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.

Festival Camping Tips – To Make It Feel Like A Holiday!

nozstock family festival

The Tent

You need somewhere to sleep right? but your tent options can be totally overwhelming so it’s important to think about what you really need for your festival camping trip. We needed our tent to be practical and affordable. Struggling to put a tent up and watch a toddler – No Way! Spending a small fortune on top of our family festival pass? No Thanks.

So we found this amazing number from Regatta.

cheap festival tent

This tent was spacious enough for 2 fully grown (and not so small adults) and a mini person (AKA 2-year-old toddler).

It’s ridiculously easy to assemble. You remove the elastic strapping and *POOF* as if by magic, the tent pops out and is ready to be pegged down. Perfect. There were no camping arguments, no need to occupy a toddler while the tent went up and we absolutely maximized our festivalling time because it was so easy.

 

Storage

Storage is KEY for any camping trip and even more important if you are trying to pack light (can that even happen with kids?) Well here’s what we did.

With a small but perfectly formed tent, we used a big plastic trunk to store the majority of our gear and two plastic trug buckets.

Inside our trunk I used a selection of waterproof ‘Dry bags’ to store each of our belongings, this made them easy to grab and use and I knew they would be kept dry.

camping storage

We used inexpensive trug buckets that we already had at home to store a selection of Fred’s toys and also some cold drinks and snacks.

*Tip* – We fed a guide rope from the tent through the handles of the trug before pegging them down and securing them to our home for the weekend.

Our little tent came with a few handy internal pockets that I was able to use to store a drink for Fred overnight and a few other essentials.

Just be as organised as you can, think about what you need, when you will need it and separate those packs up accordingly.

 

Be Prepared For All Weathers

In the UK you can expect to see all weathers in one festival weekend so it’s important to be prepared.

We always go for light layered clothing which makes it easy to move around and essentially some killer waterproof gear.

Regatta makes this easy. Their stylish gear and won’t break the bank. This lightweight coat is easy to store but will help if all that dancing brings on the rain.

cheap womens jacket

For kids, you can’t go wrong with a puddle suit. It will do well in the British rain but is light enough to be rolled up and shoved in your rucksack and the best part, you’ll be getting use out of it long after the festival ends.

cheap kids rain suit

Wellies are totally essential – and here’s a top tip, grab some gel or padded insoles and put a spring in your step all day. Likewise, wellie socks mean that even if the weather brightens up, you can still rock a dress or shorts but keep your feet dry and comfy!

wellies like joules

 

Entertainment

When you travel anywhere with kids you know you need a whole library of goods to keep those little critters entertained and festivalling is no different. You have a huge new space to explore with a million different options to entertain small humans BUT beware boredom and think ahead for entertainment. We packed a small size aquadoodle for Fred, this kept him entertained and within site when we just wanted to grab a coffee. He also adores small cars so we kept a stash in the tent pockets and in our day out rucksack.

 

 

Home Comforts

Hitting up a festival with the family doesn’t mean that you have to leave all your home comforts behind. We always take camping chairs. These are lightweight and portable but mean you can enjoy your morning coffee or late night post gig beer in comfort. Having a childs chair always keeps the little ones interested as well so it’s a great investment. Fred even uses his at home.

cheap camping chair

A door mat was a top tip from one of the readers on our Facebook page. This makes it easier to keep muck outside of your tent which really helps when you are short on space.

Snuggly layers for night time – you want to be warm, so fashion can kind of go out the window but I always camp with a onesie. I will shove it on to lounge around outside the tent and I can also grab it for sleep if the temperature dips too much for my liking.

My own ‘home’ pillow – I always camp with my own pillowcase. It makes it more familiar and comfortable and I do the same for Fred too.

And finally, add in your own special touches. I personally LOVE good coffee so I buy ‘coffee bags’ – It makes all the difference to me in the morning. I also stock pile travel size toiletries because it feels like a treat when you aren’t in your own home comforts to have some snazzy products to use.

We hope you find this little guide really helpful if you are considering a festival with kids. Remember, Kid’s are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. Just relax & enjoy the moment.

Nozstock – An Interview With Founder Ella

festivals with kids

Amongst the melee of music, magic and mayhem at Nozstock this weekend, I managed to grab some time with Ella Nozworthy. Ella is the daughter of ‘Farmer Noz’, who lends his name to the festival. She has a two year old daughter and is expecting her second child later this year. We chatted about festivaling whilst pregnant and with kids and how Nozstock came about.

ella nozworthy

You’ve just organised a festival with hundreds of acts for crowds of thousands of people. And you’re pregnant! How do you feel?

