The things I wish I’d known in my first pregnancy

The things I wish I’d known in my first pregnancy

The Mum Reviews

There are probably thousands of books out there about pregnancy, not to mention the probably millions of blogs and websites dedicated to the topic. So much so, that upon becoming pregnant the first time round, you may be a bit perplexed as to what to read.

Not everybody wants to know all the nitty-gritty details about pregnancy and birth, and that’s just fine. Your health professionals will tell you all you really need to know. But, if you’re the sort of person who likes to know as much as possible as to what you’re in for, then you’re probably going to be looking for a pregnancy book.

When I was pregnant with my first, I bought books about baby care, because I was more worried about that than the pregnancy part. I googled when I had questions about my pregnancy and enjoyed the sites that compare the size of your…

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Pregnancy: the Naked Truth

Pregnancy: the Naked Truth

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Pregnancy is a bit like the parties you used to go to when you were 15: exhilaratingly new and exciting, full of unknown adventures – a rite of passage experience where you’re not entirely sure what to wear or who the best person to speak to is, with potentially a lot of vomiting and falling asleep at ill-timed moments. And, looking back, an adventure that you’re not sure you always actually enjoyed, despite everyone else saying it was amazing at the time.

I know when I was first pregnant I devoured every pregnancy tome I possibly could – but couldn’t seem to find enough books that offered information and relatable facts without judgment. Or offered the whole truth and made me feel like they understood what I was going through.

It can be a scary time, it can be a magical time. It can be a mixture of the two, plus a whole heaped side order of other delights such as anxiety, depression, weird aches and pains and strange alien-like protrusions from your belly. What is going on? It helps to have reliable advice to manage the gamut of emotions during this time. To be fully prepared and empowered for the journey that lies ahead. So many mums I have chatted to and interviewed have said to me “I wish I had known, why don’t people tell you…?”. While everyone’s experience is different and it’s impossible to predict exactly how you will sail the seas of pregnancy and early motherhood, it’s powerful to be informed and prepared.

Every pregnancy and birth experience is as unique as flakes of snow: and as pretty bloomin awesome. That’s why I was proud and delighted to be asked to write Pregnancy: the Naked Truth.

It walks you through each stage of pregnancy, considering not only what’s happening to you physically but emotionally and mentally too. What’s happening with your relationship, what are the implications for your career? What the hell is a birth “plan”? And does hypnobirthing actually work if you don’t consider yourself a kaftan-wearing hippy?  Will a caesarean hurt? Why do I hate my partner’s aftershave suddenly? Will I poo while giving birth…?!?

All of these questions, and much more, are answered in this book. It’s like a doula/birth partner/best friend/career advisor all rolled into one.

You can buy a copy of my book Pregnancy: the Naked Truth here

 

The long kiss…hello

The long kiss…hello

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Sometimes having children can be like watching a time-lapse video. It takes my breath away how quickly phases seem to have passed in retrospect, despite feeling like a hundred years when you’re in the thick of them: explosive nappies, potty training, sleep! Please, please, fricking sleep. How can this day NOT BE OVER YET? In the relentless days of riding the parenting rapids, life can feel like a tumble dryer of wishing time away…and then mourning its loss once it’s gone and you didn’t have the head space to say goodbye.

We packed away our cot this week. It has served us well for the past 5 and a bit years. Often as a handy receptacle for washing, random toys, general bedroom debris… but occasionally performing its rightful duty by housing a small person •overnight (•for a bit of time at the beginning of the night). But now, we have moved to bunk beds. The cot is officially redundant in our household.

These are the moments where you need to find the time to pause and reflect, to absorb the stage you’ve passed through, as the train is chugging out of the station. For example… learning to talk. You plough through the hair-pulling often delightfully comic days of thwarted communication, the tantrums (on both sides) when you misunderstand the helium-voiced jibber jabber. You celebrate when stealthily the inscrutable turns to actual words – even more so when hearty exclamations such as “big dick!” can be translated with relief as “Peppa Pig stickers”. The triumphant feeling when the earnest demand for “Dom Shen!” is finally understood as “Thomas and Friends”. And then seamlessly, imperceptible like the tide turning, one day you’ve lost toddler speak forever. You may say “Dom Shen” in camaraderie with your child, only for them to say “it’s THOMAS, mummy!” in the tone of an eye-rolling teenager, at 4.

