I’ve been feeling ill this week.  Which is nothing new really, I mean, I’m not sure I’ve actually felt ‘well’ at all this year, between coughs and colds and sleepless nights thanks to small children with coughs and colds and sleepless nights.

But this week, I’ve been feeling really quite ill.

I finally caved and went to the Doctor on Wednesday who said that my sore throat wasn’t tonsillitis (yay!) but it was pharyngitis caused by a virus, so there was nothing he could do to make it better (boo!).  His advice was just to keep dosing up on painkillers and get some rest.

To which I laughed, and asked if he could write me a sick paper from my kids, so that I could get some rest.

And I was only half joking.

I really wish some days that I could call in sick to being a parent.  When every part of you aches, and you can’t even swallow your morning coffee because your throat is so sore, it’s just really hard.  Because you don’t really have the option to just stay in bed and rest.

The children still need to be fed, and watered, and dressed, and taken to school.

So I’m really thankful for my in-laws who live close by and look after the children for me one day a week.  Knowing I had a day this week where I could get back into bed and try and give my body a chance to fight this bug has really helped.

Here are a few more things I’m thankful for while sick this week:

Picture

  • Tea.  And hot honey and lemon.  I have drunk a lot of both of these this week, and it’s been very comforting!

 

  • Painkillers.  I’m thankful for ibuprofen and paracetamol that have taken the edge off the pain this week enough to be able to eat and to generally keep going.

 

  • The NHS.  Whilst my doctor wasn’t able to do or give me anything to get rid of this virus, I am thankful that I was able to see a reliable GP when I needed to, who took time to listen to me, reassure me, and offer advice on what I could do to lesson my symptoms.

 

  • My children.  Bit of a contradiction here, seeing as I would like to call in sick from them, but they’ve been lovely this week.  To hear your 4 year old (and your 2 year old) say they’ll look after you is just so sweet.

 

  • My husband.  Knowing that he’ll be coming home from work and can pick up the slack for me when I’ve not been on top form is a huge relief.  I am very grateful to him.

How do you cope when you’re ill but still have to just get on with things and parent?  I’d love some tips for next time a bug hits!

I know, I know, you’ve been given so much parenting advice already you probably want to scream.

And while a lot of the advice can happily go in one ear and out the other, there really are some little gems of wisdom that are worth listening to.

Out of all the things I was told when I became a parent, here are the 6 things that stuck with me and really did help on my parenting journey:

The 6 best pieces of parenting advice I've been given

 

1) Don’t tip toe around the baby – get them used to noise.

I remember going to visit my sister when her oldest was a baby, and before I had any children of my own.  We were sat in her living room with the baby sleeping in the next room, with the doors to both rooms wide open and the tv blaring.

I mean, it was really loud.  And I asked, wouldn’t it wake the baby up?  Shouldn’t we turn it down a bit?

And was met with words that have stuck with me ever since.

“It’s fine.  It won’t wake her.  She’s used to noise”.

She’s used to noise.

My sister and her husband never tiptoed around when she was sleeping.  They went about their day (and night) as usual.  Making all the usual noise.  And the baby got used to it.

So when Rhys came along we made a point of doing the same.  And he will pretty much sleep through anything!

 

2) Wipe their lower tummy before you take their nappy off.

I wrote about this tip the other day.  Basically, if you want to try and avoid getting hit in the face with a stream of wee during a nappy change, loosen the nappy, wipe the lower part of baby’s tummy with a cold baby wipe, then wait.

The cold of the wipe makes them wee while their nappy is still on, rather than them doing it a few seconds after you take the nappy off.

Game changer!

 

3) Pick your  battles

Seriously.

Some things are worth battling with your kids over.  When their health or safety is at risk, then yes, you battle with them.

But if they want to go the shops wearing a pyjama top, a tutu and their wellies?  Well, does it really matter?!  In the greater scheme of things, is it worth a battle?

So they want to pile all their teddies in with them at bedtime.  Does it matter?

They want to colour the sun in green and the sky in orange in their colouring book.  Does it really matter?

Just take a second and think about it.

Don’t fight over things that really don’t matter.  Save your energy for the important stuff.

Pick your battles.

Parenting advice weaning

 

4) Don’t stress about what they eat in a day, look at the whole week

Weaning your first child can be really quite stressful.  I mean, it can also be a load of fun, watching them exploring the wonderful world of food, and learning to navigate different textures and tastes, but weaning does come with its stressful times.

One of those stressors can be the concern that your baby isn’t eating enough.  Or isn’t eating enough of a variety of foods.

The best advice I was given about that was to look at what they’re eating over the course of a week, not just a day.

