….Michelle Yardley-Eldred! Woop woop ! Well done Michelle, you have won our classic hamper 😉
Michelle was nominated by her fabulous pal Pam Champion. Here is a picture of Michelle and her beautiful daughter, Amelia (7)
….Michelle Yardley-Eldred! Woop woop ! Well done Michelle, you have won our classic hamper 😉
Michelle was nominated by her fabulous pal Pam Champion. Here is a picture of Michelle and her beautiful daughter, Amelia (7)
I’ve spoken a few times now about my take on being a new parent. About how it hits you like a tonne of bricks. How NOTHING prepares you. About how I think I have the answer to the best new mum gift you could get her, and how I found everything too focussed on the baby. But it's got me thinking recently about what advice people would offer if they could do it all again? What would they say to themselves the day they became a parent? I decided to ask my fabulous community on social media. I got a FABULOUS response! Here is a short selection of some of my faves…
“I’d loved to have known that the overwhelming amount of guilt you experience in the first few weeks is all quite normal and you’re not alone. Learn to swat that guilt fairy away. You are doing brilliantly.”
“Chocolate. Consume it. Don't google lack of sleep- it will tell you you're going to die. I wish I’d just known how hard it is. It's like the best-kept secret. You have a baby and feel like a failure because no one said how flippin hard it is.”
“No matter how self assured or together they seem on the outside, every parent is just winging it.”
“If you need to cry, just do it without feeling ashamed. You are normal, no matter the amount of tears.”
Claudia Benitez Diaz
“Cuddle the shit out if them! Don't expect to put them down”
“Don't worry if you don't love them in the first day, the first week, even the first month. It can take time. And don't feel pressure to enjoy everything – some days will be horrible and it's ok to say that. Get some time away as soon as you can – leave them with dad or gran for an hour or two when they're still tiny, so leaving them for the first time doesn't build up to be a huge thing. Oh and it's ok to let them cry sometimes.”
“Sleep when your baby sleeps. When visitors come round get them to make YOU a cup of tea. Get a nice dressing gown in advance-you’re going to be seen wearing it a lot. Have a place where you can sit a feed comfortably. Put your phone/remote/book within reach because once you sit down you’ll need it.”
Caroline Budden Gibson
“Always point the willy down when changing a nappy”
“Lavender oil and tea tree oil in a warm (not hot) bath will help to naturally heal a tear. (Ouch!)”
Caroline Budden Gibson
“I remember sitting down to eat dinner one night and my daughter started crying- I was totally overwhelmed. I thought nothing would ever be the same again and I panicked. Life WAS never the same…but it a totally fantastic way! The smallest thing may be overwhelming but it’s ok. It’s ok to feel like that.”
“Coffee is your friend!”
“Feed, clean nappy, entertain, keep the right temperature (feel chest not hands) cradle and sing lullaby when tired to get them to sleep….repeat… keep repeating = happy child….”
Jake Sharpstone, who also provided this fantastic diagram!
“Toddlers want you weak but alive” (I know this isn't specifically new parent advice, but it made me laugh so much I included it anyway!)
“Have cabbage leaves ready in the fridge and get a good supportive pillow”
“The path of least resistance is often your saviour. Take other people's suggestions on board if you've sought them out and they feel right, note them and file them away as you wish if they're unsolicited. Accept every offer of help that will actually be helpful. And above all follow your instinct, its usually right!”
“The best mantra is ‘everyone fed, no one dead’.”
Leila Jane Grayling
“You always look back and laugh at the bits that made you cry.”
Thank you SO much to everyone that contributed to this! I loved reading them all so much. If you are a new mum or a new dad, I hope these helped. If you're a not so new parent….I hope they resonated as much with you as they did with me!