I’m currently (literally – he is draped across my chest right now) still breastfeeding my 2-year old. I didn’t start out consciously planning to breastfeed for so long. A tumultuous and short breastfeeding journey first time round meant that I hadn’t really thought about playing the long game this time. Boob is my second’s very favourite thing in the world. There are moments where I am desperate to have my body back, to have some personal space and not be groped constantly when I’m with him. To be able to wear nice clothes and not consider whether there is “access”. To maybe lose the extra padding I have gathered around my middle due to breastfeeding exhaustion and sugar craving.

But simultaneously, I’m clinging on to his love of it and his need for closeness to my bosom, because I know once I let it go then…well, it’s gone. It’s easy to become marooned in a habit of mourning and lost goodbyes, without properly greeting and welcoming new phases in life.

I was listening to a programme on BBC Radio 4 recently discussing dealing with change, and how transition times in adult lives can lend themselves to sorrow and depression…that what we feel in these episodes is a sense of lost control of our lives.

This almost regresses us back emotionally to the frustration and desperation felt when we were babies/toddlers, experiencing no autonomy in terms of how anything in our lives is run, not being able to fully articulate how it’s making you feel, as if in a straightjacket (it IS so unfair how mummy doesn’t let us eat chocolate for breakfast/jump off the top bunk/shave the dog!). Acknowledging these times passing is important: embracing how it makes us feel, even if those emotions are settling along a spectrum of happy-sad.

My eldest started school last year and before I could fully register it he has shed his toddler cocoon and is now a boy… up, up and away. I gaze at my 2-year old and I’m aware of pre-empting a latent sense of sorrow as he moves beyond his toddlerdom, anticipating these baby years slipping into that timeless pool of memory, clutching at them softly before they’re plucked away. That beautiful moment where a blossom is at its most perfect, just before it falls from the tree. That’s what these memories are.

I’ve just turned the corner into my 40s (wtf?). I’ve been feeling a sense that there are now things that are lost to me as opportunities… clearly I won’t be a pop star now… maybe I really won’t ever learn how to blow dry my hair properly… Realising that, even though I don’t want any more children, I’m entering a stage in my life where that decision will not biologically be mine to start with.

It’s easy to get stuck on a track of eternal postponement: I’ll feel better when I’ve lost weight/got properly fit/sorted myself out professionally, when I’m living in my “forever home”, when I’m not so tired, when I have more money to have more time to have more patience… eternally suspended in stasis, in looking back or looking forward.

Often we look at the past and the future as separate countries to the one we’re living in. But actually it’s the same country. Same postcode. Here and now. It’s not a long kiss goodbye to each stage in life, it’s a new hello.

You can buy a copy of my book Pregnancy: the Naked Truth here

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Running free
Who’s that girl?

Who’s that girl?

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The subject of identity keeps poking its little head out of mouse holes at me a lot recently. The idea of who we are once we’ve had children: are we a mother first, usurping all our previous endeavours? And does motherhood define and top everything we do subsequently?

I was tagged to complete a 20 things about me on Instagram recently, and after I’d posted it realised with an odd sense of guilt that none of my 20 facts included anything about my children, or even mentioned being a mum at all. I felt, fleetingly, that I might be judged for this, that I had missed the point maybe, that somehow my children weren’t important enough in my life to include them as a fact about me. But they are facts about them. I have my own complete facts about me, surely, which made me me, before I had children and since, and it’s still ok to talk about that isn’t it…? We’re not amoebas, splitting in order to recreate an identikit version of ourselves to continue the success of the species. We are totally unique beings, who create more totally unique beings.

