My First Year as a Blogger.

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Can you believe it’s been a little over a year since I started on this journey as a blogger? I can’t, that’s for sure. So much has happened in those twelve plus months. To say that the last six months or so have been manic (what with Zosia turning one, Mum being in hospital for nearly eight months, work and other general life stuff) would be something of an understatement. If you hadn’t noticed, I have been pretty MIA for a long time. Life has thrown some major curve balls at us so far this year, but we keep on batting them off into the distance. Sometimes you realise just how much a person can take before they break and what truly matters in life. But I guess that’s life for you.

So what’s been happening?

Well, firstly we had a lovely little party for Zosia’s first birthday. The night before was very busy. I spent all night cooking, cleaning and decorating but it was worth it in the end. Budget wise we did pretty well and I think that writing the blog post Six Simple Steps to Planning a First Birthday Party on a Budget before hand really helped. She was of course, spoiled by all of our friends and family and she loved playing with the other babies and toddlers which was so lovely to see. If you follow me on SM you would have seen some of the pictures from the weekend. I’ll go into more detail about this in another blog post later.

The biggest thing that has stopped me from doing pretty much everything has been my mum. In December she was admitted into hospital. She has only just been discharged. Growing up and as a teenager, my mum and I never really got on too well. I think that is because we’re too similar. We get on a lot better when we don’t live together. Seeing her in a coma, fighting for her life made me realise just how much time we had wasted over silly, petty arguments and dramas in the past. Being the eldest in situations like this does make you realise that being an adult can really suck at times. Seeing her fight so hard to get back to some kind of normal hasn’t been easy.  Now that she is home we just remind her of how proud and grateful we are that she didn’t give up. Every night I would come home and give Zosia an extra squeeze. She makes everything seem better.

On a lighter note

So after a year or so of blogging, what have I learnt? I have had to think about this quite a bit really. Especially as out of the twelve months, I’ve only been really active for about eight. I’ve condensed some of the biggest lessons that I have taken out of this whole experience so far into seven points. I think for anybody considering becoming a blogger or influencer you definitely need to consider some of these before you start.

1. Make sure you have time

Time has been one of the biggest issues for me. Being a working mum means a lot of things need to be juggled and often that meant something wasn’t getting done. It took me a while to work on the balance of life as a parent, a teacher and a blogger. Too often did the washing pile up higher than the Empire State Building or the toys on the floor make an assault course during the midnight feeds. Of course my husband helps where he can , but he works too and it is easy for us both to be tired at the end of the day. We’re currently in the process of trying to set up things so that we can be more organised. We have a meal and chore planner in place which were hoping will not only help with keeping up with the work around the house but also keeping our finances in check. It also helps keep an eye on who is doing what which should help with the silly arguments about washing up! I try to get blog related things done in the evenings or on the weekends so that the hubby can focus on his work. That way I can keep up with the housework on my days off too.

I was most productive when I had a plan in place. I used my bullet journal to make a note of blog post ideas to use for the future. I would track what I was posting to the blog and when so I could see how many things I had posted each month. I have to admit that since Mum was ill, I’ve not been keeping up with anything, not even my bullet journal. The plan will be to start integrating all of the things that worked slowly but surely so that I can get back in to regular blogging again. I think I might start making a digital tracker as I don’t have the time to manage the drawings and creative side of a paper bullet journal at the moment. Keeping a planner and a tracker is definitely a useful tool for bloggers.

2. Know your niche

It is important that you know what you want to write about. Have a clear idea about where you fit in the blogging world but also make sure you know and care about what it is you’re writing. There is absolutely no point in writing about make-up if you only wear it on special occasions. Keep your content down to a few subjects that you’re really passionate about. For me it is parenting first and foremost, with a dash of creativity and a hint of education. There may well be the odd post about other things from time to time and some may over lap into other areas and that is ok. The point is don’t try to write about ten different subjects at once. ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ kind of thing.

