3 important pieces of advice you would give to your “new mum” self.

The thought that has come to mind in the past couple of months when I have a quiet moment to reflect on my personal parenting journey including the challenges it has presented is “why couldn’t I have known this earlier?”  If only we knew then what do know, we could have worried less about things that shouldn’t matter and focus on things that do. Easier said than done right? I am sure as mothers and fathers we have all thought that to ourselves at some point. In moments of reflection and self examination, we ponder how much growth we have experienced and how much we have learnt since we first became parents in those early weeks. I know I am one to ask myself “would things have been easier if I had known all this in the beginning?” Of course this is unrealistic as we all start somewhere. We go from being alone with our spouse, living selfishly by comparison – to welcoming a newborn into the world and having to accept and adjust ourselves in almost everyway in the weeks that follow. Time cannot be undone and we cannot go back and miraculously know what we do now. But we can make mental notes and reassurances for the next baby, or alternatively give sensible advice when asked by close mum/dad friends we may have that are transitioning into parenthood for the first time.

 

With parenting many of us start out thinking we know things in”theory” to finding that putting into practice is another matter entirely.   Certain things we thought we knew go out the window. We are overwhelmed in the first few months, trying to find our bearings and come to terms with this new role – this new life of parenthood. We sift through advice given by others and mix that with our inner maternal instinctual natures to find a level of equilibrium we can be content with. This takes various amounts of time for all of us. Along the way our lives turn into a beautiful chaos, where we sacrifice ourselves daily, persevere through exhaustion, challenges and self doubt to experience such elation and enumerable blessings.

 

In a way, giving advice to your “new mum” self is a bit of a make believe fantasy, but I have wanted to write from this angle as it gives me (and the other parents I have asked to feature in this blog) a non judgemental, personal and self confronting way to put into words our own honest and earnest advice. This in turn potentially triggers new revelation and encourages thoughtful reflection on their own parenting – how far they have come on their own personal journey.

 

I have asked 8 mothers and 1 father (not including myself) to write 3 pieces of advice they would give THEMSELVES on the subject of parenthood and I hope that in part it may offer new mothers and the like some gentle direction and hopefully some insightful and unique perspective from those who have some experience. It may even enlighten you to read advice that a mother would give to her new mum self and bring you to a point of realisation that none of us are perfect, none of us breeze through parenthood and we all have learned vital and life changing lessons from it. After reading what my fellow parents have written I have been deeply touched and moved by their personal advice and can say that I have taken from it and will apply small parts of it in future. Even though I am a parent to an 18 month old son I still have much to learn. I am sure parents of more than 1 child continue to learn as each subsequent child is born. Does the learning ever stop? I hope all parents or parents to be that read this blog entry derive only positivity, encouragement and support from it, and a hope for any parenting hurdles they may encounter in the future.

 

Each individual who was asked to be a part of this blog has their own opinions and advice to give, and I asked only that these parents give advice that was true and relevant to them – no matter how brief and to the point it may be. Some chose to elaborate, other parents kept their 3 points short and sweet. Either way I did notice that many of them had similarities or common denominators. Which confirmed with me that we all face similar challenges, encounter similar doubts and/or anxieties and also make similar mistakes or error in judgement (without sounding condemnatory).

I will start off with my own 3 points of advice I would give my new mum self – now just over 18 months ago when I gave birth to my son Jonah:

 

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1. Don’t wish away the time in a day – savour each moment. Even though Jonah has rarely ever been a difficult child, it is me that has struggled to adjust and be patient with my new role in life. This has meant I have sometimes wanted time to speed up, and have looked forward to nap times or each night I get to put Jonah down to bed. There was a short period of weeks there that I was wishing time away, wanting it to accelerate and pass by. If I could go back I would caution myself from doing this and would encourage my new mum self to savour each day, each new moment – and always look for the positive in it no matter how I was feeling that day. Tough days or hours will pass quickly enough without me looking forward all the more. My children will never be this age again, doing the things they do now. Just be content in each moment and cherish it.

2. Never cease to pray. Asking for the Lords help in those early days of parenting was something I did habitually. I drew comfort and reassurance as a Christian from my daily prayer life, and found that the Lord guided me through those early weeks and stopped me from despairing. I really struggled to accept my role as a mother (God is still working on me in this regard) but I recall that first night in hospital after I gave birth, the great weight of responsibility and reality of the fact I was a mother hit home with me. I felt myself start to sink into despair – which can be a dangerous place to be. If I would not have cried out to God to pull me from that, to console me, to help steer me onto the path He had for me – than I don’t know what would have happened in the weeks that followed. I knew in those early weeks how much a new mum needs the Holy Spirit in her everyday life. Along the way though I stopped praying as I used to. I got side tracked, flustered, caught up in the sometimes monotonous whirlwind of everyday life and schedule that I started to neglect my prayer life. I believe I have suffered for it slightly – I have drifted, I haven’t had the peace I once did, that clarity, that contentment I had been drawing from the Holy Spirit. I would urge my new mum self to never cease from praying and relying on the Lord for strength, guidance, comfort and encouragement. Seeking it from the world will never satisfy and will leave you empty and lacking over time. I believe 100% prayer and a close relationship with Christ brings out a better parent in me.

3. Don’t forget to prioritise one on one alone time with your husband. Phil and I have not done this enough admittedly. It is somewhat difficult for us as we have no family assistance when it comes to offers to watch Jonah, and have only had the occasional offer of a friend (that has no children) for a couple of hours. If I could go back I would just make it happen. Somehow. Although it’s much harder for us than many parents I encounter, I would invest in hiring someone that we could trust to watch our son whilst we went on a few dates together and invested time back into each other. Hanging out as friends and taking a little time out needs to be a frequent occurrence. Weeks can pass before new parents take a real breather together. Although Phil and I have always been good at talking and communicating together, we mainly found that it was simply doing something fun and lighthearted that we missed and have not done in SO long. Getting away from the house for a few hours together on a monthly basis is a healthy goal to have as a couple. I will be sure we do this next time around!

 

Sarah Richards – @raising_the_richards_three

Parenting advice for new mum
Mum to:

Ava 4.5
Jude 2
Oscar due in September

Looking back to the woman I was 5 years ago, pre kids; I hardly recognise her! She was a tad selfish, was in the midst of her money making years and working in marketing and sales management. She had different goals and definitely different values.  I’ve learnt so many brilliant life lessons since then, all of which I feel the universe sent my children to teach me. If I could take Sarah from 5 years ago out for coffee and have a chat with her I would tell her these three things about Motherhood.

1. Do whatever works for you and don’t sweat the small stuff.

I must credit Sarah from 5 years ago for following her instinct more than I imagined I would. But I want to reiterate to her that it doesn’t matter what other people think about your parenting methods; Because you’re not everyone’s mum and not everyone raises babies the same way.

When I first had Ava I was surprised and sometimes offended at some of the advice people were giving me (now I don’t think this advice was wrong; just not for me) people were telling me because Ava breastfed so much that she must be hungry and that I wasn’t making enough milk (funnily enough Ava was off the growth charts as a baby) People also said “ohhh she will be sleeping in your bed until she’s 8!” When they found out we decided to co sleep with Ava. (She got a big girl bed at 2 and has been happily sleeping in it through the night ever since, she’s nearly 5) I’m so glad I stuck to my guns and followed Ava’s lead on everything when everyone was telling me it was “wrong”
I would definitely tell myself that people really are trying to help, they aren’t trying to annoy you or upset you – they genuinely give their opinions in the hope of making your life easier. However; always do whatever works for you. I’ll never judge another mama for the way she chooses to raise her child, if it works for her and bub then who am I to question it?

2. Every baby isn’t the same! Act accordingly.

After having Ava and successfully breastfeeding her for almost 17 months I thought I was a pro. So when I had Jude my son and he struggled to feed I was in disbelief. I was under the assumption once you’ve breastfed a baby, every subsequent baby you have will latch on and feed like a natural and you’ll both just get it. I remember Adam going home the night of Jude’s birth and me and Jude being left alone overnight at the hospital. I found myself in tears to my midwife, begging for help because we just couldn’t get it right. It was so different to Ava, Jude had a lazy latch and wouldn’t drain me properly. He would guzzle milk for 2 mins and then fall asleep. Luckily we both learnt and adapted together and I managed to successfully feed Jude till almost 17 months also, but a valuable lesson was learnt from those early months. Don’t compare your babies and don’t expect them to be the same or need the same parenting from you. They are have different needs because they are different people.

3. These moments are fleeting and the hard times do pass.

I’m currently 4 weeks out from giving birth to our third child and I honestly feel like I gave birth to my firstborn only a few years ago. The saying the days are long but the years are short rings so true for me. Sometimes when you’re borderline panic attack because your kids haven’t stopped arguing all day, the house is a bomb site, you haven’t managed a shower because the tiny dictators have given you far too much to do for personal hygiene, (how selfish of you Mum!) it’s hard to remember how fast it all goes. But when they are needy and want to be held or played with I always try and give them what they need from me, they won’t always be this little they won’t always need me or want me around.
The teething passes, the tiredness passes and before you know it you’re ready to do it all over again. I truly try to cherish these moments today because tomorrow I’ll wake up and have 3 moody, hormonal teenagers and a brand new list of reasons to be borderline mental breakdown. 😉

 

Jaimie Orchard – @jaimieorchard

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Mother to Hunter James (3 in August) and Vaida Jean (15 months)

 

  1. Follow the mantra, “This Too Shall Pass”. It is very comforting know any obstacle of sleepless nights are developmental milestones which will not last forever. It’s a great mantra to tell yourself while you’re up at 3am feeding/resettling multiple times a night! I also found comfort in knowing I’m not the only person up at that time; those long nights can be lonely!
  2. Baby wear, especially in the afternoon/evening “witching hour”. Baby wearing keeps baby content during those unsettled hours of the evening and enables you to cook dinner/clean the house/relax  while your baby is comforted and safe on your chest. It’s great for colic and teething too as your baby is upright and able to pass gas easily. Watch your baby, not the clock.
  3. You don’t have to follow the “Baby Book” l. Find your own groove as you learn what kind of mother you are/want to be. Bedshare/co sleep if that’s what works for your family. Don’t feel like you have to sleep train because your baby isn’t sleeping through etc. As long as your baby is healthy, happy and thriving, you’re doing a good job mama! Listen to your mothering instincts and let your baby take the lead. Every baby is different and no baby book takes that into account.

Nadine Muller – @nadinemuller__

Parenting advice for new mum
Mum to Madden, aged 23 months
3 of MANY things I would tell myself before I became a mum!
1. IT’S OK TO NOT LOVE MOTHERING EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY –
Whilst on the most part motherhood is like first hand experiencing magic (only a million times better) it’s ok to also have days where it’s just about surviving. It’s ok to silently curse under your breath, it’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to even be jealous of your pre-mum self while you pick yourself up off the floor. But also know that you were every bit hand picked to be the mother of your children, and mark my word when I say that no one can mother your children like you can. Sometimes there will be days when you will feel like you have your work cut out for you but you are 110% the one cut out to accomplish them too.
2. ASK FOR HELP/ACCEPT HELP –
Ask for help and support from those you trust, your husband, in-laws, friends etc because guess what you will need it from time to time. You are not superhuman say no to things that you don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do and accept help when it is offered. You are human, ditch the pressure of being and doing everything on your own and trying to parent perfectly. You can read all them books, google from here to next week, have ‘organic’ written all over you but you will soon realise that parenting is a constant balancing act that is forever changing, and requiring ongoing adaptations and you will never get everything perfectly right all of the time. And the times you think you do, a change will be just around the corner! The beauty of parenthood! Don’t get caught up in trying to be perfect, parenting mistakes along the way is only inevitable. Sought help, accept help and learn to enjoy not having everything so organised all the time!
3. MOTHERHOOD DOESN’T MEAN THE END TO THE THINGS YOU ENJOY –
I cannot emphasise enough of the importance of looking after yourself in order to best look after the ones who need us. Take the time to look after you too, yes there will be times when things don’t go according to plan and we might come further down the ladder, but it doesn’t have to be like this continually. Looking after ourselves is apart of looking after our family. This can be anything that makes you feel whole, it might be going to the gym, it might be a trip to the hairdressers, or a catch up with a girlfriend, whatever you need to do in order to fill your own cup!

