You’re NOT a Feminist

Sometimes feminism gets a bad press. It’s confused with misandry – that’s a word I recently learned and it basically means ‘man-hating’ – the female version of misogyny. The fight for feminism is a fight for equality. Real feminism values men and not only understands male issues, but campaigns for them too. That’s important to me as a woman who is the mother of a boy.

Because what is the point in raising sons who are told they are not trustworthy? That men are predatory? To raise them thinking that when a sick woman makes a claim of abuse against them they should be instantly chastised and hounded for their awful behaviour purely because they have penis?

Raising my son to be a feminist

Instead, I raise my son knowing that he is an equal to the girls in his class. I teach him to respect all people, no matter who they are, where they come from, how they look or what they believe. I raise him knowing that he can talk about emotions, cry, wear whatever colour clothes he wants to and play with any toy he likes. I’m raising a son knowing that he makes the decision about his future career and that if he wants to be a Daddy raising his babies then that’s perfect too. Because women deserve a voice in the board room just as men deserve a voice in the home. Traditionally female roles shouldn’t be seen as weak, or lesser, they should be seen as strong and equal.

That’s what feminism means to me. But that’s just me. So I asked other parents what it means to them. What with us raising the next generation.

 

Feminism is…

“about recognising that women are equal to men. Not above and not below! Everyone has a place in society” – The Smallest of Things

“creating a world where women are free to lead their own lives in the way they want, whether that’s by taking on the world in a professional capacity or deciding to be a homemaker.” – Little Pickle’s Mom

“seeking equality. feminism is not making slanderous generic and unprovoked remarks about all men because you are clearly bitter about something”- Chocolate and Wine and I’ll be Fine

You’re not a feminist if…

“your feminism requires women to be ‘better’ than men. Equal. All equal.” – Life With Boys

“you act completely unreasonably and then try and use fighting for feminism as an excuse. Feminism is about equality not expecting more and does not excuse you acting like a spoiled brat.” – Real Mum Reviews

“your main agenda seems to be men hating. Sweeping, generalised statements about daddy bloggers are a case in point.” – Baby Foote

Feminism is…

“about striving for true equality for men and women in every aspect of life, including (but not limited to) our rights, our ability to parent and our professional worth.” – Surviving Life’s Hurdles

“about choice. Women should fully have the same choices as men. My mum is a feminist and so is my Dad. I get criticised a lot for leaving my career to focus on the kids – but I am a feminist and I’m pleased I made that choice. But with my first the roles were reversed. I’m no more or less of a feminist as I was then.” – Mama Mei

“about bringing everyone together. Feminism is about empowering everyone to speak up and speak out. Feminism is about me raising my son to be an epic human. Feminism is my son seeing no difference in anyone in the world around him, and for him to feel safe (and empowered) to challenge those that behave otherwise” Cheeki Mummy

 You’re not a feminist if you…

” don’t believe in equality for everyone no matter what their gender, colour, race, sexuality, age, ability or wealth etc. Feminism is based on respecting everyone.” – My Boys Club

“think women should get more than men” – LesBeMums

” use the word as an excuse to be hateful to ANYONE” – Muffin Top Mummy

“tell me your son can’t have the pram he asked for for his birthday (this was from a woman who is always spouting out about how much of a feminist she is and is raising her daughter to be a feminist but doesn’t think it applies to her son)” – Better Together Home

“are not raising your sons to be feminists too” – Thrifty Mum

 

Feminism is…

 

“about creating true equality between men and women. That includes life at home, such as little things like housework and cooking, as well as bigger things like looking after the kids equally, both having the option to do the career they want and reach the levels of that career that they want to. It is about being 100% equal in all things – neither men or women should be “above” or “below” one another.”

That Marketing Punk

 

You’re not a feminist if you…

“don’t believe in equality of the sexes. It really is that simple!” – Our Fairytale Adventure

“use your gender (whatever gender that might be) as an excuse to be a bully” – Plutonium Sox

” think you are better than anyone who is not exactly like you” – Fit For Parenting

“use feminism as a badge/ free pass that allows you to belittle others. Share your views, advance the agenda of equality yes but don’t become part of the problem by putting up more walls.” – Hi Baby

“make sweeping statements about someone based on their gender alone. Just become some men, or women, do something or believe something does not mean it applies to all men or all women. Feminism for me is about equality, empowerment and treating everyone as individuals who deserve the same rights as everyone else, but are also free to make their own choices when it comes to pursuing opportunities” – Little Hearts Big Love

Feminism is…

“the fight for equality between men and women. Feminism is recognising that historically and globally, women have been/and are treated as lesser. Feminism is not about diluting the bigger picture with petty arguments about slights to men.” – Mama Cat and Baby Bee

“a celebration of womanhood; in all forms and races, a fellow being with a privileged place on this earth alongside men, children and all other living animals on this planet.” – Mum2Sons

 

You’re not a feminist if you…

“don’t believe that anyone who identifies as female suffers the same discrimination whether or not they have a vagina.” – Mama Eden & Me

“tell women OR men what they should or shouldn’t do.” – Tattooed Tea Lady

“become the one thing that feminism was created to fight against in the first place.
If you become the oppressor, the liar, the bully and the abuser in the name of feminism, you are not a feminist, you’re an idiot.” – Me Becoming Mum

“think all men are bad or that women are better. I believe that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men.” – Teddy Bears and Cardigans

“believe that you are superior to men. You’re not a feminist if you use feminism to diminish what men do, mock men or continue the divisive society that we currently have, just with a slant towards females over males. Feminism is purely about equality. It’s about standing up and saying I am as good as any man, I deserve that to be acknowledged. I’m raising my sons to be feminists and I don’t want to feel that they are being belittled by those that claim to stand side by side with them on the picket lines.”

