Tag: bloggers

August Chat with a Dad: Julian of Northern Dad

Although off blogging and really enjoying my offline moments while on holiday this doesn’t mean that I’m going to forego or (God Forbid) skip this month’s chat with a dad!  Not at all, especially when I’m excited to introduce, Julian of Northern Dad… that is, of course, introduce him to those who haven’t yet come across his outstanding blog.  Julian is a recent find of mine, and one who is fast becoming one of my favourite dad bloggers.

It comes as no surprise that our August Chat with a Dad, also happens to be the winner of the Best Writer Category in the Brilliance in Blogging (BiB UK) Awards 2015.  Read on to find more about him:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

I’m a dinosaur from the eighties, (poor eyesight – big feet) stomping around Yorkshire with my wife and two kids. My son is 12, and my daughter is 6 years-old.

My son is at that awkward stage, bobbing around in the murky waters somewhere between man and boy. He’s just started talking like a rapper; the kind of hardcore rapper who likes Coco Pops for supper.

What were your little ones birth stories like?

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, our son Brodie, she developed an intense craving for chocolate oranges, which she used to eat nearly whole. I could almost hear them rolling down into her stomach. I think my son thought he was being incubated inside a pool table. It was totally different with my daughter, during her pregnancy my wife became addicted to Scotch eggs.

What do you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

The price of chocolate oranges and Scotch eggs.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

I’m a freelance copywriter, working from home, so during the school holidays I am around to look after the kids. When I say ‘around’ I mean hiding in the toilet, waiting for the holidays to end.

How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

I was always rubbishing at dating. When I first asked my future wife out on a date, I found out that she was really into cooking and meals out, so I took her to play badminton.

Now, whenever we have a free night, I always tell her that I have booked a restaurant meal, and then take her to play badminton; she hates it. Faced with free-time with me, she always tries to go with the kids.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

I was driving, and my son was in the back with his friend. They were both about seven years-old, and were discussing who they thought was the richest person on the planet. It went like this:

My son: Who do you think the richest man in the world is?

His mate: Alan Sugar. Who do you think it is?

My son: I think it’s the guy who invented houses; they’re everywhere.

What is it about fatherhood you love?

The uniform.

If there were anything about fatherhood you dislike, what would it be?

Nothing, I love being a dad. Being a parent gives you the opportunity to experience a completely different kind of life; love it.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

In my experience, the first five years are really intense, and I think it’s hard for one parent to take on all that responsibility.

My wife and I chopped and changed careers so that we could take it in turns, which gave us both an opportunity to be there at the magic moments, and the not-so-magic moments. It was tough financially, but we are both glad we did it. Well, I think we are both glad, I’ll ask my wife when she gets back from trying to ram her badminton racket in the bin.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

Never pick your kids up from school in a pair of skin-tight cycling shorts.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

Don’t listen to people who tell you never to wear skin-tight cycling shorts, they’re just jealous.

Thank you so much Julian!

Hope over to his blog right now for more brilliant writing!

And if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a mum, click here to read.

July Chat with a Mum: Carie of Space for the Butterflies

I adore Carie’s blog Space for the Buttefiles and I have serious envy over the beautiful things she can make.  I think she has magic hands! 🙂

Carie makes the most beautiful quilts for her children and  I swear she’s also a knitting goddess.  When I grow-up (as if I’m not! 😉  I want to be like her.  And I honestly think she should’ve won in the BiB Awards for the Crafts Category.  As if that’s not enough, she also takes beautiful photographs.

I know I’m gushing, so before I end up embarrassing myself any further, do come and meet her lovely family:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

I’m Carie and I’m Mum to Kitty age 4, Elma who’s 2 and our little Pip Squeak has just turned 10 months.

What were your children’s birth stories like?

Wildly different! Kitty was born at 42 weeks 1 day after an induction on top of early labour. My whole labour start to finish was about 48 hours and at one stage I was utterly convinced that I was going to be in labour for the rest of forever!

Elma on the other hand was just a smidgen quicker; I turned up on the labour ward having done a good few hours at home only to be told I was only 4 cm, “but you’re a second time mum, we’ll just keep you in for an hour to see if things pick up” That was about 4.15, at about 5 o’clock my waters broke with a force that knocked my breath away and Elma was born at 5.11 having narrowly avoided being born in the bathroom of the assessment ward.

And Pip was different again, my waters broke before labour had started and as there was a smidgen of meconium and I was showing no signs of going into labour any time soon I was induced again, but it was a lot easier – and shorter – than the first time.

My birth plan with Kitty said that I’d really like to use the birthing pool for labour and possibly delivery – three children later and the nearest I’ve got is being in the room next to it!

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

Quite how fierce a mother’s love is for her children. I look at my three and the rush of feeling that I have for them is overwhelming. My family is my whole world.

How do you manage your “me” time?