 

 

Keearla Johnson – @keearla__

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Mum to Stella, aged 19 months

 

The three important pieces I would give to my new mum self would definitely be:

 

  1. Relax. Confidence comes in time – within a few weeks you will be killing this mum gig, most new mothers get this overwhelming feeling at first too. You are not the only one, ask for help.
  2. Cherish the time with your new born. It is so cliche but it’s one of the truest statements I have heard. They develop every single day; I really wish I embraced those newborn days so much more.
  3. Talk to more mothers’ about the stages I am going through and the tough days, I do it now but in the beginning I didn’t! Without a doubt someone has dealt with the same experience and can reassure you it’s completely normal.

 

Super generic but these are what ring true to me!

 

Krista Dennis – @fithappymummy

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Mother to Maverick aged 4, and Elkie aged 18 months
1. Don’t compare your baby to others. They are all different. Some will sleep. Some won’t. Some will feed. Some won’t. Some will cry. Some won’t. Some, no matter what you do will not change. Others will. Learn to love that special babe you have and comfort them. They’re only little for long 💕💕
2. When you plan on meeting someone, tell yourself it’s 30 mins earlier than the planned meeting time…
That way you’ll arrive dead on time 😂😂🙈🙈
3. Nothing works like the book! Life is a journey, love it and enjoy it. If we were all the same life wouldn’t be much fun would it?!

 

 

Jesse Manners – @fatherlikesons

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Father to Riley 4, and Boston aged 19 months

  1. Just because it looks funny it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I stupidly taught Riley to say a bunch of albeit hilarious things to say, they have been the platform for some seriously cheeky/naughty one-liners used at the worst of times.
  2. Reverse psychology can be a real jerk. The whole, ” no please don’t eat your veggies, I really want to eat them.” Has led to a fair bit of confusion for Riley because now when I say “Riley don’t you even think about grabbing that piece of chocolate from your mother’s stash.” He automatically gets that same cheeky grin and goes right for it.
  3. The internet and technology is not a free baby sitter … keep in mind that while I am recommending this I actually don’t practise this at all. What’s the definition of a hypocrite again? Haha.

 

 

Tammy Hembrow – @tammyhembrow

Parenting advice for new mum

Mum to Wolf 2, and Saskia aged 1

 

– I don’t need to worry so much about finding a routine, that I will get there eventually

– Remember to also take time for myself and my relationship with my partner when I can

– Not to compare my experiences with other previous experiences too closely, kids will be kids and each one is an individual

 

Susie Stafford – @miss_susieq_fitmum

Parenting advice for new mum

Mum to Cooper, aged 14 months

– Trust your instincts!
Dr Google doesn’t give accurate medical advice. And friends/family/ mothers groups can only help a certain amount. Always trust your instincts with your baby. You know your baby best!

– Post natal depression/perinatal depression isn’t anything to be ashamed of!
Having suffered mental illness since a teenager, I knew all the signs of PND. Yet for some reason I was more ashamed of knowing I was suffering whilst pregnant and post natal. There is always a stigma behind any form of mental illness, and to feel that I wasn’t ‘thankful’ to be pregnant or to have a healthy new baby made it worse. Seek help from those who care and know you best, because suffering in silence doesn’t help you or your baby or your relationships.

– Only take advice that resonates to you!
You will be given countless amounts of unsolicited advice from other mums/family members/friends. A lot of this advice will be conflicting, and some won’t suit your lifestyle, situation, beliefs. Only take on board what you want. No baby is the same as another, and every little life requires different help.

 

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The last person to write on my blog (but certainly not least) is my friend Bron, who I met at a new church my husband and I started attending about 3 months before we left on our holiday overseas. I wanted to make a special note here about what she has written. As a fellow Christian mother we have extremely similar parenting points of view and reading Bron’s words affected me in a deep way. I can’t exactly explain how much it resounded with me on more than one level, but if I could have written a fourth or fifth point, Bron’s words below capture my own thoughts and opinions as a Christian parent better than I may have even be able to write. What she has written here drew me into a reflective place of meditation on the link between Christ and motherhood.

 

Bron Pirrotta – @mytiny.tribe

Parenting advice for new mum

Mum to Malia Sage – 3, and Macey Rain – 9 months

 

Three pieces of advice I wish I’d known as a new mum:

1

Coming into motherhood initially I had fairly relaxed views. My first birth was so natural and ‘easy’… as far as pushing a human out of you can be, and the first few months were challenging but fairly regular so far as life goes with a newborn. The first time I felt the ‘mum worry’ overcome me (often brought about due to the opinions of others/society or self doubt) was at my daughters 4 month check up. “How’s she sleeping?” the young, fresh-out-of-uni doctor asked, “she’s… not, really…” (well it felt like that at least) “OH WHAT?! She’s not sleeping through?” Doc asked in shock horror (I now know how ridiculous it is to expect a fully breastfed 4 month old to sleep through! but then? I TRUSTED her. She was the ‘professional’ after all.) “Go out and by the book save our sleep, like, today!” she suggested. I did. And I let my precious 4 month old little girl cry herself to sleep alone instead of being held by her mama’s soft warm chest like she longed for. Oh how I regret these days and weeks of listening, desperately waiting for the crying to stop (only in hopes that I could relieve the desire to go in to her). Yes, my daughter eventually started sleeping through (and don’t get me wrong, I do think there is a place for sleep training, but NOT at 4 months old, and NEVER totally alone). I was so desperate with my first to be in control, to have her sleep through so I could regain some semblance of a normal life and fully functioning brain back… little did I realise that once you have kids your brain never functions the same again! Babe number two has been blessed with, so far 8 months of co-sleeping (or breast -sleeping really) that my first baby girl unfortunately was not. The lesson I have learnt through this is, embrace sleeplessness, every morning I have to make a good decision for myself and my kids: enjoy today, no matter how tired you are, be present, have a coffee, and be humble/vulnerable enough to call someone and ask for help, tell your partner when you need a break to take a nap or shower alone, they aren’t mind readers. And lesson B from this experience, learn to forgive yourself (and the doctor!) and show a graciousness to that 21 year old mum who lacked confidence in her authority and leadership as a mama.

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As a Christian, motherhood has taught me immensely about God and His feelings toward us/me as his child. Most times these lessons come from me trying to teach my daughter something eg. “you need to be obedient even if you don’t want to because I am wiser and know/want what’s best for you”. (Go figure; it took me becoming a parent to really get the gist of that lesson from God!)

The main thing I have learnt throughout my almost 4 years as a mum is to constantly bring my parenting back under the lens of how God treats us (**side note – I also bring parenting back to how I’d feel if it were me. eg. what would help me in a situation where I’m feeling emotional like my 3 year old often is? Certainly not someone yelling in my face telling me to stop crying which unfortunately, I’ve been known to do at times.**)

So… as long as I’m putting my parenting under the lens that God looks at me through eg. desiring obedience, loving me unconditionally, disciplining me with graciousness gentleness and calm and most vitally viewing me with joy and adoration of his creation.

Underneath this idea of placing God ahead of everything in parenting comes the idea of putting my husband before my kids and keeping as an absolute team with him. We have had our ups and down, certainly in the first two years of my eldest daughters life. Yet as we have embraced each other, the parenting journey may not be ‘easier’ but we certainly feel more supported and comforted throughout it. Though we still have our differences and disagreements about parenting styles we know that no matter what the day has brought we can sit down together in the evenings and debrief without judgement and recognise our flaws and triumphs. This always helps ground me in embracing what the new morning (or night!) may bring.

So, advice: Put God first in all aspects of life; this is absolutely vital in staying grounded in who you are and as a parent. When i spend deliberate time with God nourishing my soul, the ‘mama’ part in me is filled to keep me focused on who I am in Christ and what my calling is as his child. Keep your eyes focused on your spouse and aim to never identify more as a mother than a wife. The love that flourishes and stems from your marriage falls directly onto the heads of your children – they are covered by it and sense it within the family bond created through the foundation of your marriage.

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Let go. Let go of those expectations of perfectionism; expectations from society, from your partner, family, but most of all SELF. I am my own worst critic, particularly when it comes to mothering. I waste precious moments (and energy) in my mind beating myself up for not being damn well perfect as a mum. Hold on to the moments you trust yourself fully and learn to embrace the challenges that you think you can’t face (even such as listening to a whinging 3 year old for one more minute!)

This is absolutely my greatest challenge as a mother; being to harsh on myself.

The main exercises I practice in order to cope with this and change my thinking / beliefs about myself, are debriefing and mindfulness. In order to debrief, find some one trusted (for me its my counsellor, and my husband) and ask them to help you recognise what is objectively true about the situation. Embrace that, whether you like it or not, and if you didn’t like it, find a goal to work toward.

Mindfulness and attentiveness exercises also play a big part in helping me think positive, be present and enjoy my mothering journey. Letting go of what I can’t control, surrendering it all to Jesus and embracing my brokenness, even as a mama.

I love the saying “the days are long but the years are short” in my journey thus far I can absolutely identify with this. I reach the evenings, my back aches from carrying a baby all day, my mind is blurry from answering non-stop questions about everything from the 3 year old, my eyes are weary from waking 5 times the night before, but I look at my eldest daughter and see her suddenly becoming an independent little child and my crawling baby is no longer a sleepy newborn. Summer, when my belly was swollen about to birth, felt like just yesterday and it’s almost the end of winter. Breathe Mama, the journey is brief. You are only learning, and you will keep on learning the whole journey through.

 

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I appreciate each and every mother (and father) for featuring on this blog entry and for taking the time to write from the heart. I am so grateful each of these parents gave insight into their own private parenting journey to some degree  – as any of their pointers given would be a direct reflection on what they have personally experienced or been through. I really hope that each parent draws only positivity from what has been written and find it encouraging and useful in more ways than one.

 

Take care,

 

J xx

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Overstepping privacy boundaries – parents who create Instagram accounts for their children.

There are many subjects on my mind and heart to blog about and exploiting children using social media has been one of them. Exploiting is a heavy word but I believe in many (not all) cases it is appropriate. Lately there has been some talk of this subject and very recently a parent I have interacted with on social media has been grossly ignorant when it comes to this matter and tried to justify their inappropriate actions of exploiting their own child on social media to me. This has brought me to put hand to keyboard this evening as this topic has officially been bumped up to the top of my “must write about” list.

Parents who create a social media profile for their children is something I am very passionately against. I do not stand alone in this opinion and am by no means the only parent who feels this way. I have conversed with many mothers who sincerely believe this is a big NO NO and they would personally never do it to their child. No one else seems to be highlighting or writing about this serious subject so I am happy to start and honestly couldn’t care less who gets their knickers in a knot over it!

Before I go any further I want to clarify that in this blog I am not referring to:

  • Any Instagram birthing/motherhood pages

Birthing and motherhood pages are a selection and large array of photos and memoirs of experiences relating to ALL aspects of parenting and offer so much support and encouragement to women, young and experienced mothers, and parents to be. They are completely different to a parent who creates a profile FOR their child.

It’s not enough now that in 2017 an adult has their own account and tries to gain followers and popularity through that – but now they must try and use their children as an extension to that project. Nowadays, they also create an account for their toddler aged child or younger and use their account as a means to make money or gain social media fame status. Let’s face it – this is the cold hard truth to it. You don’t try and actively build an account on Instagram unless you want popularity or maximum exposure/reach. These 2 components generally lead to money – do they not? I challenge anyone to disagree with this. Let’s not be daft – we all know that large social media accounts make money from paid posts and collaborations. How would growing a large child’s account lead to anything different????

I am sure that many of you have come across a child’s social media account. I am more so referring to Instagram in this blog as my time spent on Facebook is very limited. I first came across a child’s Instagram account a couple of years ago and I was instantly shocked and left wondering, “why would the parent do that?” Then about 12-18 months ago I saw a couple more. Since then I have come across several others. My reaction is much the same but I am becoming less surprised and more angered and turned off by it. Is it becoming more common? Are these parents who create these accounts setting a trend for other parents to start one for their children? Gosh I hope not. This is a trend that should not take off and as a matter of fact I feel it should not be allowed. It should be banned. What does confuse me though is that many mothers who share my opinion and disagree with children having their own profile and would never put one of for their own child – FOLLOW and support some little toddlers accounts? I am not sure what to even to say to this? Perhaps think twice before further fueling this concerning trend? Don’t be a hypocrite, know your stance and stick with it. If you are against it – be against it and unapologetic for your choice. Don’t go following a child’s account even though you disagree or are concerned about the matter.