In last year’s Conservative party leadership election there was the suggestion that Theresa May was less empathetic, somehow under-skilled to become leader of the Party as she wasn’t a mother therefore couldn’t have a full understanding of The Issues. She may indeed well be less empathetic or underskilled for understanding The Issues, but arguably these attributes – emotional intelligence, economic astuteness, political aptitude – aren’t magically conjured up by birthing a baby, if they were not already there? Has any such accusation ever been levelled at a male leader, in any seriousness? Mumpreneurs, Mumbosses…as yet, men aren’t gazed at through the prism of their status of fatherhood before being defined by their occupation/skills/talents/reputation.

A WhatsApp conversation with my best friends about wardrobe mojo led me to wonder (I feel quite Carrie Bradshaw writing that…although I am typing not from an achingly trendy New York apartment smoking Marlborough Lights, but from my kitchen table in Peckham, with my toddler on my lap on the boob – I can’t be in his presence without him wanting boob, but that’s for another blog post…) about how our very essence is shaken and stirred by motherhood.

My best friend yesterday had an epiphany in our chat about clothes buying (I admitted that most of my wardrobe inspiration comes from Instagram nowadays) that she hasn’t felt herself in her clothes since having her first baby 5 years ago, and she’s been feeling like she’s been playing dress up and not quite “feeling” her clothes ever since. I look back on pictures in the year after Maurice was born and I don’t really recognise myself. I found the practical issues of dressing myself post baby to affect me deeply in terms of how I felt, who I felt I was. Who you are and what you (feel you) look like are so inextricably linked. Inhabiting a different body that didn’t feel happy or comfortable, the logistics of having to find access for breastfeeding meant that I looked like a strange cobbled together jumble of confusion as if rummaging through my wardrobe in the dark. I couldn’t wear my past daily uniform due to a combination of shape and practicality, literally didn’t fit into my pre-baby self any more…didn’t know who I was or who I was going to be.

The physicality of the changes we experience as mums as opposed to what dads experience does inherently mean that our identity as mothers is more viscerally linked to our children. Doesn’t it…? Our bodies swell, our hormones rampage, our bellies split. Our very core is compromised. We are chemically altered. Our careers, perhaps our previous connection to our identity, are more likely to be put on the backburner not just because of the societal expectation of this being the case, but also because physically we need this to be the case? We need to allow ourselves time to learn about our new physical and psychological selves, and ambition might be thwarted by there suddenly being no time, no energy, no money compared to the previous status quo. We are sat on, literally and metaphorically, by our children, in a way that dads aren’t generally.

In my forthcoming book The Supermum Myth there is a whole chapter devoted to identity…it’s a huge issue that we still don’t really tackle openly yet so this loss of mojo can feel like such a shock for new mums. We also don’t seem to honour the postnatal period with any reverence in modern culture, and are expected to be back in our skinny jeans and in our “pre-baby body” within seconds of birthing our child, then wonder why we feel so overwhelmed at our failure to meet these standards and not feel quite like ourselves. But it is a complete metamorphosis. We do change irrevocably, can gaze back at our pre-child self as if through a train window looking at your home platform receding into the distance, travelling to the next which shall become your home. But this is also part of life – anyone without children will probably look back with the benefit and altered filter of hindsight and not recognise themselves or their achievements/decisions/wardrobe choices…?

It’s a conundrum. Clearly we are changed, morphed, transmogrified (to use Calvin & Hobbes’s beautiful word) when we become mums. We evolve. We shed a skin. We learn. But we are still the same person? Is the butterfly still the caterpillar…? Same same, but different. Can we be allowed to be viewed as a person first, and a mum as a wonderful, life-altering and integral piece of this patchwork life.

Kate Figes, in Life After Birth, says, “Every woman who gives birth needs an extensive period to come to terms with the irrevocable changes to her body so that she can more easily accept her new role as a mother. There are billions of tiny lights glowing inside each one of us, and it can feel as if the effort it takes to produce each child is so great that it extinguishes a few of those lights forever. We can live perfectly well without them, but that does not mean that we do not need time to mourn their loss.”

We are shaped and moulded by seismic events in life. Having a baby is a seismic event. Bereavement, job loss, relationship break down: all these emotional tsunamis giveth and taketh away. It takes time to re-establish an equilibrium.