3. It’s okay to have a break

I think that this was one of the hardest lessons to learn. In the first year I have had at least six months off in total. Returning to work as full time cover teacher at my old school just sapped the life out of me. I was no longer enjoying teaching. I couldn’t wait to leave. Every evening I would come home exhausted and I would just want to snuggle my little girl on the settee all night. I wasn’t a very good house wife during this time. The blog went on hold as did most of my life and friendships. What was difficult to accept was that it is okay to take a break from the blogging world and I had only had about a month off. This time around I’ve had about five months off but I wasn’t worrying about the declining statistics or anything. I had a week or so where I was facing the possibility of losing my mum. The blog become nothing to me. I was just trying to get through each day as it came. Each day a gruelling trip into central London, through blizzards and cancelled trains. Each day clinging on to the tiniest bit of hope. It was sad to think something so unimportant had taken up so much of my time before now.

As I am ready to process such events now, I can begin to focus on rebuilding what I have lost but also remember that it is not the end of the world if I am not present online. Family must always come first. This blog is about an outlet for me to process a great many things that I have, I am and I will have to experience in the future. That is what I must remember.

4. Try to make friends with other bloggers

This is one of the hardest things to do when you can be a bit of an introvert like me but having someone who knows what things you go through to keep your blog going is good for your well-being. Having a blogging friend can help you when motivation is low, being able to sound off ideas and someone to share your content is a massive bonus. Plus you get a cool new friend.

5. Social Media is a must

Having accounts on the big four social media sites is an absolute must. There are so many positives to having them all set up as your blog. Depending on your niche, you might also want to set them up as business accounts. Instagram is great for sharing the images you create for your blog but sharing links is a massive pain. Facebook is great for supportive blogging groups and setting up a page for your blog content should be on your to do list if you’ve not got one set up already. Twitter is has a great community amongst the bloggers but watch out for some sneaky, bitchy trolls. It is also great for sharing your content. Pinterest is one of my favourites and I have been working really hard on making sure this site reflects my brand. You can pin your content images and link them straight back to your blog. You can join group boards as well as pin lots of inspiration things to come back to later. Social media is your ally when it comes to getting people to your blog so make the most of it and although it can take up a lot of your time, it is such a valuable tool.

6. Don’t expect to become famous over night

I am sure at some point, we have all sat staring at our statistics expecting fame and glory to appear in a the blink of an eye. One of the hardest things I found was checking my stats almost constantly meaning I was always glued to my phone. Statistics are not everything. I know it is important keep an eye on them but they are not the only thing that is important about your blog. Not everyone’s blog is about becoming famous either. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place and if one day I can make any money on the side then that would be amazing. Sure when I started this blogging journey I thought it would be an easy way to make some money on the side but in fact it hasn’t been like that at all. It is incredibly hard work. It requires a lot of effort for little outcome and that’s where my last point comes in.

7. Don’t Give Up!

Sounds so simple right? Don’t let yourself get down hearted when a post isn’t as popular as you were expecting. Analyse it. Look at post similar to yours. See if you can spot what went well with their post that you may have missed in yours. Do some research. Have other bloggers had the same problems as you? You may well find that somebody has written a blog post about how to get more traffic to your site or ways to improve your content. The biggest lesson to learn of all, is to keep learning lessons. Make progress, no matter how slow. We learn best from our mistakes so of course, it is okay to make a few along the way.

What’s Next?

Well we are expecting more challenges throughout this year including a major move with a one year old but I hope to be able to get back into something more regular in terms of the blog. Change is not something we shy from in this household so we will try to keep a positive outlook on life. There are more posts in the line up and with the summer holidays coming up, I should have plenty of time to get through the back log of unfinished blog posts. I also have quite a few creative ideas that I am beginning to process as well, including learning to build and creating my own website for the blog, so keep an eye out for those updates.

I think that’s about it really. What would you add? What lessons were hardest for you to learn in your first year of blogging? Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on the four big social media sites for more regular updates.

Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama.

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons
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Six Simple Steps to Planning a First Birthday Party on a Budget.