“are a stay at home mum. Actually you are. You can be whatever you bloody want to be. That’s feminism.” – The Incidental Parent

Feminism is…

“seeing all people as equal humans, regardless of gender” – Friendly First Foods

“about everyone having the same rights. I prefer to say that I’m a supporter of equality rather than feminism purely because of the man haters who make a mockery of it all!” – Digital Motherhood

“about seeking equality. It is not man-hate nor is it idolisation of women. But equally, pointing a finger to and acknowledging the patriarchal attitudes and societal structures should be encouraged rather than shot down as man-hate. Unfortunately the latter happens a lot nowadays too.” – Wave to Mummy

 

Feminism is… Confusing…

I have to be honest and say I’m confused about what a feminist actually is? I have strong opinions so does that make me a feminist?” – Squats, Sass and Saggy Skin

“The term “feminist” has such bad connotations these days. When I first got with my boyfriend, I told him I considered myself a feminist and he said “oh great…” and then I explained my views on feminism to him and what it meant to me and now he agrees and backs me up and considers himself a feminist…Men can be feminists. Men have female friends. Family members. Wives, girlfriends. Children! Men care about women’s rights just as much as women, so if your main agenda is to slander and demonise men, you’re not a feminist. ” – Lukeosaurus and Me

I actually really dislike the word ‘feminism’ because really, feminism should be about men and women being completely equal, not one better than the other, but I think using a female sounding word gives too many people the wrong impression that feminism puts women in a higher place” – ArthurWears

I’m a feminist. I believe in equality for women and men but I’m very aware that women have experienced sexism, inequality and oppression since we’ve been recording time. That’s why I’m a feminist, not an equalitist because we need to challenge the systems and norms to be better for women before we can get true equality. For me this also includes removing stereotypes and oppression that affects boys and men too (like the whole man up/ boys don’t cry claims) because it’s all part of the same system of oppression of women and girls” – Ellamental Mama

…yet simple

“To me, feminism is simply equality.” – That British Betty

“You don’t have to be female to be a feminist, you just have to believe in equality for men and women” – My Mummy’s Pennies

“I’m a feminist. I want equal rights for my daughters, no gender pay gap and parenting responsibilities and working seen as equal.” – Corporate Dad

 

 

 

 

 

The girl who cried wolf: A tale from the other side

Something happened in the blogging world recently that threw me back to being 18, back at sixth form. One of my friends was falsely accused of rape. The accuser was a prolific liar. We all knew it was lies, but accusations have to be taken seriously. I’m still friends with the accused’s girlfriend at the time. She’s one of my best friends. I asked her to write about her experience. A woman’s point of view about that kind of lie. People that know me personally will know this story, but we have kept it anonymous.

 

 

I would like to start this by saying I am not a writer. I am not a blogger, or even a tweeter.  I am writing this as the ex-girlfriend of someone accused of sexual assault. I am writing this for everyone who has ever been accused or insinuated against falsely. For their friends and family who it has affected, without even having the conscious realisation that one little exaggeration or one misinterpretation can damage a life irrevocably.

I can only tell you the story from my side, how it affected me and how I feel it affected those around me… but here goes. I would also like to add retrospectively that I had tears in my eyes writing this piece even 11 years on – tears for the boy I loved and was never the same, for the girl I was before. And also pride, for the people that stood by us and the way we got through it.

 

We were only 18

I (A) was starting to date a lovely guy (B) from a good family. B was on course to do fantastically in his exams, high hopes for a career in law. He had it all planned out, right down to his 15 year plan – including his own practice and judgeship and all those kinds of things. Then some girl he had fancied before me (C), decided to accuse him of sexually assaulting her.

 

Idle whispers to police investigation

This started out as just a few comments to mutual friends at school. That C and B had got together just as me and him did, and that in the past it had been more than just flirting. She just appeared to be jealous of him and I having a real relationship, so wanted to make out that I was second best. This was water off a ducks back, didn’t bother us at all and we fell in love… but this didn’t go down well.

The story then developed into it being unwanted attention, that she wasn’t interested and his flirting was not reciprocated. Then that he had assaulted her whilst driving her home one night. This got around the college. It got to the teachers, who called B into the headmasters office where the police were waiting.

He questioned his character

This amazing guy, who had been nothing but patient and sweet with me, was an outgoing, fun guy. He was great to be around and had loads of friends. Suddenly he was hauled out of his class in front of everyone and questioned like he was a criminal. He was suspended from school pending investigation. Meanwhile C still got to swan around the school making sly jibes at me and trying to turn people against B. He became withdrawn. Worried how it would affect his career and his hopes. Scared of how people at school would be talking about it and would think he had done it. We knew he didn’t. Everyone knew.  But the thought was still in his mind.