Mourning their loss might mean allowing yourself some time and space to reconnect with yourself. Listen to your favourite music. Spark up some deep creativity in your soul by getting into the garden, drawing, doodling, doing yoga, singing, dancing, whatever floats your boat…. Say hello to you.

You can buy a copy of my book Pregnancy: the Naked Truth here

Freelance life: before vs after kids

Freelance life: before vs after kids

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My name is Anya and I’m a freelance scrappy mishmash… er, sorry I mean, I’m a freelance writer/editor and proofreader/project manager/pilates teacher.

So yes, a freelance scrappy mishmash for short.

I’ve been freelance for 9 years since I was made redundant from my “proper” job as a managing editor in book publishing and I’ve been scrappy ever since. In 2011 I had a baby and in 2015 another one and now the possibility of a “regular” job seems completely unattainable because of things like paying-for-someone-else-to-hang-out-with-my-children while I work “normal working hours”.

Sometimes it’s felt like walking through tall grass, often accepting work way beyond my comfort zone — saying “sure! I can do that!” [frantically Googling how you do that] — but it’s good. I get to pick my son up from school every day and hang out with my toddler enough to stem the “working mum’s guilt” that we all succumb to. I work from home, am currently writing a book and alongside that fit in freelance editorial work. I also teach pilates two evenings a week in a studio in our basement.

So here’s an overview of a freelancing day in my life pre-children, and what it’s like now…

Pre-children average freelance day

8.30am Wake up. Wander into kitchen and have a cup of tea. Listen to the radio.

9.30am Maybe hop on my bike to go for a swim or go for a run. Or not. Whatever takes my fancy. Think about the work I have to do.

11am Come back home to make lunch. Check emails and skirt around the details of various projects without actually doing any work.

1pm After lunch think, “ooh I’m a bit tired… Think I might read a book on my bed.”

2.30pm Wake up after impromptu afternoon nap. Lie on bed a bit longer. Think about the work that I have to do.

3.30pm Think more about the work I have to do, while having a cup of tea and reading the paper.

5pm Think more about the work I have to do, while getting lost in procrastinating on Facebook.

6.30pm Hop on my bike. Cycle to teach my evening pilates class.

8.30pm Home. Dinner. Think about the editorial work I have to do, while planning a 6-week block of pilates classes, in peace, with organised notebook and a glass of wine.

As deadlines draw nearer thinking turns to action, procrastinating turns into doing and I inevitably work late into the night and get it all done without missing deadlines by working weekends.

So so busy this freelance life isn’t it? Snowed under. Maybe I’ll have another nap.

Post-children average freelance day

6am Toddler wakes up after a broken night of feverish wakefulness but seems fine. He’s fine. Right? Internal wrangle about whether it’s ok to send him to childminder today but gaaaaah I have so much to do in this 6-hour window that he cannot be ill today.

7-8.30am Juggle breakfast, getting everyone dressed with checking a few emails to see whether my editor has read the latest chapter I sent her and schedule a work call for later on that morning to discuss a writing project. Reply to emails from prospective pilates clients while also brushing childrens’ teeth. Hastily double check that autocorrect hasn’t changed my name “Anya” to “anus” before pressing send…

8.30am School run. Pack toddler off with a dose of Calpol and hope for the best. Take eldest son to school.

9am Home via a coffee shop to get a much-needed caffeine injection.

9am-11am Storm through at least 5 hours’ worth of work in 2 hours without a hint of procrastination. Phone is hidden in another room and unnecessary emailing/Facebook opening/Instagramming is banned.

Occasionally gaze longingly at the bed remembering the good old days where naps during the day were a “thing”, when I really didn’t need any extra sleep.

Try not to think about the washing that could be done and the crusty breakfast stuff which is still crusty on the kitchen table.

11am Go down to make a cup of tea. Check phone. See a missed call from childminder saying Freddie has been sick and needs to be collected. Bugger.

12pm Back home with poorly toddler. Remember that work call is scheduled for 1pm. Pray that toddler will sleep at 1pm.

