Mothers need support, not condemnation

Yesterday I overheard two mums in the park talking about how someone in their mothers’ group had her ten-week old baby on formula. Cue: gasps of horror. The tone of this discussion (read: bitch session) was condescending and judgmental. Their blatant lack of support for this woman was appalling. Their sense of superiority made me mad. Breastfeeding is neither heroic nor, mandatory. Mothers should not be shamed for feeding their baby, from nipple or teat.

Sadly, such criticism is nothing new. No other role in life is as scrutinised and criticised as motherhood. And new mums are easy targets. Every mother has a story about the unwanted “advice” from a relative, friend or even a stranger in the park. I remember my first trip to the shops as a first-time mum. A passerby stopped to admire my new born. But her admiration was quickly replaced by a series of rude questions. “Did you delivery vaginally?” she enquired. Stunned, I murmured I had. “Good,” she said, “much better for the baby.” I realised then I would need a tough skin as a mum.

I can now handle intrusive questioning from strangers now, but when the criticism comes from mums I really feel irate. Who knows why the woman from mothers’ group stopped breastfeeding. Perhaps she wasn’t producing enough milk and her baby was losing weight; perhaps her nipples were so blistered, bloody and grazed that another nose-to-nipple latch was too agonising for the new mum; perhaps the baby couldn’t latch efficiently; or perhaps this woman felt 10 weeks was sufficient and her circumstances meant that bottle feeding was the most appropriate choice. Who knows, who cares?

Breastfeeding, when it works, is a lovely experience. It’s intimate, facilitates bonding and everyone knows the health benefits are unmatched. I enjoyed breastfeeding my firstborn enormously. My experience with my second-born was the polar opposite. My nipples were consistently blistered and my baby suffered silent reflux. She thrashed about at my breast, screamed her little lungs out and the experience was terribly stressful and tiring for both of us. I felt anxious before, during and after each feed. It was horrible. I had support, and we persevered for six months but it was never easy.

The chorus of “breast is best” is echoed everywhere. No one would dispute the innumerable benefits of breast-feeding, and breast is certainly the best “first choice” but formula is a fine second choice.

There are very damaging consequences when women are made to feel how they feed their baby is the single most important part of mothering. It can have a devastating affect on a mother’s mental health if they are unable to do so. Enjoyment of new motherhood is too often eclipsed by pressure and expectation. No mother should feel guilt and shame for formula feeding. Guilt is unhelpful and unnecessary, and shame is as unjustified as it is uncivilised.

Conversely, I know mothers who have been made to feel like there is something wrong with them for feeding a baby past the age of one. This is equally as ridiculous as shaming a mother for deciding if and when she chooses to formula feed. And of course, it is not just breastfeeding that divides mother. It’s how you birth your baby, whether it’s vaginal or caesarean, whether you accept pain relief or do it “naturally, as intended”. And it goes on and on and on.

There isn’t one way to do anything let alone parenting. Comparisons are fruitless and the competitiveness needs to stop. A woman who bottle-feeds her baby is not inferior to a mother who breastfeeds her baby. To each their own. It is no one else’s business.

So much of a mother’s self worth is tied up in her performance as a mother. How a mother chooses to feed her baby is not a measure of her performance. It’s so much more than that, and most importantly, it’s how she loves. The one-upmanship that some women feel compelled to indulge in is outrageous.

Had it not been for my daughter falling off the monkey bars while I eavesdropped on their conversation, I would have interrupted their gossip session to remind them that being part of the sisterhood means supporting one another, not condemning someone for doing something differently.

More support, less judgment ladies, please!

Have you ever felt condemned or judged in your experience as a mother? How did you handle it?

*First published on iVillage

Beach therapy

After a frantic end to 2014, we have enjoyed a slow and calm start to the new year. Let me tell you all about it, in stills.

A chance of scene helped us reset and recharge.

A game of Peek-a-book and a stroll through the sculptures at Montalto Winery. Can you guess which one is me? :-)

Swims, beer, books, food and family….

Thank you, my sweet spot, for being my antidote to life’s stresses and noise. I cannot think of a better place in the world to kick start a new year. Three cheers for the sand, sea, and salty air. 2015, I am ready for you!

First steps…is your little one on the move?

There are so many firsts in a young child’s life; the first smile, the first word and the first steps. These milestones are highly anticipated and embraced by parents universally with great celebration. Every parent will remember the first time their baby looked into their eyes with recognition and love and an uninhibited smile spreading across their face. Gold.

But babies are not babies for long. In the blink of an eye they grow up, and quite literally, stand up! My three “babies” were all eager to get moving. They didn’t want to sit back and observe the world around them; they wanted to be amongst the action, and in fact creating the action (read: distraction) with great enthusiasm. I remember when my first-born started crawling and climbing; an experienced mum said to me, “Nothing is sacred in your house anymore.” And boy was she right!