As you may (or not) be aware, a very special little lady is about to turn one. I cannot believe how fast the last twelve months have gone. They say time flies when you’re having fun and I guess they’d be right. The way I see it is that every day with our beautiful daughter is a gift, even the ones where she has melt downs because we wouldn’t let her crawl off where ever she wants to. She brightens our days with her smile, laughter and with her cheekiness. She is growing up so fast. Her understanding of the world is improving all the time. Her character is coming through and I am already bricking it for her teenage years as she has quite the stubborn streak, just like her mummy. She is showing a clear like or dislike of things too. She doesn’t like pear but she loves Hey Duggee. It’s her favourite thing in the whole world. We’ve bought some of her birthday presents already and there is a clear theme appearing. With this in mind, we wanted to incorporate this into the planning of her party.

So, let’s get down to the business side of this post. How can you plan a decent first birthday, on a tight budget? The answer is simple. It’s not easy to do but with some planning, using my bullet journal of course, we will make it happen and keep costs down. There are many ways in which you can save some pennies whilst still making it a day to remember.

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Step One:

Set a budget before you begin planning. If you must spend money, shop around. Find the bargains out there to help keep the costs down. Amazon has some great items out there and if you’re planning well in advance, use the third party sellers, who are usually cheaper, to nab those bargain prices with a slightly longer delivery time. Keep a spending tracker so that you can stick to that set budget.

Step Two:

Don’t hire a venue, use your home.  No matter how small it is. Stagger guests throughout the day if needs be and keep the invite list small. She’s going to be turning one and whilst that is a great milestone, she isn’t going to remember if your great auntie Maud was there or not. Keep it to immediate family and a select few friends. Save the big guest lists for birthdays she will care about.

Step Three:

DIY. Make things yourself. I am sure you can find a few aunties or uncles to help out with making some cute decorations or the cake. There is no need to spend a fortune making the cake look amazing, especially if you’re doing a cake smash. All you need are some bits of paper and some string, even the craftily inept can manage this. If not, then scout out some cheap bits in pound shops. Look for bargains, nobody will notice if your napkins are a different shade of pink to your paper pompoms. Print off some nice pictures, one from each month since birth and string them together to great a lovely bit of personalised bunting. Make as much of the food for the party yourself and buy smart for the items that you can’t.

Step Four:

Don’t buy into a theme. Use something she likes to make it special of course. We are with some select Hey Duggee features but everything else will be simple and cheap. Don’t waste money on going all out because, as I’ve said, she won’t remember a thing.

Step Five:

Make sure people send you the pictures that they take of the day so that you can treasure them. It will save on hiring a costly photographer. With a bit of cloth and a few well placed props, you can make your own backdrop if you prefer to have those special pictures. Just make sure you have plenty of natural lighting.

Step Six:

Do not get carried away with the outfit for your baby. This is one I’ve found the hardest as there are so many cute outfits around on the internet. Remember that it’ll be an outfit for one day and that the likelihood of it being clean by the end of the day is very low.


I guess that’s all there is to it really. If you keep to these steps, then sticking to a budget shouldn’t be too hard. If you do get tempted by the expensive accessories for the party then just remind yourself that although it is a special day, she won’t remember any of it. As long as you can capture the moment, she will treasure the effort you made. If you can save a few quid on the party, then there is more money to spend on the presents.

Hope this helps with your planning. Is there anything you did to keep costs down that I didn’t mention?

Thanks for reading,

Monsterful Mama.

I’m taking part in the Mummy Monday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

JakiJellz
The Pramshed

Goals for 2018

As we all know, a new year means new goals, or rather refreshed goals that we may not have achieved last year, or the year before. For the last ten years at least my New Years resolutions have featured weight loss of some kind. Some years have been more successful than others, but nevertheless my weight has increased. Most recently I had lost 2 stone in the run up to our wedding. Naturally, having a baby has impacted my ever increasing waistline and here I sit, writing this blog post at my heaviest. So what’s to be done? Do I repeat the same old goal of weight loss as I do every year, no matter how much I’ve failed? Or do I mask it as something else? ‘Stop eating takeaway food!’?