I don’t sleep! With three little ones there isn’t much time for me time in our everyday until they’ve gone to sleep and I’m terrible for staying up later than I should just to have that mental space. I’m sometimes tired but mostly happier if my day has ended with a bit of creativity.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

Oh this is so hard to choose. I think one of my favourites of all time I’ve actually only seen on video; my husband took Kitty and Elma to the Natural History Museum when I was at BritMums last year and we were a bit worried that she’d be frightened by the animatronic dinosaurs because as a rule Kitty hates puppets and things of that ilk. But instead I have a clip of a tiny little girl striding up to an enormous T-Rex and shouting “Talk to me dinosaur! Talk to me!”

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

It’s true unconditional love, in both directions. That feeling when you realise that you are the one person in the world that your baby wants, that no one else will do,and that only you can bring them comfort and happiness; that’s a pretty powerful feeling.

On the one hand, if there’s anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Honestly, it sounds silly, but accidents/nappysplosions on the sofa. I sort it out serene and calm on the surface but inside my head is saying “Nooooooooooo!”

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

At the moment I’m on maternity leave so I’m home full time with all three. Kitty goes to preschool two days a week but other than we have a little rhythm of the week at home; getting the housework done, reading stories, going shopping, having lunch, and then most afternoons we head up to the park or play out in the back garden. I’m a huge fan of spending as much time as possible outside, especially in the summer, and the side effect is that the house stays quite tidy too!

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Never take all of the credit or all of the blame.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

If everyone is fractious you need to get outside or sing, or both. It works a treat and it took me a while to work it out!

How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your little ones and other activities as well?

I don’t generally blog during the day. I might nip in and out if I’m reading my phone while trying to get Pip to take a rare nap not in the sling but we try to be as screen free as possible with the children and that generally means leading by example. So blogging and reading blogs all happens in the evening. Occasionally I’ll knit or plan some sewing during the day but mostly the days are about the house and the children and the evenings are about spending time with my husband and pursing our hobbies. And see above comment about not enough sleep – I have definitely not got this figured out!

Thank you so much Carie!

If you haven’t taken a peek at her blog yet, do so now 🙂

And if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a dad, you can head over now and have a read.

June Chat with a Dad: Darren of One Dad 3 Girls

If you are a British blogger or at least familiar with parent British bloggers, Darren of One Dad 3 Girls needs no introduction at all. Aside from the fact that he hosts the lovely #MySundayPhoto linky, he has won and has been a finalist in so many British Blogging awards that I’ve actually lost count!  So if you’re wondering what all the fuss is all about, read on and head over to his blog after:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

Hi, my name is Darren and I have two beautiful daughters. My eldest is 7 and her name is Aly, and Mia is 4 years old and about to start Primary School in September.

What were your little ones birth stories like?

Both of the births were different. Aly was a long drawn out affair where we were at the hospital for 36 hours before she was born. Mia on the other hand was super quick, so quick in fact that we almost had it in the hospital car park.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

Honestly I don’t think there was anything I wish I knew. No one goes into parenthood totally prepared and that’s part of the joys of it.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

I’m very lucky with my work life and have a great job that means I’m home at 5pm ever weekday and have all weekends off. This is something I have always tried to do so that we enjoy time together.

How do you manage childfree time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

Honestly we hardly have any free time. We have the odd day out here and there but it’s only about once a week. We’d rather spend the time with our children.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

Everyday seems to be an anecdote with my two. It’s so beautiful and nice to see them playing together and you’ll often hear them playing schools together and pretending to be the teachers with their cuddly toys.

What is it about fatherhood you love about?

I enjoy how each day is different. They are always coming out with new things that they’ve learnt during the day. Plus they are always so happy to see you, each and ever ytime.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

In the beginning it was probably the feeding during the nights or the nappies but it’s those times when you really bond with your children so I wouldn’t change them or anything about fatherhood.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

If I could afford it then possibly yes. The age my girls are now it would be a pretty lonely time as the house would be empty all day long.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

Before they were born I read a few books and social media wasn’t really around but someone told me to take photos as before you know it they’ve grown up.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be? Just to simply enjoy every moment as they don’t stay little for long.

Thank you so much Darren!

Do head over to One Dad and 3 Girls

Click here to connect with him over at Twitter.

And if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a mum, do come and have a read too.

May Chat with a Mum: Lindsay of Solo Mama

It’s the first of May and time for another lovely chat with a mum.

Long before meeting my husband, my fellow single-friends and I used to talk a lot about how we could all be single mothers by choice and that all we needed to do was find sperm donors.  It was all talk, none of us followed-through, though two of us did end up mothers, but did it the traditional way.  Our featured mother for this month’s Chat with a Mum, did it all on her own.

I am in awe of women who parent on their own whether it’s by choice or because of circumstances.  Let’s hear more from this solo mama and how she did it:

Tell us something about yourself and your little one.

I am a lesbian single mom by choice to my daughter, Evelyn, who just turned 2 in February. We live in Toronto, Canada. I work as a Communications Specialist (fancy term for writer!) at a University, and Evelyn spends her weekdays at preschool. Together, we enjoy reading books, colouring, throwing dance parties in our livingroom, playing outside and eating macaroni & cheese.

What was your child’s birth story like?

