Why Dropping My Phone Down The Loo Is A Feminist Issue

I just dropped my phone down the loo for the FOURTH time this year. Yes, that’s right folks! The same iphone has taken a trip to the bottom of the loo for the fourth time in 12 months and survived YET AGAIN. I have no idea how it does it. I am impressed. Drying with a towel and turning it off and leaving it for 48 hours straight in a bag of rice does seem to help. My phone case also needs to take some of the credit.

What does NOT need to take any credit, however is a) me and b) my jeans. Every time this happens it’s for the same reason; my phone being kept in my back jeans’ pocket. When nature calls and I suddenly need a wee…usually when I’m in a rush trying to get the kids out the door (or similar), I run to the loo, whip down my slacks and PLOP, I hear the fateful sound of my phone hitting the water.

Every time this has happened I vow to never keep my phone in my back jeans pocket again. I succeed….for a while….then I get complacent and the same thing happens yet again. “How come this never happens to my husband?” and “why is this happening to so many of my friends?!” I thought. The answer is simple. He keeps his wallet and phone in his SIDE jeans pocket. Much safer there. But none of my jeans have side pocket. But WHY?!

Designer Christian Dior once said “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” *eyeroll*

Can this attitude REALLY still exist? I did a bit of research and apparently the reason why women’s clothes are so lacking in pockets goes back a few centuries. Women did used to have pockets of sorts in the 1660s. They were separate linen pockets that they’d tie to the underneath of their skirts. But during the 1880s they started to disappear (a bit like how they’ve all disappeared now we’re all wearing skinny jeans these days). Instead, the purse and handbag were born, and became much more popular for women than pockets. Booooooo! These small purses were called “reticules” (a word FAR too similar to “testicles” in my mind) and apparently the smaller it was, the higher in society you were considered. This was because large reticules suggested a woman needed to work; highly frowned upon back then!

The early 20th century saw a rebellion and a return to pockets – hurrah! The V&A Museum say that dress patterns started to include instructions for putting pockets in to help if they wanted more independence. Women started to wear trousers again, and women needed more practical wear what with the World Wars on their way, along with the need for everyone having to pitch in with practical work, whether male or female.

Once the wars were over fashion became obsessed with being thin. This brought with it a requirement to be as slender as possible. Pockets *shock horror” only add volume to the outline of one’s shape and were therefore ruled out. I know….what a load of tosh. The 70s through to 90s saw some progress on the pocket front. Many women’s clothes were privileged to be adorned by them. But where did it all go wrong again?! It seems we still haven’t won the right to pockets. No doubt it’s still a hangover to all the above reasons. The requirement for women to still be slender in society. The fact we apparently STILL don’t need to carry practical stuff with us like phones and keys, like men. Perhaps it’s simply that we haven’t made enough fuss about it? I must say that it’s taken me a long time to be aware of the problem. Jeans having proper side pockets wasn’t previously on my list of requirements. It is now. Viva the pockets (and viva my iphone)!

This blog was written by Sally Bunkham, founder of Mum's Back; luxury hamper gift for mums focussing on the yummy stuff denied in pregnancy. Need some insight into what to buy new mums a a gift? Check out our gift guide. 

What To Buy New Mums This Christmas – Our Gift Guide

what to buy new mums

I like to think that here at Mum’s Back, we are the queens of gifts for mums….but in this little blog I’ve done a little round up of my favourite delights from my other favourite independent brands too. I hope you find it useful when thinking about what to buy new mums…and not so new mums alike.

I’ll begin with the gorgeous Postcards Home, an online treasure chest selling ethically sourced unique homeware and gifts inspired by travel and design. The idea is that their products are like postcards, transporting you to your favourite places around the world. I absolutely LOVE this gorgeous Mini Sequin Gold Basket from Morocco. Postcards Home is a real business with heart – wherever possible founder Lucy works supporting social enterprises around the world meaning you really purchase with purpose when you buy from them.

Secondly, I want to include our very own Mum's Back Christmas range. We've added some festive sparkle to many of our hamper packages to create the perfect selection for mums. This range is particularly great for mums who've recently had a baby, as if focusses on a lot of the things they were denied in pregnancy (like many things in our range). This hampers include many yummy delights and we've  added some gorgeous Raspberry and Prosecco lipbalm that can double as a Christmas decoration.

Next on the list is this AMAZING book, written by the gorgeous Beccy Hands and Alexis Strickland. The Little Book Of Self Care For Mums really is an instant pick-me-up. It’s a survival guide to managing the emotional and physical rollercoaster of becoming a new mum. It is beautifully illustrated by Kay Barker and written with such a beautiful level of warmth and understanding. I’m no longer a new mum but the words of this book still deeply applied with me. There was one section on breastfeeding that resonated so much with me that it reduced me to tears of relief. It felt like someone finally understood. I strongly recommend this book when thinking about what to buy new mums…. it should be given to all new mums as part of their new mum kit!

