were the same as me. Peer support and the power of a group and true empathy is astonishing, I witness it’s almighty ability all the time. It is so healing knowing that you can talk to someone and that you have someone to turn to. Sometimes not offering a solution, just simply understanding. I have met amazing and inspiring single parents that truly pulled me out of the dark hole that I was in. But more than that made me recognise what a super hero you are being a single parent. The feeling of not being alone and being part of a community gives me endless strength.

2) Me Time.

 

As a parent we all struggle to find time to have a wee, so the thought of ‘me time’ seems impossible. But what if I told you it reboots the brain and has lots of health benefits? It is inevitably a bit trickier for single parents to find this time, but once you work out the logistics or really embrace the importance of ‘me time’ it will be easier. It could be saying to the kids that you are having a cuppa for 5 minutes whilst they play, having a hot bath with candles when they are in bed, or making some time for a hobby or interest. You have to start seeing that you are just as important as your children, and that if you are in a strong resilient state of mind then the first people that will benefit is your children.

3) Your Thoughts vs Reality.

how to deal with overwhelm

The most poignant thing that someone pointed out to me was that my thoughts aren’t always true. When we are depressed, stressed, low in confidence and high in anxiety, our brains keep on at us about how useless we are, how our children deserve better and what a burden we are. Well these thoughts are not true, and if only we knew how more than enough we are, especially for our children, how enormously loved and missed we would be to our loved ones if we weren’t around, and how amazing we are for what we have been through and the strength, determination and kick arse ability we show on a day to day basis.

4)Not Letting Things Escalate.

It is so important to learn to master the tool of self regulating. This is about not letting your feelings, thoughts and anxieties get too far before you make a positive change. The longer that you leave things when you are feeling stressed and anxious the harder they will be to bring back. So it might be that you take the time to meet up with a friend, as you’ve noticed you are a bit snappier with the children, or you do some Mindfulness as the children’s dad is pushing your buttons. Rather than letting it escalate to the point where you are having to have time off sick from work as things have become too much. It’s about being emotionally intelligent and listening to ourselves. Being kind to ourselves and recognising that we are only human, so all of these things that we have to juggle without a partner means that we will get stressed, angry, anxious and upset. But it’s how we deal with this in the moment rather than letting it snowball.

5) What Works For You.

It might not be what works for you, works for me, and it seems that there isn’t a one size fits all, but it’s important to be armed with a massive resilience tool kit, with a hammer, spirit level, monkey wrench and three different screw drivers, to make sure that you can get to work maintaining and fixing your mental health. I find physical exercise works wonders for me personally. Which is why one of the first things we set up at Single Parents Wales was a ramble to promote exercise as a positive way to manage mental health. However, when the grey cloud descends this is the most difficult task for me. In this case I focus on just getting outside and going for a walk, as I know that this will make me feel better, and has a 100% success rate. I recently couldn’t shake my anxiety so got up and climbed a mountain, Pen-y- Fan in the Brecon Beacons, which I know sounds a bit extreme! I felt that I left my anxiety at the top and as I descended I couldn’t contain the smile and sense of achievement. For others it may be that talking things through to a friend, family or a professional helps. It might be ensuring that you are getting a healthy diet or making time to read or study. Whatever works for you, recognise that and make steps to do it often and make it a part of your life.

If you’re a single parents then why not join us? We hold social events, with and without the children. Including our popular rambles fortnightly. We also hold Wellbeing Workshops and Mindful Play and Art Therapy sessions.

single parent network

 

Find us on: Facebook @singleparentswales

Instagram @singleparentswales

Twitter @singleparentswa

This Welsh Mother – My Week – 1st May

Where To Find Bluebells In Wales

It’s no secret to any of us that parenting is no walk in the park but after a week of sickness bugs I entered this new week pretty optimistically.

Fred was feeling better, I had ceased to smell like a fragrance best described as ‘Eau de Toddler Sick’ & the chef had actually got out of bed. I was on a high.