While it might be concerning when they eat nothing but yoghurt for a day (or two!), it’s less worrying when you consider that for the other 5 days of the week they also consumed plenty of things from the other food groups.

 

5) If you’re bottle feeding, give them their milk cold or at room temperature from the start.

I nearly forgot about this one while writing this post, but luckily my husband pointed it out to me!  When Rhys was born I tried breastfeeding him for about 2 weeks before deciding that, for us, moving on to formula was the best decision.

I was talking through my decision with my Mum when she gave me this piece of advice that proved really useful for us.

She told me to give him his milk at room temperature (or cold from the fridge) from the start, so I would never be stuck trying to warm up a bottle when I was out and about.

Now, I’m sure some of you will disagree with this, and I think that the standard advice is to prepare fresh bottles as you need them and to make them up at a certain temperature.  But what I used to do was boil the kettle, fill the bottles with the right amount of water, screw the tops on and then leave them on the work-surface until I needed them.

Then, when he needed a feed, I would just add the right about of formula powder to the, now-cooled, boiled water and shake it up.  Simple.  And meant that all his bottles were basically room temperature when he drank them.

And when we went out I would just take my bottles of measured out water with me, and a useful tub with measured out portions of formula powder.  Then just mix them together when needed.  No need for flasks of boiling water to warm the bottle.  He was used to drinking it as it came.

So much easier.

 

6) “Listen, smile, agree, then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.”

Ok, maybe Robert Downey Jr didn’t say that in relation to parenting, but I still apply it in that way!

People will give you tons of advice when you have a baby, and most of it will be conflicting and confusing.

Some of it will speak to you, some of it will sound like complete nonsense.

Some will just sit well with you, while other bits of advice will make you want to scream ‘how on earth is that the best thing to do in this situation?”.

So the trick is to do what Robert suggests.

Listen to the various bits of advice (mine included).

Smile.

Agree.

Then listen to your heart.

Listen to your instincts.

And do whatever feels right for you and your family.

 

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve been given?

You know how it goes; you make the big announcement that you’re expecting your first child and suddenly people start inundating you with tips and advice and things-you-must-do when the baby arrives.

It can be really overwhelming, and really hard to pick out the bits of advice that will actually be helpful and that will work for you and your family.  I can’t remember lots of the tips I read and advice I was given when I was pregnant with Rhys, but there are a handful of things that I was told that have held up over the years and proved to be very good advice.

One key bit of advice we were given was to do with nappy changes.  

Specifically, what you can do to stop your new baby peeing everywhere as soon as you take their nappy off to change it.

Boys in particular seem to be renowned for peeing all over the place during nappy changes, so when we told a friend we were expecting a boy he was quick to let us in on this bit of advice.

Are you ready for this little trick?

Stop baby peeing everywhere during nappy changes

 

Before you take the nappy off, loosen it a bit then wipe your baby’s lower tummy with a nice, cold baby wipe.

Then wait.

After about a minute you should be safe to take the nappy off without risking being covered in wee.

It’s all to do with the cold apparently.

Have you every noticed that you suddenly need the loo when you step outside on a really cold day?  It’s because the cold makes your body take blood away from your extremities and to your core, which means there’s more blood in a smaller volume, which raises your blood pressure.  This then makes your brain tell your kidneys to remove liquid from your blood,  so more urine is produced and you need to pee!

So, getting back to babies, when you take a nappy off, their skin is suddenly exposed to cold air which makes them more likely to wee.

Wiping their tummies with a cold baby wipe causes the same reaction, but because you’ve left their nappy on, you’re protected!

So simple right?!

Just be aware that this isn’t a 100% foolproof trick.

Babies are babies, and they like to mess with us, so there may well still be times that they catch you out, but this trick turns the odds in your favour!

At the end of another long week, how do you generally feel?

If you’re not feeling as happy as you’d like, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!  I’ve been doing a lot of research into happiness and joy recently, working out what little things we can do to up our happiness levels.

There are lots of things we can do to increase our happiness in the long term, but sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.  So I have a bit of a challenge for you.  Over the next week, try these 7 different things to bring a bit of extra happiness to your life.

7 days to a happier you

 

Starting this weekend, try my suggested activity for each day and see if you feel happier by the end of the week!

Here we go:

Saturday 

Give a friend five £1 coins and get them to kind them in random places around your house.  Think under a sofa cushion, in your coat pocket, in your junk drawer (we all have one right?), or in your jewellery box.

Studies have shown that finding money unexpectedly really works to make us feel happier, and this way the chances of you coming across a surprise bit of money are greatly increased!