I realised I had a lot of clothes, but I hadn’t fully accepted the volume entirely! I had accumulated a lot of clothes over the past 5 years due to major life events. 5 years ago I was fit and sprightly. I was in fitness training and had completed many runs. I’d just got married and was the slimmest I’d ever been. I’d bought a new wardrobe to match my newfound physique. Not long after marriage I was pregnant. This, of course, needed a whole new maternity wardrobe. Many old clothes were stored in vacuum bags in the loft. I was determined I’d get back into them not long after the birth of my baby. Of course this didn’t happen. When my first was just 3 months old I discovered I was pregnant again. It was a good job I hadn’t even had chance to get back into my old clothes. My body expanded once again. No longer fit and sprightly, but a body in shock that it was having to grow yet another human. I bought more maternity wear, this time in bigger sizes. More clothes were confined to the loft.
My kids are now 2.5 and 3.5 and until recently, my clothes were a weird mix of new stuff I’d bought, maternity wear (which made me feel rubbish) and oddly fitted old clothes. My wardrobe and draws were literally over-flowing. I could barely shut any drawers or doors. I only wore what was the top layer of drawers, hardly daring to dig down any deeper. Partly because it was all so overwhelming, but also because I was scared I’d find yet another thing that wouldn’t fit and make me feel rubbish. My husband had tried to sensitively mention a few times that perhaps I had too many clothes (probably because he was living with the dregs of space…about 2 drawers left for him!). I’d bite his head off “NO I don’t!” Of course I did. It was just the thought of sorting it out myself was too overwhelming.
I met Helen at a business-networking event. I was immediately taken with her very warm and calm personality. I was intrigued by her business, which I learnt was in de-cluttering. I’d recently learnt about the de-cluttering phenomenon at a fabulous BelongCon event, where Frit Sarita Tam’s talk “Get rid of your sh*t” really seemed to make sense. Although sadly, with my 2 preschool kids at home, and a business to run, I’d not managed to implement any of my learnings from it.
When Helen spoke to me about her business, hspace, I immediately thought of my house and realised I was definitely someone that could do with her help. She told me how she had helped a lot of mums recently, struggling with their wardrobes since having kids. It was a relief to hear I wasn’t the only one with their clothes in such a state!
Helen came round for an initial free consultation, which took about 30 mins. She assessed my wardrobe in a brilliantly efficient and yet friendly, non judgemental manner. Saying “oh yes, it’s not too bad at all….there’s plenty we can do here”. She filled me with confidence. We popped a date in the diary for her to come back and de-clutter in half a day. She assured me I didn’t have to get rid of anything I didn’t want to, and there’d be no pressure. I felt really reassured by it all.
The day came around and Helen arrived with a smile. In she came with her props – a Brabantia clothes folding board (which I’d never seen before in my life!), several black bin bags, velvet coat hangers, and some folded down coloured baskets. We had a cup of tea while we discussed how it would work. Firstly, we emptied ALL my clothes into a big empty space and sorted it all into categories……dresses, trousers, skirts, T shirts, jumpers, leggings, sports wear etc. Now it was easy to see I had far too many clothes. The idea was to show me in one easy step how much of any one thing I had. It was a real eye opener. Next, category by category we sorted each individual category into 3 piles……’YES’, ‘NO’ & ‘MAYBE’. This was done on a very instinctual basis. If it wasn’t an immediate yes or no, it meant it was a maybe. Helen’s gentle questioning really helped with this. Did it make me feel nice? How often had I worn it? Does it make you feel confident? Helen made me reassess my attitude. There were some things I was keeping because I liked them….yet I knew they didn’t fit. Helen made me realise how much of a mental drag items like this were. Her philosophy is that everything in your wardrobe should fit and make you feel good. This is a philosophy I have now totally adopted. Helen also made me realise that it didn’t matter if some clothes didn’t fit….because I could buy stuff that DID fit. “Life is too short for clothes that don’t fit. If it doesn’t, let’s go out and buy a top that does fit”. My god she was right! Why hadn’t I thought like this before?? Helen also helped me see I only need a certain amount of stuff. Black leggings for example. Why on earth did I need more than 3 pairs? And socks? Surely 10 pairs was adequate? She was so right.
