Working Mums, an Expectation of Guilt?

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A recent Mumsnet survey found that only 13% of working mothers (of 900 surveyed) said they felt guilty about spending time away from their children and almost half (48%) said that having a paid job made them happier. A third of stay-at-home mothers admitted they would prefer to work and 52% said staying at home was tougher than going out to work.

Only 13% felt guilty, did we expect that to be higher? When the press reported on these stats they said ‘only 13%’ so clearly they expected it to be higher.

What is mother’s guilt?

It sounds pretty universal, not working mother’s guilt, but something all mothers feel, I reckon that should be parent’s guilt though, it’s no less easy for Dad to leave a poorly tot. The idea that it can be assuaged by working less or spending every waking moment with our children seems unlikely, I have found that my mother’s guilt can’t be assuaged by putting in more hours at home, it’s bigger than that, it’s part of me. Is guilt the right word? Is it not more about a natural and instinctual responsibility which can feel like a burden, it’s always there, hard to shrug off, whether I am looking at my phone and hearing Mam, Mam, Mammy, or at work knowing she might be having a tough day the feeling is the same. Can I be available 100% of the time, should I want to be?

Why should we feel guilty about working?

Maybe we don’t feel guilty because we’ve realised that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side? I am honest enough to say that on whingy whining days I am relieved to get a break and sometimes see work as an opportunity to get that breathing space.

How often does a mother say she feels guilty and follow that statement up with ‘I’m a bad mum.’  So when we look at reasons for feeling guilty, maybe not being able to breastfeed, leaving them with someone else, letting them watch TV, feeding them junk food are we really saying we think we’re being a ‘bad’ parent? I list off the reasons I think I’m a good parent and they start to pale into insignificance, I am fun (I am!) we get out every day for a walk, I plan activities, I cook good food, we read books together, I make her laugh, she is a hoot so sees me smiling a lot, I am there for her in the night when she needs me – I also work, should that in some way negate all of those great things?

Who’s judging who?

I looked up a definition of guilt –

“Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.” (“Guilt.” Encyclopedia of Psychology. 2nd ed. Ed. Bonnie R. Strickland. Gale Group, Inc., 2001. eNotes.com. 2006. 31 December 2007)

So it’s an emotional and cognitive state, which means I can have some choice or control about feeling it, right? There’s some strong language here, moral standards and violations of them, whose moral standard? It seems to suggest they’re my own.

Is there really a working mum vs stay at home mum divide? I don’t know that we are really comparing, you know, my guilt is greater than your guilt.

My recent blog post highlighted that I don’t think there is, we’re all working parents regardless of where we put the hours in.

There’s still this whole nebulous mix of media, business, politics and science, all of these voices that tell us that various choices damage our children, which of those should I listen to?

I’d say I feel most judged by myself and I can choose to tune out those voices

Earlier this year stats were released that show mothers feel a double guilt when they work, one towards their children and one about their ability in the workplace.

I can spot a working mum in an office environment at 100 paces, she comes in early, eats at her desk and ten minutes before she has to leave she looks pretty antsy, she has to get away on time to collect her brood and can’t afford for the telephone to ring and hold her up. She’s organised, well rounded and sees work as a way of providing, of broadening her horizons. She will get her work done on time and has realised that she has more mental capacity than she thought possible, forget baby brain, those planning skills and time management that see her get a meal on the table, clothes in the wash and the next day’s lunches prepared before others have taken their coats off serve their purpose in the workplace too.

There are tough days, days when I have struggled to see whether J is teething or it’s something I’m missing – am I doing the right thing sending her to the childminders? Should I stay home?

Negotiating with Dad over who needs to be at work and who has a meeting that could maybe wait. Guilt? Maybe, but we’re only human, we’re predisposed to want to care for our children when they’re sick, sadly there isn’t an answer to that one, sometimes we have to go and as we are usually leaving them with someone who loves them then maybe we could loosen up on the guilt?

If those figures are to be believed then I think it’s brilliant, it shows we’re starting to question the role of mothers and challenge the ‘ought to feels’.  If guilt is in the gap between our ideal self and our actual self then maybe we need to be less tough on ourselves, we make many decisions along the way but choosing to be a parent wracked with guilt doesn’t sound like a terrible progressive step to me, and I suspect no child wants to grow up feeling like it has in some way ‘bound’ its parents.