Having planned a homebirth, Evelyn was born in the bedroom in our former home, here in Toronto. We were surrounded by my midwives, best friend and mom when Evelyn joined us at 1:11 am. Her birth was truly the most incredible moment of my life, and if I could, I’d go back and live it again and again, to re-experience that rush of love and pure bliss.

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

There is so much I can wish I had known, but honestly, pre-motherhood, I probably wouldn’t have believed it or listened. I had so many notions of what I thought motherhood was, what it would be like, what it should feel like. And most of those ideas were just plain wrong! I thought I knew how all-encompassing maternal love was, but what I thought it wasn’t hadn’t even scratched the surface of what it truly is.

If I could know one thing about motherhood before embarking on it, I wish someone had told me that sleep issues can extend well beyond infancy. My toddler still wakes up in the middle of the night. I had no idea this could happen – I honestly thought children slept. How naïve!

How do you manage your “me-time”?

Poorly – haha. As a single mom, my “me time” is quite rare. I walk to and from work (20 minutes each way), so that is a guaranteed “me” time each day. When I feel desperate for a break, I’ll hire a babysitter to come play with Evelyn while I go out and run errands/write in a coffee shop/walk around the city. I find myself continually wishing I had more time for myself, while also knowing the time during which Evelyn is this little and needs me so intensely is going to fly by, and some day, I’ll long for just one more moment that we’re living now. When Evelyn goes to bed for the night, I knit & write – my two cheap therapies!

Do you have a favourite anecdote of your little one?

I have so many stories about Evelyn, and here I am drawing a blank now that I’m being asked! Life with a child is always providing opportunities for laughter, even through the exhaustion. Now that Evelyn is starting to speak a little more, she cracks me up on a daily basis, mostly because the way she pronounces things is so funny. I remember for the longest time, I was having a hard time figuring out what she meant when she was asking for a “cock”. Turns out, she was talking about socks!

The thing I love the most about Evelyn is her sensitivity – she is so in tune with the way I and others around her are feeling. She often approaches people if they’re sad and strokes their cheek saying, “‘kay?” Heart melting.

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

It sounds so cliché, but here it is: the love. The love a mother feels for her child is unrivaled, and it’s incredible. Just when I think I can’t love her more, I do.

I also really love rediscovering the world through my daughter’s eyes. Life really slows down when you go at a toddler’s pace, and that is sometimes frustrating. But when I really take a moment to see things the way she does, life feels more exciting somehow, I can see and appreciate the beauty in the little things.

If there is anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

The lack of sleep! Also, the lack of freedom. I sometimes daydream about what it would be like to have an entire day to myself. I’d lay in my bed until I felt like getting up (past 7 am!), go have a leisurely brunch, lay in the park and read a book, maybe go out for a drink or two with friends. I miss my freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little one?

Weekdays and weekends vary. Weekdays, we’re up by 6 am and out the door for daycare and work by 7:30. I work 8-4, and pick Evelyn up from preschool/daycare by 4:30. Come out, have dinner, and play outside until it’s time to come in for bed around 7 pm.

Our weekends are full of adventures and never predictable. Evelyn played soccer for a while, she’s in gymnastics. We visit the multitude of parks in our neighbourhood, visit the farm in the city, have play dates – lots of fun things!

Best advice you’ve ever received about Motherhood?

Listen to your intuition. The best advice anyone gave me wasn’t a piece of “wisdom” that worked for them. It was them telling me – reminding me – that I know best. My intuition will never steer me wrong, and when I listen to it in life & motherhood, I never regret it.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

Build that village – it really does take a village to raise a child. Build your village. Cultivate it. Make friends with other moms, or moms to be. These are your people, even if they aren’t right now – they are going to become your people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I struggle a lot with asking for assistance from friends and family. If I could go back to new mom me, I’d tell her to reach out and say “Hey – I need help,” more often.

How do you manage your time between work and your little one?

Work never, ever comes home with me. Work time is work time, and family time is family time. Work will never be important enough to cut into my precious family time. 40 hours of my week is plenty enough. Balancing a full-time job with motherhood and managing everyone on my own as a single mom is absolutely exhausting. But it has shown me just how strong I am, and I’m damn proud of myself, if I do say so myself!

Thank you so much Lindsay!

Now head over to her blog for more of this lovely solo Mama and her beautiful darling daughter.

Click here to read if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.

April Chat with a Dad: Scott of Snoozing on the Sofa

It may be April Fool’s today, but there’s definitely nothing foolish about self-published author, Scott Nagele and Dad behind the blog  Snoozing on the Sofa.  If you haven’t discovered his blog yet, this is a good introduction, think of it as snippets, the kind of writing to expect and if you’re one of his many followers, you might just get to know him a little bit more though this month’s Chat with a Dad.

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

I got into this baby-making biz late. I was over 40 when my first son was born. Now, I have three sons, and I’m still over 40, only slightly more so. If you want to start a family at such an advanced age, you should find a mate half your age. Just kidding, my wife is not half my age (anymore).