Once we’d sorted, I was gob smacked at how much stuff there was in the NO pile. Quite a fair old amount. I was really getting into the swing of it now. Next we went back to the ‘maybe’ pile for a second go. Was it still a ‘maybe’? Was some of it now a yes or a no? I soon realised a lot was a ‘no’. Anything remaining I tried on to see. Anything that didn’t fit or make me feel good was now a no. Before I knew it we’d sorted my whole bloody wardrobe. Most of it while I sat and had a cup of tea while stuff was held out in front of me. It was really cathartic! There were a couple of items I couldn’t get rid of despite not fitting – a top I was wearing the day I met my husband, and a dress I bought on my honeymoon. Helen said I should of course keep those, but perhaps in a special place, not my wardrobe. They are now kept in a special cupboard out of sight. Brilliant!
Next we had to get rid of the bin bags…….which were now piling high! It felt GOOD to get rid of this stuff now, because I knew it was all a NO.
Next was the fun bit. We completely rearranged my wardrobe space, and Helen taught me how to fold. I’d only ever seen clothes folded and put away like this in shops and hotels…surely I could never do it like that, could I? Oh yes I could! The folding board was absolutely genius. Helen helped me see that by doing it like this, you can always see what is in your drawer or wardrobe in the blink of an eye, and everything is accessible. It was a revelation!
I was utterly gob smacked to realise that I could neatly fit everything in what was once my “overspill” wardrobe. Helen also brought along some lovely velvet hangers, which are now the only hangers I use. They are really great quality and the clothes can't slip off. It was all neatly categorised and on view. I now have nearly ¾ of my chest of drawers totally empty so my lucky husband can spread out from the measly 1.5 drawers he currently occupies.
The best thing about the process is that instead of feeling like I’ve got rid of 80% of my clothes (which is what happened), I actually feel like I’ve been on a shopping trip. Everything now in my wardrobe actually fits! I can’t tell you how good that feels. I also unearthed loads of clothes I’d forgotten I had that are actually really nice and fit brilliantly. I was so scared of trying anything on that wasn’t in the top layer I’d totally given up trying! The de-clutter has put a stop to that. I can now see all my clothes so can plan outfits easily. I can see new combinations of outfits I hadn’t considered before and I feel confident in everything I wear. I am so chuffed with it. Mentally, it’s been such a freeing and cathartic exercise and I can’t recommend it more highly.
The added benefit I hadn’t appreciated is that I’ve given away a lovely amount of stuff to the charity shop, and my husband is so happy that he has some wardrobe space back!
The only down side to the whole experience is that I am now so on board with de-cluttering it’s making living with the rest of my house a little unbearable. I don’t think it will be long before I get Helen back to tackle the rest!
If you are interested in de-cluttering your house, business or wardrobe (or anywhere else!), then do contact Helen at hspace for a chat about how she can help.
This blog was written by Sally Bunkham, CEO and founder of Mum's Back – providing luxury gift hampers for new mums focussing on the yummy stuff not allowed in pregnancy, whilst raising money for PANDAS Foundation.
…the beautiful Melissa Berry as nominated by her mother in law, Marion Hill! How lovely is that?! Melissa has won a Mum's Back classic hamper, which she should hopefully be enjoying my tomorrow evening! And here are the lovely Melissa & Marion…
I asked Marion a few questions about Melissa, here is what she said
How long have you known Melissa?>
Melissa Berry is my daughter in law and has been with my son for 5 years
Why did she deserve to win our Mum of the Month competition?
I nominated Melissa as she is a very hard working mum. She has 2 daughters with my son, Jessica is 3 3/4 and Amelia will be 1 at the end of January. Melissa works 30 hours a week and looks after her two children ( and my son) taking care of the house and everything
My son is working long hours at the minute as they are hoping to buy their first home together later this year so they are saving hard.
So mainly the day to day care of the children is down to Melissa as well as keeping the house clean and tidy i just thought she deserved a treat. The children are always so happy she does an amazing job.