 

Don’t Buy Her Flowers are absolute pros in boxes of self care. Their range features boxes for mums, dads and anyone in need of a bit of TLC. My favourite is The Date Night In  – truffles, lavender oil and tea lights, plus the tipple of your choice. What more could you want from a perfect night in?

I recently discovered the work of Catherine de Crevecoeur, a talented jewellery maker who works with leather and suede materials. Her work is so beautiful and gorgeously made. I loved her earrings because they are so light and easy to wear and yet can still look like such statement pieces. Each piece is named after an inspirational woman. I found it so hard to choose a favourite, but my top 2 are definitely these; the Miuccia and the Audrey

I also want to include a gift from the new Mum's Back range. The brand was born from a need to recognise that mums deserve gifts just for them after having a baby. As I go on my own personal parenting journey, I realise that we deserve treats and recognition throughout our lives, not just at the beginning! This range reflects that. This Relaxation Package includes a luxurious silk eye mask and two aromatherapy sticks. One to aid restful sleep and one to help sooth tension headaches away.

 

Next up is fellow Brighton based Zilla Kids. Zilla’s clothes and accessories are so unique and full of fun, I absolutely LOVE their style. They offer unisex clothes for kids and adults alike. This gorgeous “Power” jumper is firmly on my Christmas list (hint hint husband)

Apples & Pips is gorgeous brand that specialises in parents and babies. You can put together your own configuration of package for that special mum. Personally I love their incredibly thoughtful IVF package. A unique gift that acknowledges the rollercoaster couples going through IVF experience.

Finally, I want to feature a beautiful business called Tot Knots of Brighton, recently founded by my good friend Katie De Toney. Tot Knots was discovered during a hot summer holiday. Katie realised the babies and toddlers wouldn’t keep their sun hats on their hats, so she improvised! That improvisation proved to be the basis of a gorgeous design. She sells many beautiful turbons, knots and bows for babies, toddlers AND adults (many which you can twin in a “mummy and me” style). One of her sets was recently featured by Clemmie Telford in her Insta stories. She has just launched some new Turban Head Wraps that are specially designed to be worn as a headscarf by day and/or a night cap by night. As well as looking amazingly cool the pure silk satin lining helps to smooth, condition and control frizz-prone and prevent tangled hair. Absolute genius!

This gift guide for mums was put together by Sally Bunkham, founder of Mum's Back. who provide luxury gift hampers for mums, focussing on the yummy stuff denied in pregnancy. £1 from every hamper sold goes to PANDAS Foundation.

Crying At The Kid’s Nativity

I went to watch my little girls sing in their nativity performance at their preschool today. It was so beautiful and far more emotional than I expected. They’d been practising for a few weeks now. Ruby had been singing “when Santa got stuck up the chimney” to herself while going to sleep for a while, which has been making my heart burst. This was the first year that they were old enough to actually stay sat on their little stage while they sang and really get into it. It was so sweet. I managed to hold it together quite nicely until “Away In A Manger” started. Then I felt the first little sob make its way up my throat. I think the fact I’d been to a Dolly Parton night the evening before and indulged in one margarita too many probably didn’t help. I’m always more emotional when hungover.

I was pleased when “Jingle Bells” started. Much more high energy and far less emotional. It gave me time to pull myself together before the grand finale of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, where I may have again shed a little secret tear.

As they sat in their little Christmas outfits, their little Christmas hats bobbing as they did the actions to the songs, I realised just how precious their ages (3 and 4) are right now. Yes they’re exhausting and demanding. Yes they drive me bonkers. But my goodness they can be sweet…and so innocent. They are the perfect ages to embrace the magic of Christmas.

It reminded me too of my old Christmas nativities. I still vividly remember the year I got to play Mary. What an honour! Though I also remember the disappointment when the boy who was originally set to play Joseph (who I liked) was swapped for another boy. I can’t quite remember the reason why….but I can remember I wasn’t happy. My parents must have sat there watching proudly just as I did this morning with my girls.

Time goes by so quickly. Another reminder that they’re not this little for long. So surely a little sob at their nativity is allowed? I was too busy watching the faces of my kids to notice if any of the other parents were having a cheeky cry too. But I like to think I wasn’t the only one……

Sally Bunkham is the founder of Mum's Back, the home of beautiful hamper ideas for new mums. Mum's Back also have a beautiful Christmas range which is now live. £1 from every hamper sold goes to mental health charity PANDAS Foundation.

Getting Through My Grief

In this guest post the lovely Kate Litt talks about how  having “something nice” can help her through the grief of losing her Dad…

“It’s been just over a year since my Dad died.

 My Dad died. It still feels so strange to say it, like I’m saying the lines from someone else’s life.

It all happened pretty quickly. Although he’d been a fairly sedentary man, he had always been relatively healthy too. I’d told him for years that he’d live in to his 80’s. I was wrong.

A few months before his 68th birthday, in November 2016, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Then, never one to do things by half, another more serious diagnoses of advanced lymphoma in February 2017.