My boys are six, almost three, and almost one. They show no regard for my old age and climb up and down me as if I were a teenager. Since they regularly stomp on parts of me that make me squeal a prepubescent high note, you can understand their confusion.

What were your little ones birth stories like?

I’ve blogged about them all, but to summarize: the first one almost put me in the hospital. True, we were already in the hospital, but there was no bed for me. There should have been, as seeing my wife get hooked up for the epidural made my legs awfully wobbly.

The second time, most of the frightening stuff happened before we even got to the hospital, including my wife attempting to exit the car in the midst of a busy intersection because she needed fresh air, RIGHT NOW!

By the third one, we were finally learning how to do this thing. Nobody swooned and nobody became a menace to oncoming traffic, so it goes down as our best effort.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

The tips are horrible. I have become the head waiter for the family, not only serving meals, but also fetching juice from the fridge, rushing for a napkin before it’s too late, replacing all the utensils that have been dropped on the floor, bringing a snack, bringing a different snack for the kid who didn’t get to pick the first one, cleaning away dirty dishes before the baby pulls them down, and a host of other errand-boy tasks. Occasionally, my generous customers will treat me to a thank you. But I’m always welcome to pick at a cold dinner in between assignments.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

That’s easy. I don’t. I work a full time job. My wife has a part time job where she picks up floating shifts. Day care for two, sometimes three, children costs more than her job is worth. So when she gets a shift, I stay home with the kids. I use vacation time or make it up evenings and weekends, so I’m either at work or with my kids most of the time. Both get plenty of me, so I don’t bother about balance.

How do you manage childfree time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

That’s funny. Since our first child was born, I think I’ve had exactly two childfree moments with my wife, and they both resulted in other kids, so we try and stay away from that now.

We don’t have regular date nights. We have no relatives near us, so most babysitting costs us. We usually just take the boys to the restaurant with us and let the nice people at the next table help us babysit. It’s cheaper for us and gives our new acquaintances a more fulfilling dining experience.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

Of course, but I’ve already blogged the best of them. The little items that have escaped mention on the blog are things like a few years ago when my oldest wanted to go to the movies to see Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid.

What is it about fatherhood you love?

There are so many things, but one of my favorites is the sound of my boys’ laughter. I love it when I make them laugh and I love it when they make each other laugh. It’s also great when they make me laugh. They have some pretty good jokes for young pups.

They have some bad jokes too, and sometimes it’s difficult not to laugh at these as well. I do my best to resist this temptation because one of a father’s primary duties is to dissuade his children from the path that leads to third-rate humor.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike, what would it be?

The thing that annoys me most is probably not having time to tackle routine tasks in anything like a prompt manner. It’s hard to mow the lawn when you are alone with a two-year-old and an infant. My wife and I both have to be home for this kind of work to get done, and then we have to compete for time to do our work. Imagine: a competition to see who gets to do chores! Forget about date nights; I need a babysitter so I can shovel the sidewalk.

I also don’t like having to hide all of my best sweets until after the kids are asleep. I’m too old to be eating cupcakes at all hours of the night.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

I already do this part time, and that’s plenty. Maybe when the baby is a little older I’d be more willing, but merely keeping track of the whereabouts of an active crawler for eight hours straight saps all my strength. Plus, there aren’t many daytime sports on TV during the week.

When they are all old enough to be away at school all day, I would definitely reconsider my answer.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

“Let them eat cake!” Okay, so she wasn’t necessarily talking about parenthood specifically, but it’s still useful fathering advice on many different levels.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

If you’re going to nap on the couch, lie on your stomach or wear a cup.

OR

Don’t waste more than 10 seconds searching for a pair of matching baby socks.

Thank you so much Scott!

Now if you’ve liked what you’ve read here, head over to Snoozing on the sofa for more of Scott’s ramblings on fatherhood.

He also has another blog where he talks more about his work as a writer and other non-parenthood related topics.

And of course, click here if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a mum.

March Chat with a Mum: Reneé of Mummy Tries

I can’t believe it’s March already, spring is definitely just around the corner.  It’s unbelievable that winter is finally almost over – thank goodness for that!

Here at Chats with Mums, I’m excited to introduce to you guys (for those who haven’t heard or read her blog yet), the lovely woman behind the blog Mummy Tries … she really does (love her blog name!), if that alone doesn’t get you hooked, I don’t know what will 😉 … So without further ado, sit back, preferably with a cup of tea or coffee, come and have a read:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

I’m Reneé, wife to Andy and mummy to Polly (5), Clara (3) and Freddy (1). I’m also a blogger, part time PA, real food lover/wannabe chef and published author of self-help book Become the Best You.

What was your children’s birth story like?

Polly’s birth was pretty horrendous it has to be said. We wanted a natural home birth, but it didn’t work out that way. After five days in early labour and 12 hours in established labour she got stuck and we were blue lighted to the hospital. She was delivered a few hours later by forceps, and I ended up with thirty odd stitches. I was so in love with her and glad she was here at last that it didn’t strike me until much later how awful her birth was. Hats off to the amazing home birth midwife who faught the hospital to ensure I received an epidural once we arrived, even though I was 9cm dilated! It allowed me enough respite to be able to push for two hours. Without it I’m convinced I would have had an emergency c-section.