One of the goals that I have already set myself is positive thinking. So I’ll take a more positive spin on things, I’ll make my goals steps toward positive thoughts rather than remarking on the negative. Having glanced around google, I’ll try to make my goals SMART. They will be Significant steps broken down to be Meaningful and Measurable steps that are easily Attainable. These steps will be Rewarding and kept Relevant and of course I will find ways to make them Trackable in my bullet journal so I can measure the time it takes to achieve them.

To begin with, I’ve spent some time thinking about what is truly important to me this year. Determined not to get stuck in the monotony of the seemingly unachievable ‘lose weight’, I looked for ways to make my goals much more positive. I think this year will be more focused on breaking bad habits. Changing how I think about my goals and how I feel when I don’t achieve them. I’ll need to break down each goal into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. I will need to review the goals regularly to see how I am getting on.  The plan is to review once a month. I will also be looking at ways to incorporate mindfulness into the everyday, a kind of ‘Practice What You Preach’ sort of thing. I will need to think about how I can be mindful of the things I am doing or thinking that will have a negative impact on my progress.

What Next?

As I’ve said already, I plan on using my bullet journal a lot more this year to help me stay on track (keep an eye out for a post on how to utilise your bullet journal for goal tracking later this month). I am in the process of creating spreads to help me manage this. I recently read somewhere that writing your goals down will help to make you more accountable for them. As if having them written down makes you more aware of them, less likely to forget them. I also read that sharing them with people helps with this too. I always share my goals with my husband so that he can help to keep me on track and of course, I am now sharing them with you. I should also mention that my word of the year is discipline and I aim to remind myself of this every time I slip up.

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New Year Goals in Bullet Journal. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So with all that being said, what are my goals for this year? To start, I’ve broken my goals down into six categories. I’ve chosen these categories as I feel they are areas that need the most work.

Body

Mind

Creativity

Home

Finances

Blog

Hopefully this will make it easier to keep organised, to visualise each goal and each step within each goal. So let’s begin.

Body:

I know my problem with food stems from my mindset. I see food as a comfort so I need to break the habit of binge eating, and reaching for the snacks when I am bored or tired. Just looking at the scales is upsetting enough yet still I reach. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t want to set a ‘lose weight’ goal. Instead I want to focus on how I can lose weight by changing some bad habits. I began to compile a list of things that needed to change. I thought about the poor food choices I was making, the lack of water I was drinking, the lack of exercise I was doing and how often we rely on take away food. Then I thought about how to make it positive and achievable.

  • Fewer Take Aways

– No more than one takeaway a month

(Can I make a tracker for this…?)

  • Make better food choices

– Start cooking meals from scratch again

– Make time to cook

  • Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch

– Stop making excuses, get up and do it.

  • Drink more water

– Get a glass of water (or squash at the very least) when you make your first coffee

  • Start Yoga at home

– Get a yoga app

– Make a yoga tracker in my bullet journal

– Use yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week

– Get up early to do it (even if you’re working)

  • Exercise More Frequently

– Create a tracker to monitor exercise

– Go for walks with Zosia

– Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity

  • Remember why you are doing this!

– Zosia

– Hubby

YOU

Mind:

How can I begin to change my habits? Habits I have had for most of my life. I think first of all I need to start thinking about my triggers. I already know all too well that my bad eating habits stem from three things; a lack of discipline, boredom and negative moods. Focusing on negative moods is where my mind goals will coming from.

  • Avoid drama

– Don’t create unnecessary drama

– Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama

– Remain calm in difficult situations.

– Try not to over react to the little things

  • Be thankful

– Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day

– Help others in need more

  • Meditate

– Regular meditation time

– Spend less time plugged in. Step away from social media for at least 10 minutes a day (to start with)

  • Be more positive

– Think happy thoughts

– Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal

  • Learn to love yourself

– Accept the little slips and move on

– Remind yourself that nobody is perfect

– Stop making negative comments about yourself

– Be kinder to yourself, you know if you’re doing the best you can do or not

Creativity:

Last year my goal was to get creative more often and for the most part I was successful in this. I have improved my hand lettering and been braver using water colours more often. This year I want to take this a step further and hopefully start making some money out of it.