 

The very basic common sense thought comes to mind of “what about the child’s privacy?” Children are virtually the only innocence in society and this should be protected, nurtured and held dear. It’s precious. Creating an account on THEIR behalf when they have NO say, NO knowledge of it and NO control over the content being uploaded in a gross invasion of this privacy and misuse of parental control. It pulls down any veil of privacy that should be kept surrounding our children and allows full access and view to any person behind a screen with an account log in and a password. Children are vulnerable enough in life without adding to that a hundred fold by plastering their every moment on the internet for any browser to see. Isn’t it enough that we upload photos on our own personal accounts of our children? Isn’t this a risk enough? Especially to those of us that have a public account.

Parents who create social media accounts for their children may defend it by saying they want to share that child or babies’ photos with loved ones. What a great load of steaming cow poo. If this was the case – the child’s profile would be made PRIVATE for starters, no hash tags would be used on every photo (the purpose of hash tags being to make the photo as accessible and noticeable to the general public as possible) followers would be restricted to people they personally know, trust or that their child has met and lastly the parent would strictly monitor in general who wants to gain access to the photos. Are any children’s profiles I have seen been like this? Well, no. If this were the case firstly I would not have the content to blog about this and secondly would not have stumbled across or have had access to it to begin with like millions of other people do. What these parents are doing is grossly over sharing every aspect of their child’s life to the general public. They actually have a word for this now: sharenting.

 

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This has become a real term that is used now. No surprise there!

 

Is it sensible to allow random people you have never met and your child has no knowledge of to follow your child’s account? Is this safe? Why does a parent think they have a right to start a followers or “friends” list for their child, or on behalf of their child – before that child is old enough to make educated decisions for themselves? What about the people these child or baby accounts follow back? Many accounts are followed back simply to maintain the “follow for follow” relationship. So it’s business huh? It’s a simple trade off: for access to your child’s every single memory via photograph you will follow a strangers account to keep them happy and for one extra number on the counter of followers for your child.

When your toddler grows up one day, do you think they will wrap their arms around you and thank you for this giant followers list you have grown for them – essentially that they have “inherited” from you? Are you confident that they would not have a single issue with how much of their life you have shared with hundreds or thousands of people? I hope mothers and fathers who create accounts for children without their knowledge consider these very valid and serious points. The internet is many things both positive and negative. With the negative comes a very serious and real danger element. You are a fool if you think that a sexual predator has not viewed your child’s public profile and either regularly checks it or even follows it disguised under a different name.

 

Hacker
Sexual predators pose as regular “harmless” accounts. You can never be sure exactly who is viewing your child’s photos.

 

A parent who uploads a photo or video of their own child on THEIR own profile and wants to share this with family, close friends or others does this because they are proud parents; genuinely want to share a glimpse into their lives whilst sharing plenty of other content from their life outside photos of their children. This being said, even sharing photos of our children on our OWN account of course runs a risk, and I think every parent knows that. No, we cannot live in fear of sharing beautiful moments of our children to people we love and who genuinely want to see our life in squares and therefore never share anything. However we need to be mindful and monitor more closely who gets to see the things that are most precious to us. Our babies.

 

Lately I have been deep in thought about my own account and how much I expose my son on social media. I have had a couple of discussions with a few friends about this subject (Kylie and Suzie being 2 particular ladies I have chatted to about this in recent months!) and they have revealed their views and opinions on it. Their primary concern is to protect their child’s privacy and minimise exposure. Now one of these ladies has recently given birth and decided not to expose her son to social media at all or upload any photos of him. The other initially didn’t upload any photos showing her sons face, but as time has gone on and she has posted a couple of photos she has still kept uploads to a real minimum even though she has wanted to share (she has weighed up the pros and cons – the cons could not be denied and far outweighed the ). Both of these women would like to share photos of their babies but had decided even before the birth of their sons that they would opt NOT to share or overshare their child on a social media platform. Good on them.

These conversations I have had with these ladies and others, and seeing their stance they are taking has made me question my own account and how many photos I upload of Jonah and what he would think of that? I have only just started to consider Jonah’s privacy more in the past couple of weeks and admittedly was somewhat naive about it beforehand. Recently discovering a questionable male acquaintance from my past (whom I had to almost take a restraining order out against) had been watching my Instagram stories – I suddenly felt very concerned and sick to my stomach that someone would seek me out and be able to gain access to videos of my son and precious family time my husband and I share with him. It made me confront the reality of who could access my account and how much I should be uploading of Jonah. Now I would never in a million years presume to make an account FOR him or on BEHALF of him and try and build it up – however I do share photos and I have a public account. Why do I have a public account? It’s not like I actively try and build it like some people, so why keep it public? Well, I want my blog to be accessible to people to read and want to attract readers to it as time goes on. Ok, I somewhat justify that question.

I have used hashtags on Jonah’s photos. I am questioning why I have done this? The answer was simple: I have wanted people to see photos of him. Why? Because he’s the cutest kid I’ve ever seen and I want to share, I want people to appreciate his cuteness also. Why? Hmmm coz I am proud of what I have created. Ok – So I ask myself – “why do you need complete strangers to tell you your child is gorgeous, handsome, cute?” The reality is that I hear that everyday from people we meet in the park, street, shops, on holiday etc. I don’t need to parade Jonah on the internet to try and attract or receive comments and compliments. BOOM. I have also caught myself out in a wrong motive. This has been my thought process lately and I wanted to be transparent and share with you.

I am not saying using a couple of hashtags is being self-seeking and trying to over expose your child in every sense. I am challenging the need to use so many and highlighting the possibilities as to why parents use them. Are you thinking only selfishly when it comes to this with little regard to the future of your child? Ask yourself the questions I have. Why do you hashtag your child’s photos with dozens of words and phrases that have nothing to do with the photo? It’s one thing to hashtag #cutie or #mylove or something similar – but to hashtag every generic hashtag under the sun that does not relate to your photo whatsoever because you see other mums doing so – how can you justify this? I have been honest with myself and asked this question and I cannot come up with a good enough answer to keep doing it as I naively have before! Hash tags = exposure. There is nothing more to it than that. What motives do you have in wanting to expose your child/babies photos on the internet to as many people as you can?

 

hashtag
The main purpose of a hashtag. Making it easier to find content. As I said above = greater exposure.

 

Now I am veering slightly off subject here I know, but I do think that MANY mum accounts I have seen upload WAY too many photos of their babies and children and all these questions above need to be asked. They need to challenge themselves. Are women over-sharing when it comes to their young children? Some women I have seen periodically upload 4,5 even 6 photos PER DAY of their children or of them with their children and using the maximum of 30 hashtags on these photos trying to gain as much exposure as possible. If they weren’t trying to gain exposure to the public on as big a scale as they could – than why upload with hashtags and why upload 4 times per day? Yeah you think your kid is cute we get that but we honestly don’t want to see them on our home page 24/7 so why the bombardment of photos unless you are trying to use them to grow your account?

Many mothers seek support from other mothers and somehow justify uploading hundreds of photos of their child to achieve this? It still isn’t reason enough and still does not justify the striving to gain more followers and exposure. You don’t need a massive account of 40 thousand followers in order to achieve a support network. Close support from a handful of people is more than enough and to be honest more than many real mums have. So once again, using your child’s photos excessively on social media to boost or grow your account and hiding behind the excuse of wanting support from other mums doesn’t add up and is wishy washy. It’s time to get real and admit that children are being used unbeknown to them via social media and it’s unhealthy. This is the real reason behind why many mums do all this, and unfortunately generic mum accounts that over share their children are like the parents who start accounts FOR their children to a degree. They over expose their children for their own personal gain, whether they realise it or not. The underlying fact is that this issue is 100% about the MUM and the validation she needs for her child – which she feels is a literal extension of her – to make her feel adequate and to gain further popularity. That’s the cold hard truth. When you get to the heart of the matter it is somewhat indecent and appalling.

Two days ago I saw a little girls account on Instagram and I found it very disturbing. She was approximately 5 years old. She was posing on a beach, in a child’s bikini. The pose she was making was almost “adult like” – clearly an adult showed it or demonstrated it to her for her to mimic for that photo. It was what I would call an alluring pose – I wouldn’t go as far as saying provocative, but it was by no means child like. Scrolling further through this account (which had thousands of followers) she had makeup on in a good percentage of the photos taken. She was posing like a grown up in many of them, showcasing fashionable children’s clothing. I came across her account because one of those large baby/kids accounts that showcase random cute children’s photos posted this girl’s photo with a caption and tagged this child account in it. Or should I say the mother behind the account in the photo was tagged (as many of these baby accounts do – we all know mothers get very cranky if their child’s photo is used without given proper credit right!?) From there I sickeningly discovered the mother was and IS building a business from her daughter and it had gained an alarming momentum.

The WORST thing about all this was that particular photo this baby/kid account used from this child account had many QUESTIONABLE comments left on it. Yes I scrolled through dozens of comments. Some were from mums saying how cute she was. Some mothers were in an outrage at the fact she was 5 and in a bikini (my thoughts exactly!) BUT there were comments from MALE accounts (some foreign, some not) saying things like “so pretty” and “nice” with a wink emoji. Some men had tagged another account on the photo and left no comment, just a tag. Think deeper into this. Someone tags us in a photo because they want us to look at it right? Why would a male tag another male in a photo of a child? “But there was no sexual comment left by that account” a mother may justify. Just stop. If you cannot be intuitive enough to see the suspicion behind ANY male account that is tagging other men, or leaving borderline “nice” comments on a young child’s photo than you are deluded and living in a dangerous deception. Quite frankly: shame on you. Since seeing this account I have been deeper in thought about this subject and my future stance on it.

Our children should not be used to gain social media popularity.

Creating an account for your tiny child, trying to actively grow and expand it, accepting hundreds/thousands of followers who you do not know for the greater part, follow people back that you or your child do not know or have not met, hashtag your child’s photos for maximum public exposure and attention, caption your photos speaking on their behalf with your opinions voiced as your own – IS a form of exploitation. This needs to be recognised. If you are a parent that has started a PUBLIC account for your child and are doing the listed things above and are not aware of the ramifications of what you are doing, how it can be considered wrong, a danger, an exploitation or a gross invasion of privacy than you need to really be honest with yourself and think this over. Become aware of what you are doing and aware of the heightened risks involving young children being targeted online. Think about what this means for your child and their future? Is it fair that we offer a greater exposure of our children to online predators by creating public accounts and showcasing endless photos, precious memories and milestones?

 

exploit blog
A survey result I found online. Parents clearly have strong opinions about other parents who over share on social media. Funny thing is that we all have a friend or 2 that we know who does this. Perhaps it’s time to say something to them? We are aware oversharing is going on but what is being done about it?

 

For many months I didn’t quite get why a few of my Instagram mum friends had decided along the way to keep their accounts private. I never thought deeply into why they may have made this decision. Now as I witness social media more and more I understand completely. The answer is privacy – not just for them, but more importantly for their children.

There should be a limit to how much we exposure our little children to social media. Did you know that in France there are very strict laws in place about what parents can post? They have the strictest controls so far out of any country, which state that anyone who posts a photograph of someone without their express consent – including parents posting pictures of their children – can face a fine of up to 45,000 euro. Yes, this is a fact.

There is a line than can be crossed when it comes to what we share, what we reveal and what we allow strangers to see. As parents we need to know where that line is in the sand, we need to vett through everything. Isn’t that what responsible, protective and selfless parents do? Are we getting so side tracked by our own accounts that we cannot see this unsettling trend of children’s accounts taking off? People need to start talking about this and treating it like it’s a sizeable issue. Are we possibly becoming so desensitized to people sharing every facet of their lives that we no longer blink an eyelid or feel any conviction about a young baby or toddler having their own independent social media account that they have no control over, NO knowledge of and NO say over ANY content that is uploaded or posted? I leave these questions with you all.

Thanks for reading! Comments and feedback always welcome.