Tired! Though I’ve timed it better this time, because last time I was pregnant I was eight and a half months by the time of the festival, so there was very much a contingency for what would happen if I went into labour whilst the headliner was on! I’m feeling a lot better this time round! Not quite so heavy and waddly round the festival site this time!

I’m obviously having to slow it down a little bit more, and a few of our support staff are having to take on a little more than normal this year. Actually, I’ve tried to use it to my advantage! You’re not expected to walk as much, and if any of the crew sees you carrying anything they take it straight off you. Last year, when I wasn’t pregnant, I was a bit like ‘no lift? Oh fine! I’ll walk to the top of the hill myself then shall I?’ The bands and the artists are also always more friendly when they see you waddling around backstage!

What advice would you give to pregnant mums-to-be who are planning to go to a festival?

Definitely do it – just make sure you’re comfortable! Make sure you’ve got somewhere comfy in the shade to just crash and relax when you need to. But there’s no reason why you should be able to enjoy it and have just as much fun as anyone else.

How has having your own children altered the way you approach running a festival?

It does change the way that you see festivals and Nozstock has changed since I’ve had my baby. It’s enabled me to scope it out from a different point of view. Before I was pregnant I was always keen that there should be loads going on here for kids, but you don’t necessarily think of the logistics. Before my daughter, when people would say ‘should I bring a buggy?’ I would always think, ‘I don’t see why not!’. Now I know from experience how hard it can be to push a pram on grass…or mud!

Nowadays, I’m much more like ‘no! That music must stop at a certain time because the children need to sleep!’ So hopefully, my own experiences of being a parent here are helping to make it easier for families that visit.

nozstock family festival

More and more parents are bringing their kids to festivals. Why do you think that is?

Festivals have generally become more inclusive. If you think of festivals 20 years ago, there was still very much that image of either hippies in a field or moshy music-lovers and that’s what it was all about – standing in a field and watching a band. Whereas now a festival isn’t entirely about the music, and it’s more about the experience. There’s always going to be great headliners, but you can go to a festival now, without even wanting to watch any of the bands, and still have a brilliant time because there is so much to do. I think this appeals to families. And I think families now are more willing to push the boat out, try new things and experience new things as a family. Festivals are catering for that now.

And what makes Nozstock unique?

For Nozstock, right from the start, it was very much a festival we wanted everyone to go to. I couldn’t run a festival I didn’t want to attend! Because as a family, the Nozworthy’s are all very different anyway, so to appeal to everyone it was always very eclectic and all-inclusive for that reason. At the first Nozstock, I was thirteen and Nan was in her 80s, but we both loved it! Maybe in different ways and for different reasons, but why shouldn’t you be able to bring your whole family to a festival and all have a really good time? Logistically, things have improved as the festival has evolved to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible. To this day, everyone at the festival still feels like they are part of our big family!

Nozstock – The Hidden Valley Festival (With Kids)

nozstock family festival

Mud, Sweat and (not so many) Beers. Here’s what happened when we took our toddler to her first music festival

nozstock festival

I like to think of myself as pretty ‘festival-savvy’; I know that dry shampoo and hand sanitiser can see me through just about any weekend in a tent, and I can navigate my way through a field of guy ropes in the dark with minimal face-plants.

However, I’m not remotely outdoorsy. My usual definition of ‘roughing it’ involves staying in a budget chain hotel with a low-tog duvet and only Freeview channels on the TV. When you throw a toddler into the whole festival camping mix, I really am completely out of my comfort zone.

But with its ‘family-friendly’, relaxed reputation and as it’s less than 90 minutes away from Cardiff, Nozstock in Herefordshire seemed as good a place as any to introduce our daughter Emily to the full festival experience.

Nozstock was founded by ‘Farmer Noz’ nineteen years ago. What started as a little garden party amongst friends and family has, over the years, grown into a weekend of music, comedy, cabaret, circus, crafts and film. With acts spread out over 11 stages, the festival now welcomes around 5,000 visitors each year and is considered one of the best ‘boutique festivals’ in the summer calendar.

As soon as we arrived I was relieved to see how small the whole set-up was. Anyone who has parked their car at Glastonbury or Leeds / Reading Festival will tell you that if you forget anything in the car when you’ve already made the arduous journey to your campsite – whether it’s a bottle of vodka or life-saving insulin – you’d rather do a handstand in the festival latrines than walk all the way back to get it.

festivals with kids

In the surrounding farmland of Nozstock, you can park your car and be at your tent within a couple of minutes. Handy if you’ve got crates and crates of beer. Or, like us, if you’ve got crates and crates of toddler crap.