Second time around I fared up much better, and Clara was delivered naturally in the midwife led birthing unit at our local hospital after a 12 hour labour. Although I still had to push for an hour and a half. Freddy came into the world within three hours of arriving at the birthing centre, and after just 20 minutes of pushing. My husband joked that it was a shame we were stopping at three because I’d got so good at giving birth!

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

In my humble opinion absolutely nothing can prepare a woman for motherhood. I had a lot of friends who had babies already when I was pregnant with Polly, and I’d worked out a lot of things I wanted to do and didn’t want to do with her. I had a great first time experience but once Clara came along life became much more challenging, and some things that worked with one child just didn’t work with two. This intensified again when Freddy came along. I don’t have a set formula or rule book. I just take each day as it comes and always try my very best. It’s all anyone can do really.

How do you manage your “me-time”?

When the girls were little we’d take annual leave from work, send them to nursery, and have nice lunches, spa days, watch a film. Do all the things it becomes impossible to do once you have kids and no babysitters on hand. I’ve not had much in the way of me time since having Freddy, but that will change now that he’s one and not quite so attached to the boob.

Last year I had two little snippets of me time: my hubby watched the kids while I had a colonic hydrotherapy treatment (not everyone’s idea of fun!), and I also had a fab long lunch with one of my besties just before Xmas. Hubby and I have been talking about a spa weekend at some point this year, and leaving the kids with his parents overnight for the first time ever.

Do you have a favourite anecdote of your little ones?

During Xmas 2013 Clara, who wasn’t quite two at the time, referred to it as ‘pippis’, and as you can imagine that got quite a few chuckles over the festive season. Mine are still a bit small to have funny stories to embarrass them with when they’re teenagers, but I’m sure there will be a fair few by then.

What is it about Motherhood you absolutely love about?

I love the fact that my husband and I have created a family. I’m completely estranged from my side, and we have physical distance separating us from hubby’s side. The five of us will always have each other though, and that is a pretty amazing thing.

If there is anything about Motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

I really dislike it when pushy parents make everything a competition, as it takes all the fun out of childhood. It can be quite inescapable once they start school, but I try and avoid it as much as I can.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

Our days are really varied to be honest. They’re a mixture of school, nursery, two days of work which is mostly from home but sometimes entails going into the office in London. Mornings can be quite hectic in our house, but we have been working hard to stop shouting, and eradicate negative parenting behaviours though, which makes them less stressful than they used to be.

There’s always lots to do in the kitchen throughout the day, as we eat a diet consisting entirely of natural foods. This means I have to be organised, as there’s never the option to just open a packet or jar of something for a quick bite. It’s great though, because the girls already know where their food comes from, as they see real food all the time and are often involved in the preparation of it.

I’ve just got myself on Instagram, so tend to share bits about the kids and food throughout the day. My blogging time is while Freddy is having his last feed after the girls go to bed.

Best advice you’ve ever received about Motherhood?

Expect one hideous day per week at least. My friend had a baby the year I was pregnant first time round, and passed on this gem. I remember holding on tight to those words in the early days and not feeling so bad about the tough ones.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

My advice would be don’t compare your kids to anyone else’s, and don’t compare siblings to each other. We are all different and this includes children. People should be treated according to their own individual personalities.

How do you manage your time between work and your little ones?

I’m fortunate that I only work two days a week, and have a flexible working arrangement in place enabling me to work from home mostly. I travel into London once a month for an office day, and they can get rather hairy! Working from home means I don’t have to worry about the stress and additional time constraints commuting adds to the mix. Things might change in the future, but for now it’s an ideal solution.

Thank you so much Reneé!

Click here to view her blog.

and of course, don’t forget to follow her tweets,

Lastly, click here to purchase her book! 🙂

For those of you who have missed February’s Chat with a Dad, do head over and have a read.

Book Review: Confessions of a Mother Inferior by Ericka Waller

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple”
– Jack Kerouac

Write what you know about, what you’re familiar with, I’ve heard those lines dozens of times from writing workshops, and books on writing; advice for people who want to write their own novel for the very first time and Ericka Waller, did just that.

This is a must-read for all mothers; you’ll recognise each and every character she has mentioned on the book.  The school-run mothers, I know them too. You know, those who like to stand around in circles, talking as if they have nothing else important to do.  Perhaps, they’re just stalling and doing their best to delay going back home to a pile of unwashed dishes/laundry, not to mention the mess in the living room.  Women who make you feel like a crap parent, because their kids go to school with packed lunches straight out of a pinterest page (What?! Your daughter’s sandwich isn’t shaped like a Ninja turtle?!)  And yes, they are also probably the same mums who have been drilling their kids with flash cards even before school started.  Thank goodness there are no mums in Little T’s school who show up with matching shoes and handbags.  But then again, that’s because we live in a small village by the sea.  We however have, slim, tall and blonde mothers.  The rest of us are short and fat.  Yes, I also am aware that all these are probably just in our heads.  We mothers are nuts, like that.  But no one else is allowed to say it, or else there will be war!