 

J xx

How to manage travelling with a toddler

Or more specifically – how to manage LONG FLIGHTS with a toddler…

As some readers of my blog may or may not know, we have a 15 month old son Jonah who we are currently travelling with on an extensive holiday. We decided in October last year to forfeit our house deposit and goal to have a mortgage for our first home and spend it on a 7 month holiday in Europe. Having a young child did not deter us from our dream of travelling together. We truly believe that the opportunity to do this is momentary and that there are so many benefits to travel now and NOT wait until we are 70 years of age. I have already written a blog previously on our decisions to travel now in specific dot points, and spoke about why we decided to take a trip of this magnitude (please see Travel tab in blog menu to read or click this link) 7 month Europe trip instead of a mortgage

Although having a toddler did not stifle our desire and plans to travel overseas, it did mean that we had to think smart and strategically in order to ensure the overall travel process was as smooth and pain free as possible. Not just for Jonah but for ourselves. We feel justified in considering ourselves in all the planning as this trip is just as much about us as Jonah, and things going more smoothly for us means we are more able to give our best to Jonah as parents. It is our dream and our holiday after all, and Jonah is along for the ride. Not to sound selfish but we are definitely considering our own enjoyment and sanity on this once in a lifetime trip! Just being honest here!

The long flights to Europe is enough to deter many parents from embarking upon the journey – especially in the case of having young children! It’s daunting flying with children and can be a dread that dampens the holiday excitement in the weeks leading up the departure. Admittedly Phil and I were very apprehensive and nervous about the flights with Jonah. I would go as far to say there was moments of dread about flying leading up to the 3rd May when we departed. I recall saying to many people that once they were over I would then consider myself to be in “holiday mode”.

Strategically planning flights and having ideas to make the journey and process easier on everyone doesn’t mean it’s the highlight of the trip 🙄😛 Flying for some (myself included) is never pleasant and not something to look forward to. Completely understandable. I’m not writing this blog entry to try and change someone’s feelings on flying. I am just giving some tips and recommendations that worked for us which made the whole experience helpful, less stressful and overall very manageable. Please note that Jonah is a good kid most of the time. He’s a good sleeper and not a “screamer” child so this was an automatic advantage. However even with this being the case, it didn’t mean he would remain so under unusual circumstances like flying. Phil and I didn’t expect too much of him and went into it expecting it to be challenging, and knowing we would have to be gracious towards him due to the difficult nature of extensive flying, disturbance in his schedule and drastic change in environments.

 

That would lead to my first recommendation: Have low expectations of the experience. Plan well, but don’t put pressure on yourself and especially your child to adjust perfectly and behave flawlessly. It’s unrealistic even for the most well behaved child and good sleeper. Also any parent would know that a baby 6-7 months or younger sleeps ALOT more than a toddler, and therefor easier in many regards to travel with. I am writing about my experience with flying with a (then 2 weeks ago) 14 month old, not a 6 month old who sleeps 15-18 hours a day and can’t run around!!

 

Second recommendation: Schedule a night flight for the longest part of your flight journey. This clearly worked for us so that’s why I would say it’s one of my top recommendations. Flying from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi was a few minutes short of 14 hours. We negotiated with our travel agent in length and opted ourselves to make this decision to fly at night. It paid off. We will travel this way again in future if we travel again with our second child. Originally we booked a flight at around 9:30pm, however the flight time got pushed back to 10:35pm over the months. Admittedly this wasn’t ideal for us. As we were going through customs and then boarding the plane it was leading up to 9:30-10pm and by this time we were hoping to have already taken off. The flight being pushed back meant that Jonah was getting very overtired by the time we took off. That first hour on the plane was tough on everyone and for a moment I thought the whole flight would be a disaster. I was just praying “Lord please help hims settle and get some sleep!” Jonah was so tired, very emotional, moody and was crying quite a lot. Poor little guy. He was also confused as to why there were so many noises, lights on and people sitting/walking around him at his bed time. He did end up crashing out on my lap and slept 8.5 hours on the flight. This is what we hoped for. Being on a night flight and having your toddler sleep for a good half to 3/4 of it makes for a very manageable experience, not to mention you don’t have to try and entertain them as much as they don’t feel confined for a long period of time. Ideally you want to try and keep them on a similar schedule to what they are on at home, obviously pushing back the sleep times each day a little bit until they are adjusted to the new time zone.

The only negative about the whole flight was the fact it was later than we wanted. A flight being pushed back cannot be helped, but in our opinion – now that we have done it, is that a 9:30pm flight would be ideal. Depending on when your toddlers bedtime is (Jonah’s is usually at 6:30pm) you don’t want to book the night flight too late. You want them tired by the time they board but not overtired as then it becomes tedious and so difficult to calm them. Flights between 8:30-9:30pm would be ideal if they are an option to you.

 

Third recommendation: Invest in buying your toddler their own seat on the plane. It does cost extra and makes you cringe a bit – but what price do you put on overall comfortability of your child and yourself and general ease of a flying experience? Buying a ticket for your toddler means they have their own independent space they can stand up on or sit down on to play. It means there is extra room as an entire family in your row – you don’t have to share with a stranger and feel more cramped (this is already an issue enough in economy!) We saw many couples on our flight that were travelling with toddlers. Obviously wanting to cut costs and sit their toddler on their lap. The flight did not go as well for them. The child fussed and kept wanting to break out of their arms, didn’t want to sit on their laps the whole time. I guess this is what starts to happen when they are toddlers – they no longer enjoy long periods of being restrained.  This is not how we wanted Jonah to feel, but instead a little more free to be a slightly independent of his mummy and daddy. He was very contented much of the whole flight because of it. Not to mention the third person in the seat next to these families did not seem all that amused. Obviously you can’t always consider everyone else but it does put pressure on a parent if they would have to constantly consider what the random person next to them must think of their child. I also saw a toddler trying to crawl off her mothers lap onto this random lady next to her. Things like this are bound to happen and it requires a lot more attention from you to make sure this doesn’t happen. As much as we cannot control the noise level of our children or how they react to things at times – we do have to control them clambering and climbing onto other people. It cost us $700 each way for Jonah’s own seat and we agree to this day it was worth every cent. Usually a child on the lap cost about $300 or something similar I believe. Big price difference but we weighed up the pros and cons and the cons far outweighed if we didn’t get that extra seat.

 

Fourth recommendation: Purchase a flight hammock so your toddler can have more leg room AND more importantly lie flat and have a little bed to sleep on. I was advised by my hairdresser only days before I left overseas about a product called “Fly Legs Up” that she was told about by another mum. I immediately looked it up when I got home and did some reading. It is such a helpful travel accessory that every parent should own if they fly with a child. It allows your child extra space and comfortability for sleep and play, it’s compact, lightweight for your carryon luggage and quick to assemble. I ordered that flight hammock so fast and got it express posted and it arrived the next day! We found it to be SO helpful for the flight and 100% believe Jonah slept longer because he was able to lay down. We used a blanket in the plane to make a little cubby for him and to block out some light. It worked a treat. The only thing that woke him a couple of times was when he pilot had to make an announcement and people turning bright lights on.  The Fly Legs Up Hammock was invented by a Gold Coast mother and is a local business so definitely an extra bonus! Here is the link to the website: Fly Legs Up Hammock

 

Travelling with a toddler

 

Fifth recommendation: Ask other parents who have travelled with children to give you any advice they may have. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips. If you’ve never travelled extensively with a toddler you really don’t know all that much. Even writing this now and having flown to England I know a lot less than a couple of parents I’ve spoken to who have travelled frequently and with TWO young kiddies. Reading about something beforehand is a far cry from actually experiencing it. I know this to be true now. So parents who have physically done it may have a couple of very worthwhile tips as opposed to parents who just think something would be a good idea based on little or no experience. Not to mention those parents who haven’t travelled further than interstate. A 2-3 hour flight is a lot easier than a 12+ hour flight. I know I’ve gathered a couple of pointers from parents I have spoken to (mostly social media) who have taken their children from one side of the world to the other. I’ve taken into consideration what they’ve said and not thought I knew it all. It’s been helpful for us to gather ideas.

 

Sixth recommendation: Pack a few little interesting toys or books that your toddler has never seen or played with before. I went to Kmart a week before our holiday and bought a few little toys that were colourful and had different textures so that Jonah could be amused by them on the flight. Truth be told I never needed to pull them out of the backpack on the long 14 hour flight even after he woke up, as he was amused enough by plastic spoons and forks from the meals, sachets of milk and sugar, his tv monitor, headphones etc. However these little toys came in handy on our second 8 hour DAY flight from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow where he spent most of his time awake during 2 naps that he had. I was actually given a few tips about packing some toys for Jonah by other mothers. I was intending to do so anyways but the idea of packing or buying a few toys that Jonah had never seen or played with did not occur to me until I asked for advice from other parents and they gave me that helpful tip. It really helped because when I pulled them out he was excited and engaged immediately, and his attention was drawn to the toy for a decent period of time.

 

Travelling with a toddler
Jonah was so entertained by milk sachets
IMG_9613
Trying to feed his milk sachet to daddy 🙂

 

Seventh recommendation: When flying to Europe take a stop over for a couple of days to minimise fatigue and jet lag for the WHOLE family. This 100% worked for us, we barely got jet lag at all to be honest. It meant we were able to recharge, unwind, get our bearings and not fall behind on any sleep at all really. After the stopover my recommendation is to take your second shorter flight in the middle of the day. For us, the plan for the 2nd flight was to take the trip during the day just before lunch, so Jonah would have his big day nap shortly after take off (which he did – for 1.5 hours, which gave us a small breather), wake up then play the rest of the time and wear himself out before landing at 7:00pm at night. He was so tired by the time we got to our Airbnb accomodation at 8:45pm that he slept 9 hours that night, only waking once. Which is brilliant for a toddler who has just travelled 22 hours and 2 plane rides in 3 days, and slept in many different beds and environments.

 

I hope other parents who want to travel with young children will be able to find this blog helpful! As I have already mentioned – these methods worked very well for us and aren’t necessarily going to work for every child but we believe the overall strategy of night flight, stop over, then day flight is very successful. We barely got any jet lag, our son was content for most of the flight, he slept well under the circumstances and the whole experience was very manageable and with minimal stress. He was a delight to many passengers and the crew who complimented me on his behaviour and happy personality. He did not make things hard on us or others – and aside from this being Jonahs nature in general, it certainly did also come down to careful and strategic planning…and PRAYER 🙏🏼😋 I hope some of these tips help other parents if they want to take long flights with their little ones and give you some options you may not have considered previously.

 

Take care and safe flying

 

Jess xo

 

 

 

 

 

So, when are you having your second baby?

This question can be asked in a few different ways – “When are you having your next one?” or “When do you think you’ll start trying for another baby?” or the very straight forward “Do you want anymore children?

I think every mother (and father) has been asked this question at some point. Whether you only have one child currently, or were asked it years ago when you used to have one child. Some of us get asked this question very quickly after we have had our first child, some get asked months down the track. I was asked when I was planning to have another baby when Jonah was about 2 weeks old! I thought to myself “WOW they are asking me this soon? I haven’t even physically healed yet!!”

Two weeks post partum I was in the midst of feeling very overwhelmed (and honestly not entirely in a good way) at a great number of things. At physically giving birth, letting it sink in that I was a mother to a tiny baby and being completely depended on, my milk coming in, healing from a vaginal birth, waking in the night to feed and no longer being able to get 10 hours sleep………..the list goes on. Jonah was an easy baby but that didn’t mean I didn’t have to adjust – not only as a mother, but transition into being parents together with my husband.

My first thoughts on the whole subject of having a second baby was that there was no way I wanted to go through childbirth again. I had 16 hour labor with Jonah and it was quite difficult. Although the end result was what I prayed for and was relieved about – I still found it to be the most painful experience I have ever been through. I think there is a fear of the unknown when you are pregnant for the first time. Before you experience labor you are a bit scared as you don’t know what to expect or how it will feel. This unknown territory is actually a twisted kind of positive. See now that I have been through it I KNOW what to expect next time. I no longer have that veil of “unknown fear” to keep me guessing or wondering. I know how painful and physically strenuous it is. Mothers have told me over the years that I will forget what childbirth was like as the joy and love of having a child overshadows it and blurs it into oblivion for good. Nope, this hasn’t been true for me. I remember everything. To be honest I dread labor again. I am not sure if this whole “forgetting what labor was like” story is true for some – but for me it is a fantasy. Now that I know what’s to come, it makes me afraid sometimes when I think too much about it. This is something I have to regularly pray about so the Lord can help me overcome it.