My husband and I are not ‘seasoned campers’ and I definitely got the impression that for the majority of the families in the designated ‘family campsite’, this wasn’t their first rodeo. There were high-tech family camper vans, huge communal gazebos and outdoor furniture sets everywhere we looked. This was a lifestyle.

In contrast to this, Tom and I nearly divorced over which side of the tent was ‘the outside’. Our marriage was only just saved by two very obliging young Oxfam volunteers who managed to fit it all together just before the rain started to hit.

nozstock family festival

Despite this, everyone we camped with – and everyone we spoke to at the festival, come to think of it – was extremely warm and friendly. Some of these families had been coming here for years. For a lot of them, it wasn’t really about the music. Some of them were keen to see the headliners, but all in all, they came for the relaxed vibe and the inclusiveness that makes Nozstock a perfect camping option for families with young children.

Walking around the festival site and seeing people from all walks of life – from toddling babies to elderly couples – is testament to how inclusive this festival really is.

There was always something to see and do that catered for all ages and tastes. I heard such a diverse range of music; from free-form-jazz to indie-girl-rock and experimental electronica to folk-metal. There were secret passageways and tunnels to different stages, trippy sculptures and artwork augmented by quirky cabaret dancers and performers who would meander their way through the crowds all day long.

best family music festival

Emily enjoyed the Little Woodland Kids Area; a cordoned-off part of the field dedicated to the mini-festival-goer. They hosted workshops and craft-making, mini-yoga sessions and drum circles throughout the day, but most of the activities were a little too old for our toddler. Instead, she busied herself in the sandpit and played with the blocks and toys provided, as well as helping to make a huge fake bonfire out of pieces of orange fabric.

Despite the plentiful entertainment, Emily’s favourite activity of the weekend was tracking and following one of the chickens that was ambling about the festival site. She hasn’t stopped asking where the chicken is since we left!

music festival with a toddler

Nozstock feels like ‘old-school’ Glastonbury; quirky, hippie, trippy and friendly. Everyone there seemed to share a collective intention to suspend real life for the weekend so that they can have fun and enjoy themselves as much as possible.

The compact, intimate nature of the festival meant that walking from the tent to the main festival site, even with a toddler who insisted on trying to unzip every tent we passed on our way, took us less than 10 minutes. Great for tired legs. Not so great when you’re trying to sleep in a tent with a toddler whilst the rave rages on a couple of fields away.

Luckily, Emily was so exhausted from all the excitement and fresh air that she would pass out at 10pm and sleep solidly until the morning. But nothing is louder than a rave you can’t go to. After having a few beers outside the tent whilst the baby slept, we called it a night ourselves by midnight. It felt completely strange to listen to the festival whir around me whilst I, rather than downing a bottle of vodka and dancing til dawn, lay in my sleeping bag next to a snoring toddler. The times, they have changed.

The only thing worse than lack of sleep at a festival is the infliction known to many as ‘toilet dread’. I have seen some truly harrowing scenes in festival toilets that will forever be burned onto the back of my retinas. But I’m pleased to say that the loos at Nozstock didn’t bring on any ‘Vietnam-style’ festival toilet flashbacks for me. In fact, they were some of the cleanest festival toilets I have ever seen. For me, this alone is a good enough reason to make Nozstock my festival of choice for life!

nozstock the hidden valley festival

We packed up at the end of the weekend feeling totally wind-wept, shattered and filthy. Yet despite this, it was one of the best family weekends we have ever had. Would I do it every weekend? Absolutely not. But the whole experience was so rewarding. I learned that Emily is even more adaptable to different routines and ways of life than I have given her credit for.

And I learned that I could simultaneously rock out to a band whilst changing a pooey toddler nappy. Wins all-round!

This Welsh Mother Meet Up – Barry

This-Welsh - Mother-Barry

So this Saturday, 24th June we have our first meetup being held in Barry.
I can’t tell you how excited I am..

Now, when I first put this out there I thought that a handful of us would congregate on the beach, have a walk and maybe a coffee. What I wasn’t prepared for was that SO many of you would want to come.

It left me with a dilemma.

If I kept the day unstructured there would just be too many of us for it to be casual. we wouldn’t fit in a coffee shop, where would we go? what if the weather was bad? what would the kids do etc etc?

So I’ve bitten the bullet and hired a hall.