  • Write a children’s picture book

– Start with a book for Zosia this year, then go from there

– Work out how you want it to look

– Think about what the moral of the story is

– Make time to get this done

  • Start Zosia’s scrapbook

– Enlist the help from bestie

– Don’t be afraid to commit to it

– Make note of all the important milestones

  • Keep going with the bullet journal

– utilise the blog journal more

– Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty

  • Create more things to sell on Etsy

– Scan in work you have already

– Create a calendar for 2019

+ Scan it in to make a digital copy of it

– Finish setting up Etsy shop

– Share the s**t out of it on social media

– Create digital planners for bloggers to use

– Write more blog posts about my creative side

  • Believe in yourself more

– Remind yourself that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.

– Remind yourself that if people get paid millions for calling stuffed sheep and upside down urinals ‘art’ then your few pounds for a hand made print is reasonable enough

Home:

There are a lot of things that need sorting at home. With the arrival of a tiny human chaos has ensued. So these goals feature a lot of tidying up and organising rooms.

  • De-clutter the house

– Go room by room and clear out stuff that either hasn’t been unpacked since we moved in or hasn’t been used in the last 6 months

– SPRING CLEAN THE S**T OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!

  • Sort Zosia’s room

– Go through the boxes and clear out the rubbish

– Buy and assemble new furniture

– Move crib in after 1st birthday

– Put up wall decorations

  • Buy better storage and new furniture

– Book shelf for under the stairs

– Organise kitchen cupboards better

  • Create a cleaning schedule for the house and put it up in the kitchen

– Try not to use the word ROTA

  • Start washing up after every meal. Make this a habit not a chore

  • Stop only tidying up or cleaning when people are due to visit

Finances:

With money, things are always tricky. Even more so when you have a child. Working part time is proving challenging so I need to think of other ways to save or make money.

  • Spend less on the things you don’t need

– If you do go shopping take your time to think about the necessity of the purchase.

  • Look for cheaper alternatives to the expensive brands

  • Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future

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Inspired by Little Coffee Fox at https://littlecoffeefox.com.

Blog:

My numbers are picking up again after a few months off due to work commitments. However they are still quite low. I will need to work on raising numbers before I can approach brands but I am hopeful.

  • Start seeing this as a business, not just a hobby

– Think about why you started this

– Think about a plan of action for 2018

– Be a full time blogger by 2019

  • Raise viewer and visitor numbers

– Promote more often

– Join more Linkies

  • Start writing content to cover busy periods so that you always have something to post

– Compile a list of potential blog posts

  • Create a list on brands that you would like to work with

– Create assets to promote yourself to brands

  • Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting

– Learn how to create your own subscription emails

– Set up email list

– Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up

– Learn more about SEO

– Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself

  • Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series

– Open it up to guest bloggers??

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Motivational Quote.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So, I know this makes your goals seem harder to reach as there are so many little things to worry about but trust me when I say that breaking them down into smaller more achievable goals as I have done above really does help. I still have the big goals in mind but I know that I will be able to complete them by creating little ‘To Do’ lists within each one. You will feel a sense of achievement if you are able to tick a box every now and then which ultimately will help with some of the other goals. Setting yourself goals is vital to stay proactive and productive in life and business. You don’t need to wait for the new to set or evaluate them either, it just feels good to start a new year with a fresh head on your shoulders.

What goals have you set yourself this year? More importantly how are you going to achieve them?

Thanks for listening,

Love and Peace,

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

2017 – a review

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope that, regardless of how 2017 has treated you, 2018 will be amazing.