Accepting that you must go through it again in order to have a second child is a hurdle in itself. I am still not there yet mentally. There have been times I have wanted to resign to the idea of just having one child. That Jonah will be it for us. Then as time has gone on, I have started to entertain the idea of having a second baby. I have had to pray to the Lord to open my heart and mind to the thought of wanting another child. Deep down I cannot be content with the idea of having one child. When I honestly search my inner thoughts and doubts of having any more children all I can come back with when I examine myself is that my selfishness stands in the way of wanting more.

Motherhood and parenting is about being selfless, NOT selfish. Yes, as parents we do need a little “me” time now and then of course. We need to tend to ourselves and make sure we aren’t stretched too thin, that we don’t always come last in every little thing. However I am talking about as a whole – collectively. Being selfish stopped the moment we gave birth to our baby. Having a second or subsequent children means you relinquish any slither of selfishness that might be leftover. This is done so you can add another to your family, give your first child a sibling they can grow up with. For some mothers this is no challenge at all. They are ready and wanting to be pregnant and bring a second addition into their lives. However for some of us it is a struggle and there are some fears and insecurities attached.

 

IMG_3988
The first time I held my son. I was overwhelmed, relieved it was all over, so ecstatic I had a boy, slightly nervous about whether or not I could cope with the new demands of being a mum. I look at this expression on my face and can instantly see how many thoughts I had running through my head.

 

In those first few weeks and months, all new mothers (and fathers) want to do is get used to their new role and job in life: parenting. We want to tackle and conquer the daily challenges of what a baby brings us. We want to learn to multi task, to be able to cater to our little one and also cater to our husband at the same time. We learn to function throughout the day on a significant amount of less sleep than we have managed previously. We want to nurture our bodies with the right nutrition, we want to experience being able to move and exercise with ease again (without a giant belly!) or in some women’s cases – to rehabilitate depending on their delivery. There are such a large array of things mothers and parents need to prioritise and get used to in those first few months.

Once we find our footing again, thoughts of expanding a family start to come to mind. But not before someone else – whether that be a friend, family member, or total stranger – asks us the questions of “if and when” we are going to have another. The question can stop us in our tracks. It can make us agitated, offended, nervous, anxious or curious. It forces us to think about it, to confront the decision. For some it’s premature, for others they have already been considering it. For myself personally, in those earlier months I had discussed the subject with my husband a handful of times and we always came back undecided, sometimes “no” if i was having an emotional day or sometimes “yes we will have another, but let’s just not start trying now.” Nowadays, 14 months down the track we just casually talk about “when the next baby is here or comes” as we have both come to understand that having 2 children isn’t an awful or terrible thing, it won’t ruin our lives and won’t be a burden. God has softened us to the reality of another sibling for Jonah. However we aren’t quite at the stage of trying right this moment.

Because I was asked so soon after having Jonah if I wanted another baby I have tried my best to be considerate to other new mums and not ask those same questions of them. Of course I have asked a couple of close friends. Usually I say “I realise this is way too soon but……” so that the mother I am asking doesn’t consider me rude. It has made me understand why some women have asked me this same question – morbid curiosity. It gets the better of us all and we want to know the answer. However there is a time and place to ask of course, and that isn’t a mere 2 weeks after she has had her first baby! Not all women feel overwhelmed by motherhood entirely – but some of us do. This should be kept in mind before launching into any questions or conversations about adding a child or children to the family. I suppose we ask this questions of other mums because we want to open up the discussion platform. It helps us clarify in our minds where we stand on the subject ourselves. It helps us brainstorm, consider things from another point of view. Sometimes talking to another mother about having another child can put our own minds at ease. Sometimes it can do the opposite and make us anxious. I guess my point is this discussion about having more children can occur for many reasons and these questions are also asked for many reasons. Questions asked about subsequent children asked prematurely can trigger negative responses or anxiety, and it can snowball from there. Anyhow is it necessary to start thinking of having another baby immediately after your first one is born? We all have different levels of comfortability in thinking about this and reach that in our own time.

I know I have wanted to look to other mothers and their answers about having more children as I am searching for some sort of clarity for myself. Most of the time I came back with no change in my tug of war thinking. It’s only by praying about it and discussing it with my husband that I have come to feel peace about having another baby.

~

I mentioned above that Phil and I had come to realise that having another child won’t ruin our lives. Let me elaborate on this. Over many years of observation and talking to other mothers/parents with more than one child I had come to the realisation that many of these parents did not seem happy. They were disgruntled, stressed out, even bitter. There was a noticeably large rift between them and their husband/partner due to the pressure of multiple children. This was not always my conclusion but their own admittance. So often have I heard “wait until you have a second child. That’s when the mayhem starts.” “Kiss any time together goodbye” “We have drifted apart since the kids.” Usually a substantial verbal outpouring about endless battles and struggles with everyday family life and their marriage follows. They haven’t had much positive to say about their significant other. Comments flood in about how their children are unruly or brats. There is so much yelling, fighting and screaming! Listening and watching this has made me fear adding to our own family. I have let other peoples experiences and advice turn me off or question having more children.

I have had to just turn my back on this habit of listening and observing other parents with multiple children. I can’t predict my own family situation through watching their experiences or allow myself to develop an unhealthy fear based on their personal circumstances, and neither can anyone else. I’ve had to learn to mature in this regard – not always take in so much of what other people say to me or how they act in front of me. At some point I have had to let go of it, instead of taking it all on and trying to mentally process it. Is it possible that there are plenty of other mothers with one child out there that have done something similar to me – developed a fear or uncertainty about having a second baby based or stories or feedback from other parents we know or meet along the way? Obviously there are a good percentage of mothers who couldn’t care less about the negative stories they hear, as they want a large family and nothing deters them from this dream. I on the other hand have been deterred by outsiders. This has meant that I have stewed over things I haven’t needed to. I know that there would be other mums out there that can relate to this.

I don’t want to accept the fear that I will grow cold in my marriage when we have another baby. I cannot make those assumptions, as what are they based on? My husbands current relationship with me, his habits and behaviour give me NO reason to have any doubts. He is selfless, supporting, shows initiative and genuinely wants to be a present and active part of our family. So God has shown me I need not fear having another child based on these hollow fears, it’s merely the enemy trying to oppress me with negativity and doubt so I cannot enjoy a family life of freedom.

Something that often comes to mind with many first time mothers I am sure is the thought of “can I love another child as I love my firstborn?” I think this same thought about Jonah. It’s hard to imagine loving another baby/child as much as I love him. Can such a bond be repeated? I am yet to experience this but I have heard time and time again that your heart simply expands further to love and care for more children. It happens naturally and willingly. A second child is not meant to replace or sideline your first child, but add more love, personality and memories to your small family unit. Not to mention company for your first child. You go from being a small family to a larger family. I do not have to take away love or decrease my level of love for Jonah when we have a second child. My heart expands. It’s because of my love for Jonah that I have wanted to have another. Love creates and inspires more love.

Another fear of mine has been the fact that I will not cope with 2 children as there have been times within myself that I have struggled having 1. I have not submitted to my new job and role as a mother completely. I have come to realise this very recently, and I believe the Lord has opened by eyes to this fact. There have been moments that I have struggled to grasp this new motherhood journey in my life, and even at times have wanted to fight against it. I have felt being a mother is inadequate and falls short of a real job or calling on a woman’s life. Occasionally I feel I have wanted to break free and do something else to feel fulfilled at times when I have felt trapped by it. I have feared these feelings and actions will continue after I have had another baby and consume me, affecting my ability to parent. My sister recently reminded me that according to Gods Word (the Bible) there is no GREATER calling than being a mother. There is no more important institution than motherhood. It is a holy privilege from God.

 

John 16:21 – “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”

Psalm 127:3 – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

 

At the end of the day, it’s no one else’s business when you decide to have another child. They can ask these questions all they like but there should be no obligation you feel to answer them. I admittedly have felt I have needed to give an answer to people when they ask. There was even a point when Jonah was about 6 months old I thought briefly “ah stuff it I will just have another baby right away, smash it out and get it over with!” so I could get the difficult physical side of pregnancy over and done with. This wasn’t sincerely what I wanted though, I just gave this answer to a couple of people at the time. I felt pressure to tell people that yes, I wanted another baby. I felt guilty about my fears of not wanting any more children. However now I can talk about my transition from not wanting another baby momentarily based on my fears, to now having my mind and heart opened to the idea.

That doesn’t mean that I want to be pregnant today. It just means I have gone from being really doubtful and negative about it, to being accepting of it. I do still dread childbirth, and even to an extent the pregnancy. I had a smooth and effortless pregnancy with Jonah. I looked after myself, didn’t get morning sickness, didn’t catch a cold or flu, trained up to 39 weeks and didn’t gain an excess amount of weight. I got my fitness and athletic physique back, and most of my strength. Taking this into account though still doesn’t diminish how physically hard and draining the ENTIRE process is. Can I do it all a second time and successfully look like my old self again? These thoughts come up and I mull over them. It can, and still does seem daunting at times to me. Occasionally I have wondered “I did this once, could I do it all as well the second time?” So often we hear that it’s much harder to “bounce back” after a second pregnancy. Training or making it any sort of priority in your weekly schedule becomes harder with 2 children as opposed to 1. Everything is more difficult. Will I have that level of commitment?  Self doubt can momentarily creep in.

I just have to keep thinking “one day at a time. One month at a time.” God’s timing is perfect when it comes to having children and I must trust that He is in control and will prepare me. As I grow and mature as a wife, mother and a woman – so will my ability to multi task, prioritise, organise and commit. I see how much I have grown from motherhood thus far, how much I have matured and learned. This is the beginning and there is more to come, I don’t doubt that.  It’s ok to feel you aren’t ready just yet, however don’t dismiss the idea of another baby just based on external fears or what you have heard and seen from others. Don’t dismiss it based on the fact it’s physically difficult and takes serious commitment. As women we have amazing determination and do recover and get ourselves to where we want to be after babies. We all continue in personal growth as we journey throughout motherhood. With each subsequent child we adapt. We manage. We can even thrive.

 

 

J xx

Small suitcase essentials!

Our 7 month Europe trip is fast approaching with under 2 months until we depart!!

Passports – check. Phone – check. Laptop – check. Camera – check. International drivers license – check. Some items are easy to remember and are a no brainer when it comes to packing.

We haven’t started the bulk of our packing as yet but I am starting to make a mental note of the SMALL items I mustn’t forget to pack and couldn’t live without! These items could be purchased over in England when we arrive, but considering we have a 13 hour flight, 3 days in Abu Dhabi, then another 8 hour flight – I am quite certain the first thing I don’t want to be doing as soon as we arrive in the UK is go shopping for these items. Not to mention it may slip my mind amongst the dreaded jet lag recovery, entertaining Jonah and endeavouring to inspect and purchase a camper van with 5 days of arriving before we depart for Belgium 🇧🇪 😮

These few items are my travel essentials. I may amend this list for our next trip wherever that may be, but for now these are the little necessities I am making a list of. I hope this may help any others that might be planning a long trip, especially those with children to consider!

 

  1. Dental Floss

I am very particular about my oral hygiene and see dental floss as an absolute essential. I plan on taking a box in my larger suitcase and also a box of floss on my carryon luggage. Seeing as I will be eating on the plane it will be needed. It’s one of those small and easy to loose personal hygiene items that you will kick yourself if you forget or don’t have it on hand. Who wants a large particle of food lodged between your teeth that you cannot remove even with a toothpick? This is something that would bother me greatly, so that’s why it’s top of my list. Obviously a toothbrush is an item that will be automatically packed but dental floss is often overlooked.

2. Essential Oils

The medicinal and health benefits of essential oils are extensive. Upon researching them recently I discovered I must invest in buying several of them to aid in symptoms such as jet lag, fatigue and potential stomach upsets to name a couple. They also are fantastic for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Seeing as we will be travelling to many countries (approximately 15) with different climates and potential health cautions we may face, we think it’s crucial to carry oils with us to help cure or surprise any symptoms that may arise in that time. In our family we always opt for natural remedies as opposed to seeing a doctor or taking antibiotics. However it’s not common that any of us (including Jonah) are sick, thankfully we are all very healthy and have never had anything serious, and a cold or flu is extremely rare. It’s sensible however to be prepared incase any of us do become symptomatic so we don’t have to rush off and try and find a chemist

3. Vitamin C powder

Same as above really, for health reasons. Vitamin C powder is something great to supplement with especially on a plane ride where you are in close proximity to other people in a confined air conditioned space. We plan on taking Vitamin C a couple of days leading up to our departure and during the flight as a cold/flu symptom preventative. Jonah will obviously get it through my breast milk. We take a high quality powder we purchase from a health food store (not a mainstream chemist) in powder form so it is more readily absorbed.