In the early stages of first love and lust, its supposed to be amazing and flirty and realistically, kinda hot – but this was really hard when he was worried what people would think. He even started to question himself and worry that if he kissed me, if it all went wrong, I could say something bad too. I was his girlfriend – we were inseparable – and yet he was afraid to touch me without my explicit permission, which in all honesty is a bit of a mood killer!

Disproved accusations

Thankfully, the police and school didn’t take too long to disprove her accusation of the sexual assault, but the damage was done. The rumours around the town were still in existence. I’m sure if you googled it you would have come up with a few bits, and this was in the days before Social Media was huge like it is now. I hate to think the impact this could have had if it was even more widespread. Even localised, this destroyed a young man’s college experience. It prevented him from having the confidence to go for law firm internships and work experience. It eventually broke down our relationship.

I know after us, he didn’t date for a long time, and any time anyone tried to get close, he would back away, would orchestrate so he was always in view of a camera or other people. This INNOCENT guy had to find ways to make sure he always had an alibi, as every now and again, C would pop up and try ruin things.

It hurt me, to see him so upset, to be seen as the “silly girl standing by a rapist”, a few people even said I was in on it all and protecting him. That I should stand up for women and not be another victim. I am not a victim. I never was. And I was standing up for women, for my friend. I am 100% in belief that if true, this kind of thing is absolutely horrific, but it is stories like this which stop real victims being believed and scared to come forward!

It affected his friends and family too. Being his defender, being there to help him rise above the whispers, to fight back with his suspension and keep on top of school and work and everything else a teenager has to do.

 

And all of this, stemmed from either jealousy, a misinterpretation, a girl who liked attention and wanted it however it happened.

 

Now I will say, I am ashamed in a way, but I do still hold a grudge against C for ruining what should have been a fantastic time in my life. Visiting my home town every now and again, I have bumped into her. She tries to be friendly but I cannot ever forgive what she did. Not for me. Nor B. Not for any of the women who’s experiences she has belittled and given doubt to in real cases of sexual assault etc.

Two sides to every story

Not having the knowledge of what really happened can ruin lives. It is so important to remember that there are two sides of every story and the impact this kind of suggestion or accusation can be devastating for all parties involved, not to mention their wider circles.

 

 

This account is not related to any bloggers, it is an account of an old school friend. The names of all parties involved remain anonymous.

 

anneliese phillips photo of two people in meadow surrounded by mountains

 

 

 

When Life Revolves Around Kids

Before you’re a parent you absolutely demand that you’re life is never going to revolve around kids. Then you give birth to a tiny human and your world changes. Your opinions change. This week has been a complete testament to how much your life revolves around kids when you become a parent. Oliver is nearly 4 and a lot more ‘self sufficient’ than a tiny baby but life still totally revolves around him. Life really revolves around kids, especially when they’re poorly and we can either fight it, or accept it.

Last week Oliver was a bit (a lot) snotty and feeling rather grotty so he’s been at home instead of at preschool. Well and truly, life revolves around kids and I’ve accepted that. Everything has gone on hold and a lot of what I had planned and wanted to do hasn’t happened because Oliver has been here. He’s also been napping because his body is obviously trying to get better which has meant that he’s been up really late at night and struggled with getting to sleep at bed time. He also only wants Mummy, which has been tough. I’ve downed tools/laptop and just given him all of my attention and cuddles. He’s even napped on me. I haven’t been stuck under a sleepy baby for a long time. But I accepted and just let my life revolve around Oliver.

The To Do List

So this week my to do list has got longer and longer. We have a lot of things to plan for Oliver’s birthday party (in 2 weeks) and loads of things to do for our wedding. Then there’s the obvious day to day stuff. I still haven’t baked my Christmas cake. I really really need to bake my Christmas cake. And then start soaking the fruit for our wedding cake. It’s not even the short term things that I’m focusing on, it’s long term goals that seem to be getting closer closer.

All of the things I’ve needed to do but haven’t yet are

  • Redesign my blog header – you may notice my blog favicon (that little square at the top on the browser tab) is different to the header.
  • Write several blog posts – including a couple about my Raynaud’s
  • Reply to lots of emails
  • Read a book that I’ve been sent
  • Tidy the loft room ready for my brother coming to stay
  • Buy decorations and party bag stuff for Oliver’s party
  • Book a visit to see the hall so that we can plan better
  • Book a meeting with the wedding venue because we finally have our menus and it’s only FOUR MONTHS til we get hitched.
  • Bake the Christmas cake
  • Find bridesmaid dresses
  • Find a time when all of my bridesmaids are available to go shopping/try on different styles and colours of dresses. This is proving to be really difficult because two of them have kids and jobs to juggle.
  • Find a pair of shoes that I’m happy to wear on my wedding day (and some underwear!)
  • Plan Christmas
  • Buy Christmas presents
  • Plan a trip to Lincoln to see family and friends before/around Christmas
  • Plan a weekend trip up North to see friends in the new year
  • Find another weekend to have a hen.
  • Book the DJ
  • Plan our AV set up.
  • Chat to our photographers/videographer.
  • Write a list of questions for our wedding planning meeting
  • Design and send invitations
  • Send Christmas cards
  • Give notice for our wedding
  • Book a planning meeting with the registrar
  • Book hair and make up and plan my hair and eyebrow schedule (I realise that sounds totally pretentious!)