After doing his very best to stay positive, follow through with all his treatment and convince us all that he could beat it, we had the devastating news in late September 2017 that there was nothing else they could do. After he’d made sure everything at home was in order, in true form, he decided he’d had enough and let go of this life.

He died on 18th October 2017 with dignity, holding the hand of my mum, the love of his life. She says he was smiling.

Ever the Flirt

Here I must declare my absolute gratitude to the NHS and the wonderful doctors and nurses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

When they realised that he wasn’t going home, he was invited back to the ward where he had been treated for his cancer. They gave him a private room, with a bed for my mum, and he was treated beautifully by a team of nurses that had come to love him.

My Dad was a charming man and the team there had become very important to him; one nurse cried when he was admitted, he was so loved on that ward. Of course, she was young and pretty, so she had gotten extra attention from my Dad, ever the flirt! I hugged her tight and thanked her making his life, and death, so much easier.

I chose not to visit him after he died. I’d said everything I needed to say and, as pragmatic as he was, he’d have totally understood. “What’s the point, I’m already dead!”, he would have announced, with a wry smile.

We Are All Made of Stars

My Dad and I had a discussion weeks before he died, about the origin of life. Astronomer Carl Sagan famously said, “We are made of starstuff” and my Dad believed that we return to the universe, just as we had come from it.

To help them to deal with the news, I told my two children that their Grandad has become a star. Often, we say goodnight to him up there. He rewards us with easy to find parking spots, his favourite songs on the radio and motivation to do our best for him.

‘Something Nice’

The weeks following his death are still a sort of blur. Of course, I clearly remember the first few moments of shear pain, and then the frequent moments of despair. Waking up in a panic attack. Feeling like my world was ending. Crying so hard I could hardly breathe. My partner holding me when it was needed. My children snapping me out of it, with their ordinary requests for juice and their silly jokes.

What I allowed myself more than ever during that time (and still do, as I continue to grieve) was to be distracted by what I call ‘something nice’. For me, that’s playing my favourite songs, watching my favourite films and eating my favourite food. For you, that might be a bubble bath, a face mask or a glass of wine. Whatever your ‘something nice’, it’s all about self-care.

I knew that I had to allow my feelings to come, which I did, but there were times that I couldn’t face another night of tears, and times when crying just wasn’t convenient at that moment (it’s hard to get the right type of chicken nuggets when you’re trying to read the label through tears…).

At those times I was grateful for the small gifts that my partner and my kids brought me. Simple things, but just enough to take me away from that pain. Life had to go on. “Just get on with it, Kate!”, my Dad would have said. So, I did.

Moments of Distraction

Of course, I wasn’t the only one struggling. For Christmas that year, I created a hamper for my mum; a huge crate, full of deliciousness, for her to dip into whenever she needed ‘something nice’. She loved it, and I know it helped to give her something else to focus on, just for a moment.

 It’s easy to experience guilt for feeling pleasure during the grieving process, but as someone who is slowly coming through the worst period of it, I can tell you that those little moments of distraction were invaluable to me.

So, if you know someone who is grieving, please don’t think that getting them ‘something nice’ is meaningless in all their pain. I promise you, it will make things easier for them. Even if it’s just for a moment.

Kate Litt is a freelance WordPress and Digital Marketing Consultant and home educating mum of two. She specialises in in working with women who have experienced a major shift in their life, discovered their passion and are determined to turn that passion into a viable business. She writes about technology, marketing and managing to keep things afloat as a self-employed home educator at KateLitt.com/blog-posts.

A huge thank you to Kate for such a poignantly beautiful written piece for Mum's Back, the home of thoughtful gifts for mums.

Mum’s Back With Some New Gifts For Mums!

I am very excited because I have just launched some brand new products and packages to the Mum’s Back family. “But why?” I hear you cry.

Well…..I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. Mum’s Back was born from my very real and very personal experience of 2 back to back pregnancies. During my first pregnancy I really noticed how much stuff I wasn’t allowed anymore….the usual things…cheese, pate, wine, gin, prosecco (basically ALL the booze) and my pals and I chatted and joked (ok…half joked) that the first thing we’d do after having our babies would be to guzzle a glass of rouge with a nice lump of yummy unpasteurised cheese. When my little girl WAS born my lovely husband did in fact get me those things as a present….and the boy did good! I realised they were the best new mum gifts ever, and something like this should be common place!

This realisation really hit home when I got pregnant again just a few weeks later and was confined to another 9 months abstinence, and the concept for Mum’s Back was confirmed…to concentrate on gifts for new mums that focus on the yummy stuff they were denied in pregnancy. This is still very much at the heart of Mum’s Back, along with our passionate aim to raise awareness of perinatal mental health issues and money for PANDAS Foundation (£1 from every package sold goes to them).

