Thursday, 10 September 2020

Which hats are you?

A blonde woman with a black hat in the woods

We all have different sides to our personality, right?

It’s like having lots of hats for different occasions, sometimes you have to wear your mum hat, sometimes you want to put your creative hat on, sometimes it’ll be an ultra-femme hat for when you’re feeling all womanly etc.

For me, I have 5-6 hats, and each one is often battling the other.

The tom-boy hat

This one likes gaming, being ‘one of the lads’, drinking beer, listening to metal and watching UFC. This is a pretty strong side of me and one that started when I was becoming a teenager. I used to live in jeans and mens shirts when I was a young teen. Proper tom-boy. I wasn’t into makeup etc. I liked listening to Nirvana and Guns n Roses, and loved gaming. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I really started feeling a little more feminine. I pretty much swapped my mens shirts for a cute vest top, wearing an open Slipknot shirt over it, and baggies. Proper mosher.

The Elle Woods hat

I can also be pink and fluffy, ultra girly. Loving designer handbags, getting my nails done, buying nice makeup and feeling womanly, maybe even sexy sometimes. Years ago in my late twenties this was a bigger part of me, it’s waned in recent years to make way for the mum hat, which isn’t the most exciting hat, but does what it needs to.

The Mum hat

The most practical of them all and the one I wear the most. I imagine the hat much like a donkey with saddle bags carrying everything we could possibly need. This is the me that feeds the kids, cleans the house, washes up, does the laundry, stops the kids from fighting, makes the snacks, signs the School permission slips, tucks the kids into bed, reads them stories, plans the food shop, kisses their boo boos, cradles them when they're sad or crying, does the food shop, runs the errands etc etc. Over the years, this hat is probably the most worn, because it’s me every day all day. It’s a hat that has me makeup-less and in a permanent mum-bun and day’s old clothes with random bits of playdoh stuck to it. A very practical hat, but much needed.

The Crafter hat

One of my favourites this one. I have a lot of hobbies, mostly creative ones like art, lino printing, mosaics, and most prominently, crochet. I have this hat on most evenings for a couple hrs. But it’s a constant battle of which hobby to spend time on. I’d love to spend time on them all, but given the amount of yarn I have, it’s usually crochet that wins. This hat I used to wear a lot more, before kids, now it’s a bit old and dusty, but still loves being worn.

The Hippy hat

This is a hat I cannot ignore. Deep inside my soul, I’m such a complete hippy. I’m forever drawn to hippy aesthetics with interior design and clothing. I’m a gentle parent (not saying that’s a hippy thing, but it’s more hippy than being an authoritative parent, which I’m not). I love mindfulness and meditation and have done for years. I’m passionate about normalising natural term breastfeeding. In my heart of hearts, this is who I am.

The Pagan hat

This hat is pointy, and is adorned with the 5 elements, with mother nature, sage wraps, pentagrams and with owning our mistakes, not blaming others for things we have done. This hat used to be worn a lot when I was in my twenties. It’s very dusty now, but still there. It’s not a hat I tell people I have very often, it’s a quiet background hat. It’s a love of mother nature hat.

I figure we all wear our versions of these hats, and our personalities are in a constant flux over which one you'll wear each day.

What hats do you wear?

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

What has lockdown meant to you?

A little boy in the woods with his daddy and little brother

What a weird time it's been, right?

Everyone has had different experiences of this pandemic, no two truly the same. We’ve all had to go into full survival mode, doing what it takes to keep our families safe, and get through this.

Fairly often Squidge looks at me and says “Mummy, lockdown has been hard” and with his eyes shrink-wrapped in tears (thanks Fight Club for that amazing line) he waits for my response.

I used to reply with “Yes my lovely, it’s been really hard” and I scoop him up and give him lots of cuddles, because I know he’s really feeling how difficult this situation has been. We’ve really aired on the side of caution, we didn’t go on daily walks (we live on a busy main road), we didn’t go to the beach every weekend since lockdown eased, we haven’t been on a stay-cation. We’ve played it safe, because it still feels very unsafe out there and we want to protect ourselves and loved ones.