For us, 2017 was an amazing year. In February I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing. She has guided our life in a new direction and although some days it feels like we’re holding on for dear life, other days we’re thoroughly enjoying the ride. Every day with her is a gift. She is growing up so fast and I’m sure she learns something new every day! She keeps us in our toes now that she can crawl. She’s quite speedy too when she gets going. Her turning 10 months on Boxing Day means that we are about to begin the frantic process of baby proofing the whole house. She can now wave and can even say ‘bye’. That takes her word count up to four (Mumma, Dadda, Bubba and bye). If you make a gesture to kiss, she’ll lean in so you can kiss her forehead. She laughs at everything! She has 7/8 teeth. She walks when you hold her hands and easily climbs up furniture and toys so that she’s standing. She talks to her toys/herself a lot. She can recognise herself in a mirror or camera and laughs when we play back videos of herself. She’s beginning to throw tantrums too. Little strops if you take something off her or won’t let her roam freely. Soon she will be walking and we expect all hell to break loose. In a few months she will be one and that’s a very scary thought. It’s such a cute stage in her development though. Time is just going by too quickly and if I blink I fear I may miss it all!

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2017 also brought about a change of direction in my career. Unfortunately, many employers won’t make space for mums who are returning to work after maternity leave and who are in need of more flexibility. If I have one regret for last year. It would only be that I didn’t take more time off, even if it meant less or no money. In May I made the hard decision to leave my full-time job because as many will know, full time work (especially as a teacher) and motherhood do not bond well together. Whilst I fully appreciate family’s that can make it work for them, I think I’ve always known that I couldn’t commit to full time work. The decision was made with a tear in my eye. I had made friends, worked with some great people, made it through my NQT with grit, determination and a lot of bloody hard work. As well as all that I think it’s fair to say that I owe my teaching career to a couple of amazing teachers/HLTA’s who, without their support and guidance I would have easily given up in that first year. Naturally I was sad to go but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose contact with these ladies. I also promised that I wouldn’t allow myself to be over worked and under paid anymore so in November (after having finished late October) I became a supply teacher. The money is good, the hours are massively better, I can choose when and for how many days I want to work. The positives far outweigh the negatives in that sense. Yes, there are some really hard days and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but being able to leave at a reasonable time and get home to my family before dark is a real bonus. Knowing that I don’t have to continue work when I get home is good. It’s such a relief to enjoy teaching again.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October. We went to Greenwich Park as it was somewhere we used to visit a lot when we first started our relationship. I’ve always loved Greenwich so it seemed only right that we took Zosia out for her first adventure there too. She celebrated her eighth month a few days later so we made it a double celebration. We wanted to go back to a restaurant we often went to but it had been closed down. It was sad to see it gone but it was going down hill in our last visit. Instead we went to Jamie’s Italian a little down the road. Zosia joined us at the dinner table in her own high chair for her first proper restaurant experience. She was so cute holding her dads hand across the table. It will always be a fond memory.

Being married has been the easy part. Trying to change my name has been the difficult bit. You forget how many loyalty cards you’ve got until you try to change your name on them all! Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is as much a pain in the arse as he was before we were married but he is now, as he always has been, my biggest support. He is by my side through every tough decision, when I hit the 24hr+ marker of labour and the Doctors we’re trying to make me take some form of pain relief, he stayed true to my prior decision and reminded them that it was my body and thus my decision if I took their offer or not. He held my hand through every contraction, every push, every moment of my exhaustion and my sheer jubilation at having finally, 51 hours later, given birth to our beautiful little girl! We stood together by her incubator, hand in hand. He dried my tears as I blamed myself. He held me up just as I felt the initial weight of motherhood pushing me down and helped me push back. He is and will always be my pillar of strength.

We have also just celebrated our first Christmas together as a family and it was just so magical. Zosia made a trip to another of our old haunts (Bluewater) to visit Santa and his elves. Although she didn’t seem too fussed about the whole thing, we will treasure the memories. We took her Christmas shopping and to have her first lunch at Ed’s Dinner. She only had a salad of course!