What would you like her to know?
I would just like to say to her thank you for making my son so happy and for the 2 beautiful grand daughters she has given me. She is amazing
My goodness I LOVE reading this!
Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of the February Mum Of The Month competition everyone…
You know those moments in parenting where you are so desperate for a tantrum to be diffused or a situation to be smoothed over that you make something up? Then a bit later it turns round and bites you in the arse? I thought I’d write my list of those occasions for your pleasure and also as an exercise in catharsis to cure my guilt! I hope you enjoy…
My 2 pre school girls were appalled at the thought of us having to get rid of the Christmas tree at the end of the festive season. They had grown really fond of it, and I could sense a really big meltdown from the 3 year old on its way about it. So the husband and I concucted a story about how all the Christmas trees get together at the end of the season for a huge Christmas tree party. This worked an absolute gem….perhaps a bit too well. All the way to the tree dump they were chatting about it. “Do you think there’ll be music and dancing mummy??” “erm, I don’t think the party is actually happening now darling, they’re just gathering getting ready for it” Now every time we see people carting off their trees they shout in glee “there’s another one going to the party!!”. I just hope no one bursts their bubble on this one…..
2. Father Christmas leaving presents outside
Another seasonal one! My kids were not impressed about the idea of some fat dude with a beard entering the living quarters of their house uninvited, let alone their bedroom. So we had to tell them we’d cleared it with him to leave the presents on the doorstep and text us once he’d been so we could bring them in. We said this would be far more convenient for him anyway, as he’ll be incredibly busy. Santa is big on technology these days don’t you know!
3. Sleepy Bridge
We were on a long journey to Brighton where we were moving to. My eldest was so excited about it and very excited. We were absolutely desperate for her to have a nap in the car because she hadn’t slept for ages and we knew seeing the new house would be a bit of a sensory overload. But try as we might she wouldn’t relax. We decided to take the tack of going for a placebo effect. We were about 5 mins away from the big bridge you go over to get to the Dartford Crossing. “oooh Daisy….we’re about to go over sleepy bridge!” “What’s that mummy?” “It’s a bridge that makes you all relaxed and want to go to sleep as you go over it”. Yeah nice try mummy! She still didn’t sleep. But now every time we go past London she’s like “Will we go over sleepy bridge mummy?”. Oops.
4. The Poo Party
This is probably where we got the inspiration from the Christmas tree party tall tale. Our eldest has been known to go through periods where she refuses to poo. This leads to constipation and trouble all round. We ended up saying and doing anything to try and encourage her to go. We were desperate. One strategy was to tell her that the poo REALLY wants to come out because once it comes out her bum it joins all the other poos for a huge great poo party. It actually seemed to help quite a lot. But it has resulted in a few embarrassing moments in public loos when success occurs. “Yes mummy! There it is! Now it can go to the pooooooo paaaarty! WOOOOOP” Woop indeed Daisy, woop indeed.
5. All alcoholic drinks are called “grown up juice”
I suppose this one isn’t too far from the truth. It still makes me giggle when they occasionally check with me before drinking “this isn’t grown up juice is it, mummy?” or they catch a whiff of my wine and go “URGH! Grown up juice!” in disgust.
6. That ride is broken
Oh lordy this one is an absolute classic. You know the drill…you’re at the supermarket or some other shop with one of those rides that requires endless 50ps. “Can we have a go mummy? Please?!” “oh no darling, it’s out of order…never mind” Then you see another kid running for it with their parents. Oh god, oh god – SCARPER before your cover is blown!
7. The TV is going to bed
I’m pretty sure this yarn is recycled from my parents too. The old story of the TV not working past a certain time because it needs to have a rest and go to sleep. It worked pretty well until we were rumbled. The kids were really poorly with hand foot and mouth and needed cuddling pretty much all night, so we did anything to get through it. Including watching some late night telly. “I thought the TV didn’t work at this time because it needed to sleep, mummy?” RUMBLED!