You could get your kids involved in this one instead of a friend if you want, but be warned that the coins will end up in REALLY random places.

 

Sunday

Have a lazy Sunday morning cwtch-fest.

Bundle the whole family into your bed for a bit for lots of cuddles; you’ll get loads of oxytocin flowing which makes you feel lovely and relaxed and happy!

 

Monday

Work to your strengths.

There was a study carried out at Harvard University where volunteers were asked to identify their strongest trait and then use it in a new way every day for a week.  The volunteers reported feeling significantly happier at the end of the week and, even better, the results lasted for six months!

So, have a think about what your greatest strength is and think of how you can use it more every day.

Are you a kind person?  Maybe you can help someone carry their shopping to their car, pop some money in the charity tin at the till, or simply shoot the Mum with the screaming toddler a sympathetic “I’ve been there” smile!

 

Tuesday

Smile!

Beat that Tuesday feeling (is it just me who feels that Tuesdays are a bit of a non-day?!) by smiling.  Even if you don’t really feel like doing it, smiling really does make you feel happier.  Michelle from The Joy Chaser wrote a post all about how it works, explaining that “when you feel happy, your brain produces endorphins and sends signals to your facial muscles to trigger a smile.  The smile tells our brains we’re happy and creates a feedback loop that keeps the process going”.

So even if you feel a bit silly doing it, put a big smile on your face and see how much happier you really do start to feel!

Smile to feel happier

 

Wednesday

Get moving.

I know, you’ve heard it before, but getting some exercise really is a great way to increase your happiness.  Getting out for a brisk walk on your lunch break (or to the park with the kids) will stimulate your brain’s production of dopamine which increases our feelings of pleasure and happiness.

But, did you know that the way you walk can affect your mood?!

In the same way that smiling (even if you don’t feel like it) can make you feel happier, walking in a bouncy, happy way (even if you feel a bit blue) can make you feel better.

So put a bit of zing in your step, after a short while you’ll start to feel as bouncy and happy as your walk!

 

Thursday

Share a ‘Throwback Thursday’ photo.

Before you choose one to post, take a bit of time to go through your old photos, reminiscing about happy times from your past.  Studies have shown that thinking about happy times boosts serotonin levels in your brain, which has been linked to decreases in depression.

Make even more of an impact on your happiness by writing a little post about the good time you had when the photo was taken – processing your emotions through writing has been found to help you feel less distressed

 

Friday

Change your bed sheets.

End your week on a happiness high by climbing into a bed made up with lovely fresh, clean bedding.  In a research project, two-thirds of people said that sleeping in a freshly made bed was at the top of their list of things that made them feel great.

So, there you have it, a week of ways to increase your happiness.  Are you game to give it a try?  

I really do believe that when it comes to happiness, in relationships, as a parent, in life in general, it really is the little things that matter the most.  Those little details that make you smile; they all add up to make life pretty glorious!

So while there are lots of things I would be very happy to wake up to on Mother’s day, really it’s the little things that I love most about being a Mum and that when put together will make a perfect Mother’s day for me.

Little things I love as a mum

 

Here are some of those little things that I really do love about being a Mum:

The new-found luxury of the occasional lie-in.

Before I had children I could sleep in as late as I wanted to at the weekend, and I’m not sure I really appreciated it!
Now though, on the odd occasion when my husband gets up with the children and I get to carry on sleeping, oh, such luxury!

I really love and appreciate it now.

 

A shower without an audience.  

This sort of goes along with the lie-in thing.  I never appreciated how lovely it is to shower in peace before I had my children.  Now though, I normally grab a quick shower with one or both of them in the room with me, shouting for help to brush their teeth or to wipe a bottom (seriously, how they manage to time these things to badly?).

So when I get to have a whole shower with no one in the room with me, it feels like a trip to the spa!

 

My son bringing a drawing home from school that he’s done just for me.

Sure, it’s one of hundreds of pictures he’s drawn of angry birds, but this one is especially for me!

 

Having little conversations with my daughter and being able to work out what she’s saying.

There’s just something quite special about being able to understand what your toddler is saying when people outside of the family are just hearing gobbledygook.

Admittedly sometimes it takes me a few minutes to work things out, like realising the other day that “monkey door” was her asking for me to sing “see saw majory daw”, but I really love being able to chat with her.

 

Hearing my children upstairs with their Dad at bathtime.

It feels like their special time together, and it makes me so happy to hear them singing and laughing together.

 

Big hugs and sloppy kisses.

No further explanation needed!

 

So, here is what I would really love for Mother’s day:

A little lie-in followed by a lovely, uninterrupted shower.  A card or drawing created by my son.  A simple conversation with my daughter.  An early evening relax on the sofa while listening to my kids enjoying time with Daddy before bed.