1pm Toddler isn’t going to sleep. Cobble together work notes and open computer while also breastfeeding toddler on lap and putting Thomas the Tank Engine on TV to vaguely distract him from grabbing the phone.

Manage to create an illusion of coherent-intelligent-person on the other end of the line for the duration of the phone call (despite no doubt unmistakable sounds of Thomas in the background), but realise that my notes are pretty much nonsensical because of juggling small child on lap and being so focused on sounding focused that I miss the important points and only write snippets of half sentences, which possibly have “Fat Controller” in them.

2pm In the absence of being able to work on the computer due to potential small person vomit, write some notes on my phone while hanging out with my toddler, feeling guilty for being on a screen in his presence. Instead decide to plan tonight’s pilates class instead (gone are the days of planning blocks of courses weeks ahead). After a lengthy search find pilates notebook in bottom of boy’s toy box and attempt to plan class. Freddie steals pen and scribbles all over notebook.

3pm Throw poorly toddler in the buggy and do school run.

5pm After park playtime, get home for boys’ dinner. Survey the crusty kitchen table still full of breakfast stuff. Remember that there is actually washing in the washing machine and it’s been there for about 3 days.

6.30pm Bath time chaos. Bedtime (we all know how this one goes).

7.30pm My clients start arriving for pregnancy pilates class. Grateful that they are all second-time mums who won’t be put off this whole pregnancy idea as Freddie’s bedtime dramatic wailing can be heard down in the studio.

9pm Dinner. Possible adult conversation with partner and consider trying to make up for lost working time by turning on computer but as soon as a glass of wine has hit my lips, toddler is up and crying again…

So there you have it. Working life is now chaotic and messy — generally Weetabix-covered — and procrastination is a thing of the past (which is a sad, sad loss). There is always a feeling of being a bit like too little butter to spread on too much toast.

But I genuinely wouldn’t have it any other way. I did a 3-month, 4-day-a-week stint in-house and it all hinged so much on childcare not malfunctioning that I found it utterly stressful and realised that, if my working life also affords me Tuesday mornings to roam around a sunny park with my delighted toddler and getting to go to my son’s dinosaur assembly at school and learn that “dinosaur” means “terrible lizard”, I am more than happy to put up with the madness for a while.

This too shall pass…

You can buy a copy of my book Pregnancy: the Naked Truth here

Things I’ve learnt

Things I’ve learnt

Freddie is now 2 years old. 2 YEARS OLD. Well, 2 and a quarter, if we’re being pedantic.

I’ve learnt that with a 5 year old and a toddler you don’t get much “done” except doing life day to day, so your goal posts have to shift, your expectations have to soften. As John Lennon said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

 Other things I’ve learnt over the last two years:

Eating chocolate without your children noticing is an art worth perfecting.

Nothing beats the smugness of having successfully and single-handedly magicked two children to sleep. Even though you know that one of them will wake before the glass of wine makes it to your lips, savour that damned smugness in all its glory.

Things are 100% easier, and 100% harder second time round. Easier: how to work out a car seat; how the hell to change a nappy while half asleep and in semi darkness; the paraphernalia, sleep deprivation and chaos of babyhood is already in place and therefore not a huge body shock. Harder: getting dressed. Getting out the door. Eating a meal. Finishing a senten…

I’ve now been breastfeeding for 2 years. First time round it was a hellish nightmare of self-flagellation and “failure”, ending in tears and nipple cream tubes squeezed out in frustration and angst. A traumatic birth experience and no contact with my babe for 8 hours after his birth froze all chance of it happening in that moment. We tried, oh how we tried, and my sanity nearly left us along with Maurice’s chance of thriving only on breast, so I had to bottle it. At the time this was laced with feelings of failure, judgement and depression. Looking back I can see just what a warrior I was. I was at my most supermum in the simple act of trying to get it right.