However….as I go along this crazy journey of parenting, something occurs to me. It’s not just NEW mums that deserve and need support, treats and encouragement. It is in fact just MUMS. Whether they be new mums, not so new mums, experienced mums….just ALL MUMS! My kids are now 3 and 4. I love them so very much. But MY GOD we’ve been through some rollercoaster times together….and they haven’t even started school yet! The sleep deprivation doesn’t as soon as they’re not babies anymore (sorry to tell you if you have a baby). Sure…it improves, but it can still be rough. So can the colic, the potty training, the first day at nursery, all the illnesses they catch, the stopping of the breastfeeding, the weaning….and so much I haven't had the pleasure of (yet)….the friendship squabbles, the sleep overs, the teenage years. Not to mention the stuff some parents go through…those with kids with special needs or special requirements, for example. Those going through grief or loss. I could go on and on. What I’m trying to say is that there are zillions of times in a mum’s life when she needs a treat or deserves a little recognition, because I have no doubt that all mums are absolute super heroes.

This is what my new range aims to reflect. Yes, a lot of our gifts still focus on the new mums amongst us. But many are not just for new mums. They’re just for mums. The tired mums. The stressed mums. The mums who need a break. The mums who need a hug. The mums who should be celebrating how fricking awesome they are. So there you go! That’s my reasoning.

I’d LOVE you to check them out and tell me what you think! Just click here and pay special attention to the ones with the little yellow “new” label on them. Bye for now. Mwah x

This blog was written by Sally Bunkham, founder of Mum's Back, who provide luxury hamper gifts for mums.

Halloween Hacks

Most kids love Halloween – which gives them the chance to dress up and get given sweets AND chocolate! Halloween has almost become another national holiday – we spend £330million on it here in the UK. Here are some tips on how to throw a fiendish party at home without breaking the bank.

Vamp up the house

Decorate the house with spiders, skeletons, ghouls and broomsticks. Getting the kids busy with making decorations during half term is a great way to pass a few holiday mornings – cut black card into bat or witch shapes to stick as silhouettes on the windows, or make some ghosts out of white paper.

Collect kitchen and toilet rolls, cut eyes in the rolls, cover with coloured tissue paper and put a glow stick inside and tape the end up. Hide outside or stick in the front window. When it gets dark, the glowing eyes make a great spooky display.

You could also take a trip to your local pound shop, usually a haven of cheap decorations. Buy some cobwebs to drape everywhere and some other spooky decorations. Don’t forget a pumpkin lantern – usually in the supermarkets by early October, but don’t buy too soon if you want it to last. Simply scoop out the inside and then create your design, before cutting along the lines, most supermarkets sell a pumpkin carving kit, which is much safer than using a knife. Don’t use a naked flame to illuminate the pumpkin but a LED tea light instead.

A ghastly menu

With a little bit of creativity you can put on a feast of some surprisingly healthy novelty foods to counteract all the trick or treating sweets. Try your hand at making traditional toffee apples; use an unrefined sugar like coconut sugar (available from most health food shops or online), honey and butter with a dash of vanilla for the caramel. Make gruesome cocktails with fruit juices, such as a ‘Vampire Blood cocktail’, made from cranberry, grape and pomegranate juice and sparkling water. Create monster eyes by cutting boiled eggs in half, adding a raisin or olive for the pupil and using red food colouring for the veins; or try witches fingers made of chicken or fish goujons with an almond flake for the finger nail.

For some sweet treats, how about bat-shaped biscuits or Halloween cupcakes? Ice the cakes with white icing and get a variety of things to decorate them with. Like tubes of coloured icing; Oreo cookies make great tombstones and Licorice Allsorts great bodies and heads. Let the kids’ imaginations run wild, they will come up with great ghouls and monsters, almost too scary to eat!

Games to die for

Most kids will ditch the iPad for some good old-fashioned Halloween games. Try ‘Apples on a String’, where you hang apples on a string across the room and children try to bite the apple without touching it. If apples are too hard, try using ring donuts instead! Messy but Yummy! Another old school game is ‘Bobbing for Apples’, where children try to retrieve an apple from a variety of apples floating in a large tub of water without using their hands (you can also put money at the bottom, so the very brave have to dunk their head under to retrieve 50p or a £1).

A firm favourite is the Mummy game. Divide the kids in to pairs and give them a couple of toilet rolls. The aim of the game is to wrap one of the pair up as a mummy, the person that does it the quickest wins a ghoulish prize for them both.

 The boring bit…Halloween Etiquette

Do remember that not every celebrates Halloween; only knock on decorated houses when you are out trick or treating. Also remind your children to say please and thank you when collecting treats. Please don’t use real candles in pumpkins that are in doorsteps or in easy reach of children, as they are a fire hazard.

Have a spook-tacular time!

This guest post was written by the lovely Claire Winter, has been a content creator, journalist, and copywriter for twenty years. Claire is passionate about helping business owners get rid of their writing blocks with 1:1 training or online courses. She currently writes for all 38 Families magazines that cover the UK, which reach 4 million parents a year. Her latest writing course Selling with Stories – Creating Content that Converts launches in January 2019.