There’s nothing quite like seeing your baby take their first wobbly steps: the trial and error, the frustration, the intense determination and the beaming sense of satisfaction when they achieve those much-desired steps. It opens up a whole new world for them, and creates an entirely new world for parents. One that involves danger assessment and risk management!

I loved watching each of my babies master the crawling, climbing and walking stages. They each had a slightly different variation on those first moves, but they all walked before they turned one, turning my house upside down.

Do you have a little one on the verge of taking his or her first steps? If you do, you might want to take advantage of an exciting opportunity to sample a new shoe, hot off the press.

Bobux Xplorer product sampling opportunity

Bobux has designed the Xplorer especially for children who are “learning to walk”; sometimes walking – sometimes crawling. At the cutting edge of children’s fashion the Xplorer is made for parents that seek something different and appreciate contemporary design. The Xplorer shoe will be launching worldwide in February 2015. Bobux is offering Aussie mums the chance to receive a special preview edition of these savvy shoes before it arrives in Australia.

An invitation for NASD readers

Bobux is looking for 120 pairs of little feet who are just learning to walk. If you have a little one who is about to walk, is still crawling or freshly on their feet – we want to invite you to try our newest shoe, the Xplorer.

These designer “learning to walk” shoes are packaged in a limited edition tube and are the first release of our newest
product; if you are chosen you will be
the first in the world to experience the Xplorer shoe.

The 120 families who are selected will be contacted after January 19 to be advised that their free pair of Xplorers is coming and due to arrive in late January 2015.

It’s simple. Just fill out an application form here. Use this shoe size chat to determine the correct size for your child.

Applications will be closing at 5pm on Monday 19 
January 2015. Enter now!

 How old was your little one when he/she went from crawling to walking?

Christmas greetings from me to you

Christmas is always such a busy time of year, isn’t it? Unfortunately, some of the joy of anticipating this special day can be eclipsed by the pressures, obligations and “busyness” during the lead up. But finally the kinder concerts, ballet performances, school transitions, and social obligations have all come to an end, and now Christmas is here for us to enjoy.

We celebrated with my husband’s side of the family, a week early, to avoid back-to-back family celebrations on Christmas Day. It was a smart move. Nine adults and seven children gathered at our home for a seafood feast, and celebration of life. Now, all I have to do now on Christmas morning is wake up to the joy of Santa’s visit and lap up all that magical goodness. Then I’ll turn up to my Auntie’s with a salad and bottle of sparkling, ready to embrace another celebration and devour another Christmas spread!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for following Not another slippery dip. The tagline of my blog is something I hope to embrace over January: Stress less. Play more. Slow down. I wish you lots of holiday joy and hope you have a break from the harried pace of life. May your holidays be filled with:

Slow, lazy days with the family,

Family, food and celebration,

Rest, reflection and contemplation,

Lingering cuddles and kisses,

Unscheduled hours to let quiet fun unfold,

Slow walks, slow cooking, slow mornings, slow afternoons,

Gratitude, love and peacefulness,

Laughter, love and optimism for lies ahead…

On behalf of Miss A, Miss J, Miss H and Mr NASD, thank you for following and wishing you and your families a VERY Merry Christmas.

I’ll be taking a break from blogging for most of January. A self-imposed digital detox is beckoning me so that I can have more time to simply be with my family. If you’d like to follow me on instagram, I’ll be popping up there now and then. Otherwise, I’ll see you in 2015 for a new year, new direction and possibility.

Merry Christmas. Stay safe. Laugh lots.

May 2015 be a year rich in imagination, possibility and meaningful relationships. 

Let’s talk about bags. Handbags. Nappy bags. Change bags.

Before I became a mum I had a reasonably large collection of handbags. After all, a handbag is a very important accessory, and the right handbag can perfect an outfit. I owned a nice range of colours and sizes in which to carry my wallet, keys, lippie, phone, sunnies and a pen (one must always carry a pen!). Everything within my bag was for me. Only me. What a luxury!

You sacrifice a lot of things when you become a mother. Along with privacy, spontaneity and freedom you also kiss goodbye your handbags for a while. A long while.  When I had my first baby I traded in my assortment of bags for one giant-sized nappy bag! Like most new mums, I was shocked at all the STUFF babies apparently needed. Bottles, bibs, wipes, dummies, nappies, clothes, comforters and breast pads – and those were just the essentials! For the next few years my stylish handbags hibernated in a cupboard, along with my good lingerie, makeup, and heels!

Having three children very quickly meant my nappy bag became my constant companion. I longed for the day of being free from all the STUFF you need to carry around for a tiny person. Foolishly I thought that when my youngest outgrew nappies, I would be reunited with my nice handbags. Wrong. You see, I’ve come to realise that a mother needs WIPES forever. She also needs to carry around all the things that children won’t carry.