Erica Waller vividly describes this.  Confessions of a Mother Inferior is funny, witty and is sad too.  It’s not just the characters who suspiciously sounds like your friend or next-door-neighbor, but also the situations, and instances.  It’s almost like you’ve invited her to your home after the school run, for a cuppa, and a little chit-chat.  You know the loneliness that engulfs you as you plod on each day picking up duplo or lego parts, and you’re wondering, is this it?  Is this my life?  And you think I used to have a life and a career.  Whatever happened, and then the guilt seeps in and you think, you’re not supposed to feel that way, because you love your family and your kids.

And Peta, the main character in the book not only has to deal with all these, she is also dealing with grief, the death of her best-friend, even though it’s been four years, the pain is still there.    Then there are worries about her children:  Her middle child is not fully toilet trained and the eldest who just started reception class is having her own difficulties at school which would break any mother’s heart. Then there’s her husband.  There are indications that he might be having an affair with his beautiful young PA.  But is he really cheating on her?

I enjoyed the book, although sharper editing might have trimmed it down just a little bit, without diminishing the narrative (this process may have filtered out the handful of typographical errors that inhibited the flow).  And I also have to admit though that at first, I was a bit worried it was going to be one of those books that try too much to be funny and then like a bad joke, just fall flat in the end.  But she manages it perfectly well.

Erica is also a blogger and yes, I am familiar with her blog.  Admittedly again, I was worried about that too.  You see, the problem with bloggers who end up writing a book is that the reader (especially if that reader has read her blog), might struggle to separate the blogger, her life (or what she has shared in her blog) from the novel.  Yes, there are similarities.  In real life, she also has three kids, with the same age bracket, and is also a writer (a journalist).  But does it matter?  To me it doesn’t.  She manages to pull it off too!

I was a little disappointed with the ending, but that’s just me.  Don’t worry, I won’t mention it here, you’ll have to read the book, and I do emphasise that – it’s a definite must-read, especially if you’re looking for an insight into a mother’s concerns and pressures, feelings that are so rarely shared – even at the school gate.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the book by Britain’s Next Bestseller for the purpose of this review, but opinions and photo is by yours truly.

Top 12 Quotable Quotes on Parenthood

I love this list of quotes from all who were featured last year, 2014 with Chat’s with Mums and Dads.  Sometimes I wonder whether it’s the year to stop doing it, but I change my mind as soon as I read some of the words written here.  I love hearing stories from parents, even if sometimes, the stories are the same.  Often, the words are lovely and wise and leaves me with goosebumps, sometimes with tears.  Read for yourself:

“I love seeing things through the innocence of a child’s eyes. (You can tell all our kids are still young, can’t you?) We so easily become jaded and cynical as adults, but to children something as simple as a bus ride is a magical experience, and to them everything is possible. Being there to guide them through this amazing world of ours is a privilege”

December: Tim of Slouching Towards Thatcham

“That those little people (kind of big now) need me. They really do. Even my 19-year-old man-child will come to me when he is sick, when he is sad or when he just needs a hug. It feels so good to be needed”

– November: Tracie of Life in the Whylde West

“Don’t get too hung up over “rules” and “right ways” of parenting – it merely contributes to anxiety on both the kids and yourself. Just set broad parameters for acceptable behaviour, then it is all about setting examples by your actions. This is because children, well at least mine anyway, rarely hear but often do what they see”

– October: JD of Jogging Dad

“That it’s not like in the movies. They don’t sit still during dinner. But that’s all right. Don’t sweat the small stuff”

 – September: Jhanis of The Vanilla Housewife

“The small things like coming home and seeing their excited faces at the window and getting smothered with cuddles as I walk in the door everyday. This is something Mummy doesn’t get because she is always around”

– August: James of Daddy Space

“I was told to lead by example. This is a tough job especially when you’re fed up to the back teeth with the kids. If you end up shouting, then of course your child will learn to shout back. If you hit them (which I don’t do by the way) they will learn that too. It’s hard, but we’re all human, and I’ve yelled at Lily plenty of times, then told her not to yell at me! Note to self: lead by example!”

– July: Josanne of My Kids Rules

“But being away from them, and feeling that gigantic hole in my heart as I sit on a plane, that is the one thing crappy thing about being a dad. You know those moments when you realise part of your essence is missing”

– June: Pieter of Ah Dad

“Where is my magic wand? I hate the days where it feels like I’ve failed because I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do or because I can’t fix it. I want the magic wand that gives me the answers and cures all that is wrong! Sometimes it was when he was sick, and sometimes it is because of something he is going through, I just want to make it all better!”

– May: Kate of Did that just happen blog?