8. The bird is asleep
The saddest tall tale of them all. The death avoidance chat. It’s only had to happen a couple of times. Once when they found a dead bird and once when they found a dead mouse. Luckily on both occasions the animals were still pretty in tact. “Oh look! What’s wrong with it??” NOTHING TO SEE HERE! “It’s just asleep darling….come on, we are late!”. Obviously I know I’ll have to tackle the subject of death and dying at some point…I’m just not ready yet!
9. Crocodiles in the bath
This one was passed down from my parents. I’ve forgiven them so I hope my kids forgive me. It’s always such a mare trying to get the kids out the bath as they’re usually having far too much fun and don’t want to go to bed. To get them out they too have been fed the urban myth about the crocodiles. As soon as the plug comes out the crocodiles start making their way up to snap you! It gets them out quick sharp. I possibly feel the guiltiest about this one, as on occasion they do appear quite scared of the fabricated crocodiles.
10. The guy with a sausage in his mouth
Yeah, you read that right. There’s been a couple of occasions where the kids have seen pics etc of men smoking cigars. One of which is bizarrely on a model of Groucho Marx. One of the kids goes “what’s in his mouth?!” I couldn’t quite be bothered to face the smoking discussion so for some reason “he has a sausage in his mouth” was the first thing that sprang into my head. A few weeks later we were reading the book “The Bad Baby” where the fruit barrow boy is also smoking a cigar “Oh look mummy, he has a sausage in his mouth too!” That he does, that he does.
I did not realise I had postnatal depression for far too long. The symptoms I had did not tally with my understanding of what PND was. I wasn’t sad, it didn’t happen straight after having my baby (it was more like 4-5 months later that it began), I didn’t get anything like it with my first, and I had bonded brilliantly with them both. Additionally to this I wasn’t even thinking about my own mental health. I had two babies under 2, one of whom was incredibly upset and in pain with an undiagnosed medical condition much of the time. My health was very low down on my priorities list. Because of this I was hugely thrown off the scent. My PND wasn’t diagnosed until I hit rock bottom and in a terrible place. By then I had begun self-harming and was trying to come to terms with the fact I was (what I perceived anyway) a terrible mother and a horrible person. It took my husband spotting the marks on my arms and sitting me down and begging me to see the GP before I sought help. By then I was past caring. I went to the doctors feeling numb and hollow. I had nothing left to give and nothing more to lose.
The diagnosis turned out to be a bit of a revelation for me. Having a label on what I now knew was a condition was liberating. It meant that if I was ill I could get better. And that’s exactly what happened, all be it very slowly and very gradually. It was a significant and definite turning point for me.
So now I do what I can to raise awareness for others. I want everyone to seek help sooner rather than later, and not hit that horrendous rock bottom that I did. I reflect and look back on what could have helped me. What I needed was something to help me identify there was a problem. I spent so many months brushing my feelings under the carpet; dismissing them as “just tired” or “just stressed”. The thing with PND (and other mental health problems) is that generally they don’t just appear. You don’t just wake up one morning with the condition. They creep in slowly and gradually. So much so that you have no gauge for how you SHOULD feel, or what your “normal” actually is. This was the problem for me. It’s terrible that it took me beginning to self-harm before I admitted to myself there was a problem. This is where I see Moment Health being amazing. If I’d taken time out to think about how I was earlier, I’d have got myself sorted sooner. Moment Health provides that vital metaphorical yardstick that encourages you to measure exactly how you’re doing. Without no measure or encouragement to even think about it I was (again, metaphorically) swimming along blind, not knowing if I was even in the sea or a river or a swimming pool…and not knowing which I SHOULD be in in any case.
I love Moment Health’s ethos. You begin not having to assume there is an issue. It’s for everyone. It encourages us all to briefly take time out to focus on ourselves. Self-care is so very essential, and I think it’s fabulous to have a tool to help us do this, in a very practical sense. It’s an age old saying, but oh so true…you can’t pour from an empty cup. The best thing we can do for us and our kids is to be as content in ourselves as we can. It’s easy to forget this and prioritise them to the detriment of our own health.