My brain is in overdrive

I feel like I’m getting to the point where I’m concentrating more on how much I have to do rather than getting any of it done. When your life revolves around kids it’s easy to get bogged down and panic at your never ending to do list. It’s easy to lose sleep and just concentrate on how behind you are, but I’m hoping this blog post helps me put my thoughts in order and concentrate on getting it done instead of just complaining about how much there is to do. I’m even planning on writing a to do list for R! Mainly because he keeps forgetting to get in touch with the DJ.

I’m also conscious of my weight at the moment. I did really well at losing a fair bit of weight last year and I can feel it creeping on at the moment. I’m really keen to make sure that doesn’t happen. I have my first seamstress appointment on 9th January and I’m well aware that I really can’t put weight on. My dress is a size 10 and fitted perfectly when I tried it on so I need to make sure it remains a perfect fit. I really want to avoid wearing shapewear underneath it. When I tried it on I didn’t need shapewear, so lets hope it stays that way. It’s the main reason I preferred that dress, it worked with my body shape without spanx. Hopefully you’ll start to see meal planning posts popping up on my blog with some delicious healthy meals on.

when life revolves around kids black text in yellow shape on background of clouds looking pink

Does you life revolve around kids? Do you find that you get bogged down with jobs building up when you have a sick child? Or do you have some tips to help me cope with getting ‘stuff’ done when Oliver’s not feeling well? I’d love to hear any advice you have.

 

 

Being a Raynaud’s Mum

The thing with being a Raynaud’s mum is not many people know what Raynaud’s is. When you go out all bundled up with your child wearing shorts people look at you like you’re crazy. Like some kind of irresponsible parent for taking the time to ensure you’re warm but not your child. There are so many things I have to consider before leaving the house and I put so much thought in to what I’m wearing it’s unreal. Thank goodness I’m not #instaglam because I’d have real issues! Then there are the other things associated with being a Raynaud’s mum…

What Raynaud’s actually is

For those who don’t know what Raynaud’s is a quick summary would be that it’s something that affects the circulation or blood flow in your extremities. That includes the obvious – fingers and toes, and not so obvious, ears, nose and nipples! I get it in all but the latter, but it’s been a while since Oliver stopped breastfeeding! Temperature changes really impact it, cold weather and stress/anxiety are also huge factors.

For me, that means my fingers and toes go white and numb. It means that I get immense pain through my hands and feet. I also get numbness and pain in my ears and nose. I have to wear loads of layers and keep my house warm. I have to wear slippers pretty much all year round. When it’s cold it takes me a long time warm up.

What being a Raynaud’s mum means to me

Being outdoors in autumn and winter is genuinely uncomfortable for me. It becomes so difficult that it affects my mood. I’m grumpy, I’m tired and I am just in so much pain I can’t do anything. That makes it hard for me to do things like puddle jump walks, collecting acorns and conkers. Going to the park when it’s cold. Days out that involve being outdoors for periods of time. Especially in exposed areas where it’s windy. The cold that you’re thinking of is probably the frosty chill in November, but that is the cold I feel in September.

 

At home when it’s ‘cold’ I’m often found under a fleecy blanket. Our living room is North facing which means it’s not very warm. The floor is also concrete which makes it even colder. Leather sofas are a no-no. The kitchen floor is also really cold too and even with slippers on I get numb toes. That means I’m not very fun once the cold sets in.

 

Raynaud’s mum guilt

I feel awful for much of the year for how boring I am. I can’t do a lot of the things that Oliver wants to do. He loves the outdoors. He loves nature. It’s really not fair on him that we can’t do the things he wants to do. I’m starting to invest in things that will help make my life easier. The only thing is that all of these things cost money. I’ve been wearing the same clothes for years and we don’t have a great deal of disposable income. We’re not impoverished or anything, but we are living on a single income and planning a wedding.

 

 

Being a raynauds mum - hat scarf and gloves every day from September

 

 

Have you ever heard of Raynaud’s? Do you suffer from it too? Do you have any tips to help me overcome the cold?

Turning 30 : Why I’m not scared of it

Turning 30 is a huge milestone for a lot of people. For me it seems to be almost passing me by. I’m turning 30 on Sunday (25th September) and it’s going to be a very low key affair. Last year I thought my 30th birthday would be huge. It also marks a whole decade since I started university. I fully expected that there had to be some huge occasion to celebrate thirty whole years on this earth. But right now, I’m happy for it to quietly go by.

 

When you’re younger you pretty much expect to be doing or have done certain things by the time you’re turning 30. I recently found a piece of work from first year of uni where we had a 10 year plan. I wanted to have a good job, a husband, a house and children by the time I was 30. When I reached final (fourth) year I knew that was an insane age to be doing all of those things. My ideas of what turning 30 was all about had drastically changed.

 

There are loads of articles about why you should love turning 30. This article from PopSugar lists all the amazing reasons why turning 30 is something to look forward to. I’m fully aware that not all 30 year olds have reached the point that their list suggests though. Lifetime Magazine’s article about turning 30 hits the nail on the head a bit more. When you’re 29 you don’t suddenly wake up 30, it’s just the next day. On Sunday I will be another day older than I was the day before.