Mum's Back provide hamper gifts for mums focussing on the yummy stuff denied in pregnancy. £1 from every package sold goes to perinatal mental health charity PANDAS Foundation.

Coming out of the Mummy Cocoon

Photo by Ursula Kelly

A change is a-coming. I’m on the cusp of liberation. I’ve been counting off the months, days, then hours until my littlest starts school, and that day has finally come.

I’ve been Mum for a solid eight years now and I’m ready for some me-time.

I was eased into parenthood with a well-behaved baby boy in 2010, but boys two and three (now aged four and six) were less compliant, and my brood now resembles what I can best refer to as a pack of wolves…only these wolves play and sleep indoors as well as out!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids to bits (annoying as they can be!), but I’ve been feeling a little stifled with the relentlessness of motherhood; rarely does a moment go by where I’m not being called upon to help out, supply food, wipe a bum or clear up a mess.

My daily pattern is a rushed one – it used to involve separate drop offs at school and nursery before hot-footing it to work and back, but it got a bit easier once number two started school and I made the decision to turn my side business (an online children’s bookstore if you were wondering!) into my main earner; this was somewhat accelerated by the lack of pre- and post-school childcare at my tiny village school and no nearby family to help out, but it’s a decision I definitely don’t regret.

So, more recently my days have been spent cramming hours of work into the small windows when my littlest is at Preschool (13 hours at best once you take the commute out of it), and when my kids finally get to bed, and turning my back on the pit my house has become!

For the last two years I’ve envied my friends who could go out running straight from the school drop-off, and who could meet each other during the day for an uninterrupted chat. Heck, I’ve even envied them the chance to go to the supermarket unaccompanied and unrushed, or the freedom to clean their homes, do the washing, or get dinner ready before the kids are back from school – what’s become of me?! And as proof of just how sad my life has become, I’ve been lusting over a Brabantia washing line SO much and for SO long that I even considered putting it on my birthday list this year!! WTF?!

It’s time for things to change.

A change is a-coming

I could sense that change earlier this year when my predominantly navy and khaki wardrobe took a much more colourful turn, and friends started to compliment me on my new attire. I decided to ditch the clothes that no longer brought me joy. I’ve even started to wear dresses – an item of clothing that until now I’ve deemed totally impractical to wear with kids around (I’m far too old to flash my knickers to innocent bystanders at the soft play!).

I’ve also embraced the joy of accessories. And I’ve taken to wearing teething jewellery A LOT, despite not having a little baby anymore – not only is it super colourful, but it’s totally practical for a mum like me with three boisterous boys hanging off her, pulling at her and climbing on her most of the day. It is literally unbreakable.

In May I had a haircut – swapping my long and easily put-up-able locks for a shorter style that would need some styling (i.e. time!). I’d never have dreamed of taking this step 12 months ago when I was still nestled deeply in the cocoon.

And I bought some lipstick too. If you’re not already a fan, you’ll be amazed what difference a slap of colour on the lips can make – a friend who’d watched one of my online lives even said I looked glamorous (which, in fairness, is taking it a little too far!).

What once seemed so far away, is about to become a reality. I’m genuinely excited.

I’ve been starting to look at the exercise classes I might try out, think what tasty meals I can cook up, and wonder if I might have a hidden talent I could unleash at a local sewing group!

I’ve also been working out strategies to ensure the extra hours I’m about to receive aren’t immediately taken up with my business (a habit that would be oh so easy to slip into).

My friends tell me the hours between 9am and 3pm easily get eaten up – I want to be ready for that!

So whilst in some ways I’m sad to be sending my littlest off to school this week – it is the end of an era after all, and we’re definitely not planning on adding to our brood – I’m also excited about the chance to be a bit more me again, to grow my business, and to be more present for the boys when they are at home, as I’ll have got all those boring jobs (and my work) out the way during the day.

At last, I’m emerging from the Mummy Cocoon – watch me fly!

Photo by Ursula Kelly

Amanda Overend is founder of Books & Pieces, an online children’s bookstore specialising in parent-approved books for 0-6 year olds. Join fellow book loving families in her free Early Years Book Group on Facebook.

 

Keeping On Top Of Family Life

Guest post by the lovely Nerissa Buckell, founder of Crimson Tiger.

Don’t you just hate those mothers? You know the ones! Those that turn up on the school run or toddler group with full make up, matching accessories, immaculate children, always on time with everything needed in their bag. Ever wonder how they do it? Other than having a full complement of staff (if only!), it's from being organised.

I learnt my lessons the hard way. My husband was working abroad for weeks at a time and when he was home he was working late most nights. I had four boys between the ages of 1 and 7. Number 2 son was visiting various hospitals trying to reach a diagnosis of his condition and I was struggling with chest infection after chest infection before finally being diagnosed with bronchiectasis. I was sinking and I needed to get more organised. So here some tips that I implemented to get and keep on top of a busy family life.

