reasons to not be in photos

8 reasons you shouldn’t have your photo taken (and one really important reason you should)

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.

Try this trick to improve your relationship with your partner

Try this one little trick to improve your relationship

Relationships are wonderful.  

They really are.

But, they’re not easy.  You sometimes need to put a little bit of work in to keep them on track.

This little tip though, is a pretty easy and fun way to help improve things in your relationship.

Try this one little trick to improve your relationship

Sit down and watch a romantic film together!

Researchers at the University of Rochester carried out a study of couples in the early stages of marriage and found that divorce rates were cut in half for couples who watched romantic films together and then talked about them afterwards.

Pretty impressive.

The study looked at couples in their first 3 years of marriage and found that watching a film every week that has a romantic relationship as a main part of the plot and then discussing it afterwards was as effective at preventing divorce as other, more intensive relationship therapies.

Now, the key seems to be the discussion afterwards, where the newly-weds would answer specific questions about the couple in the film and how they dealt with various issues.

They were encouraged to discuss if they dealt with things the same way as the film couple.

It seems to me that the main thing to take away from this is the importance of talking openly and honestly with our partners about our relationships, and to acknowledge how we might sometimes handle things the wrong way and work to resolve issues in a healthier way.

So, if you feel like your relationship could do with a bit of tlc, try putting on a romcom and then having a bit of chat about it afterwards.  Sounds like a pretty painless way to start communicating again.

Unless you’re like my husband and really can’t stand those kind of films, in which case, think a little outside the box.  We don’t watch any of my collection of romcoms together, but we did watch all of How I met your mother together – perfect for sparking discussions about relationships!

And remember, the key here really is the discussions afterwards, if you can find any way to start talking about couples and how they might deal with various issues then you’re on to a winner.

So what are your thoughts on this?  Do you watch these kinds of films together as a couple?  Do you naturally tend to discuss relationships (fictional or otherwise) together?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com
Reasons to hug more every day

6 reasons to squeeze more hugs into each day

Earlier in the week I wrote a post about how having a cuddle first thing in the morning can really make you feel happier and set you up for a better day.

After writing that I was inspired to go and read a bit more about hugs and cuddles and the benefits we can reap from squeezing more of them into our day to day life.

So, here are the results of my research – 6 really wonderful benefits of hugging:

6 reasons to squeeze more hugs into each day

 

1) It can really boost your immune system.  

Study after study have found that you’re more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu when you’re stressed out, so taking steps to reduce your stress levels can help protect you and keep those bugs at bay.  And hugging has been shown to reduce stress as it releases oxytocin into your blood stream.

Further research has also shown that if, despite our best efforts, we do still get ill, then our symptoms are often not as bad if we have lots of cuddles.  Which would explain why our children just want to be physically close to us when they’re poorly!

 

2) It makes you feel less afraid.  

I think this one is amazing.

A study published in the Psychological science journal found that anxiety levels in women who were told they might receive a mild electric shock were reduced when they held hands with one of the male experimenters, and were reduced even more when they held hands with their husbands.

So physical contact, either holding hands or a great big hug, can really help to calm your nerves and make you feel braver.

 

3) It lowers your blood pressure.  

I’m pretty sure that high blood pressure is pretty common in parents, I mean, getting children ready and out of the door in the morning isn’t particularly relaxing!  But research carried out by Light et al found that frequent hugs between partners are linked with higher oxytocin levels and lower blood pressure.  So, like I mentioned recently, grab your partner or your kids for a big hug first thing in the morning!

Reasons to hug more each day

 

4) It helps you communicate better.  

We all know how important non-verbal communication is, we can express so much through looks and touch, it’s amazing.

Well, hugging can be a great form of non-verbal communication.  David Klow, a marriage and family therapist in Chicago says  “Cuddling is a way of saying, ‘I know how you feel.’ It allows us to feel known by our partner in ways that words can’t convey.”  How great is that?  If we can’t find the words to express to our partners that we feel them, and understand them, then a hug can be a fantastic was to express that.

This works even better if your partner’s love language is physical touch.

 

5) It strengthens your relationships.  

Remember that oxytocin that I mentioned earlier, that helps you feel more relaxed and less stressed?

Well it also helps bond you to the people that you’re hugging, so regular cuddles with your partner and your children will help make you all feel more secure and stable as a unit.

 

6)  It just makes you feel good!  