 

Maybe I’m less afraid of turning 30 because I’ve hit a few of the milestones already

  1. I have a child
  2. I’m in a committed relationship
  3. I’m getting married in six months!
  4. No more horrible landlords – we (sort of) have our own house
  5. We have a business
  6. We hope to have more kids after the wedding
  7. I gave up work to be a stay at home mum
  8. I’ve reassessed my aims in life and have become self employed with a (slightly blurred) vision of where I want to go while still being at home.
  9. I’ve found a hobby I love in yoga
  10. I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin

 

I think that in 2016, the age of social media, turning 30 can go one of two ways

  1. You either get paranoid about your wrinkles and download loads of airbrush apps to edit your instagram photos and cry about all of the things you haven’t achieved that you thought you would.
  2. Or, you embrace the fact that nothing really has changed and that you don’t have to have achieved everything and that instagram isn’t really that real anyway.

George William Curtis says it best, “age is a matter of feeling not of years”Turning 30 - Age is a matter of feeling not of years quote black text on white background

 

How did/are you feel/ing about turning 30? I’d love to read about other people’s experiences

Do I need a tech detox?

On Saturday my phone broke. Sob. At first I was just annoyed, it’s such an inconvenience. I was hoping to not buy one until after the wedding in March. What was really annoying was that I was trying to find the postcode for the Roman Baths Museum in Welwyn. We were already in the car and R ended up having to get his phone out of his pocket while he was driving so I could look on his instead. As the day went on I realised how much I rely on my phone. It made me wonder if I need a tech detox.

Here are just some of the ways I rely on my phone

Meal Planning

To do the meal plan  for each week I use google calendar as it’s syncs to R’s calendar so I know when he’s home or not. I also use the weather app to see what kind of food we might want to have. Especially as autumn hits and we are stuck between forecasts of 30 degree sunshine and days of solid rain. I don’t want to plan a casserole on a sunny day and a salad on a rainy day.

Housework

I use the weather app for deciding which load of washing to put in and whether I can put it out on the line. Some days I focus more on washing because I know it’s going to rain the next day.

Social life

I use the calendar to put things in the diary, so that R sees any important dates that crop up or appointments that he might need to be around for. I also plan things using whatsapp, there are group chats on there with different groups of friends and the school mums. I have quick checks on google to look for things to do. I check twitter and local parents groups on facebook to see if anything’s happening locally.

Blogging

Blogging is obviously a huge part of my life, to be a part of the community I use instagram, facebook and twitter. I also get any blogs I have subscribed to straight to my inbox. I use my phone to comment on people’s blogs too and use apps to schedule posts on facebook and twitter. My phone camera is generally what I use to take photos of anything. I upload and view instagram on it too. I even have apps to edit photos on there.

Banking

I have an app on my phone that I need to use to log on to my online banking, even if I’m accessing my banking on the computer. So I have no access to my bank until I get a new phone.

Getting from A-to-B

Since moving down here I realised how bad my sense of direction really is. I use google maps to go everywhere except places I go on a regular basis. I can do the school run by myself. If the road is ever closed I literally have to follow the diversion though, I wouldn’t know if there was a better way to go. When we go somewhere that’s not local we use google maps to choose the best route. For me that’s the one without a motorway, for R it is usually the quickest route because google maps knows everything!

Memories

I use my phone to take a gazillion photos of Oliver. I really love the apps that bring up the photos from this time last year, 2 years ago etc. I love seeing how he’s grown. It’s so easy to forget that he was once a teeny tiny baby. Remembering the milestones exactly as they were then.

Do I need a tech detox?

I won’t lie I have panicked. Quite a lot. How will I ever cope? How am I going to survive without my smartphone for an ENTIRE week. It’s a good job there’s nowhere I need to go, nothing I need to do and nobody I desperately need to contact.

Mobile phones have long moved on from being something to use for calling and texting. They seem to control our whole lives. But does that mean we don’t live in the moment any more because we are too busy capturing it? I’m not sure how I will cope without my phone for a whole week. I’m currently using a really cheap phone – you know the ones with actual buttons, not just any buttons, but only the number buttons where you have to press the number 2 three times to get a letter C. The only benefit I see is that I won’t have to charge it at all before my new phone arrives.

 

How much do you rely on your phone? Do you think I rely on mine too much? Do I need a tech detox? Perhaps I’ll have a revelation and suddenly decide I don’t need it….unlikely!!

do I need a tech detox? photo of young woman using laptop with phone

 

 

Linking Up to:

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Play Date Etiquette : A Beginner’s Guide

Since Oliver started preschool I’ve had to be a little bit more sociable myself. I’ve suffered with school gate anxiety since before he started. On the one hand I was excited that there would be a group of adults that I would be in regular contact with. On the other hand there would be a group of adults that I would be in regular contact with!! What if they hated me? I had no doubt Oliver would make friends and that play dates would soon feature. So that got me thinking about play date etiquette. For the socially anxious, sometimes a little guide can be helpful. So I asked other parents who blog, here are their top tips…

Firstly, it starts before you go. Be prepared.