START WITH THE BASICS

Whatever the day brings you, aim to get two things done. Always try and get one load of washing done and prepare dinner the first chance you get even if it is 9am. Peel the potatoes and have them sitting in cold water, peel and chop the carrots, anything you can do well in advance, do it. No matter what happens later in the day, if you can still get dinner on the table you are winning. This was a piece of advice I was given by my eldest sister when I had my first child and I still live by it now 18 years later.

DO IT THE NIGHT BEFORE

I know, you are exhausted, you just want to flunk into bed and hope Pixie Pickup will wave her wand and get the packed lunches sorted, lay out the clothes and makes sure the school bags and change bag are packed, but trust me, Pixie Pickup is knocking back the gin and despairing of her to-do list like the rest of us! It is far worse in the morning and for just a few minutes of work before bed your mornings are going to be much smoother. I also soon realised that if I allowed my children to go back upstairs in the morning to clean their teeth and get dressed they would soon get distracted and start playing and we would run late. I laid out their clothes on the sofa the night before, toothbrushes were kept downstairs and they could only ever go and play once they were fully ready.

FOOD PLAN & FREEZE

Okay, this sounds so boring and nothing like pre-baby days where you were winging everything including food, but wasted food is expensive when you are feeding a family and when you are tired having to decide what to feed everyone and finding you are missing key ingredients it is no fun. Look at what you have coming up for the week, work out when you are going to be too busy and plan round it. I used to love cooking until I had to do it for 6 people every day so I batch cook, why cook twice when I can do two or three meals worth in one and load the freezer up? Just remember to label the containers as a few times I have served pasta with chilli, hey, in my defence it looks the same when it’s frozen! It is also worth putting the food plan on the calendar, especially when you have a large family. Trust me, being asked ‘what’s for dinner?’ 5 times in 10 minutes will have you punching Pixie Pickup out cold so you can get to the gin first!

FAMILY CALENDAR

Buy a decent sized family calendar, my favourites are from Boxclever Press as there is plenty of room to write on them and they also sensibly have spaces for lists which are perforated, and a pocket at the back perfect for the party invitations. If you can, train the family to look at the calendar. I have to admit to failing here as the husband will stand right next to the calendar and still ask what is happening tomorrow. Thankfully my children are much better and have even reached the stage of writing their plans on the calendar. It is impossible when you are tired and juggling the social lives of others to remember who goes where when. A calendar will avoid the double booking but unfortunately it will also highlight that your 3-year-old has a far better social life than you.

LISTS/BULLET JOURNALS

Bullet journals are probably the most blogged about trend at the moment. Lots of pretty doodling’s of life goals take up most of Pinterest. Ignore the pretty pictures and look at the practical uses. A book, any book, with a pen loop kept beside you at all times to write in everything you need to do, think about, or shop for, is so much easier than scraps of paper at the bottom of the change bag. If you were to look at my bullet journal you would think the contents of your child’s nappy was more artistic but it has saved me so many times. Mentally, crossing off items from your list is also a great way to remind yourself what you really have achieved in a day.

PLANNING SESSION

Set aside half an hour a week for a planning session. If you have a partner then I suggest that you time it for after dinner on Sunday so the washing up and bathing kids’ sessions fall to them. Worked a treat for me! Cuppa, calendar, notebook, and computer. Work out what, when, where, then list it, shop it, note it. If said partner walks in, huff and puff a bit and mumble things like ‘how am I going to manage that’ so they quickly turn and leave you in peace for a few more minutes. You soon learn tricks that give you an extra 5 minutes peace and quiet in a busy household.

BLACK BOX IT

If something is time consuming or just not working for the family, analyse why and change it.   The airline industry has a great attitude that I try to implement in my and my children’s thinking. When something goes wrong, no matter how disastrous they collect information from staff and from the aeroplanes black box and analyse what went wrong and then make changes to stop it from happening again.   A minor example of this is when the children were not using their wash baskets in their rooms. I was fed up going from room to room gathering the washing so we got a communal wash basket on the landing. I soon realised that rather than going up to the basket to place their dirty pants they were throwing them from their doorways and because the opening folded in the washing never made it to the basket. We changed the basket for a large plastic box for them to aim easily at. Sorted.

BE KIND

To yourself – you are never going to get everything right, you are going to screw up, have bad days. There is nothing wrong in having a day where you slip up, where a hairbrush never meets your hair, where the kids run around in the pyjamas all day and you all eat cereal for dinner. It’s normal. It’s just not good when that is your daily life.

Reward yourself. It is hard to find time to clean your teeth on some days but try and find time for a treat. A bath in peace, a glass of wine, a face pack, paint your toes, anything that makes you happy. Look at the Mum’s Back Hampers, the contents are treats, wine, a book, cheese, chocolate, lip balms. We need rewards as much as the children do. Don’t feel guilty!

To others – You really don’t know what they are dealing with so if they make mistakes, be kind, forgive. If a friend who usually posts regularly on social media goes quiet for a while, check up on them, it might be that they are struggling. Be their Pixie Pickup. Go and visit with a bottle of wine or cake for a chat, perhaps quietly, without fuss do a few jobs for them while you are chatting. Drop in a dinner for their family that they just have to reheat.