Not only does cuddling release oxytocin, it can also release endorphins into the mix, according to Dr Renee Horowitz.  Endorphins are the chemicals responsible for the ‘runner’s high’ that you might feel after exercising and they’re why eating chocolate makes us so happy!

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cwtch on the sofa with my kids and a big bar of dairy milk!

Try this trick to start your day happy

Try this one little trick to start your day feeling happy

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this little blog of mine, and the sort of things that I want to be writing about.

One of the main ideas behind the blog when I first started it was to investigate ways what we can really enjoy life, and make it as glorious as possible!  So I’m starting a series of posts which will all have one little trick in them that should help to make life better, easier, happier.

I’m hoping to bring in some psychological background to the tips where I can, but some will likely just be based on experience.

So, to start off, this week I bring you one little trick to start your day feeling happy!

Try this one little trick to start your day feeling happy

 

Make time for a cuddle first thing!

I know, I know, when you’ve been forced out of bed on a cold morning to go calm a screaming baby, or you’ve been (quite literally) dragged from your bed by your co-sleeping toddler who is now demanding milk (can you tell that’s how most of my mornings start?!), then you might not be feeling too cuddly.

If you’re anything like me what you really want to do is head straight to the kitchen for a giant cup of caffeine-y goodness.

But taking a minute to grab your little one for a huge cuddle first will do wonders for both of you.

See, cuddling has been shown to increase the levels of oxytocin in the blood which in turn leads to us feeling more relaxed, more empathetic and more bonded to the person we’re hugging.  Research has shown that  a good 20 second hug can leave our oxytocin levels significantly raised for about an hour

So if mornings with your kids are normally rushed and stressful, then taking the time to give them a huge, loving hug could really help to make things a bit happier.  It’ll release that lovely oxytocin which will take the edge off that stressed-out feeling.  For bonus feel-good points you can take a minute to gaze into their sleepy eyes, which releases even more oxytocin, and makes you feel even more bonded to them, and who can feel sad when they’re full of love for their kids?

It’s got to be worth a try right? 

And if you don’t have little kids at home, the same thing applies for all sorts of physical contact.  So go and sneak a little cuddle with your teenager before they’re fully awake enough to stop you!  Grab your partner for a cuddle under the covers before you have to get up and face the day.  A few minutes snuggling your dog or stroking your cat will have the same effect too.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about oxytocin while writing this post, and it’s just amazing!  There is a lot of interesting research being done into this ‘love hormone’, how we can get more of it and how it affects us and our behaviour.  So stay tuned for more posts featuring oxytocin around here, I have a few ideas for posts on how we can make the most of this lovely hormone!

Coping with losing the extra hour in bed when you're a parent

The 5 stages of coping with the loss of the extra hour in bed now you’re a parent

Chances are you’ve seen some posts starting to pop up on Facebook about how the clocks are going back this weekend.  Which is normally seen as something to celebrate seeing as it, in theory, gives us an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning.

Unless of course you have young children who have absolutely no concept of time.  

In that case, the extra hour is something that we remember fondly from our pre-children days, and then start to dread as we prepare ourselves for a good few weeks of really unreasonable wake-up times while the kids adjust.

So, in an attempt to bring a little humour to the situation, here is my guide to the things we parents think and say during the 5 stages of coping with the loss of that extra hour in bed:

The 5 stages of coping with the loss of the extra hour in bed

 

Denial

“The kids aren’t actually awake.  No, they can’t really be awake yet.  It’s 4.30am, they’re just stirring.  They’ll settle back to sleep in a minute.  If I just shut my eyes and go back to my dream then the kids will do the same, that’s how it works isn’t it?  I mean, they’re not properly awake anyway”

 

Anger

“Damn.  They’re properly awake.  Are you actually kidding me?!   For the love of God, it’s 4.30am!  And why do they always have to call for me?  Shout for Daddy instead for once!”

 

Bargaining

To your other half (after you’ve shaken them awake):
“If you get up with them today I’ll do all the cooking and cleaning for the rest of the week”

To your children (after you’ve stumbled into their room):
“If you just stay quietly in bed and look at books for an hour you can watch Peppa pig and eat chocolate buttons for the rest of the day”

 

Depression 

“Argh, this sucks.  I don’t want to get up yet.  It’s so dark out, and it’s so bloody early the heating hasn’t come on yet so I’m freezing.