“I always jokingly mention that my kids can be a handful prior to the playdate. It’s not false but I have this fear that one day everyone will see how badly behaved the kids can be and I’d rather prewarn them! This then leads to the ‘your kids are so well behaved’ comment if the kids haven’t managed to put each other in bad moods!!”
– Carla, Random Thoughts of a Twenty Something 

 

“Unless you are driving, take a hip flask. Take sneaky nips as the house is trashed around you. Mutter that’s your child isn’t like this at home, it must be because they get on so well. Stagger home 2 hours late.”
– Naomi, Tatooed Mummy

If drinking on the job isn’t your thing, at least prepare yourself mentally. And drown yourself in tea. But probably not too much if you’re a nervous pee-er.

Then there’s the protocol for arranging play dates with a parent of the opposite sex

“When you’re a dad arranging a playdate with a mum, it can feel awkward – like you’re asking them on a date! So if you’re arranging (or on) a playdate with a parent of opposite sex, mention your partner lots so you can be sure they don’t get the wrong idea. Unless you want them to get the wrong idea”
– Simon, Man Vs Pink

Food is a minefield. There are so many differing opinions.

The thing I always struggle with is “are you kids allowed to eat cake” or “mine only drink water” issues… and then the fall out from some kids having juice and others allowed only water. I once gave my kids squash at a house where the kids didn’t drink squash and it caused WW3! So my tip would be: never get enticing snacks out of your bag without checking with the other parents! No one wants to cause a snack related meltdown!”
– Amy, 2 Boys, 1 Mum

 

If your child is a fussy eater (like mine!) don’t stay for lunch or tea when going on a play date. The food will invariably be ‘different’ (even if it’s exactly the same as what you make at home) and you want to avoid your child telling the host that it’s ‘yucky’. Embarrassing”
– Amiee, Mum Amie

 

photo of chocolate cupcakes with a caraffe of milk and milk crate, wooden spoon and mason jar style glass to style the photo. Quote included as "Always bring cake to a playdate" from Natalie at Plutonium Sox . com

 

“I have a huge thing about bringing things eg cake. Loads of people do even when asked not to bring anything but I find it really annoying: if I’m hosting I have bought everything so it doesn’t get eaten and I just end up eating it later and feeling unhappy about my weight and secondly play dates should be a cheap way to meet up with people if both the host and visitors are spending money on things it’s cheaper to go out. When several people go round and I’m the only one not to bring anything I feel rude.”
– Kate, Counting To Ten

 

“Always take Cake or posh looking biscuits…”
– Rose

 

“Chocolate biscuits and cake!!”
– Lara

 

“Sometimes I take cake but I also don’t want them to feel that is necessary if they come to ours, so I make that clear! I just love cake 🙂 And I don’t do it if I know that person is trying to be healthy!
If I take snacks for my little one I make sure I take enough to go around as the others will naturally want some too! I try to make them as healthy as possible so as not to put any parents in awkward situations if they’re not comfortable with less healthy options (our snacks our generally healthy anyway but I do allow a biscuit if we are at someone else’s and it is offered.)”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

 

My suggestion – have something, but perhaps leave it in the car or your inevitably large handbag until you know the time is right. If the time isn’t right then just eat it when you get home.

Shoes off or shoes on?

“I never know if to take my shoes off in other people’s houses so I do anyway but always make sure to wear socks as I hate my feet out.”
– Jessica, Beauties and The Bibs

Shoes on or off is a huge thing for me, at home I wear enormous slippers and have carpets, if I go to a house with wooden or tiled floors my feet freeze because I have raynauds. So if you invite me over don’t be surprised if I’m wearing woolly socks and/or bring massive slippers. Or put the heating on ready for my arrival! Haha.

One thing is for sure, DO NOT TAKE A POORLY CHILD

“1) Taking a poorly toddler round someone’s house is like taking a dump on their doorstep. Don’t do it. 2) If they’re potty training get ready to grovel when they pee on their carpet. Yes this has happened to me.”
– Frances, Whinge Whinge Wine

“Oh yes, definitely agree with not taking a poorly child. In the past I was almost lynched for declining a toddler who had been puking for the entire morning but “had stopped now”.”
– Sophie, Sophie and Lily

But what about kids behaviour?

“The thing I find the hardest is their TV’s and DVD players etc – my son goes straight for them so I usually spend most of the time removing him from those areas….with that in mind always take a favourite toy with you as a ‘distraction’. Last time we had a big group play date Arthur bit another child when they tried to take a toy he was playing with….it was a really difficult situation and I ended up reprimanding him in a way that I wouldn’t usually do just for the benefit of the other parents….now whenever we go anywhere to play I am constantly watching him just in case he does it again…although since this incident we haven’t actually been invited back”
– Sarah, Arthur Wears

Sharing is a huge talking point…

“Try to relax with regards to sharing. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with your child if they don’t want to share! They go through phases and they will learn. I used to get so embarrassed and flustered when Ernie went through his phase of not sharing. I thought it was something I was doing as a parent but it really isn’t! They all learn eventually and will still have their moments even then!”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

Child looking at transformer toy on table quote saying to put away your kids favourite toys and put out toys that area easy to share

“People always expect children to be great at sharing, but they’re not! So if we’re having a play date at our house I put away any of the kids favourite toys (like the soft toy that they sleep with or a brand new Paw Patrol toy) and put out toys that are easy to share like the train set or Lego.”
– Niki, Play and Learn Every Day

Be aware of quietness

“My tip this: if you think your just turned three year old is being suspiciously quiet go and check she’s not been enticed to open every single drawer at her friends house and emptied out all her clothes. If this happens the next time she has a playdate at home she will repeat this new trick”
– Lauren, Belle Du Brighton

How would you feel if they did it at your house?