The lurgy had made work nigh on impossible so I had even scheduled a whole weeks worth of blog posts – strong work mamma, or so I thought.

 

Early in the week we did the whole insta-mama thang and headed to a forest full to the brim with bluebells. However, I forgot my snazzy camera and Fred, well, Fred was less than Instagram about the whole ordeal. It seems toddlers and trekking through woodland are not the ideal mix – who’d have thought it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organisation paid off though and I felt so much better being up to date with the whole blogging lark. I sold some ads for the website so can happily put the finishing touches to the first advert for a paid writer at This Welsh Mother this week, as I know I’ve got the funds to pay them for 4 months. Being able to start this process 8 weeks after launching the site makes me grin from ear to ear so If you are a mother, writer and can write in the medium of welsh language, watch out for our ad for paid work.

Welsh Language Writers Wanted

I had a ton of emails from you nominating your fave business Mothers – for Business Mother Monday which should hopefully start next week! And the whole topic of Mothers in business opened up the conversation about meet ups. So I’m gonna get raw and honest with you.

When we launched and I set out what I wanted to achieve with This Welsh Mother in the Manifesto, meet ups and in person get togethers were high on my list so I got brave and typed out that it was one of my intentions. Then, a little later and I surveyed you on the Facebook page LOADS of you responded and said that meet ups were what you wanted. Amazing, I thought. Yet, I did nothing about it.

Why is that?

Why are we always putting things off that we really want to do?

Well, for one thing. It’s scary as hell isn’t it? I’m not daunted by putting on an event. I’m scared as hell that I’ll do it and no one will come or worse, people will think ‘who the hell does she think she is putting on an event’ cos let’s be honest. I’ve taken some flack since launching this website. Yet despite all that it’s still there, tugging at my shirt and not leaving me alone so I know it’s somethong I need to do for you and I need to do for me.

So let’s sodding well do it. Look out for a post or survey this week that will hopefully help us get clearer on when and how we can hang out in real life.

So I hope your week was epic and that you have a great (shorter than usual) week ahead planned.

Introducing Business Mother Monday

working moms

I’m attempting to get organised with this blogging lark. I hold my hands up. It’s flipping difficult at times and that’s because I have two other businesses outside of this & a toddler. It’s no mean feat but I’m not here to whinge, I love it. However, I do want to get into a routine of getting stuff live on this site and also having features that you love to read so make way for Business Mother Monday.

inspirationals working mums

When I started the Instagram account for This Welsh Mother I suddenly started to find loads of amazing Welsh Businesses. They come in all shapes and sizes but I find them crazy interesting for two reasons.

For one. I just love business, it’s my specialist subject so I’m totally interested in what makes people go it alone. I love to see their passions and talents and I just love seeing how they manage it all.

Secondly, I want to support them. If I can buy from a ‘person’. I totally will. I think it’s great to support other businesses, I want to support Welsh Businesses and hell if another Mother is rocking a business, I want to be a part of keeping that going.

working moms

So that’s what Business Mother Monday is all about and I need your help. I’ve started messaging some of my Insa-biz-crushes to get them to feature and I’m asking them to recommend one of their faves too but if you know a business mother they can be little biz, medium biz or big biz (who cares) why not send me their name and I will hunt them down and get them to feature. We get to be nosey and take a peek into their business brain and also we get to know more about their amazing business.

If you would like to nominate someone, you don’t have to know them personally, it can be anyone you find inspiring/interesting, please just drop me an email – ceri@thiswelshmother.co.uk & put Business Mother Monday in the subject line.