Second time round it’s been a breeze: Freddie latched on within 20 mins of birth and hasn’t let go since… but now I have no idea how on earth to stop…and experiencing the occasional judgey glance when resorting to his favourite thing in public. Judgey pants glances suggesting failure at achieving normal status of good mothering. Freddie has been whining BOOOB BOOB BOOB at me all morning – which has made me see that there is no bloomin failure, we’re all just getting on with it as best we can.

When people say that breastfeeding makes the baby weight “fall off”, they fail to take into account the amount of cake/chocolate/biscuits you desire while breastfeeding and sleep deprived, while sitting down for large periods of time.

Me time takes on a different shape: a trip to the loo without company, or a peaceful solo jaunt around the supermarket. Bonus me time points if the supermarket visit includes shopping for any luxury items such as loo roll, or moisturiser of any kind not related to babies’ bottoms. Might as well be a trip to a spa resort.

Be grateful and arrogant every day. You are Wonder Woman. You are bloody beautiful amazing and brilliant for getting not only yourself but two other people up, fed and dressed today.

Exercise should be appreciated and valued in its myriad forms. A softplay visit incorporates cardiovascular fitness, agility and strength.

Watching Finding Nemo offered me a new mantra for when days are long: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

I looked at Maurice asleep the other day and realised he is no longer a baby, or even a toddler. He has shed his baby skin by stealth. Metamorphosis before my very eyes.

I have learnt that the days are long, but the years are short.

You can buy a copy of my book Pregnancy: the Naked Truth here

Open your heart

Open your heart

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Not just a great Madonna track from the 80s (I can still picture the poster I had of her on my bedroom wall, in all her 80s legwarmer glory). Opening your heart can be quite an uncomfortable journey as it means being totally honest with yourself, and sitting with awkward feelings in order to allow them to pass. But the older I get the more I believe that allowing yourself to reveal, expose, reconcile your innermost feelings – even if just to yourself – is the path to serenity, peace and fewer headaches.

There’s a direct link between physical and mental wellbeing. When you’re feeling down, often there’s a physical low as well.

After the birth of my first son I fell into a trough in body and spirit. It’s so obvious looking back, but a horribly traumatic birth was followed by feelings of failure and melancholy, saturated by total denial of sleep by my mini sleep vampire for over a year. Any thoughts of revitalising my soul by taking proper time to comfort and nurture my body were simply not available to me at the time, amidst the fog of endless crying (baby’s…and probably mine…), explosive nappies, coffee and biscuits. Far from nurturing my body, all I could do was berate it: too fat, a complete failure, not good enough.

I had a few miscarriages over the next two years, and my vitality was completely depleted. I had totally lost my mojo. Who was I? Where was my va va voom…? Where’s that girl who used to have joy, dance around, and not just to nursery rhymes… I miss her. Just keep on keeping on…it’ll all be fine…

A shoulder injury which was getting in the way of my teaching finally made me turn to an osteopath for help, and in turn, in the name of physical rehabilitation, carve out more time for yoga, for doing regular (rather than just teaching) Pilates, for pausing to breathe more and notice how I was feeling…slowly but surely, layers were peeled off and I began to emerge into the sunlight again.

This was not a new lesson for me. Twelve years ago one of my most wonderful, cool and brilliant friends died suddenly. I already had a Thailand trip booked in the immediate aftermath of her death, and departed feeling like a limp fragile fledgling not quite ready to leave the nest. Grief is like a typhoon that knocks you sideways, and I was in need of something to anchor me, to save me from being swept away.

I saw a sign on the beach for a yoga retreat and decided to check it out, and leave my comfort zone – a place I like to inhabit, but definitely a dead space like a waiting room with faded wallpaper: you could spend endless hours there and never get anywhere. That yoga session in the open air coconut grove changed my life. An epiphany there made me decide to train as a Pilates teacher and follow my passion. I found my breath, I opened my heart, connected to my body and realised how lucky I was to be alive even though Zoe wasn’t.

It may sound a bit “woo woo”, but I saw chakra colours glowing as I worked through tension in my body and unlocked pain in my soul – I totally cringe writing that, there’s an inherent knee-jerk scepticism to anything that feels remotely new age, spiritual or other worldly – out of that faded wallpaper comfort zone. But there you have it – I saw colours and felt a sense of being enveloped in a warm soft cloak of comfort and healing. I imprinted that day in my soul and took a snapshot, to always refer to.