And hugs and kisses.

Lots of hugs and kisses.

Sounds like a pretty good day to me!

About this time last year I was slowly winding down breastfeeding with Nerys.  I fed her for about 13 months in the end and it was a wonderful, exhausting, emotional, stressful, glorious experience!

In the greater scheme of things I was pretty lucky with my breastfeeding experience with her.  I managed to avoid any bouts of mastitis and once we’d got past the first tricky few weeks things went quite smoothly.

I did, however, have one really stressful day when she went on a nursing strike.

After a lot of googling and trying out different strategies to get her feeding again I hit on something that worked.

So, if you’re in the middle of a nursing strike yourself, try this one trick that could get your baby feeding again.

Try this one little trick to end a nursing strike

 

Try to feed your baby while in motion.

By which I mean, hold your baby and sway from side to side, gently bounce them up and down or generally jiggle her about as you attempt to get her to latch on.

What personally worked for me was to sit on the sofa with one leg crossed over the other to raise it up a bit, then I held Nerys so my arms were resting on my leg and then I jiggled.

I jiggled my leg up and down to jiggle her, then I moved her close to me and, would you believe it, she latched on.

I had to do this for about 3 feeds before she was happy to just feed normally again, and then that was it, nursing strike over.

If you’re not feeling the jiggling, then you can also try rocking in a rocking chair, or feeding while wearing your baby in a sling and walking round the room or swaying from side to side.  Basically, getting you and your baby moving one way or another may be enough to distract and relax your baby enough for them to latch on and feed.

If you need a bit more information about nursing strikes and other things to try just in case my magic trick doesn’t work for you, then this article from breastfeeding basics is worth a read.

If you’ve visited my blog before you might have read my other post about the photos we wish we’d taken.  In it I mentioned that throughout March I’m planning on taking a photo every day with ME in it.  And even though I really want to do this, there are still those nagging thoughts and excuses that pop in to my head telling me why I shouldn’t get in front of the camera.

But, those little voices are always silenced by one really important reason why I NEED to do this.

If you’re thinking about joining me and taking more photos of yourself, here are 8 reasons you might be coming up with for why shouldn’t have your photo taken followed by my one reason you really, really should.

8 reasons you shouldn't have your photo taken

 

 

8 reasons you shouldn’t have your photo taken:

 

1)  You need to lose half a stone.  Or a stone.  Or just those last few pounds.  Yeah, you’ll have your photo taken once you’ve lost that last bit of tummy jiggle.

 

2)  Your hair is in dire need of a cut and colour.  Seriously, no one wants a photo of you with greys sprouting up in your parting and split ends everywhere.

 

3) You don’t have the time to do it.  You have far more important things to do with your time than bother setting things up to get in a photo.

 

4) You haven’t had a full night’s sleep in 3 years and you just. look. tired.  Pale skin and dark circles under your eyes isn’t a look you really want to have on record.

 

5) You don’t photograph well.  You just don’t.  You pick apart every photo of yourself, wondering why the camera hates you.

 

6) No one wants a photo of you, in this moment, you’re not reaching any milestones worth capturing like your kids are.  Every little thing your baby does is worthy of a photo, but you managing to drink a whole cup of coffee while it’s hot isn’t really a moment that’s worthy of being recorded.

 

7) You’re more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.  Now this I get.  Life is pretty good from behind a camera.  Who needs to come out from that place and step in front of it?

 

8)  You just don’t like having your photo taken.  End of.  (Does anyone still say ‘end of”?  No?  Oh well!)

 

So there you are.  8 reasons (excuses) I’m sure we’ve all used at one point or another to not have our photo taken.

Reasons that feel perfectly valid to us and keep us safely out of the way of any cameras that might be pointed in our direction.

But, here’s why none of that matters and why you should really, really just get over yourself and in front of the camera.

Your children will want those photos of you.

They will want those photos of you regardless of how you look.  They honestly do no care about the extra weight you’re carrying.  They couldn’t care less about the greys in your hair and the bags under your eyes.

They won’t see those things.

They will just see YOU.

In years to come they will just be so grateful to have photos of you.

Sue Bryce said it best:

“One day your children will look for photographs of you. What will they have?”

 

Don’t let your insecurities about how you look and excuses about lack of time stop you from existing in photos.

I mean, by all means take a few minutes to do something with your hair, put on a top that you feel more comfortable in, get some bb cream on your face to brighten that pale complexion, but then GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA.

No more excuses.

This isn’t really about you.  It’s about your children.

Make sure that when they look for photographs of you in the future they have plenty to find.