Finally, have fun, ignore the mess and have fun with the kids as they do leave home sooner than you think and then you and Pixie Pickup will have more time to share a glug of gin or two.

This blog was written by Nerissa Buckell, mum to 4 boys and a dog that snorts like a pig. She is also founder of Crimson Tiger, creators of made to order personalised gifts.

Big thanks to Nerissa for all the fab hints, tips and life hacks! 

 

 

 

Microblading at I-Bar, Brighton

To be honest I was nervous when the lovely Sarah from the i-bar suggested mircroblading my brows. I’d been seeing her for years for threading treatments (moustache and brows!) and felt pretty happy with where we were.

Like many people, I’d plucked my eyebrows to within an inch of their lives in the 90s. I’d “Imacc’d” (I think it’s now called “Veet”?!) ….and on one occasion actually shaved *shudder* my upper lip to oblivion during the same period, (damn those 90s…thank god there was no social media back then to capture these horrifying errors) and it took a bit of work for Sarah to get my face looking presentable again. But she’d managed it and her threading had done me proud over the years.

My eyebrows were in pretty good shape and my tache’ was kept at bay. So the thought of another treatment….especially one that had “blade” in the title AND was described as ‘long lasting’ did fill me with a little worry. However, I trusted Sarah and had seen pictures of others who’d been through the treatment and was impressed with what I saw. So, pushing those memories of 90s horror to the back of my mind I agreed. Sarah dabbed on some of the colour dye behind my ear, which I had to leave on for 24 hours just to ensure I had no reactions. Off I trotted with my first appointment booked in.

My first and main worry was that I didn’t want to look like I’d had 2 slugs tattooed above my eyes. I’d seen some shocking eyebrow tattoo treatments in my time and I definitely didn’t want to look like that. Sarah reassured me and promised what I already knew – that she is ALL about natural beauty. Her aim was to enhance the shape of what I already had and fill in the gaps (no doubt created in the 90s!). It sounded good. Here’s a pic of my brows before any work….

 

Sarah explained the way she works. She suggested 3 sessions in total, with a (circa) month gap in between. This gives previous treatments a chance to settle, creating a much more natural result in the end. Sarah is absolutely meticulous and pays SO much attention to details it’s crazy. She told me that for her, it’s like therapy. I understand why now! For so long she’d been threading my eyebrows…working on their shape and definition, but never been able to fill those annoying gaps in the shape she’d so carefully created…..until now! It’s a bit like being able to decorate the cake she’d so lovingly baking all this time.

The first treatment was the most daunting. Sarah dabbed on some anaesthetic cream on the eyebrow area and I sat to let it work in for 30 minutes. This was actually great because I got to sit with my feet up and read a mag (a bit like a spa treatment with 2 under 4 at home). Then it was time to get cracking. Sarah looked like a surgeon in her scrubs and it made me wonder if I’d made a mistake!

My worries were soon allayed as she got to work. First we discussed the areas she planned to fill in. My brows ended quite abruptly, so the plan was to lengthen them slowly and gradually and fill in some other areas to create a better shaped arch. Sarah explained how microbladers are trained to follow a particular brow shape. This is good, but doesn’t account for people’s differing face shapes. Sarah opts for a tailored design for each person, matching his or her features. I realised at this point how lucky I was to have Sarah! She also explained how many blades there are for the treatment and how it’s important to use the right one. Too thick could look unnatural, and perhaps veer into the slug look I was worried about. Colour matching was also important, to stay in line with the natural look. Sarah had it all under control.

She started work and I got to experience what it felt like. Not a lot, actually, because my brows were numbed! It didn’t hurt at all. I could just hear/feel a slight scratchy noise. That was it. It was actually pretty relaxing. I was pleased because I’d heard from friends that it hurt. This is because many technicians don’t bother waiting for the anaesthetic, opting instead to make some incisions meaning the anaesthetic works its way in quicker, and the treatment is done quicker. Sarah, however, is all about client comfort, which is another reason why I love her!

We chatted throughout the treatment and the first session was soon complete. I was sent home with instructions not to get the eyebrow area wet for 48 hours and to keep clean. It was pretty easy. The look at first was quite heavy, but this wore off after a few days. I was actually quite sad when it did and was looking forward to my next session. I got a lot of compliments. I realised how much better my whole face looked with normal sized brows.

The next 2 sessions were more of the same. Sarah carefully built on the previous session, working on filling the gaps and ensuring the colour was right. I could see what a good idea it was to space out the sessions. It meant for a really natural look, which Sarah constantly strives for.

My last session is now complete and I’m so in love with my new brows!! Here they are in all their glory

 

Are you interested in a session with Sarah? She’s very kindly offering a discount of 10% for all of this blog for microblading treatment. Just give her a call or email and let her know you read all about it on the Mum's Back site.