The Week That Was – Sickness

this welsh mother
We were away from home this week. The chef whisked both myself and the little human up to Lincolnshire to visit his Mother. I love it but I don’t always love the drive from Wales, Particularly with a toddler who doesn’t enjoy being contained. However, we headed off on Easter Sunday and the drive passed without too much panic & hysteria (Thank You Netflix and the new download function)

joie carseat forward facing
We spent Easter Monday at the seaside in traditional British fashion. Our friends were visiting a nearby town so the two families merged for the day. We ate chips by the seaside in the bracing cold wind, played on the sand, in the arcades and caught the sand train home. Fred ate too many sugary treats but everyone was happy. Including the parents, because Grandma offered to babysit and we all headed out to a local Italian for an early dinner. There we were, four sleep deprived adults desperately sharing a bottle of Italian white wine while shoving bruschetta into our mouths faster than the speed of light. All was fine when we returned home.

best uk beaches with kids
On Tuesday, we pottered. A wander around Skegness while Fred slept. He never sleeps. When we returned to Grandmas house I relished the 5 minutes to myself while someone else took his coat off, found him a snack and 75 toys to play with – you know the deal.
“Can somebody help me?” came a terrified scream from the lounge. I ran down the bungalows corridor to be greeted by the small one screaming and Grandma, well, Grandma didn’t know what to do first, grab the child or clean the bright yellow sick from her beautiful woolen carpet.
The next few day’s passed in a blur. I announced that Fred was on water for the foreseeable, the horror on the other side of the families faces – they love to eat. I think they thought I’d starve him by not allowing him to eat copious easter bunny and quaver combos for a whole day. My suspicions were confirmed when after dinner that night the chef was also sick. A bug had hit.


There isn’t a lot you can do for a sick toddler other than holding them, so hold him I did. This resulted in every item of clothing I had packed getting hit by toddler vom. Even that new embroidered top I’d harped on about. I got myself dressed, I felt pretty good and boom. Covered.
We stayed an extra day up North. Thankfully I didn’t succumb to the bug. I’m not sure whether the body actually realises that you can’t succumb. As if it somehow knows you are needed to care for others so it will give you a break but it did just that. I managed to get them both in a cramped car and navigate the 5.5hour drive home on Thursday. The only casualty was the catering van. Our business has got very busy and we desperately need another unit for year 2. We found her and were supposed to detour via Derbyshire on our way home (no prizes for guessing that Derbyshire is NOT on the way back).
Everything gets’s put on hold when the sickness hits. You can’t ask people for help, you need containment and as a result, everything that we usually do went to the wall. Nothing was written, I had to manage the catering business alone, I even did ALL the cooking.
Day’s were split between juggling work and consoling the littlest member of the family. Nights were long, calpol filled and sticky. This is why parents need to wear superhero capes at all times. I don’t need to leave the house to work and I still barely survived the week. How working parents or lone parents do it I’ll never know. I guess you just step up to the plate. You suck it up and move forward.

 

I hope the sickness is now behind us. I’ve cleaned everything within an inch of its life and prayed to all gods who will listen. As I type this the late evening sun is streaming through the window and I just have a feeling that next week will be good, It’s like an internal sigh of relief but you never know eh. Until then I’ll keep my fingers crossed and enjoy the extra mummy cuddles.

Should my child learn Mandarin?

kids mandarin

You’re probably going to expect me to say yes what with me owning a business, Little Dragons, which teaches Mandarin to children and all. So it might surprise you to hear me say, “maybe!” Let me explain….

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Never Alone but Always Lonely

lonely parent

Next week I’m writing on the blog about my jaunty first year of motherhood. I didn’t suffer with PND but it took me a long time to settle into this new thing, like well over a year. I felt lost. A little crazy and I longed for my old work routine. Now i’m used to my new normal but I think it’s important to share these realistic expressions of Motherhood so we can stop forcing ‘perfection’ on ourselves and feel like human beings. With that in mind I totally nodded along to this post that Ruth from Real Life Mummy write on her blog which you can read here.

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Our New Life in the Countryside

new life in the country

This week’s amazing guest post comes from  Amelia who writes a gorgeous blog called Oh Little One Sweet. I had actually been stalking her lovely pictures on Instagram for quite some time so I was utterly thrilled when she said she would write a guest post for us. Take my advice. Grab a cup of tea, something snuggly and settle in to read this post all about her move to rural life. And be sure to pop over to her blog or social media channel to say Hello.
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