Be responsible for your child’s behaviour, it is not the host’s responsibility to discipline your child. If they wouldn’t do it at home, it’s in everyone’s interests if they don’t do it in someone else’s house, otherwise things can get awkward and you may find you don’t get invited back. I have had parents tell me that they think other people should be able to tell their child off if they do something wrong, as it teaches them social skills, or something, but no one actually wants that job, it’s yours!”
– Lucy, The Parent Game

 

“Don’t take a ride on toy for your toddler to play on, especially if your friend has real wooden floors; ESPECIALLY if her baby is only a few months old and sleeping in a basket which your toddler keeps bumping. Also don’t let your toddler use your friend’s sofa like a trampoline, particularly if your friend is breastfeeding her preemie on the same sofa. Most of all, don’t do these things on the same occasion. (We’re still friends, but I’ve never invited them back into my house.)”
– Kate, The Less Refined Mind

Last but not least, TIDY UP!

Nearly all of the parents who contributed to this blog post mentioned tidying up.

I always tidy up after ourselves, 9/10 the room was already untidy but we always leave it tidy”
– Jaymee, The Mum Diaries

 

“I always take my shoes off, always always always tidy up before we leave and I always being either cake or lunch (even a contribution towards) depending on when we are going to be there”
Katy Gibson

 

“I always take our shoes off immediately and I make sure we tidy up as best as possible before we leave.”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

 

” I heard a horror story of someone turning up at 10 and not leaving until 5. Don’t over stay your welcome and offer to tidy up even if they say no”
– Emma, Farmers Wife and Mummy

And if it all goes tits up? Try not to worry too much, you could still be friends

“First play date I took my son to, was a lady I had met through playgroup, older than me, walks into her house, cream sofas and so neat. She was fine letting my then 18month old run about and climb, as much as I pulled him off sofa. Knock on the door her mam, so I was introduced, my son took the whole of a few seconds to climb on the sofa, throw up and proceed to play in it. Never been so embarrassed!! Was really lucky she laughed and we’ve actually become best friends! ( the next time I went alone for a vodka, I ended up tipping my vodka and coke over the same sofa 😳) were still friends she just covers them now!”
– Jo, First Time Valley Mam

text only - play date etiquette - a beginners guide. From parents who blog

 

Do you have any play date etiquette tips? Or do you have any play date wins or horror stories. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Overcoming School Gate Anxiety

One of the problems with being a parent is that you’re thrown in to this role as not yourself but your child’s mummy/daddy.  Nobody asks what your name is when they meet you, they ask your child’s name.  You become known as “Oliver’s mummy”, “Will’s Daddy” etc.  Eventually it reaches a point where it feels rude to ask the other person’s name because you have ‘known’ them for so long even though you’ve only said ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’ and spoken to them through your child because you’re terrified of rejection.

Do as I say not as I do…

Thinking back, I expected it to be easy once Oliver started pre-school.  I figured that because we were settled and seeing the same people every day I might feel a little more confident in talking to some of the other parents.  I was so wrong.  I was like a rabbit caught in headlights.  There were times at the door of the preschool when everyone would be standing in silence and it’s hard to break that.  Or you see a group of mums who have known each other for ages and you worry they don’t want another friend or tag-a-long.  Meanwhile, your child is making friends with their children by just going over to them and talking to them.  Introducing himself, the way YOU taught him to.  

oliver holding hands with henry

You are not alone

After talking to other parents online, it seems I’m not alone.  I recently shared a ‘social anxiety win’ on twitter and several people congratulated me.  It made me wonder if the majority of us are in the same boat.

 

 

‘Once you pop you just can’t stop’

After I had swapped numbers with Oliver’s friend’s mummy (who has an actual name, but is in my phone as ‘name – child) I felt slightly better.  I hadn’t been rejected, in fact she had basically invited me in to her entire group of mum friends.  A few days later I had another win with another preschool mum after one of the teachers encouraged me to swap numbers.  James, Oliver’s BFF from his first day at school was going on holiday then to ‘big school’. It was now or never.  I feared that rejection most because James and Oliver had got on so well.  He was basically the reason that Oliver settled in to the preschool and the reason he happily left us most days.

 

On the last day of preschool Oliver had been telling me about his new best friend, Ben.  “Ben’s going to big school” he had said, so I figured out who his parents were and spoke to his Dad at pick up.  Ben actually isn’t going to ‘big school’, he’s the same age as Oliver and has another year at the Montessori.  I mentioned the playdate in the aforementioned tweet at one of the local parks and gave him my phone number.

 

Winning the war on anxiety

I feel like I’ve managed to overcome the majority of my anxiety.  I’m not fearing the rejection quite as much.  I also felt like I had won when Oliver got an invitation to a birthday party over the holidays.  I know that technically Oliver got the invite and not me, but that’s totally a win, right?

 

I’m ignoring the fact that we have to do this all again in a few days when Oliver goes back to preschool and most of his best friends have gone to Primary.  Maybe I will be the mum to start conversations at the school gate…

 

Do you suffer school gate anxiety? Or do you have any tips to overcome it?