“It’s awesome. You want more? Well I think it can probably be summed up in the feeling you get when you open the door in the evening having been at work all day and 2 crazy toddlers come running into the hall shouting DADDDY! I love being a dad, I love seeing them develop and learn things, I love their laughter and how you forget all your worries and stresses around them”

– April: Ben of Mutterings of a fool

“Pick your battles.  I have control-freak tendencies which if I don’t keep in check, could send our home life into a frenzy! That’s why choosing which battles to pick and being purposeful about this, is something that I try to do on a daily basis.  Does it really matter if their bedroom is a tip during the week?  No, they can tidy it at the weekend and I will count to 10 on entering Monday-Friday!”

– March: Suzanne of 3 Children and It

“I love the unpredictability of having a child. Jackson makes me laugh all the time. I like watching him grow and seeing how much progress he seems to make so quickly. I like the fact that however hard it gets there is still unconditional love between the two of us. I suppose part of me enjoys the challenge of turning tantrums and bad behaviour into more positive outcomes too. I like to help him learn and I enjoy all of the lessons he teaches me without even knowing it, too”

– February: Ben of Life as a Widower

“I wish I could tell myself to enjoy the early days and cuddles without worrying, they go so quickly! When I see people with tiny babies sleeping on their chests I feel sad that I ever thought it was more important to get them to nap in a basket”

– January: Katie of Hurrah for Gin

If you haven’t heard or read any of the bloggers featured on this list, then you are missing so much!  Do check them out and their interviews.  They’ll make you laugh and cry, some may even do both and f you wish to be featured too, please get in touch with me (deanbwordpressblogs@gmail.com).  I normally feature bloggers whom I really admire, read and follow, but would so love to discover new ones too!

Click here if you want to read 2013’s Quotable Quotes on Parenthood.

And also I started Chats with Mums 2015 with a bang!  Do read the lovely Adele of Circus Queen on her thoughts of motherhood and other tales.

January Chat with a Mum: Adele of Circus Queen

It’s 2015 folks!  Hope everyone has had a lovely New Year’s Eve celebration and not suffering from a hang-over.  As always, I like to begin the new year at Chat with Mums with the best and the next blogger is certainly one of them.  She’s also one of the few mothers out there whom I personally agree with when it comes to parenting, so without further ado here’s Adele of the very informative blog Circus Queen.

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago but now live in Bristol. I moved to the UK as an undergrad, ended up marrying a British guy and stayed here. We have two daughters, Talitha (three-and-a-half) and Ophelia (10-months-old).

What were your children’s birth stories like?

Talitha was born thirteen days after my due date. I’d planned a home birth but after a long pre-labour, I lost my confidence and ended up being induced in hospital. It was difficult but there was so much to be thankful for.

Ophelia was born three days after her due date. I was caught off-guard, having expected her to be as late as her big sister. It was a long but beautiful (healing!) labour and we had the calm home birth we’d hoped for.

She met the world in a birth pool in our living room. I caught her myself and her father burned the cord. The midwives got there in the nick of time, just a half-hour before she was born.

Both experiences have made me passionate about the need to improve maternity services and about the “birth rights” of women and babies.

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

I wish I’d known how to listen to my instinct. I realize this isn’t something you can really plug into until you become a parent but I feel like I’ve spent my life before having children distracted by what should be background noise. I’ve only recently stopped caring so much about what others think and started listening more to what my gut is telling me.

How do you manage your “me” time?

Not very well at all! I end up staying up into the wee hours, partly because I have work to finish but mostly because it’s my only child-free time. I need to stop doing it, though. Being tired makes parenting unnecessarily difficult.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

A recent one: We were walking to the Nativity service at our church and my three-year-old was dressed as Tigger (what – your Bible doesn’t show Tigger visiting baby Jesus?!) and it was windy. She exclaimed: “The wind is blowing away my stripes!”

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love?

I love the quiet moments alone with each child when we melt into each other. With my baby, this is usually while I’m breastfeeding her or carrying her in a sling. With my three-year-old it’s when we’re cuddling at bedtime or just because she needs some “Mummy-time” on my lap. I’m all too aware that these moments will pass before I’m ready for them to go.

On the one hand, if there were anything about motherhood you dislike, what would it be?

I dislike not having enough time: time to be present with my children and time to follow my own pursuits. It’s hard to accept that I can’t have it all at once. Some things need to be deferred.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

A typical weekday involves getting up around seven or eight, getting the three of us ready and out of the house to a group, then home in the afternoon for some chill time, maybe play with learning to read and count, do some baking or craft then start the supper and bedtime routine.

On a bad day, it all goes out of the window. I am flexible about it all but I find having a plan helps us. Sometimes we have to accept that the baby just needs a home day.

On the average week we go to drama, home education group, pre-ballet, breastfeeding group (where I volunteer), baby sign, toddler group and a women’s Bible study. Once a month, the older one goes to a horse riding class. We also meet up with friends in between. It’s pretty busy (it especially looks that way now that I’ve written it down!).