4. Universal wall plug adapter

This will transform the voltage from a particular power outlet into one appliance you can use in any country. Very handy to have on your travels and will always be needed for things like phone and laptop chargers.

5. Nail clippers

Jonah’s little nails are like sharp needles and they grow at an extraordinary rate haha. I am forever cutting them, and my own as they also grow so quickly. I don’t like my nails getting too long for hygiene purposes so try and keep them clipped. Once again thinking of hygiene is so critical when travelling and so many germs are stored under the finger nails (gross i know) and it’s just another little precaution I like to take. It’s one of those easy to forget items that would probably be a pain to “dash out and get” once you are in another country. So it will be going in that toiletry bag!

6. Sunscreen and FACE sunscreen

Because I break out from using standard sunscreen on my face, I will definitely be sure to be packing my own facial sunscreen. I have bought a natural facial sunscreen called Little Urchin from my local health food store. Because it only uses all natural ingredients it should be safe for Jonah also. We will be outdoors for the majority of each day so aside from a hat face sunscreen will be my biggest protector from the sun. A bottle of each will be put in the suitcase.

7. Lip Balm

Being on a plane make your skin dry out and your lips do become chapped. I can’t stand not having natural lip balm on hand. I intend to bring a couple (they are easy to lose!) both on my carryon luggage and also in my main suitcase, preferably one with an SPF. Paw paw ointment is also a handy one to use as it has multiple uses aside from using on chapped lips. It also caters for insect bites and burns to the skin etc, so I will also pack one of these as I am not sure if they sell this in Europe!

8. Hair ties

Not just for myself but for hubby haha! Phil is growing his hair whilst overseas (he’s already started doing so) because he doesn’t want to have to get a haircut every 3rd week. Growing his hair is low maintenance and saves us money. So the condition is that he must tie his hair up in a little pony or man bun (*cringe* i know :S don’t judge me! HAHA!) My hair is quite long now and I need strong hair ties that are hard to come by. I go to Priceline where there is an impressive selection of thick and strong hair ties. A fresh pack of these and a few smaller black hair ties for Phil should last us the whole trip. Nothing worse than snapping a hair tie with no spares on hand :O

9. Jojoba Oil/Natural skincare

I use jojoba oil as a facial moisturiser and it’s an essential as far as my skincare routine goes. I get my oil from The Jojoba Company Australia as they do a very high quality oil. I struggle with my skin and am still prone to break outs so have found jojoba oil to really aid with that. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and regular use can control acne to a degree. It mimics the skins natural sebum levels and is a natural skin conditioner, and also contains Vitamin A and E. It can be used to soothe chapped lips, psoriasis (Phil occasionally gets this from chemicals in hand washes etc) it can be used on cracked feet and dry hands, reduces the affects of sunburn plus more. As you can see it has multiple uses so this is why it’s such a handy oil to carry with you. As much as I would love to take a selection of natural oils with me I realise I need to condense it down as my toiletry bag is only so big! Jojoba oil, a few natural soaps and body moisturiser will be my main go to skin products the entire trip.

10. Baby wash and moisturiser

I refuse to use any chemical based washes and moisturisers on Jonah’s skin and I can’t be certain that I will find a reliable brand that I can trust overseas to use on him at such short notice. So I intend on taking my own. I will take a combination of MooGoo and Four Cow Farm products that only use 100% natural and organic ingredients that are safe for Jonah’s still soft and baby like skin. My friend Bella introduced me to the Four Cow Farm brand and it’s been by far a favourite. I have used the baby lotion and Baby Wash since Jonah was born – and a little goes a long way.

11. Wide brimmed hat AND cap

I think hubby and I need one of each of these! Wide brimmed for the ultra sunny weather and days at the beach, and a cap for the general exploring indoor and outdoor days. I find a larger wider brimmed hat for exclusive beach days gives more protection from the sun but they aren’t as convenient as a cap or as easy to fit in a day bag. So if we bring one of each then we cater for all occasions! As for Jonah he just has a little hat with a brim.

12. Child walking harness

This may seem a little “dog on leash” for some parents but for us it is crucial we pack one on our trip. If you have a toddler it is something to consider investing in and they aren’t that expensive. They wrap around your child’s whole torso and buckle up, and usually have a little fury animal on the back to make it fun. One thing we are being mindful of is the safety of Jonah whilst we go exploring everyday. He loves his independence and likes to walk around outside the pram. This way we can allow him some freedom yet can be at ease that he won’t get kidnapped. Might sound a bit over the top but yes we do think Jonah would get kidnapped. It means if I turn to quickly look at something, or take a quick photo, I can hold onto the end of the harness and be able to feel that he is only a couple of feet from me. A very useful item to pack for peace of mind and safety of a toddler!

13. Sippy cup

Jonah’s trusty sippy cup will be far better than a random water bottle! He will need this daily and especially to use on the plane to sip on and assist with aiding the cabin pressure on his ears as we take off and land. We will also take a bottle for his day time milk feed. Can’t forget these 2 baby essentials to pack in the carryon bag.

14. Tea Tree Oil

Useful for cuts, bites and stings – a great antiseptic oil to have on hand for these purposes plus many more. I use it for my skin when it breaks out. Another addition to the toiletry bag.

15. Resistance bands

A great accessory to use for training and exercising when you are on a long holiday/trip like we are. We obviously cannot always get to a gym as we will be on the road in a camper coming and going from places. A gym might be accessible once a week at best but if you’re travelling like this you need to do your own workouts and training. Resistance bands are lightweight and compact to pack in the suitcase and are still an effective way to train in their own right. You don’t want to lose all your muscle tone and fitness whilst on a holiday right??

16. Wireless bluetooth speaker

We love our music and sermon podcasts so this is a must have. We have a large Marley bluetooth speaker for home use but we are buying a very tiny compact speaker to take with us so we can play our music in the van, out at a day picnic or train ride etc. An item to consider if you’re wanting to listen to anything as a couple or a family socially.

17. Pain relief inc baby panadol

Good to have readily on hand for a sudden headache or in Jonoah’s case, teething symptoms.

18. Pen and paper

For obvious reasons, a pen is always handy for filling out forms (customs etc) and paper to take notes, or journal in.

19. Nappies

We plan on packing a 50 pack of nappies so we don’t have to buy any on the stop over in Abu Dhabi and will still have some for a few days after we land in the UK. The last thing we need is to run out in transit. Not to mention they are likely to be a very expensive item to buy from an airport!

20. Bible or a good book

This one is obvious, not only something to read but something to live by – for us anyway. We will pack a book or 2 for each of us including some children’s books for Jonah for his amusement.

 

~

Hope this list might be a good point of reference for anyone planning a holiday and you find something on here that may have skipped your mind to pack.

 

Safe travels ✌🏼✈️🚐

 

J xx

 

 

Mums behaving badly

I’ve wanted to write a blog on this subject for quite some time but wanted to wait until I had a bit more time under my belt as a mother before I did. After all, once noticing that the world of motherhood wasn’t what I thought it would be from a few weeks post partum, I had to allow myself the leniency of “what if you are wrong?” So I have given it a few more months of observation. In this time I have discovered that my earliest discoveries about this new mum world are correct. Brace yourself it’s a long blog 😜

I would like to note here before mothers with multiple children criticise me for still being such a new mum – that YES, I do admit I am still just that. As I’ve said before I cannot be any further along in my journey than I am at present. I am still fresh as far as experience goes. I have much to learn overall and in no way am I a perfect mother. I have often voiced that I don’t think I’m a very good mother in some regards and it HASN’T come naturally to me. So in writing about this subject I am not putting my mothering skills on a pedestal in any way. I am shining light onto a subject that parallels actual mothering, my intention is to unveil and openly discuss it. I’d like to fall into the category of a realist blogger so I feel subjects that are uncomfortable such as these should be spoken about publically and am happy to write about them even if people disagree or don’t like me for it. This blog is more so my experiences and observations of mothers and women themselves and how I have found them to behave. It is also mixed with stories I have had certain friends disclose to me about their experiences with mums.

Some mothers are, without a doubt, the bitchiest, most backstabbing and 2 faced group of people I have ever encountered in my life. They relish in gossip and drama, they compete with each other, they subtly make each other feel inadequate, they team up, they twist your words and use it as harmful gossip, they body shame each other, they exclude other mothers and they create and maintain clicks amongst each other, and they give forceful, wrong and even at times harmful advice to each other. Even worse than this, they even try to sabotage each other. Fortunately I have not fallen prey to this, only observed it in the early stages happen to others.

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Harsh meme but oh so true for countless mothers I’ve met or interacted with.

I hope there aren’t any women reading this blog coming back thinking “really? Is this sort of thing actually happening?” I cannot for a second imagine that mothers could be that naïve and don’t know or see what is so blatantly obvious about how mums behave badly. Whether you’ve been subjected to bad treatment or have witnessed it happen to other mothers – one must acknowledge it happens and it’s a growing issue.

I do acknowledge that to every negative story there is a positive – some women have found large amounts of support from other mothers through mothers groups, mums and bubs fitness classes, corporate mothers events and more commonly social media. Personally I have encountered and met a small handful of genuine and beautiful mothers on social media and in “real life” that I have found to be lovely, encouraging and supportive. There have only been a few though, and these mothers aren’t clicky and are often lone wolves themselves in some regards. Perhaps that’s why they are genuinely nice?

I have also met a few mums who maintain they have never been caught up in “mum drama” and haven’t ever been either obviously or subtly excluded, bullied or shamed in any way. They acknowledge it happens but deny having anything to do with it or are aware of the extent. Out of these women I see maybe half are genuine and have indeed had very little exposure to this toxic “world”. The other half just say that to try and parade a sense of superiority over you. As in – “wow you must be such a screw up if you’re involved in all this” and act as if they are so far above it or removed from it. Some of these particular women I have seen subtly belittle other mums or ooze that self-superiority over them. But they are artful and duplicitous about it. So yes naturally they haven’t been on the other end of it because they are the perpetrators! Go figure!

I am pointing out the 2 words I continue to use when it comes to mothers behaving badly – SUBTLY and OBVIOUSLY. Because there are 2 categories and some of us have been subjected to both and others just one type. Both are awful, but it’s the subtle category that drives me insane. It makes you question your sanity until that particular nasty mother comes out and DOES do something obvious and then you have that morbidly triumphant moment of “YES, I was right and I could sense she had a problem with me all along!!” Happy dance? 💃 Hmmm probably not quite haha but it is a relief to know you’re not assuming things and going insane!

Obviously I am one of those mothers who have not only felt but HAVE been excluded both conveniently and deliberately, both subtly and obviously. I have had my words twisted, been gossiped about, and have had other mums compete with me. I am not ashamed, embarrassed or so over confident that I will not admit to this.

I would say I am a confident woman in my own right and don’t struggle with low self esteem or question my status as a woman. This is because I have Christ in my life and He is the unwavering and unshakable foundation of me. I know I am accepted and loved unconditionally and He has transformed me from who I used to be. I also have been undeservedly blessed with a husband that surpasses all normal standards for husbands. In marrying Phil I also have further developed that confidence that I am loved, admired and found beautiful in my own way and own right. I no longer need or care for the opinions of others to validate myself. However in saying all this, there are occasional moments where I do experience confusion, anger and even hurt at how mothers have treated me. It has caused me to not trust the majority of those I meet – despite the appearance that I may. I am a socially engaging and vocal person, so others perceive this as me trusting everyone and perhaps being in tight with a group. This isn’t the case. Despite being confident in who I am it does not mean I do not feel isolated, excluded and lonely at times. It doesn’t mean I kid myself and allow myself to be deluded by the notion I am well liked. I know I’m not and I am ok with it, and I even like this about myself at times. I will never change myself to become more likeable to others. I am not a conformist. However this doesn’t mean I appreciate or am unphased by the treatment I have received from other mothers.