One thing I also found really hard during those bleak months of PND was knowing if I was better or worse than the day before, or last week, or 3 months ago. It was all about survival, and on hardly any sleep. So when I did break down at the GP’s that day and got that diagnosis he asked me how long I’d felt like I did. I had no idea. It was all a total horrible blur. Moment Health tracks and records it all for you. Not only does it help and measure your feelings, it records it all. This would have made that first step of getting help, which is often so incredibly hard, so much smoother and easier.
I’ve been on the road to recovery now for several months. I still have bad days, but they are usually very short lived. I have the Moment Health free app installed on my phone, as my own personal checker system. I now prioritise my mental health and ensure I dedicate a little time every day to check in with myself. I’d encourage everyone to do the same, no matter what stage of motherhood they’re at. I couldn’t be any more behind Moment Health’s strap line, to #makematernalmentalhealthmainstream.
Sally Bunkham is the founder of mumsback.com. Hamper gifts for new mums focussing on the yummy stuff not allowed whilst pregnant, whilst raising awareness of perinatal mental health issues. The Christmas range is available now.
Having kids aged 2 and 3 is hard work, relentlessly so, but also amazingly brilliant. I did not thrive in those early baby months. My husband calls that period “the human slug phase”, and I totally get what he means. All the baby can do is drink milk, cry, sleep and poo themselves. I remember being absolutely DESPERATE to hear my baby say a word or smile….to actually interact and for her start showing aspects of her personality. Well now my babies can….My God they can. And sometimes, what they come out with is flipping hilarious. Well, hilarious in a kind of “please ground, swallow me up immediately” kind of way.
Every time they come out with a corker I try to make a mental note of it, but I usually fail and forget. So this blog is written of course to (hopefully) entertain, but also for prosperity’s sake. So here goes with my top 10 of those I can remember (so far…I’m sure there’s plenty more to come)
The gorgeous Mugz (aka Rebecca Card, on the left below) as nominated by her lovely friend Katie Parsons (to the right).
Huge congrats Mugz! You have won our classic Mum's back hamper, which will be winding its way to you this week. Enjoy!
I asked Katie a few questions about Mugz, and why she thought she deserved to win. Here's what she said
Mugz – as a mum of 2 and 3 year olds myself, I take my hat off to you. A very deserving winner!
Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of the December Mum of the Month comp, everyone, which will have a Christmas twist. Get ready to get nominating those lovely mums again everyone….
….the gorgeous Kerry Kilmister!
Congratulations Kerry, the classic Mum's Back hamper will be winding its way to you over the next couple of days! Thanks so much to your lovely friend Emily Henley for the nomination.
I asked Emily a few questions about Kerry. Here is what she said about this amazing mum
Why did you nominate Kerry?
“Kerry is a mum of three who's had some real challenges this year with her own health and that of her kids, and despite that she's been amazing at supporting me through my own issues (and my first pregnancy – baby due in February) as well as being a fantastic maid of honour at my wedding in September!”
What do you want Kerry to know?
“I just want her to know that the last 23 years of friendship are massively appreciated, and I hope for many, many more to come :)”
It was an absolute pleasure to read all of your nominations. Many had me in tears. It really did warm my soul to see how many amazing mums, friends and family are walking amongst us all, all the time.
Please keep your eye out for the launch of next month's Mum Of The Month competition, and get ready to nominate all those lovely mums again!
Swimming with babies and toddlers is a WHOLE different experience to the swimming of pre kids days. Yes, it can be lots of fun. Seeing their little faces in the water, agog at the new experience. It’s lovely! My kids came out with some corkers when we took them last week. My 2 year old got in and was bobbing about shouting “Mummy! I’m in a bath! A giant bath!” It was very sweet.
There were elements, however, that were not sweet. Let me run through them.