This-Welsh - Mother-Barry

Now at such short notice, we weren’t able to get one on the island as I’d originally planned. So I’ve nabbed the only place that will have us… Gibbonsdown community Centre (cf62 9df)

The community centre will be large enough to house us all, let us have some space to pull up a chair and chat and also let the kids (if you are bringing them) run free.

With the weather being as hot as it is it’s hopefully going to also offer us some shade.

If you were planning on traveling into Barry using public transport, I’ve popped a post on the Facebook page – Please don’t panic. I don’t want you to a) miss out or b) be trying to navigate local buses.
Please just make yourself known to me on Facebook or email me directly at ceri@thiswelshmother.co.uk and I will attempt to sort out a lift for you from one of our lovely crew, or I’ll trek down and grab you myself.

What to expect on the day

This-Welsh-Mother-Barry

There will be lovely coffee’s, a selection of tea’s and some sweet treats for sale on the day, all made by my delightful other half who I will be dragging along so please bring some change – this will help me cover the cost of the hall so I’d really appreciate you grabbing what you can afford.
I’ll be putting on squash/water for the little one’s – if they need a sippy cup please bring it along.

Toilet facilities are available which we will make baby changing friendly for you.

this-welsh-mother-barry

We have a lovely local business coming along. Zac & Bella make absolutely adorable clothing and will have a small selection on hand. If there is anything there that takes your fancy, please shop till you drop and head over and like her FB page which you can find here.

I will be running a raffle on the day for some lovely prizes. Raffle tickets are £3 each and will be drawn on the day. I’d be super, super, super grateful if you could get involved with this. All the proceeds go into the pot for the This Welsh Mother scholarship to help a mum with primary age children who has gone back to university.
Prices include a family pass to Techniquest Cardiff, A family pass from Cardiff bus, Bath goodies and a few other items to be confirmed.

Hopefully, we can give the children some space to play, we can all have a good chat and you will all want to come to the next one… ha ha

Parking is available on site
Event time is 10-12
And if you need to get hold of me in an emergency I will be contactable on the day via FB messenger should you need anything.

Festival Fun (not too far if you live in South wales)

female role model

I was a tad too serious for my own good in Uni and I don’t mind admitting that it wasn’t till a few years ago that I got into festivals.

Here in Wales we have some lovely events to go to. Festival No 6 up in Portmeirion, The Greenman Festival in Crickhowell & the beautiful Brecon Jazz to name a few but another Festival has just started to appeal to me and there is good news if you are Welsh 7 have younger festival goers.

Nozstock

nozstock

Nozstock – The Hidden Valley is returning for its 19th year this July from Friday 21st to Sun 23rd. The Festival is located near to Bromyard in Herefordshire which is a toddler approved driving distance from my South Wales home.

The festival takes place on an idyllic-looking working farm with glorious countryside surrounding it. I’m sure, that come rain or shine the place will look heavenly.

My personal struggle is the child-friendly aspects of festivals. I want to make sure that the smaller, most demanding people in our party are well taken care of so I was really keen on the fact that Nozstock has the small humans taken care of. Their Little Wonderland area is all set up for a weekend of fun, magic and inspiration for all ages and best of all, no nasty hidden charges for any of the kid’s activities. That’s a weight off my mind already.

Nozstock has just finalised their line-up for this July. I’m adding Seasick Steve, Happy Mondays & the Sugarhill Gang to my list along with my Welsh Faves, Goldie Lookin Chain.

If you fancy getting in the festival mood, check out this video

I’m so excited to be attending the Festival this year as a guest & I’m going to be blogging all about our preparations and our experience at the festival. If you want more information on Nozstock – The Hidden Valley or want to grab some tickets please check out their website here

Stylish Little Boy Bedroom

classic-boy-bedroom

We bought our home in 2015. It was built in the early 50’s and stands on a really quiet lane of 7 homes. The couple who originally built the house actually lived in Italy and kept the house as a holiday home for visiting Welsh family. As such it had never really been lived in until we bought it.

Fred’s room was the first in the house to get a makeover. I thought I would be over the moon to decorate a nursery but I actually felt really confused. I didn’t know this little person yet. Who would they be? what would they like? I didn’t feel like I could impress personality on something when I hadn’t yet met the occupant.

Fred will be two at the end of next month, the rest of the renovation project is all but finished and it’s high time his room reflected who he is.

With that in mind, I’ve asked the lovely people over at Kiddiewinkles (a gorgeous children’s interior site) to come over and share their expert tips when it comes to adding in personality & charm to a toddler room that is a little short of space. It needs to be functional but also in keeping with the rest of the home.