I have had to discuss this subject with my husband at length and he has given me some sound advice about how to handle mean mothers and even opened my eyes to some things. He has even had to set me straight at times. He often can see more in a situation and a scenario that I can, and he will often read women more thoroughly than I will. He sits back and quietly observes where as sometimes I get sidetracked by the excitement and can only observe with one eye. I am sure I am not the only one with a husband that has this trait!? He has vocalized with me that he has witnessed mothers behaving the way I have spoken of, and has fittingly said “it is a whole other world” of which he is glad not to be part of.

Recently I have come to experience other mothers directly lie and bitch about me and twist my words to make me out to be the demon. This has been a new experience as a mother but not a foreign one to me as a woman altogether. There are obviously certain things like dealing with awful social media trolls and being body shamed that I haven’t experienced enough to the extent to personally write about (there have been a couple of minor episodes but nothing major!) I do sympathise greatly to those mothers that have had to endure this and it’s utterly hurtful in its own right, but I am not touching on that much in depth today.

I wish I could caution all women and tell them appearances can be deceiving and things are never as they seem with mothers. Gosh if only they were! How blissfully simple life would be! If you want me to count how many mothers smile at me and mooch over my son calling him cute – then there are TONS. It’s one thing to call someone’s child cute and leave a little love heart emoji on their Instagram picture or approach them in person and ask for a cuddle. It’s another entirely to treat the mother of that child in a pleasant manner and go out of your away to be genuine to her, to acknowledge her. Compliments about your child or the outfit you’re wearing in no way symbolizes that mother likes you or accepts you, or even wants to get to know you and include you. I discovered this early on.

I do see some mothers that are easily flattered and believe if another mother compliments their child that this means they are liked and part of the click/group. HAHA. No. It means they think your child is cute and no more. There can be that separation between your child and you personally. They might say your child/baby is adorable but secretly think you’re a mole. OR they are jealous or threatened by you for some reason. These reasons vary so much I would have to type a 3000 word blog just to go into them. But believe me reasons for some women not liking, accepting or excluding other mothers can range from ones appearance to someone’s wealth status. It can pendulum from disagreement on beliefs and how you raise your children, to your relationship status and how happy you are in your life compared to them.

I will touch on a couple of these reasons for exclusions. I was warned by a much older mother that I should be careful how much I disclose to other mothers about how happy and content I am in the personal life. As in my strong and secure marriage and the fact I respect and am still IN LOVE with my husband. I needed no explanation from her saying this and cottoned on immediately. The sad fact is – If you express your happiness in life too much, and don’t have anything too negative to say in general discussion with other mothers who are experiencing hardship or are disgruntled – be prepared to be shunned or excluded on that account. Be prepared to be as ostracised by this as you would be for having a different belief system or religion to other mums. Prepare that they will grow to be jealous of you. Women all love to get together to discuss hardships. So they should to a degree as it’s what friends can be for. I do feel many of these group verbal bashings of men should be kept to one on one coffee dates though, not broadcasted as public knowledge. But we all know mothers who take this to the extreme and it’s almost like a competition of who has it hardest and who has the greater woe. You don’t have a woe to talk about? Well, “aren’t you little miss perfect??”

Further on from that, there are those mothers (not meaning to generalise but in my experience I have found most to be mothers with 2 children or more) that are married and on face value like to make out they have a home life to be envied. Not too long after you get to know them more they start bitching about their husbands. There literally are only a very small number of women (talking real life) that haven’t bitched about their husbands or partners to me. These men would be shocked if they knew what was being openly spoken about! Their laziness, their inability to fulfill their obligations as a father, their lack of romance, never showing initiative, not appreciating enough, having a wandering eye for other women…….the list goes on and on. Before you know it, there’s a larger than life bitchfest going on and you have nothing to contribute because you aren’t having issues at home, you don’t hate your husband and you don’t find him lacking. So you are now an outcast because you won’t delve into negative slander about a man in your life. You feel the silent push of exclusion happening because you have nothing to add to the conversation.

Another example of exclusions: A group of mothers will arrange catch-up’s amongst themselves right in front of other mums yet not invite 1 or 2 particular mothers. I’ve seen it happen to others and it’s happened to me. You think you might be included in a particular group yet you see photos or videos on social media of outings you’ve been completely excluded from. Not a mention of an invitation. This is not always a nice feeling trust me! You get those awkward moments where 2 mums are going to have a casual unplanned coffee catch-up and you’re kind of just standing there as they talk about it – then they turn to you and say “oh…..you can come if you want.” Ahhhh the fake pleasantries. It’s the backhanded invite where they are probably said under their breath “please say no, please say no.” Yes, this has happened to me. Then there are more major invitations and events that you were told you would be invited to, then there is a change of date and venue and you weren’t told about or reissued an invite. Awkward. And hurtful. Then because you weren’t there you become even more of an outcast. Yet again, this has happened to me.

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Motherhood can be like the movie “Mean Girls” but with designer nappy bags, mum buns and a baby on the hip.

A special mention needs to be made of those mothers that compete with other mothers. Being a mother that trains and lives an active lifestyle I am exposed to many “fit mums” both in real life and on social media. I witness the competitiveness more than anything in this arena. This is one of the ways that mums behave badly that is generally as subtle as they come. Women silently compete with each other over who gets back into shape faster post partum, who is fitter and can lift a certain amount, who had less ab separation, who can do more exercises than others. One way some (more commonly instafamous women) like to compete is by excessively flaunting and parading what they have physically in order to try and make other mothers feel inadequate. I’ve touched on this subject before. Every woman has had a different pregnancy and post partum journey and should be credited for training throughout pregnancy and post baby. Absolutely. But there is some face rubbing that goes on for sure. Those women that peacock and constantly overexpose themselves usually have something amiss in their personal lives. Validation and love from strangers and peers is necessary in order to maintain self-preservation for these women.

Some mothers in the fitness industry that I have recently been in connection with will openly “bag out” other mothers for not being fit in their eyes, for not being at a particular standard. They criticise a particular body part of that woman, or her training style. I do have some strong opinions about what I deem as fit and strong but I don’t always disclose it. My own personal opinions line up with what I try to achieve fitness wise. My opinion and goal is my standard, and I am entitled to it, and often just keep it to myself. I do feel the word “fit” is thrown around too often yes, however I don’t appreciate people in the fitness industry openly paying out on others who aren’t to their standard of what they believe as fit. Particularly mean are those that pay out on other mothers that are in the industry to make a living. I have recently terminated training at a facility for one of many reasons but this being one of them. The talk about other mothers in the industry got too much and I knew it was a toxic environment and I could fall prey to further gossip if I wasn’t careful. Often these fit mums believe they are superior in their level of fitness but I know that there is always someone fitter and more capable than they are and perhaps one day they will be humbled. Once again, usually these women lack something in their personal lives and like to big note themselves above other active mums to reinforce with themselves that they are important and matter. Often these woman have stale personal relationships and also fall into the category of women to bitch about their husbands and partners as I stated above.

Where you train and where you socialize – and with whom, really does matter. Choose your tribe and your environment carefully. A mother can quickly be pulled down into a gossip fest if not careful, or land herself in hot water. I am no exemption to this and have answered questions I thought were harmless and admitted to knowing certain information about someone that was of interest to another mother. I guess ill admit I’m not always on guard and sometimes a simple questioning tactic escapes me and I’m like “yeah, I know her.” Or something like that. Boom. Now they want to know more and I should have seen it coming. Mothers delve for a reason. I am yet to become more experienced at detection. Aren’t we all to some degree?

Sometimes conversations can take a drastic turn and suddenly it’s almost too late to change subject! I have stated my opinions on things out loud to the wrong people and have had my words twisted to a point where something I did say quite neutrally was misquoted into making me a totally horrible person. Mothers will gang up on others and start spreading lies to try and drag another mothers name through the mud. I’m learning more and more to say less in a group environment where there are more prying eyes and ears, and keep anything beyond surface chat to a private 1 on 1. Women want a “safe place” to chat – well these days seek a counsellor and pay for that service because to me, no environment is safe to talk about personal matters as they can get manipulated, twisted and thrown back in your face. Women in the fitness industry want to know about other women in the industry and with the wave of “fit mums” that are emerging so is this incessant need for other mothers to compare and compete, find out about each others personal lives. This is one of those scenarios where you’d have to be involved in the fitness industry to know what I mean. Competing for fitness levels, 6 packs and tight booty’s is not the only form of competing mothers delve into.

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This truthful quote came from my husbands mouth only a few days ago to me about mums we have interacted with. I then found it online.

Mothers also compete when it comes to their offspring. It’s quite disgusting really. They treat and talk about their children as if they are a direct extension of their entire being. They try and live vicariously through them to an extent. They act as if the developments their child makes physically and mentally is an addition to their own achievements and ego. They state things that their child has done that they know yours hasn’t. “Oh my son walked at 9 months” – how often I’ve heard that one. “My daughters were climbing things at 4 months.” Yes, I’ve actually heard that. Not sure if that’s even possible but it was said. As if it’s a reflection on their own physical condition? Yep, ok.

Is your son doing this yet?” “Is your child sleeping through?” “Are they rolling over yet” blah blah blah you can hear the condescending tones behind their questions. Many of us can relate. They ask these questions because they cannot wait to brag about how quickly their child did this or that. As if it makes them a better mother and their child is more advanced than yours? So terrible. Then queue the fake reassuring “oh don’t worry, he will get there” type comments. These comments aren’t meant at all and don’t come from genuine encouragement, let me assure you. It’s just a way they can close the conversation. Everything they wanted to achieve has been done – to compete with you and let you know your child is below theirs in development of something. I see this all the time its terrible!

A wise mother in her 50’s said to me late last year “you know when your child is 18 it won’t matter in the slightest how old they were when they walked or crawled.” Too right. So these silly competitive stories mothers tell about their children will have no relevance later in life and gives NO indication of how their child will turn out, or how their mothering skills are. I got a bit of a complex earlier days about Jonah’s abilities based on what a couple of mothers said to me. Now I see through it and just shut it down, or ignore it. I then identify there is an underlying issue with the mother. I encourage other mums who have been through the same to come to that same conclusion – and quickly. It’s just another ploy to compete and make you feel less than them. They have problems. Don’t befriend that mother if she is saying things like that. Best to steer clear.

I was deceived into thinking that once you’re a mother you’re all in it together, you’re all automatically accepted and part of a universal group of mature attitudes and ways of behaving and thinking. WOW I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s like high school magnified and amplified. The sheer amount of 2 faced backstabbing behaviour I see regularly has quickly made me see that my assumptions before I started my motherhood journey were almost laughable. Welcome to the cesspool of a large percentage of women who are toxic, bitchy, conniving and lying gossipers with virtually no genuineness to them whatsoever. Shocking but true statement. I’m always stunned by the 2 faced behaviour I see, and this proves I am not desensitized to it yet (is that a positive? I can’t be sure!)

Social media gives even more opportunity for 2-faced women to gain momentum. I see women I know liking and writing lovely comments on other mothers photos – and I’m instantly confused and almost angry at their level of audacity!! Based on things I’ve heard her say about this mother in my mind I’m almost screaming “oh my gosh you don’t even like her!!!” Yet this mother on the receiving end has no idea. Well maybe I shouldn’t say that. Maybe she does, and it’s a case of playing that mother back, beating her at her own game. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer kind of thing? Who knows, it makes my head hurt. On a side note – at least I KNOW I’m not always well liked. Some mothers walk around as if no one has a bad word to say about them. Oh how wrong they are. However they say ignorance is bliss. Is it best not to know?

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The 2 faced game is as common as garden weeds. Truth 🙌🏼

What can a mother do if she has been ill treated by other mothers in any of the above examples I’ve given? (I am sure there are quite a few ways I still haven’t mentioned!) Well you can approach this particular mother and tackle it head on, or the entire group. Call them on their unfair, immature or cruel behaviour publically and hope that the heated chat leads to closure. Mothers who prey on other mums never like to be exposed publically and often try and play victim if push comes to shove. Confronting them may succeed but on the other hand it may lead to open denial and more lies could follow, entangling you further. You possibly wont get to the bottom of it.

You could always try the investigative approach when it comes to discovering lies and gossip (which I have tried before) – If it’s a case of “she said versus she said” when the truth comes out, I would examine the facts carefully and weigh up what was said, who started it, the motives and who had more to gain from it. You can try and decipher who is loyal to you, who is being truthful. Sometimes this strategy works, if you’re good at being objective and have all the facts and information about this particular mother that has said or done something wrong by you. But it’s a time consuming process.