 

overcoming school gate anxiety written on chalkboard

Introducing : Ziva and Tali

I would like to introduce you to the newest members of the UEM family – Ziva and Tali!

Kittens Ziva the tortoiseshell and Tali the black and white hiding in a hole in the wall

When the kittens arrived they were very shy. We got them from somebody who had saved them from being kept in a tiny box in a shed. They hadn’t had a great deal of socialisation so were quite anxious, but they are settling in well.

ziva and tali sitting in a box

True to UEM form Ziva and Tali were quite an unexpected arrival. We knew we wanted to get a cat and had been casually looking around. When I saw these two the night before Oliver’s school trip I fell a little bit in love. One was described as being more affectionate and the other more playful, but the sisters needed a home together because they couldn’t bear to be apart.  I knew we could give them the home and love they needed together as a pair.

While we were at the farm on the trip the owner replied saying that we could see them that afternoon. When we left the farm we went home to collect R then straight out to meet them.

We completely weren’t expecting to walk away with two cats that day, but we did! With a quick pit stop at the Sainsbury’s petrol station to pick up some litter, we were on our way home with two kittens and all of their belongings.

Settling in

That was three weeks ago, since then we have bought them some extra toys and introduced our ‘crazy cat lady’ neighbour to them. Unfortunately one of her cats passed away last week after a long illness, so seeing our energetic kittens has really cheered her up. She has been really helpful and has even lent us some of her cat toys and enrichment devices to see how Ziva and Tali take to them.

ziva and tali playing and prowling in cat tunnel with fishing rod toy orange feather and jingly ball

Since arriving home they’ve gone from hiding in a hole in the wall to now coming and sitting with us on the sofa. We’ve played, given them space and stroked them to give them the chance to trust us. I’m so happy that we have given Oliver the chance to be a pet owner and seeing him with them is just amazing; it makes me feel proud that we have raised such a gentle boy.

Ziva, the tortoiseshell kitten has been hard to win over; I have a feeling she is going to be feisty, but she seems to adore Oliver and will roll over on to her back to let him stroke her tummy. Tali, the black and white kitten is much more eager to have affection and will be the first to come and sit with you. She even tries to get attention if you’re giving it to Ziva!

Ziva rolling on to her back for Oliver to stroke her with a sock on his hand

 

And the names? Well, some of you might be familiar with NCIS. We are huge fans, we even had Jethro on our list of boys names when Oliver was born. If you’re not familiar with NCIS, you should definitely watch it – you’ll love it and understand why Ziva’s name fits her personality so well!  If you watch it and haven’t seen the season 13 finale yet, watch it – but keep the tissues handy.

 

For more cat photos feel free to follow me on instagram as I go from cat lover to crazy cat lady!

 

When your cat looks like she’s smiling in her sleep

A photo posted by Natalie Streets (@diaryofuem) on

What if it doesn’t all go to plan?

This is one of those posts where I’m not sure if I’ll hit publish, but it’s something I feel like I need to write to control my thoughts.

Breast Pain

Recently I’ve been having a health problem – breast pain, it’s been persistent, as in it hasn’t gone away for around 2 months now.  I’ve been to the GP and I now have a referral to go to the breast clinic in just over a week.  I tried not to think about it and took the Evening Primrose Oil that the GP suggested.  There aren’t any lumps, but I have experienced other changes in my breasts, all of which I’m not sure if they are related to stopping breastfeeding after nearly 2 years and losing weight or if there is something more serious.

Either way, sometimes a health issue hits you and you suddenly start to think about the ‘what ifs’.  A few years ago I had recurrent abdominal pain and had to have my ovaries scanned; R and I hadn’t been together long (about a year) but it made us have the conversation about ‘what if’ in relation to kids.  We discussed worst case scenarios and discussed adoption and every other option we could think of.  In the end we settled on ‘we would deal with whatever was thrown at us’.  Luckily there wasn’t anything sinister in the scans and I’m still not sure why I had such awful abdominal pains, but it was something that made us think.

This time around, we have Oliver.  We always said we wanted to have a reasonably big gap between children and then when he proposed we said we would wait until after the wedding.  Oliver is desperate for a baby brother or sister (he’s favouring a brother at the moment and apparently they will have bunk beds) and we have taken for granted the idea that we will have another baby and it will happen when we expect it to.

But what if it doesn’t all go to plan?

The issue with my breast pain has really made me stop and think about all of the assumptions that I made previously;

That I’d have another baby.

That I’d breastfeed again.

That I’d breastfeed until self weaning again.

Then I might have another baby after that and do it all over again.

But What if it doesn’t all go to plan?

What if the problem in my breast is more serious than we hoped?

What if I can’t have any more children?

What if I can never give Oliver that brother or sister that he longs for?

What if I will never be able to breastfeed again?

 

It’s hard being in limbo, it’s the not knowing that makes you think about the worst case scenario.  Almost like a defence mechanism to prepare yourself, just in case.  I don’t have the answers to any of my questions, and yet again it’s one of those things that I will just have to wait and see.  The sheer fact I’ve had these thoughts has changed my perspective on it all though.  I feel even more lucky that Oliver surprised us, because what if we had got to now without any children?  What if I had never got to feel that closeness, that bond and that love.  What if I never knew what it was to be a mother.  What if I never got to prove myself wrong?

 

breast pain-what if it doesnt all go to plan