Archive of ‘Talks’ category

Body- Cossie Confidence

mums body confidence

Last week we took our toddler away on our first proper family holiday. Although the whole thing was a completely new and exciting experience for us, one reoccurring holiday theme continued for me; the ‘fat-fear’.

In typical style, I had joined Slimming World a couple of months before our break, lost a few pounds but departed for our vacation secretly annoyed that eating spinach and quinoa on three occasions had not turned me into Giselle.

That familiar feeling of dread came flooding back to me on our first day when I put on my swimming costume. But this time, the dread felt so much worse.

Pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding has irreversibly altered my body, and although I couldn’t be prouder of what it has achieved, I can’t say that I love or even like the way my body looks now. It appears worn and lived-in. If my body was a vintage cabinet, it would be described as having been ‘distressed’.

But what I lack in body positivity I more than make up for in lack of time to dwell on said insecurities. As soon as I’d hoisted the boobs into the costume, my toddler was dragging me out of the door and in the direction of the pool.

Matters were made infinitely worse later that day when we passed the most perfect-looking Spanish 20-something in her Louis Vuitton bikini; her taught, mocha skin glistening in the sunlight, her long hair gently blowing in the wind. (I’ll stop now before this turns into soft porn).

Meanwhile, looking pasty and white in my Bravissimo costume, my thighs rubbing together so magnificently that it was almost audible, I was sweaty and waddling, carrying a pissing-wet and dripping swim nappy (the toddler’s, not mine, I hasten to add) to the nearest bin.

Sexy Senorita and I couldn’t have been at more opposite ends of the female spectrum. If she was the pot of gold, I was absolutely the leprechaun.


But weirdly, that passing interaction gave me a lot of clarity. It was probably about time to admit to myself that I will never be a 20-year-old Spanish model. And that’s OK. It’s an impossible ideal to live up to. But what I can do is use what I’ve got and get on with it. So much stress over how I looked in a two-piece, or a one-piece, or a no-piece for that matter, wasn’t doing me any good. I am a mum. I have cultivated life inside of me and cannon-balled that creature out into the world. She loves my Pillsbury Doughboy tummy and my soft, pillowy boobs. They are perfect for cuddles. And really, in the grand scheme of things, her opinion should matter more than anyone else’s at this point.

Yes, strangers may glance at my bum and think, ‘you can tell she ain’t missing no meals…and you can also tell she snacks in between meal times too.’ But so what? It’s exhausting spending so much brain power stressing about what other people think of you when there are so many more important things that you can focus your attentions on.

I didn’t immediately rip off my costume and spend the rest of the holiday as a nudist, and I did still feel niggling bouts of self-consciousness. But I’m so glad I didn’t let it interfere with me getting on with my life and enjoying the first holiday with my little family. Building your first sand castle with your child matters so much more than thigh circumference. And when my husband took some photos of me playing with our toddler in the pool, although I’m not in love with what I see when I look at my body in these photos, I’m also not going to stress out about it either. It is my body. It is the only one I have. And it is capable of greatness.

So here it is…my summer body in all its wobbly glory.

mums body confidence

 

I’m not posting this picture because I secretly feel good about the way I look and I want to show-off, and I’m not looking for attention or praise. In reality, it’s downright bloody embarrassing! But if sharing a picture of me squeezing my size 16 bum into a swimming costume can make just one new mum feel more confident about putting her cossie on and getting out there, then it will be worth it.

So don’t hide your body this summer, and don’t dwell on the imperfections. If this ‘Matronly Mama’ can put aside her body-woes, I know you can too.

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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My Week – This Welsh Mother

As I type this I’m sat on the floor of the games room at Fishguard bay Resort. We are doing some travel for some upcoming blog features. The sun is shining, some chilled out music is playing outside and Fred is stacking Jenga bricks with his dad.

It didn’t start chilled though. The anxiety of ‘taking a toddler ANYWHERE’ started to rise at about lunchtime, I was too busy before that. I had to dash to town to find a bra that I don’t spill out of the top of. Bra shopping – Possibly as stressful as dealing with a toddler.

But we are here, He’s clean. I am going to sleep with wet hair and spend most of the day tomorrow realising that it was the worst decision ever.

Last week was OK, No illness. A return to normality and kids clubs for Fred. A weekend Full of Catering work. It was normal. It was nice after all the illness stuff. It was also maternal mental health week and if you haven’t checked out the special post I published by Amy from the Single Parent Network. Click here and check it out now.