Every time I do yoga, part of me revisits that single yoga chakra therapy session in koh phangan. I close my eyes, soften, breathe, and I’m there.

Occasionally I have to remind myself to shed a skin once more, if old habits creep in and I forget to connect. We are growing beings who utterly renew and rejuvenate every few years: new cells, new blood, new life. But we forget this and take old habits and energy into these cycles, stay in that waiting room for something to call us out of it.

It’s so hard to find space in every day life, mainly because we don’t prioritise ourselves – we barely make it onto our list of priorities, let alone reach the top of it. It’s easy to get bogged down in “there’s no time”, in the routine and clutter of life. But, the problem is then you allow the constant niggle of a dodgy back or sore shoulder get you down a little bit more every day, to chip away at your resilience.

Scan your body now…close your eyes and breathe, and take a moment to check in with how you are feeling. The act of scanning your body allows you also to tune in to your mind. Are you feeling tight, tense, worried? Are you feeling weary or annoyed, overwhelmed? Do you have long-standing tension in your shoulders or neck? Emotions all have a physical manifestation. Your cells, muscles, tissue respond to all the thoughts, worries and beliefs that you wash over them every day with your internal dialogue.

Body therapy – Pilates, yoga, intuitive movement and meditative breathing – is essential maintenance: see the mind and body as connected, a bodymind. Checking in with your body, mindfully and thoughtfully, is like regular MOT. You wouldn’t cycle a bike every day without oiling the chain regularly, or expect your car to run without fuel. Honour your body and mind with the same regard.

Make sure you find a space, a moment, daily or weekly at least – where you can return to life, to breathe, to move, to twist out your tensions and worries. To remind you why you’re here. To enable you to embrace the craziness with a bit more gusto and grace. To open your heart.

Mother’s Little Helper

Mother’s Little Helper

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Motherhood – a state of being which often means that however sorted and competent you’re feeling – like me here, all dressed up at a wedding in Mallorca last summer –  you’re never far from a nose being scrunched in judgment of you: whether that judgement is from your small person calling you a poo poo head, from the raised eyebrows of another mum at stay and play…or your own internal critic.

My book The Supermum Myth comes out in September. Written with the psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew, it’s a book which offers you the tools to overturn your negative internal critic and help you build a coat of resilience to help you navigate the mum terrain of perceived judgment at every turn.

Parenting is an emotive world, negotiating new challenges usually through a heavy veil of sleep-deprivation and heightened anxiety. We’ve all had that feeling of “not being good enough”, not measuring up to others’, or our own, expectations of how we should be doing – where parenting is concerned this is a dangerous trap to fall into, and doesn’t help you or your children.

Imagine being able to put a stop to that nagging internal voice that tells you you’re failing to keep up with those perfect mums on Instagram. What if you were able to dwell on the good stuff rather than the bad? To have confidence in your decisions and trust your gut, and let go of your skewed vision of ‘perfect parenting’? The key may be to acknowledge that it’s ok to have these negative feelings sometimes, and find a way to navigate through them to find a more positive, healthier outlook.

The Supermum Myth is a book for those seeking to find that shift in perception: to turn around your negative mindset, to view your own achievements in a different light, to be kinder to yourself. It presents activities from CBT and other established therapies to help you to rebuild your confidence in your own parenting style and drown out the niggling competitive doubts. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can get on with the business of being the brilliant parent you are. Embracing the imperfect, being good enough. It’s not about lowering your expectations of yourself, it’s about accepting and acknowledging how well you’re doing.

With easy-to-follow multi-therapy activities that walk readers through exactly how to unpick their bad thinking habits and a blend of other psychological strategies, giving in-the-moment solutions to common parenting flashpoints, as well as enabling readers to create robust, positive and flexible ways to approach parenting decisions in the future.

Let’s change the definition of what a Supermum is, let go of perfect and allow ourselves a more joyful mothering experience.