Archives for November 2015

“He likes girl things”

“He likes girl things” she said, and his face fell.

“What does she mean, Mummy?”

“I don’t know baby, I don’t even know if she knows what she means by that.”

But she did. It was said with an upward curl of the lip and a slight shiver, like she was trying to shake off the thought of, shock horror, a boy playing with something pink.

A pink dino? Argh! Does this go in the girl's section or the boy's? How about just calling it the TOY section ;)

A pink dino? Argh! Does this go in the girl’s section or the boy’s? How about just calling it the TOY section 😉

We were in TK Maxx looking for a birthday gift for a friend. Mushroom was looking at musical jewellery box at the time. He wanted to know how it worked. In fact, it didn’t work (possibly this is how such a beautiful box ended up in TK Maxx for less than a fiver) but he is aware of how these boxes work and wanted to see the doll dance… I’m not sure whether he was more interested in seeing the doll dance or working out how that happened but either way, he was just being a kid. Gender doesn’t even come into it.

Yes lady, by your definition, Mushroom does like girl things. Although he will vehemently deny that he likes pink (he doesn’t like pale pink. To be honest, neither do I. Maybe he’s noticing society’s recation to boys who like pink and maybe he’s copying me. I am still not sure about that), he has no qualms in picking up an Elsa hairband complete with plait and wearing it throughout our shopping trip. I didn’t buy it because he had just been gifted a hairband from a friend that he never wears. He likes what he likes. He’s four.

He liked the music box. That day, he also wanted me to buy: (in no particular order) A Robofish. A Sofia the First themed toy. A stuffed Henry Hugglemonster. A Gruffalo book and a Buzz lightyear backpack…. We bought the Gruffalo book (it has magnets to make up your own story, what’s not to love!).

You know what? Mushroom likes a lot of things. Barbie and Ben 10. Having his toenails painted. The Care Bears and the Power Rangers. Ballet and Karate. I could go on (and I know I’m rambling).

What’s my point? Well, by announcing loudly in a negative way, “He likes girl things” that lady made him question himself for a moment. Is it ok for boys to like pink things? Dolls? These messages are bombarded at our kids from an early age and they are not helpful, they reinforce an unnecessary gender divide. Yes, there is evidence that boys and girls tend to play with different things but how much of this is nature and how much of it is a societal construct…? Until we just let kids be kids, can we ever know..?

This rambling post was brought to you courtesy of a rude shop assistant (no reflection on TK Maxx as a store, I hasten to add). What are your thoughts? I’m not even sure mine are clear as yet but I do feel quite strongly about the need to let kids be kids and avoiding language that may teach shame at a young age… Please do comment below with your experiences and opinions!



Only Photos: More mandalas

Have you noticed how these ‘Only Photos’ posts are a bit lazy! 😉 Well it’s just an excuse to share photos that I think should take centre stage. I wrote about why we’ve been making mandalas last month so this month I’ll let our artwork speak for itself:

Autumn mandalas:


It was Mushroom’s (great) idea to add my puddle footprints around his first solo attempt!


This one was a joint effort

This one was a joint effort.

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Am I mothering mushroom mindfully?


I talk quite a lot about mindfulness and meditation.

I even wrote a blog post mindful meditation for Story Of Mum around this time last year. As some of you may have noticed, I use my coaching experience a lot in my parenting style and I’m definitely an advocate of gentle parenting. And, as you might imagine, my best parenting moments happen when I am mindful – paying attention to the present moment and taking a breath before responding (rather than reacting) to the situation at hand… So with all this in mind,

Am I mothering Mushroom mindfully?

Um… No.

Well, that’s the short answer. In truth, I try. But honestly, it’s an afterthought more often than I care to admit. However, I am admitting it, and will continue to be honest about how I parent as it’s not very helpful to pretend I’m the Zen Mother when I’m really not, and perpetuating this myth doesn’t help other parents who might be feeling guilty in their moments of weakness….