What I have started to do is simply distance myself from these types of mothers. Not associate with them any further or remove myself from the environment where I was interacting with them. Usually once this happens there is a knee jerk reaction on their part. They may have a go at you when they detect you’ve gone “off” them or unveiled them. They may delete or block you on social media (this is always a laugh to me as it completely cements their guilt and their position towards you deep down) or they may start rumours about you furthermore. Their behaviour there afterwards will completely indicate what sort of person they truly are, and how petty they can be. If they truly missed your company and interaction they would approach you respectfully and maturely and ask what they had done to offend. However this is rare that someone would do this, mother or not. Never be an enabler and tolerate mistreatment from any mother, despite a possible attachment to the circle of women or environment you’ve come to enjoy that she dominates or circulated in. Complete extraction is the only remedy.

After you’ve been mistreated, excluded, gossiped about or bitched about by mothers all you can do is be grateful you know what they are like sooner than later and avoid others that show similar traits and behaviours you meet in future. Perhaps learn not to try and befriend the “queen bee” in the room but the mother that is quietest and doesn’t appear to have minions following her around. Befriend the lone wolf so to speak. She may add more value to your life than the mothers that are always bitching and talking, the mothers that want to excessively verbal vomit about their personal lives, the mothers who seem to know the latest dramas about others, the mothers who appear to have colourful social lives. Don’t let appearances deceive you. Don’t let someone’s social media account deceive you either.

My final conclusion is to be slow to make friends and examine the ones you have already made. Sometimes developing a “mum crush” for someone way too quickly can have you backpedaling faster than you can manage when you find out what she is really like on close acquaintance. Also, be open minded to the fact that just because a particular mother is nice to you, doesn’t mean she is that way to other mums. She may not find anything about you that is a threat to her and she may not see you as vulnerable. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t prey on or mistreat other mums (past or present.) Everyone has different experiences with different people. If you do find out that a mother you like has bullied, excluded, shamed or deeply hurt another mother you know or meet – reconsider your friendship and alliance with her. Don’t be so blinded by a friendship that you can’t see that person has flaws. We all do really.

I’ve actually befriended a mum bully before (only to an extent thankfully!) without knowing right away. Even up until recently. More than once. But the truth really does come out eventually and you can free yourself from the friendship. Always remember after you’ve been burned by a mum behaving badly – her behaviour is actually because of something more deep seeded that she is yet to deal with or overcome in her own life. Some sort of insecurity or endless inadequacy that she feels towards herself or her personal life. Sometimes it can stem from bitterness and jealousy because of something she is going through behind closed doors. Sometimes mothers are just bitchy, jealous and competitive by nature and there is no family grievance that has triggered her mean spirit. There are a few possibilities but do know and find comfort in this: It comes down to this simple and well-known fact of the matter – it is not you. It’s them.

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The bible warns us about the dangers of bad friend choices.

Love to all the mothers out there that can relate to any of the above. Never tolerate any form of bullying and don’t let your silence endorse the behaviour either if you witness it. Support other mums you know of that have been subjected to nasty behavior and raise awareness that subtle and obvious mum bullying, shaming, exclusions and backstabbing gossip is not ok.

Jess xx

My joy of breastfeeding

I uploaded a photo of me breastfeeding my son well over 4 months ago and did a small write up under the photo of my thoughts towards breastfeeding and how they had changed in the short few weeks of becoming a mum. Being that it was just World Breastfeeding Week I thought I’d elaborate more on my experience with breastfeeding my son using what I originally wrote as a template – explaining how and why I went from being feared of it, to it becoming something I now enjoy immensely and have gradually come to love!

 

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The first breastfeeding photo I took in March, Jonah was about 5-6 weeks old and I felt to write a post about how much my views on breastfeeding had changed!

 

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I’ve taken a few lovely breastfeeding photos over the months. I love looking back on them 💜

 

Breastfeeding was the one thing after labour that I was dreading the most about motherhood. I dreaded it more than tears and tantrums, more than the fear of not bouncing back to my pre baby body and having abs anymore, loosing my high level of fitness, even more than sleepless nights and over tiredness (I’ve been very precious with my sleep for years and dreaded not getting the same 9-10 hours per night so it’s a big deal to fear anything more than that!) I know this all sounds rather dramatic and my list of anxieties were long but I am just being honest here.

Some women look forward to experiencing breastfeeding and soaking up that feeling of nursing their baby – but I never did. I was anxious at the very thought and the idea of a baby sucking at my breast was a turn off and somewhat unbearable. I was fine with watching other mothers breastfeed but for myself imagining it was too much.

In the weeks leading up to having Jonah I started to massage my nipples with oil to try and prepare them for the stimulation that was to come. I was recommended to do this by a few mothers and was told it would help. Even doing this after the shower made me feel uncomfortable and I would get this wirey, agitated and flushed feeling come over me and I could barely even massage my own nipples because of it. Aside from that they were so sensitive – and not in a good way. I didn’t want to even touch them myself, let alone a tiny mouth being attached to them!!! I would cringe thinking of how much harder it would be to tolerate a baby sucking than my own hands and fingers massaging.

I even cried to my husband about this, in doubt that I could cope or endure it, and he would try and say the right things to console me. He even said that if it was too much and I couldn’t manage it, that he would not expect me to continue. He assured me there would be no pressure on me from him and we could use formula after a few days if breastfeeding didn’t work out. This would calm me down of course and I thought “yep I have an immediate plan B in place as I think I’ll need it.”

I’d made comments over the months like “oh if I make sure I feed my child for a month I’ll be happy.” In my mind I planned to only feed for a month at some points, then only 3 months maximum. I’d put time limits on it as I didn’t want to do it and felt unenthusiastic and apprehensive about it. I feared the pain from it and all the stories I’d heard of things that can go wrong. Cracked and bleeding nipples, mastitis, baby not latching properly, not having enough supply…. to name a few. I also feared the task of giving so much of myself to feeding and everything that surrounded that. Like many other people I did have a very prominent selfish side before having a child. I feared how much of my life would be consumed by feeding, being woken up, burping etc etc.

After a while I thought to pray to the Lord for help in this area, about my feelings towards this natural process. I don’t know why I didn’t pray sooner to be honest. I also know that although I did turn to God to ask His help, I still doubted myself and what he could really do to change my mind about this daunting task that lie ahead (that’s how I viewed it!). It wasn’t until after my labour did I really rely on Him to help enable me to do what He had made me (a woman and mother) to do. I asked him to help my outlook on it and to physically cope with the demands of it. Praise God He did more than that!

From the very start Jonah was a perfect feeder, had a perfect latch and suck. He has a big mouth and big lips so this helps I was told. When I was in hospital and he was feeding for the first 2 days, I did experience dry and slightly chapped nipples. It reminded me of when I was young and I forgot to wear lip balm to school on a cold windy winters day and came home with chapped lips that stung a little. My nipples felt and looked like that. So naturally I got worried and nearly had a melt down thinking my nipples weren’t doing so well. The lanolin balm came in really handy I tell you what! I grew an attachment to that stuff!! Also my left nipple would sting when Jonah would latch on a feed for the first few seconds so I instantly got insecure and feared that he wasn’t latching properly and causing me pain on that side.

It wasn’t until I went to a class held at the hospital after the second day of staying there and saw a very experienced lactation consultant did my insecurity fade considerably. She watched me feed Jonah and was so encouraging, told me he was a great feeder and latcher. She also told me what to look for to know if he’s feeding properly, and assured me that the slight sting did not mean he wasn’t latching correctly and that it was more my nipple getting used to the sucking. I was so relieved.

I admit I was also a lot slower to whinge after going to that class and seeing about 8 other women around me have a very hard time feeding their babies! Some women’s babies were not even latching on the nipple properly and they had to squeeze the colostrum out with their fingers (it looked painful and uncomfortable!) and feed their baby through a syringe! This seemingly was quite frustrating for mother and baby and was resulting in tears from mum and a lot of crying from the baby. Some other women had bleeding and cracked nipples and I really felt for them. I looked at Jonah asleep peacefully after I had the lactation consultant watch and guide me feeding him for a few minutes and I felt like a fool for being so dramatic and working myself up over nothing when other women actually did have something to be frustrated or upset about. I couldn’t believe I nearly had a melt down over chapped nipples that stung a little bit. I’m so precious sometimes, with anything to do with my body I always have been. Becoming a mother has really helped work some of that out of me.

 

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Jonah’s first feed. Although I looked happy here (more so relieved it was all over!) in my mind I was SO apprehensive and anxious about him feeding even then. He seemed very calm and peaceful so if it wasn’t for that I would have worked myself up I think!

 

Once I got over this initial hurdle the next wave of fear about feeding came. I feared day 3 or 4 when my milk was due to come. Although I know this varies for everyone, I feared the next stage and all the cluster feeding that was to come. My milk came in at day 3 and my body didn’t handle it well. Like every other woman I had boobs like Dolly Parton – they were HUGE!!! 😳 So round and orb like. They were rock hard. I was almost intimidated by them. I don’t fancy large breasts and don’t aspire to have them…so I was thinking “gosh I hope they go down in size, image training with boobs this big, what a set back!” I don’t know how women can get implants now after having boobs like that for a couple of days! My body must of been in shock I think because the huge boobs were just the start – it took a hard hit. I had the sweats so badly, soaring temperatures one hour to then having the shakes from being so cold the next, a splitting headache, almost fainting from feeling light headed several times. I was as pale as a ghost and felt shockingly depleted and ill. I was confined to the couch and only got up when needed to feed Jonah and go to the toilet. This lasted almost a whole day, but the fevers only lasted a few hours. So that wasn’t the best experience! However Jonah didn’t cluster feed at all, he just consistently fed every 3 hours. So this made thing easier for me whilst I endured all these symptoms from my milk coming in!

I did spend many days very insecure at the slightest thing to do with feeding Jonah. For the first 2 days when my colostrum was in he would feed every 3 hours for around 30 mins. However once my milk came in the duration of feeding time went down to only about 7 minutes on average. He would suck like a Hoover for a short time and then be done. I worried he had issues with feeding and wasn’t getting enough as all the brochures I was given or articles I read stated average feeding times of 30-45 mins! So naturally I jumped to my own conclusions. Well, when my midwife made her house calls and weighed Jonah it was clear the kid was packing on the pounds and was well and truly getting enough. At day 4 he had regained his birth weight plus nearly 100g! At 3 weeks he was 5 kilos. She said he was a very efficient feeder and was taking what he needed but just in a very short space of time. It was only then I let go of that issue. To this day Jonah never feeds long. 15 mins tops if that! Only before bed will he feed half an hour. Every baby is different, so I’m told all the time.

 

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Token milk drunk photo!
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💜

 

 

Now that God has taken me through child birth and I have my son, and I see how dependant he is on me and how much he is growing and developing because I am the source of his food. My mindset has changed. It’s almost as if God has softened me towards this and my fear and dread of breast feeding left after a couple of weeks. I went from enjoying it most of the time to loving it. I love being able to bond with my son through the experience, I love knowing I can give him the best possible nutrients through my milk and what I eat. I’m proud of his weight gain and healthiness because of what I am giving him 😊 It makes sense to me now that if I can breastfeed and my son can latch well and feed well I should be thankful for this experience and not look to avoid it.

Fast forward almost 6 months and I love breastfeeding so much. It’s one of my most favourite things to do as a mother. It brings me so much joy and happiness. So many precious and funny memories have come from Jonah feeding, or latching on. It’s like there’s Jonah when he’s feeding and Jonah when he’s not feeding – 2 different sides to him. If this makes sense? I spend most of his feeding time staring at him nowadays as I’m doing my best to savour the experience. I used to see it as a bit mundane to begin with and the early weeks are a blur. Now I sit there with him, leave my phone behind and just be there in the moment, gazing at his gorgeous little face and his ever changing facial expressions. I get emotional when I think that the weeks are limited of exclusive breastfeeding as I start to introduce more solids. I’m proud of us both and thankful to the Lord that I have exclusively breastfeed for almost 6 months. What a beautiful experience and gift, and a journey that has taught me about sacrifice, selflessness, love and patience.

God has continually taught me through my short time of being a mum that there is no fear in something natural that He has ordained. I’m still learning so much about my new job as a mother but having no fear and to rely on Him is one of the first of many things I’ve learned.

 

Thanks for reading 🙏🏼😘

 

Jess xx