I was naive to think I would outgrow the need for a nappy bag. A mother always needs a “nappy bag” even when she’s free of nappies. Surely, a stylish nappy/handbag existed, I wondered. And then I discovered Storksak!

Storksak is an international phenomenon.  The functional, fashion savvy collection is adored by parents worldwide with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars, including Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba, choosing the Storksak as their preferred accessory.  Now, I am no Jolie! I can assure you I don’t look effortlessly chic running around after my tribe, nor do I intend on having five kids, but I am in love with my new Storksak Noa bag.

This bag is ideal for mums with toddlers, who may be juggling iPads, drink bottles, colouring books and the like! Unless you have a child who likes to carry around their own stuff??? No, didn’t think so. My last nappy bag was bulky and I was rather glad to get rid of it. My Storksak bag is light, roomy, and the perfect depth.

Here are my favourite features of the Noa bag:

  • It’s practical AND stylish. Double tick!
  • I love the colour. The chic, neutral shade of Navy on the outside is complemented by a co-ordinating grey lining. But I also have my eye on the Powder Pink….(hint, hint hubby)!
  • The coated canvas fabric is wipe clean inside and out, meaning your lovely new bag needn’t become grubby!
  • Internal features include a changing mat, side insulated bottle pocket and interior pocket, whilst an external pocket ensures valuables are easily accessible.
  • The Noa also includes a handy mini-organiser bag, featuring six pockets and an internal compartment. The mini organiser was designed to hold a mini iPad but it’s perfect for holding nappies, wipes, bottles, pencils and just general little accessories for kids.
  • The bag is finished off perfectly with stylish silver hardware, detachable long strap, and luxurious leather handles.

Take a look at all the STUFF I am carrying around in this bag, and there’s still plenty of room for more.

What I love most about the Noa bag, aside from it’s functionality and style, is that you can “wear” it with anything. Dressed up, or dressed down, this bag looks good with any outfit. On the odd times that I step out of my mummy uniform, it’s nice to be carrying a stylish bag as the perfect accessory.

Exclusive NASD reader discount

The Storksak Noa bag is available in January 2015 but you can pre-order now. Storksak is offering NASD Australian readers a 15% off when on all pre-orders. Simply head to the the Storksak website and order online. Enter the discount code DIP15 at the end of your transaction.

The code will expire on Friday 30th January. Happy Shopping, ladies! :-)
* Please note this offer is only open to Australian customers.

 

*Disclosure: Storksak kindly gifted with the Noa bag to trial and review. All views expressed are my own. This baby is hot off the press  – it’s nice to know I am on trend with something :-) 

The end of a childhood chapter

When my first-born daughter was a baby, I couldn’t wait for her to reach the next milestone. I was eager for her to roll, crawl, walk and talk. She is now five and those early milestones are firmly in the rear-vision mirror.

There are so many firsts in a young child’s life; the first smile, the first word, the first steps. These beginnings are highly anticipated and cause for great celebration. But there are many endings, too, and often these bring mixed emotions. I remember shedding tears during my last breastfeed. I wanted to hold onto that feed forever. (more…)

Christmas gift ideas for teachers & childcare staff

There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about whether parents should give gifts to school teachers, childcare staff and preschool educators. Some argue that the staff get paid and therefore a gift is not really necessary. I disagree. In my mind they deserve GOLD on top of their salary for caring for our little ones. But, gift giving can get expensive, especially if you have more than one child and multiple staff members looking after them. In my mind the most lovely gift you can give is handmade card. Nothing else says “thank you” like a gorgeous card hand drawn (or scribbled) by your child.

Last year I made Christmas Rocky Road, which we displayed in glass mason jars and tied with a ribbon and a Christmas decoration. This year, we baked White Chocolate and Cranberry cookies to give to Childcare and Kinder staff. We also bought some beautiful Christmas tree decorations so that they have something that lasts as the cookies certainly won’t!

Here is how we said THANK YOU to the wonderfully patient, kind and caring ladies who have looked after my three girls this year.

First we made these…

These White chocolate and Cranberry Cookies can be adapted using this divine cookie recipe. They are lip-smacking DELICIOUS. Trust me, they were hard to resist, and these sneaky little hands were very persistent!!

Soft, chewy and oh-so-yum!!

We packaged them in clear cellophane sleeves and tied with Christmas ribbon and mini antique angel decorations. Simple and pretty.

In addition to the cookies we also gave Christmas decorations as gifts, which they can hang on their tree as a reminder of our family.

Another non-expensive gift idea is a small hamper of “foodie” items. There’s always people to thank for hosting Christmas events and these make lovely gifts – and it’s dinner sorted :-)

For more gift ideas for grandparents, teachers and childcare workers, check out this gift guide from last year.

Our homemade gifts were baked with bucket loads of love and thanks. And it’s a nice way to involve the kids in teach them about the joy of giving.

For so much more than you see here, be sure to follow Not another slippery Dip on Facebook and Instagram.