Post Comment Love

Misheard lyrics

I love when people totally mishear lyrics, this list by Clash Music is brilliant, of course at number one is Hendrix’s Purple Haze, “scuse me while I kiss the sky” often heard as “scuse me while I kiss this guy”

It seems we have our own little mishearer of lyrics, thinking about it, some of the words in songs are so complex that children must pick up the rhyme and rhythm way before they understand the words, hence this beauty of Joss’ that I’ve tried to write word for word – ladies and gents, I give you, the Grand Old Dupalork!

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This cracked me up as I had been having a rough day and needed a good chuckle but I was so proud to hear her have a bash, it took place whilst she was wearing these excellent pipecleaner glasses Daddy made, couldn’t get a good pic though as she was marching up and down again!

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What about your little ones, any good misheard lyrics from nursery rhymes?

Ethans Escapades

the outtakes

Wot So Funee?

Never to young for a rainy day craft box!

At school I loved a rainy playtime, stuff came out of the cupboard that you only got to see on a rainy day, the novelty factor was high!

I started a craft box for those days when Joss and I needed a distraction.

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It’s something new and different from the usual or for grouchy days where something she hasn’t seen for a while takes her interest and calms her. Teething days can be especially tough as she seemingly goes from one dangerous activity to another because she feels frustrated! On days like that I find it hard to concentrate so I have stuck a list in the box lid with ideas for messy play:

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It includes the ingredients for playdough and mentally prompts me to remember something I read a while back, that children are the opposite of gremlins and find water calming so if she starts to get a bit ‘gremliny’ there are some bath activities on there too!

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Anyway, what’s in the box?

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I buy the contents from charity shops, discount stores and supermarkets, if you’d like to stock your own here’s our rundown of the things we like:

Felt pens, pencils and crayons
Pipe cleaners
Pom poms
Tongs and small pots for picking up pom poms and sorting
Googly eyes
Nice pieces of scrap papers
Blank card
Glitter
Shredded paper
Sponges and paint rollers
Paint
Stickers

And what we currently have:
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We’ve been doing a lot of painting recently
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But we’ve also been exploring, mainly pom poms and pipe cleaners at the moment, pipecleaners pushed in the holes of a colander are a big favourite, as is picking up and sorting pom poms with tongs!

What’s in your rainy/grouchy day activity box?

PND and Breastfeeding: Why is bottle nursing not talked about? A guide for expressing, donor milk and formula feeding mums

I struggled to write a post about my breastfeeding journey, I’ve tried many times but it’s something I have yet to fully make peace with, I decided to post something positive and instructive instead, something that would have helped me.  I am not saying this is an alternative to breastfeeding or comparing the two, but it is a method of infant feeding that is not really talked about and I would have liked someone to have told me about it earlier.

Our journey

They say ‘never give up on a bad day’ – I gave up on the worst day, day six, just as the baby blues should have been lifting I hit rock bottom.

My journey in a nutshell went awry because a) Joss was not terribly interested in feeding, b) I didn’t sleep for three days solid and started to lose touch with reality and c) we struggled to access good support for PND.

Truth be told I was pretty unwell with an infection and a serious bout of mental ill health, when I should have been resting I was experiencing manic highs and frightening lows.  There’s a narrative to all of this that I will blog about when I make more sense of it, but generally I stopped feeding Joss because I was terrified, frightened and not coping.

This one precious photograph is so special as it reminds me she had six days of my milk, its the only one I have, a keepsake if you like.

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Formula feeding was not easier, I was anxious about hygiene, sterilising, and scrubbed my hands til they were sore, but I knew how much she was taking in, and that was very important to me.

Whilst wrestling with my guilt I came across the idea of bottle nursing, associated with attachment parenting.  It took time to feel that I hadn’t failed, I had tried and it didn’t work out, we do the best we can for our children and whether by choice or necessity we nurture our children in different ways.

I chose to see nursing as something that was not exclusive to breastfeeding.

I chose to tell those who said nothing compares to mother’s milk and that they just tried harder than I did that my journey ending at day six broke my heart and my spirit

But I have to point out that I am pro breastfeeding and defend mother’s rights to feed in public just as fervently as breastfeeding mothers do and it upsets me when mums row over feeding, you never know someone else’s back story, what’s in the bottle or how they came to this place (this is important as I did receive some very negative comments, being told J and I couldn’t go to a Christmas party with friends because it was for breastfeeding mams only really hurt)

So what is bottle nursing?