I really believe we all have stories that relate to Maternal Mental Health. I know I do. It took me over a year to settle into Motherhood. I’m not scared to share it because I am out the other side but it’s important for me to say that in case other mothers are feeling the same or feeling that it is wrong. It’s not wrong.

For me, Motherhood was the most overwhelming change you could ever imagine. Everything changed. I went from being Miss Independent/career gal to being handed a baby, giving up work, losing my financial independence and most of the social relationships I knew.

 

 

I traded The City and solo lunches in Pret to the village and as much as I wanted to love it. I was lost.

The body I lived in was not my own. I felt I had nothing in common with other mums but most of all, I felt like I should be OK. So I slapped a smile on my face and got on with it.

Two days after a traumatic birth I was in a garden centre meeting people for tea and cake! I look back on that now and think ‘What the hell were you doing?’ but at the time, the only this I could do was what I thought ‘Normal’ looked like.

My son will be two this summer and the biggest Motherhood blessing I have learned is that my normal doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It’s OK.

It’s OK to stay in bed in the morning because I’ve been up half the night.

It’s OK to not spend my weekend filling my Facebook feed with fun family activities because I work ALL weekend and have weekdays off.

It’s OK to take Fred traveling.

It’s OK to feed him what we eat.

It’s OK to parent they way that I see fit & most importantly in a way that fits in with me, my life, my ways.

Life is hard enough without feeling like every move or decision we make is wrong and I lost a year, my first year in Motherhood thinking that I needed to make it look pretty. I needed to lose the weight, I needed to go to the groups, and I needed to make craft. I don’t. It’s not me and that’s OK.

Do whatever the hell makes your days pass, makes them enjoyable and makes parenting a thing you can tackle. That’s the only advice I can give. But also know that it’s not all rosy and that many of us suffer from mental health issues throughout our lifetimes and that’s OK too. What’s not OK is keeping it to yourself, suffering in silence and not getting the support and help you need.

So now I’m going to tidy up the massive stack of Jenga the boys have left and the chalk is strewn on the floor and hopefully, by the time I post this and get back to the pod, there may just be a cheeky wine waiting for this mama.

Whatever you do this week I hope you rock it and it fills your heart with joy. Love, Me xx

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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This Welsh Mother Talks – Mothers Day

mothers day UK

I’m not sure how I feel about Mothers day.
Let me explain. I want to knock on your door and high 5 you for surviving thus far, for getting up each day and being the best Mother you can be. I want to take my own Mother on the biggest, best holiday in the whole world. She totally deserves it but when it comes to Mothers day gift guides and all that shiz. I feel weird. I admit it.

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The Manifesto – Please Read…

this welsh mother the manifesto

This is definitely the most important blog post I’ve had to write. That sounds very self-absorbed but This Welsh Mother is more than just a blog to me. I have been blogging for years and in just 6 weeks you have made This Welsh Mother something EPIC. You have made it feel like a community and that is priceless.

 

Our Facebook page is filled with lovely women (& men) who engage and chat, It’s the same over on Instagram & Twitter. I’m filled with pride every time I log on and see that one of you has liked, commented or shared something. I really am.

I launched the website worrying that we wouldn’t be able to duplicate the success of our Facebook Page. I was fretting that the excitement had died down and no one would click through to our posts BUT YOU HAVE! Thank You.
I wanted to take this opportunity to set out a Mission Statement for This Welsh Mother exactly because of all the things I’ve mentioned above. This is not a blog about me. This is a place that is all about you! I’m just the bus driver for the moment. We are all riding together.

This Welsh Mother is a website for Welsh parents. It’s for Mothers and Fathers, expectant Mums/Dads, Aunties, Uncles, Nains & Taids. It’s for anyone looking for a place but be warned it will mainly have a family or a Welsh theme so if you aren’t up for either of those things, this probably isn’t the right home for you.

This Welsh Mother will have posts uploaded daily and they will be written by myself and a whole host of lovely guest posters who write their blog posts for free. We would love you to contribute and if that kind of thing interests you click here.

We are all over social media and are launching our own YouTube channel that I want you to be a part of.