Sarah’s lovely studio is based just off Western Rd, in Castle Mews, Brighton. Here I am with Sarah in her studio. Note my brows are much heavier there than the finished article as they still had lots of dye on them, but I wanted to get a nice one of Sarah when she's not in her surgical uniform so you can see how lovely she is!

This blog was written by Sally Bunkham, founder of Mum's BackHampers for new mums and mums at all stages, focussing on the yummy stuff denied in pregnancy. £1 from every hamper sold goes to PANDAS Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What NOT to say to a pregnant lady

Pregnancy is a funny old time. Usually it's filled with a whole plethora of emotions; excitement, fear, nervousness, happiness, worry….it really is a crazy time. I remember going through ALL the stages and feeling really overwhelmed at points.

There were times people liked to chip in with “helpful” advice, anecdotes or comments. Usually it was lovely and supportive. Other times it really really wasn't. What I've come to realise is that many seem to go through this. There really should be a code of conduct when it comes to dealing with pregnant people. Of course we are all different, and what others find helpful and supportive, others won't. None the less, I've put together a little list of what NOT to say in order to support friends…..damn it, even STRANGERS through their pregnancy. This was put together with a little help from my friends, who chipped in with their worst experiences when they were expecting….

  1. The number 1 “no no” was the old classic….”are you sure it's not twins in there?”. These words seemed to be uttered to around 50% of ladies whilst pregnant. It's not really helpful or complimentary. After all, said lady is likely to know the configuration of baby/ies in her tummy, and all the comment does is make her feel as large as a bus. Not a great feeling. So just DON'T.
  2. OK next up….assuming the pregnant lady in question won't want to go out or have fun anymore. No, she can't drink but she CAN still have fun and hold a conversation. Helen Pritchard says “A friend said to me ‘Oh, I didn't invite you to my party because I thought you wouldn't want to be around people drinking!’ Lame – I said I can still make my own decisions even though I am pregnant.”
  3. Any comments at all about weight gain or shape tend not to be helpful. Whether it's “Wow you are enormous” or “Gosh you're THAT far ahead? You are SO SMALL”. All contributions like this do is make us worry. Worry that we are not normal and ARE in fact too small or too big etc etc. And (possibly) even worse….comments about the rest of the body too. Rebecca says someone said to her “you can really tell you're pregnant now, you're filling out in your face”, making her cry. Rose says her father in law made this HORRENDOUS comment to her – “I thought your tummy was supposed to get bigger not your bum as well!”. Just NO.
  4. The touching of the belly. Sometimes from friends, often by complete strangers! Pregnant tummies are not public property! Of course, some people may not mind their bump being handled and that is fine. But many are not fans of random hands on them. So for goodness sake at least ask first….or better still, just swerve the bump groping all together!
  5. I speak from personal bitter experience here. My second daughter was born only a year after my first. I was asked constantly and usually by total strangers “was that planned?”. This inevitably led to an uncomfortable discussion about my sex life. AWKS. Just don't go there. Please.
  6. Pregnancy can be hard work. It is tiring and emotional and makes you ache in places you didn't even know existed. So when she divulges information about the bad side of it, the worst thing you can say is “You chose to do this, you really can’t complain” (thanks to Mary for this gem). Erm, just because she has taken part in the basic natural instinct to reproduce, doesn't exclude her from the right to have a moan, OK?
  7. The “just you wait” style comments are never helpful, either. Many people are SO keen to tell you how much worse it gets, which doesn't fill you with happiness or comfort. Classics are “Wow you look tired…just wait until the sleepless nights start!” (thanks for that quote Lisa) or when you say you think you have everything you need for the baby and someone (un)helpfully chips in with “trust me…you are NEVER prepared” (thanks Jen for that one!).
  8. The labour horror stories. Why? Just WHY? If someone tells you they are about to have an operation on their heart, you probably wouldn't rack your brain to think of all the heart operation horror stories to impart on the poor person, would you? So why on earth do people do that to pregnant ladies when childbirth is both imminent and unavoidable. All it does is create anxiety and fear. Unless it's a nice labour story, just don't go there.
  9. In a similar vein, passing judgement or comment about a lady's chosen (or NOT chosen!) delivery method is not a good move. What came out top in this area was the trend in implying a lady is taking the “easy option” if she has a c-section. This is not a good move because a) it's bollocks and b) it's just tactless, rude, and makes her feel like crap.
  10. Last but not least. Before you say ANYTHING, just be ABSOLUTELY SURE she is, in fact, pregnant. Because I don't think there's anything worse than the old “when are you due?!” when the lady in question is not harbouring a baby at all. I've heard several of these stories and they never end well. So unless you have absolute confirmation and proof, just don't risk it. It's not worth it!

 

This article was written by Sally Bunkham, founder of Mum's Back who provide new mum hampers and gifts for mums in general, focussed on all the yummy stuff denied in pregnancy (wine, pate, cheese, gin, prosecco etc!). £1 from every hamper sold goes to perinatal mental health charity PANDAS Foundation.