It’s feeding on demand close and instinctual bottle feeding, in a nutshell its emulates breastfeeding with a bottle of formula, pumped milk or donor milk.  It is feeding on demand rather than on schedule, often by mum, or mum and dad alone, with skin to skin contact, changing sides as a breastfeeding mother would do support eye development, and maintaining physical closeness.

Why bottle nursing?

The benefits are many:

  • Skin to skin with baby fed close to its mother
  • Lovely eye contact
  • A calm time to nurse and rest
  • Closeness and smell to build a strong bond
  • Perhaps deciding that only mum, or only mum and dad feed baby to build and maintain a nurturing bond

Deciding to feed in this way was not without its challenges, insisting that only Dad and I feed Joss was hard, the grandparents perhaps found that tough and friends would offer to feed her so we could have a cuppa etc and it probably seemed odd that I turned that down, but it was important to me to see formula feeding as just as nurturing as breastfeeding, a special time for us to enjoy, so often I would take myself away somewhere quiet to feed Joss and spend some quality time together.

In time when she could feed herself I still tried to insist on feeding as quiet time together, I think that this photograph shows that bottle feeding is no less close than breastfeeding

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I wanted to share my experience in the hope of helping others to understand this option for infant feeding, it was not what I expected but the benefits for both of us were great.

 

Mum Of One

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Review Post – Wonderoos V3 Pocket Nappy from Babi Pur

At the end of last month Wonderoos scooped a Prima Baby awards prize; Silver for Best Reusable Nappy 2014. These are a very popular cloth nappy and we have been testing a PUL one with Babi Pur, a cloth nappy and ethical mother and baby store.

Available in ten lovely colours in PUL fabric, and a further ten in minky, we tested the Lilac colour, perfect for spring!

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Here’s a step by step look at the nappy:

Lined with stretchy, soft ‘stay-dry’ fleece layer to keep baby’s skin dry, unique leg bindings to give maximum protection and no seams against baby’s body, so suitable for even the most sensitive skin

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This is a one piece nappy no wraps are needed

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Carefully combining modern technical fabrics with bamboo to give the best performance the three fold bamboo insert opens out for fast drying and folds in three to give six layers for extra peeing power!

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Whilst the microfiber booster gives extra absorbency where it’s needed attaching to the bamboo layer with an easy to remember blue for a boy pink for a girl popper

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Used separately for smaller babies or together for heavier wetters or nap times this is a simple system that simply pops into the nappy pocket

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And off we go, snapping the poppers to the right size, snapping down and across for newborns and across only for a big toddler like mine!

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We have been using this nappy for four months now and find it very fast drying, perfect for busy working mums, it provides a good fit and four months on is still in great shape! For me the best thing about it is the tri-fold liner and fit. It’s a lovely quality bamboo that has stayed really soft and dries in a jiffy!

Family Fever

What’s the Story?

This photograph is nearly two years old now, its my desktop photo at work and one of my favourites of Joss.  I remember marvelling at her little feet, she was about five weeks old and really starting to give good eye contact and enjoy unfurling and kicking around, I’m sharing it this week for no other reason than that I’m planning her second birthday and having a reminisce! 

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Working Mummy Style – Spring Wardrobe Revamp Tutorial

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A while ago I read about the bin-bag method of editing your wardrobe and decided to do this myself as I knew I was burying my head in the sand holding onto some things either for sentimental reasons or ‘do you know how much that cost me’ reasons.

With the bin bag method you essentially:

1 – put every last thing you own in a bin bag so your wardrobe is totally empty
2 – plan a week’s wardrobe and take out the items you need
3 – take out more items as you need them
4 – sort bag for any seasonal pieces to store away
5 – Take the rest to the charity shop

I’m not gonna lie,  it was hard work, but well worth it to see the items you think you love are often the least worn, if it’s not earning its keep consider selling it or gifting it to a charity shop!

Here’s my run down of the two weeks, and how I got my wardrobe down to roughly 30 items, including work wear, leisure wear and occasion wear, much more manageable for a busy working mam who needs to throw together outfits for meetings, days out at the park, work events and the odd wedding and party!