So here’s some truth: I try to be mindful. I usually start the day pretty well if I’d managed to get in a shower before Mushroom wakes up (if I get time for a hot drink first, then I am pretty zen for at least a few hours! But you can imagine how often than happens before 6am, right?). I know that when I pause before responding to shouty temper tantrums and consider what lies beneath them and respond to that, rather than the scary ball of rage flailing before me, I get a better (and more sustained) outcome than when I shout back. I know that kids spill stuff sometimes (we all do!) and that it’s not something to get cross about and I know that sometimes we all take a long (loooong) time to wind down and get to sleep. I also know that we all have grumpy days when we don’t feel like playing.

And yet…

I wake up grumpy. I get cross when Mushroom walks into the bathroom while I’m still in the shower, whining that he’s hungry and wants breakfast now. I do sometimes shout “Calm down!” when he has a scary tantrum (like that ever works). I have been known to say “Oh for goodness sake” when Mushroom spills his drink into his dinner – as though he did it on purpose – and I have been tempted to tell him to “Go the F**k To Sleep” (Yes that’s a real book. Not for the kids! – also *this is not an affiliate link) when he just. won’t. settle. I could do on but you get the idea, right? Sure you might recognise some of these (and can add a few of your own)! So, my parenting is not always mindful. It’s imperfect, some days it’s really messy (to put it politely). But you know what?

I refuse to carry guilt or shame for this.

Sure, sometimes I feel bad for a bit afterwards, but that’s just processing my thoughts and it passes. If I’m really out of order then once I’m calmed down, I say sorry to Mushroom and he forgives me. Every time. And then?

We let it go (good tip Elsa).

My latest imperfect parenting moments were during half-term. Mushroom went to a fantastic Fit for Sport holiday club (more on that next half-term) for a couple of days and although he enjoyed it, it was a big deal for him. I knew it would be, and that he would need a lot of holding (emotionally and physically) afterwards. I had also promised him a ‘hands-free’ half-term, and had bought a watch especially so I could leave my phone at home… But I failed to explain to Mushroom that I needed to do extra work on the Monday and Tuesday to achieve this the rest of the week. So when I collected him I still had work stuff on my mind, I had my phone on me and I wasn’t wearing my watch. So I checked my phone for the time when I got there, then told him he was too big for a carry because my back was hurting…. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he got mad. Really mad. Bitey mad. He hasn’t tried biting for years so I was taken aback. And so was he. I picked him up. I said sorry, and he said sorry too, “but you promised you wouldn’t do your phone Mummy” with tears in his eyes. Hands up. Yeah I did. We talked. We forgave each other. We’re both human, we both make mistakes.

And then we move on.

In the very early stages of motherhood I worried about whether I was doing things ‘right’ but as time went on, I realised quickly that what’s right for others might not be right for us. And the memory of my own mother strengthened my knowledge that I don’t have to be ‘right’ anyway. She wasn’t actually perfect (who is? But it’s easy to pretend those who have passed had no faults in life isn’t it?)… but as a parent, she was perfect for me. The more parenting challenges I face myself the more I remember how she managed them. As I bring back these memories, I realise more and more that her greatest gift as a parent was not hiding her messiness. Her realness. Herself. I saw her cry in moments of weakness. I saw her shout in moments of anger. I saw her remorse when she did. I saw Her. All of her. And with her, I could be all of me. That’s how I learned what love is.

This. All of this is why I’m writing my Proudly Imperfect Parents e-course

Back in March, I held a coached workshop for working mums. It went well and I enjoyed it but the feedback I got from this, and from many of those who didn’t (or couldn’t) attend, was that letting go of perfection in parenting is a general theme that really needs addressing – for all parents. Whether you’re a WAHM, WAHD, WM, WD, SAHM or SAHD (Dads are part of the parenting equation too), many of us wonder whether we’re ‘good enough’.

I wonder this in my work sometimes, which is why the creation of this coached e-course stalled for a while but I’m on it now and I’m creating it for you. So, if you’ve ever read an article or blog post or had a conversation about imperfect parenting and thought ‘yes!’ but inside not really believed it’s ok… Then you might just like it.

To stay up to date with how I’m getting on, you can sign up to the mailing list below. I promise there will be an update before Christmas (and watch out for a super special offer for subscribers once the course is complete)!

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Only Photos: Pumpkin post

A belated pumpkin post for you, as promised earlier this month.


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