We do reviews (and I want you to help me with them in return for product) and we write sponsored posts for businesses (and we get paid to do that – Just to be clear). I will do my best to create articles that you want to read, work with businesses and places you love and bring you offers and competitions you want to grab.
Blogs do not grow on their own and to make this the amazing place I know it can be I need you to help me.

this welsh mother mission statement

  • We do most of our socialising on Facebook. There are over 1000 of us on the This Welsh Mother Facebook page. Sometimes I have to pinch myself over that number. But Facebook is a fickle beast and it hides posts if it thinks you don’t want to see them. I need you to tell Facebook you do! (No nasty emails needed). If you see posts from This Welsh Mother please, please like, comment, share (or all 3). This tells Facebook that it is something you want to see, so 1) It will keep showing you and 2) It will show other people. (update, we now have over 2400 page likes!!!!! Whooop Whooop)

 

  • You clicked ‘like’ on the This Welsh Mother Facebook page and chances are your Facebook profile is filled with other people just like you, so if you would consider sharing the page and telling people why you like it, I’ll love you forever. This means we can grow our community and brands and businesses take us more seriously as someone they should be working with.

 

  • I share a post each day. I have either written this myself of managed to convince someone to write one for the site. It takes a lot of work but us writers love it all the same. With that being said, we want it to be read so please, please click through to the site and read the posts. There are some amazing people featured AND if we want to be taken seriously as a business, we need to show that you are clicking through to visit the site as I show those numbers to companies who want to work with us.

 

  • Lastly, We have a mailing list. You can sign up to join Y CLWB. If you join us you will get a newsletter every Sunday that you can read at your leisure. In there I will pop some things you may have missed, some thoughts from me, any discounts or offers we have from companies and review opportunities. Please sign up. Being able to show that we have a really good mailing list is really helpful for our business.

But it’s not all about me asking you to do things. I want to pledge to do things for you too. I’ve thought long and hard about what I can do for you this year and I’ve set some big goals. If you help me. I will do my best to help you.

 

  • In 2017 I will take on 5 freelance writers who will be paid on a monthly basis to write for This Welsh Mother.
    All regions will be represented North Wales, Mid Wales, West Wales, South Wales & we will take on 1 writer to write a Welsh Language post each month.
    The amount I am able to pay and the speed I am able to do this depends on you but I will do my part if you do yours. (Also, if you want to be one of these writers, no experience needed. We will make sure you can do it)

Update – ( weeks in and we’ve just taken on out 1st paid writer – YESSSSSSSSSS)

 

  • Reviews, Competitions, Offers – For a blog/website to make money we need to work with companies. We will do this by writing reviews, sponsored posts and selling advertising and I want you to be involved. I want you to review products that you can keep, I want you and your family to visit attractions, maybe even go on holiday and in return write about your experience for the site. But in order for companies to take us seriously, we need to show that our Facebook page is busy and that our blog posts are being read.

Finally and this is a huge one for me. I want to help Mothers. Not many of you know my back story but I’ve spent most of my life running a London Based business. I bought a house in the homeland in 2014 and had my first child in 2015. I knew my work life was changed forever. I simply cannot earn the same money in Wales. I could never, ever come close. I look at job opportunities in my local area and I wonder how people manage. For all it’s beauty, sometimes the financial implications of living in Wales, particularly if you live rurally are tough.

  • So I want to start a scholarship. I’d love to start 2!
    I want to offer some funding to a Mother in University and Ideally, if I can do it I’d also like to offer someone in our community the chance to take a course online of their choosing and This Welsh Mother will pay. Why? Well, if we aren’t supporting each other in this Mothering game, what’s the point?

(Update – there is money in the pot – this is happening people – we just have to keep going)

So that’s my side of the bargain and let me tell you. I’m not work shy. I will make this shiz happen.

So…
please consider sharing our Facebook page with your own Mother crew and tell them to come join us.

Sign up for the mailing list Y CLWB to make sure you get all the latest offers

and when you see my little posts pop up on Facebook, please consider liking, sharing and giving them a comment. Click through, have a little read and let’s grow this thing.
This Welsh Mother is a force to be reckoned with and I’m guessing you are too.

TWM TALKS – Overwhelm

how to deal with overwhelm

I know you’ve felt overwhelmed before, we all have, right? I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve not slept in about two years but this last week I have felt the weight of an old friend, a friend I dumped because we didn’t do much to compliment each other. As sad as separations can sometimes be, this was was very much needed. You see, they didn’t have my best interests at heart and I couldn’t handle the irrational, emotional mess they turned me into.

My friends name? Overwhelm

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