These are just two of an embarrassingly large number of bags I filled!

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I was then left with this, scary!

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I planned my outfits for the coming week, three days of workwear and three days of casual stuff for days at home with Joss, as well as one outfit for an evening out.

Here are a couple of examples of typical workwear stuff

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And home wear

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I then took items from the bags as and when I needed them, and at the end of the two weeks still had two bags full, I edited them for out of season stuff, folded them neatly and packed up the rest for the charity shop. Over 20 items were bagged for charity. The out of season gear went into this Cath Kidston clothing bag to protect them:

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Accessories were hung into two storage systems, one from Ikea for scarves and belts, the other for my costume jewellery. Now I can see exactly what I have and choose pieces to accentuate my outfits
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Shoes slotted into this storage hanger

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Bags went into this black box

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Finally I was left with this capsule wardrobe:

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So my wardrobe edit was been pared back to include just these items:

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So what’s missing?

Editing out old clothing, clothing that no longer fit and clothing I no longer loved meant I could see everything I have in one place.

This meant I could identify gaps for the coming season.

I decided I could use a new pair of pumps, a skirt for evenings out and another pair of black work trousers. I knew I needed just three items, so rather than buy ten impulse purchases I spent £90 on three things that I love, that build on what I have and focussed on quality, not quantity.

This is what I went for, the black work trousers from my workwear photos above, this skirt:

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And these pumps

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I believe in spending more on items I will wear again and again, like my workbag, it’s been with me for six years, was expensive but is used daily and just gets better with age

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This Vivienne of Holloway dress which I adore, and am linking in to the Weekend Portait Photo Linky with this one as I love the day it captures so well!

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Expressions - Actually Mummy...

And these Tatty Devine brooches that always get a compliment

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And finally, my top tips:

If you love it but don’t wear it introduce it into the fortnight, if you’re not reaching for it then it’s probably not right for you

Work out some storage solutions that work for your items

and look to fill the gaps with quality, not quantity
apinchofjoy.com

A Day Out with Cbeebies and Friends

Real Life

This sticker from earlier in the week, worn ironically then, now speaks the truth!

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This week saw me take Thursday off to take Joss to the Cbeebies big band show, Katie, Andy, Mr Bloom, Mr Tumble, the Zingzillas and Rastamouse himself put on a brilliant show and Joss did me proud for the 100 minutes which I was nervous might be 30 minutes too long! The interesting thing about an Arena is that it’s so loud and noisy no-one can hear you scream! When Joss started to have a little bit of a tantrum she realised I couldn’t hear her and looked really shocked, then burst out into peals of laughter! Clearly we need to go on big days out more often as on the way home on my back in her sling she said ‘I had a nice day Mammy’ – gorgeous heart-warming stuff!

Blogging

My favourite posts from this week were crafty ones here and here, though these flapjacks got a good reception both at home and here on the blog.

I also had a guest post with The Mini Mes and Me and really enjoyed sharing my post with a different audience too!

Then this post got people talking over on Facebook and my blog, lets here it for all parents, do you agree the term Working Mother is redundant?  We’re all working parents!

I’m working on a new post at the moment, coming next week, sharing my experience doing the two week wardrobe challenge, more to come but it involved me putting all of my clothes shoes and bags into a binbag or two and living with a completely empty wardrobe for a bit!

More on that later, and for now, TTFN!

Mums' Days

- See more at: http://www.mumsdays.com/#sthash.vHhCSsdn.dpuf

Easter Egg Eyes Printable Game!

As part of my toddler play series we’ve been looking at new ideas for play at home, especially on a rainy day.

Joss and I have been drawing faces recently, as she knows most body and face parts now.  We’ve been playing with a set of googly eyes I picked up in a local craft shop for 50p this week and have progressed from these drawn pictures and I’ve been making printables for her to put the eyes on.

They started off all over, now she’s starting to put them in the right place!

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On my list of things I never thought I’d say – “put your eyes in the pot now Joss it’s tidy up time!”

I made an easter egg printable for her and thought others might like to use it either with googly eyes or just circles of paper with eyes drawn on!  For older ones try a ‘pin the eyes on’ style blindfolded version!

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Happy Easter Folks!

Ethans Escapades