*quiet sobbing*

Oh God, it’s so early that Cbeebies isn’t even on yet ”

 

Acceptance

“Looks like it’s going to be a 10-cups-of-coffee kind of day.  Right, let’s get up and get the first cup going.  Then stick the Sarah and Duck DVD on for the kids.  At least they might go to sleep at a decent time tonight!”

 

Do any of these things sound familiar to you?  

Or are you one of the parents who actually prepares for the clock change by adjusting bedtimes etc all week?  I’ve never been organised enough to actually do that!

Friday night in

A great Friday now vs 10 years ago

You might have seen this great post that’s been popping up in various places this week.  It’s from a cup of Jo and it’s all about life (particularly life for parents) in Sweden.  It’s a great little read about the things they do differently over there.

One part that I loved was the writer’s description of the much-loved Swedish tradition of ‘fredagsmys’, which basically translates as ‘cozy Friday’.

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From what I understand, it’s a really big ‘thing’ in Sweden for families to get into their comfy clothes, order pizza and all curl up on the sofa together on a  Friday night.

Which just sounds amazing to me!  Pretty much a perfect Friday night.  Which has got me thinking about how my idea of a great Friday night has changed in the last 10 years!

A great Friday night 10(ish) years ago:

  • Cheesy music blasting through the house while me and my best friend start getting ready to go out.
  • About an hour of choosing something to wear, straightening our hair, doing our make up.
  • All while drinking copious amounts of Archers and lemonade
  • A quick dinner of something and chips, mainly eaten in the hope it might absorb some of the alcohol.
  • Jump in a taxi and head to town.
  • Spend the night drinking and dancing our way down Wind Street, maybe ending up in Time/Envy or Flares.
  • Head home for some late night toast, seriously sooo good after a night out!

A great Friday night now:

  • Kids in bed at a decent time.
  • Spend 2 minutes chucking on joggers and a hoody.
  • Enjoy the luxury of drinking a whole cup of coffee or tea while it’s still hot.
  • Jump on the sofa and spend the night eating homemade pizza and catching up the week’s tv.
  • Head to bed at a decent time to hopefully get some sleep before the toddler wakes up needing cuddles!

How about you?  Have I just given away how sad I am these days?  Have I now just given away how old I am by saying that? Do the kids still say ‘sad’?!  What’s your ideal Friday night like these days?!

You Baby Me Mummy
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Amazingly tasty chocolate cake

It was my husband’s birthday at the start of the month, and I wanted to make him a cake because, well, CAKE!

I normally make a nice simple chocolate cake which is basically a variation of my 2, 4, 4, 4 fairy cake recipe, with a chocolate buttercream topping.  It’s good cake.  But I wanted something a bit more special this year.

So I hit google, and really quickly found this recipe for the best chocolate cake recipe (ever).  And fair do’s, it is definitely the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made!

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The original recipe uses cups, which actually makes it so easy to make.  I highly recommend buying a set of measuring cups, I love mine!  But for the UK readers out there I’m including the translated measurements to make life easier.

So here is my take on Robyn’s best chocolate cake recipe:

What you  need (for the cake):

  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 400g (2 cups) caster sugar
  • 90g (¾ cup) cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 110ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml (1 cup) hot, black coffee water

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 180º C.  Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl and mix it all together thoroughly.
  3. Add milk, vegetable oil and eggs to the flour mixture and mix together until well combined.
  4. Make a cup of hot, black coffee and carefully add it to the mixture.  Mix well.
  5. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  7. Cover the cake with Chocolate buttercream icing.

What you need (for the buttercream icing):

  • 340g (1½ cups) butter, softened
  • 120g (1 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 500g (5 cups) icing sugar
  • 120m (½) cup milk

What you do:

  1. Add the cocoa powder to a large bowl and whisk it through to get rid of any lumps.
  2. Cream together the butter and cocoa powder until they’re well-combined.
  3. Add icing sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 100g ( 1 cup) of icing sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. Mix it well each time you add some.  Repeat this until you’ve added all the icing sugar and milk.
  4. If you think the icing seems too dry, then add a little more milk, and if it seems too wet then just add a little more icing sugar until you get the consistency you want!
  5. Sandwich the cake together with just about a third of the icing, then use the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides of the cake.

Things to note:
This recipe does make a lot of buttercream icing, you might not need to use it all!

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Cuddle Fairy