Looking at their website filled me with inspiration so I wanted to share my current wishlist with you so you can see how we are able to incorporate my ‘wants’ with their expertise.

Making a statement

Fred’s room is painted in a pale grey from Earthborn Paints

It’s a lovely subtle colour and we all know by now that Grey is the new neutral right?perfect-paint-kid's-bedroom

Earthborn Paint is amazing stuff particularly if you have kids, less nasty smells in the air and much less toxic. We used their clay paint range which goes on like a dream and gave great coverage to our previously unloved box room.

While I am more than happy to keep the colour it does need a bit of added interest so I’ve been searching for some wall decals/transfers that could add a bit of statement wall appeal.

I want to keep his room traditional with a neutral or coastal feel so that it transitions well with the rest of our house. These Cloud Decals are from Becky & Lolo .

cloud-wall-stickers

The white clouds would look quite discreet against our pale Grey walls but I think they would add some interest and texture to the room. Each pack contains 19 clouds in mixed sizes.

Storage

The bulkhead for the stairwell is located in Fred’s small bedroom and as a result, it takes out a huge chunk of usable space. It has always annoyed me but now I have dreams of turning it into a reading nook when he is older. For now, it comes in handy for toy storage – especially as it is an area that is unreachable for small hands (He’s already in a toddler bed and I really don’t need him playing at 2 am).

There are so many stylish storage options available now and you really don’t need to spend a fortune.

My dream item would be one of these Slimline Children’s Bookcases from Tidy Books

perfect-childrens-bookcase

Not only do they look gorgeous, they are really functional and fun. Tidy Books has a great range of storage geared up towards our little ones and I love that this bookcase would allow Fred to see ALL his favorite book covers before our bedtime story.

If you love this but your budget won’t stretch, this KiddyPlay Wooden Book Storage Rack is a great cost effective solution at just £17.99.


KiddyPlay Wooden Book Storage Rack – Primary Colours

We use the bulkhead for most of our storage and while this may not be the most stylish option it is totally flexible and practical. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you The Flexi Tub.

Pack Of 3-40 Litre Garden Trug/Flexi Tub/Gorilla Bucket.(made in uk)

If, like me you want an easy way to move toys around, these will be your best friend. I keep one on the stairs to make it easy to remember all the stuff that needs to back up there as well. They are really cost effective, make it easy to move stuff around and are really hard wearing.

To keep a few bits & bobs that are easily accessible I have fallen in love with this.

star-toy-storage

This is one of the gorgeous products available at Kiddiewinkles. I absolutely love the design, it looks amazing quality and I think the personalisation gives it a much more Luxe feel without spending a fortune. This Blue Star Toy Storage Basket starts from £25.00.

 

Bedding

While we are talking about Kiddiewinkles their bedding is now firmly on my wish list. Fred has a really lively, sometimes mischievous personality and I fell for their Red Star Bedding immediately.

personalised-bedding

The Red would be a lovely bright contrast and work so well with their coordinating toy basket. I love that you can personalise the duvet because we have monogrammed pillow cases in our own bedroom. It’s not for everyone but it always reminds me of posh hotel rooms. I’d love to get him a little ‘FJB’ pillow case of his own.

The great thing about this bedding though is the quality. It comes in a nice, high thread count (that’s what makes the bedding feel so good when you stay in hotels) This bedding will wash like a dream, I already know it.

 

Because Kiddiewinkles are fully co-ordinating you can also buy this super cute bedside organiser – So unbelievably sweet.

bedside-organizer

Perfect for small spaces and storing those little bits and bobs, the dummy they are supposed to have given up but always want at 3 am and the sippy cup, who can forget the sippy cup!

Finishing Touches

I bought vintage nursery prints when I originally decorated the room but while I adore them, they really do not suit our little bundle of fun.

kids-bedroom-art

These vintage style pencil drawings are from Wayfair and are priced at £16.80 each. They are so lovely but with a nod to the children’s room.

Ok, so this may be a big dream but look at this.

childrens-teepee

Instagram went crazy over the TeePee but look at this WigWam. This is also available at Kiddiewinkles and I just love it. I love the traditional styling, I love the imagination that’s gone into it and it would certainly perk up a wet Welsh day inside. like many of their items, this can also be personalised and is available here.

So what do you think?

Am I crazy to want to add so much to his room? I really love all these items and am keen to hear from the experts to get some extra perspective on the space I have available.

As always I love to hear how you have done things in your house so pop any thoughts below and I’ll be sure to take them onboard.

 

 

 

*** Disclosure –  This post contains affiliate links to some products.

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:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

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

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

1 2 3 4 7