He’s had to see some of his friends have the summer of their lives, with parents who were furloughed, or able to spend all day with them, go to the beach lots, go away on lots of trips like camping, centreparks etc. We haven’t done any of that. Two weeks ago we took them to a quiet beach, as it started to fill up at lunch time we left. The holiday we did have booked, for Easter, was cancelled and re-booked for next year. And once we went to our favourite National Trust place (Dyffryn Gardens), keeping social distance and remaining outside.

It’s been 6 months of house and garden for our little ones. Both the hubby and I have worked full time through this and for the most part, with no childcare. It’s only been since we were able to form a bubble with another household that the kids were able to spend one day a week with their grandparents.

Do I feel guilty about losing such a precious summer? Of course, but I’m also glad we’ve managed to stay safe. But despite this easily being the hardest time of my life, I’ll be eternally grateful that I’ve managed to spend so much time with the kids.

Now when Squidge looks at me, ready to cry and saying the words “Mummy, lockdown has been hard”, I reply saying “Yes darling, it really has, but so many wonderful things have happened, we’ve been so lucky”. I go on to explain that we haven’t lost any loved ones to COVID-19, both me and Daddy have kept our jobs, that we have a lovely home, that they’ve had wonderful weather for the most part, that we’ve kept food on the table, they’ve had a refresh of their toys, and most importantly, that we’ve got to spend so much time together. Yes, it’s been hard, but when we look back on this time, I want us to remember how lucky we were, not how incredibly hard this has been.

And that’s not to say his feelings aren’t valid, they absolutely are. They’re acknowledged and addressed, but I think trying to shift the focus to the silver linings and not dwell on what’s been is also important. Squidge and I are very similar, we’re both empaths, we both feel emotions strongly and wear our hearts on our sleeves. Feeling like that and thinking about how hard things have been does nothing for our mental health. Through my own experiences I’ve found trying to find the silver lining really helps to keep perspective.

One thing we do every day that I really love, is at dinner we sit around the table and I start by asking Squidge what he’s grateful for today. He usually reels off a list of good things that have happened, even when we haven’t done anything, he’ll always find something. Then I ask Dot, he often says the same as Squidge, sometimes adds something. Then I ask Daddy (he’s usually thankful to me for cooking everything and the boys being good) 😊 Then it’s my turn. I love how we round off the day talking about the things we’re grateful for, it brings the day to a positive end.

However lockdown has been for you, you’ve done amazing. We’ve never been through anything like this, and hopefully won’t ever again. Big warm hugs coming you’re way if you’re still struggling, things will get better x

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Breastfeeding a 3 year old

An image of a mother breastfeeding her toddler

I have to say, these aren't words I ever expected to write. When I was pregnant with Dot, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, especially as I never managed it with Squidge. 

Initially, my goal for breastfeeding was to reach six months. To feed for a year felt like a bit of a pipe dream, but that would have been wonderful. I had friends who had toddlers they were breastfeeding, and I was one of those people who thought it was odd. Breastfeeding a two or three year old, hmm, not for me.

Yet here we are, and I'm breastfeeding a three year old. Does it feel weird? Not at all. Was it what I'd planned? Nope, but I'm rolling with it. I do feel like if lockdown hadn't happened he'd have weaned by now. He'd started to drop some of his feeds, but then we were all locked in a house together and he started feeding like a newborn again.

People often ask me if I'm going to stop soon. "I'd like to" I say, but in reality I know it won't be soon. He's got lots of big changes coming up and I don't want to take his one comfort away from him. He's starting School in just a couple days, in a couple/few weeks he'll be moving out of his cot and our room into Squidge's bedroom. Maybe once those changes have happened we'll talk about winding down. But for now in this crazy time, I'm happy to be one safe place for him to find comfort and solace.

I only wish more mums fed through to toddlerhood (and in public), normalising this beautiful act.

If you're reading this, and have breastfed, I'd love to know how long you fed for in the comments. However long your journey was, be it three days or three years, you have done something utterly amazing and you should be proud of every moment of it.
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