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

“This too shall pass” is one of the most useful phrases I’ve been told, as well as, “The days are long but the years are short”. So much feels unmanageable when you’re going through it but it always helps to keep it in perspective. It will change, things will get easier, other issues will crop up, you will all grow and you will all survive.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

I’d tell myself not to think too far ahead and not to worry so much. Take one day at a time, one night at a time, one breastfeed at a time, one tantrum at a time, one sickness at a time, one decision at a time. Life is made of lots of little steps. You can’t skip any so you might as well focus on the one you’re on before you move on to the next one.

How do you manage your time or blogging between work and your little ones?

As I said, I don’t manage it very well! I do most of my blogging (which is my me time and part of my work) and any other paid or voluntary work in the evenings, which is tough because I’m tired then. But I count myself blessed to be able to do work which is creative, enjoyable and flexible enough to fit around staying at home with my children.

Thank you so much Adele!

To read more about her, click here.

You can also her on FB and of course, twitter.

 Click here if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a dad.

December Chat with a Dad: Tim of Slouching towards Thatcham

It’s the first day of December and it’s that special month of the year of giving and sharing and here in Chat with Mums and Dads – I feel really honoured and excited to share with you guys one of my current favourite bloggers, Tim of Slouching towards Thatcham.

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

I’m Tim and I’m the proud father of three children: Isaac (who turns seven this month), Toby (nearly five) and Kara (two-and-a-half).

What were your little ones’ birth stories like?

Eventful! The boys were both planned home water births. Isaac was by the book, although he kept us waiting by arriving nearly two weeks late. Toby arrived in such a hurry that I ended up delivering him myself on our living room floor a good 15 minutes before our midwife arrived. I dined out on that one for a while!

Kara denied us the hat-trick of home births. She went way beyond fashionably late – 19 days late, in fact. My wife’s waters broke at the hospital while she was discussing a potential induction. I ended up driving to Reading at, ahem, slightly above the national speed limit and got there with just 15 minutes to spare. I’ve been chasing around after her ever since.

What do you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

In many ways, I wish I’d known less. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and advice you receive from ante-natal classes, books, family and friends that it’s easy to ignore your own instincts.

I’d almost rather I’d just gone into it knowing that every dad’s experience is different, that making mistakes is part of the process and that as long as we try to do the right things and don’t drop them on their heads too often our kids will love us anyway.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

It can be a challenge sometimes, but fortunately my job is office-based and allows me some flexibility so that I can catch up in the evenings if needed.

So most days I make a point of being home at least in time to put the kids to bed, and even do the occasional school pick-ups. On a busy weekday I may only see them for a few minutes at either end of the day, but that counts for a lot to me.

How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

Not as many as we should! We’re lucky that our children have always been relatively early sleepers, so evenings are mostly are our own. Occasionally we’ll go out for dinner, mostly we’ll stay in together, but we also do stuff separately when we get the chance.

Vital as it is to have ‘we’ time together as husband and wife, ‘me’ time is also important for both of us.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

Not an anecdote as such, but I am constantly amused at the way our children absorb phrases and mannerisms both from their parents and each other.

As the oldest sibling, Isaac often takes charge and admonishes the others when they’re being naughty. He’ll do so using the same words and tone of voice that we do. (“I’m going to count to three, then …”).

And it’s hard not to laugh when Kara tells the boys off by placing her hands on her hips, raising her voice, saying, “Boys! Stop fighting! Right now!” in a way that sounds uncannily like my wife.

They really do grow up in our image, don’t they?

What is it about fatherhood you love?

I love seeing things through the innocence of a child’s eyes. (You can tell all our kids are still young, can’t you?) We so easily become jaded and cynical as adults, but to children something as simple as a bus ride is a magical experience, and to them everything is possible. Being there to guide them through this amazing world of ours is a privilege.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike, what would it be?

The early mornings! Even now, anything beyond 6am qualifies as a lie-in. Our lifestyle has changed a lot since the kids arrived, but as a night owl it’s the early starts that I struggle with the most.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

Probably not. I’m under no illusions that stay-at-home parenting is a tough gig, and while I would definitely consider working a four-day week to free up more time to spend with the kids I’m not sure I’m cut out to do it full-time.

Best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood?

That there is no one ‘right way’ to be a dad, which means not being afraid to do things my way, no matter how much advice I receive from well-meaning people.

And that includes my wife! I’ve learned a lot by copying her approaches to managing the kids, but last year I spent nine days on my own with just the boys and that experience gave me the freedom to experiment with new approaches. Not all of them worked but some did, and it gave me the confidence to keep doing things my way and incorporate the best of both of parenting styles.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

To relax. It’s in my nature to over-think things, and I remember being worried about getting things wrong and trying to remember everything you’re taught in books and ante-natal classes.

The reality is that nothing really prepares you for the adventure that is fatherhood. Trust your instincts more and go with the flow, because no matter how well prepared you think you are (or aren’t), the reality is always different and full of surprises, most of them pleasant (except the ones that come at the nappy end of things …) Fatherhood is a journey: spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the ride.

Thank you so much Tim!

For more words of wisdom on fatherhood, do check out his blog and follow his tweets!

In case you’ve missed November’s Chat with a Mum, click here to read.

Have a lovely first week of December!

25 more sleeps to go before Christmas 🙂