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Our Christmas Elf. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

We had our first Christmas Day to ourselves in a very long time. We got dressed before presents – something I’ve never done before. I wanted to make sure the photos were good for the future rather than a messy Mum. I know that sounds daft but when I also love to share pictures with our families so I was not going to share barless, unwashed and undressed pictures of me with anyone! Zosia was spoilt over the two days of celebrations. Families were visited on Boxing Day. She now has a mountain of toys and books. My house is awash with toys. My living room is an obstacle course. Luckily I got some nice storage boxes from the MiL so we can at least store some away. She enjoyed her Christmas dinner with us too. There was lots of love and laughter all day. It was perfect.

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First Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

It’s been difficult to keep up with the blog. Trying to find time between working and being a Mum and a wife is hard work. I’m trying to remain creative too, using my bullet journal more again and trying to make some prints to sell. I guess we’ll just have to see how the year will pan out as it goes. I’ve got plans in mind to help keep up the posts. Keep your eyes posted for a post about goals for the new year both personal and blog.

Thanks for listening

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

JakiJellz

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So, how is it Christmas Eve already? Where has this year gone? When you have a child, time sure flies. I’ve always loved this time of year but this year is going to be something special. We’re all prepped and ready to celebrate our first Christmas as a family. I’m so excited to see how she reacts to her gifts. Don’t get me wrong, we’re fully aware that she has no clue about the significance of tomorrow but she gets so excited about new things, how can we not be excited?

There will be plenty of love and laughter in this house tomorrow and that fills me with such a feeling that I’m sure I’ll burst! We’ll document the whole day so that we can share it with her when she’s older and share it with the family during the day.

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions but I’ve enjoyed every single moment. I look forward to what next year shall bring too. I’ll be setting up my bullet journal for next year and hopefully more creative work will come out of it. I’ve got big plans for the blog but it’ll be hard work preparing for it all. I’ll also be continuing work as a supply teacher which I’ve enjoyed more than I imagined I would.

So, thanks 2017! You’ve been great. Here’s hoping 2018 will kick your arse!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. Stay safe and enjoy it all.

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama and family!

 

Family

Mama Rants 3 – Snobby Mummies!

Well, we all know by now that I enjoy a good moan but today’s post is a little more than that. It is more of a declaration that I am fed up with the crap some mothers put other mothers through.

We as mums, try our best to ensure our children have the best start in life, that’s the most natural thing to want as a mother. We read up on this and that, trying to decide which option will be best for our little ones yet we seem to be constantly bombarded with criticisms. It’s as if we aren’t hard on ourselves enough, other mums like to have a go too. In the short while I have called myself mummy, I’ve noticed a few things. There are mummies who believe that the way they are doing things, is the only way things should be done; there are mummies that will try to help you in heated discussions on social media but really are just trying to make themselves feel less guilty for that one Wotsit they gave their child three months ago and then there’s the ‘I don’t give a f**k what your kid eats/sleeps/does as long as they are happy and healthy!’ mummies. I am sure there are a few mummies in between. I find myself somewhere in the middle of most of these but I am not sure what kind of mummy that makes me. I often feel guilty that I’m not doing things ‘right’ or I haven’t chosen the ‘right’ path yet often think to myself ‘I don’t care what you think…’.

My issue today, is mainly with the first group of mummies. They shall be referred to as the snobby mummies – why? It’s because of this mentality of there being only one right way to feed/raise your child. Surely they can see it is what ever is right for your child and your circumstances that matters rather than their blinkered view of life. I recently encountered this parenting snobbery in a BLW (baby led weaning) group and I am sure some of you would have encountered some form of snobbery with regards to your early feeding choices – breast is best or fed is better etc. I personally fail to understand why I need to hear their opinions on what or how I feed my child especially if I am just asking for some advice. Yet you get bombarded by snobby mums telling you that’s not baby led weaning and you have to scroll through reams of mums having a fit because you’ve spoon fed your child a few times. Maybe it’s not BLW, but its our way of doing things and if we want to call it baby led weaning, we will. Our daughter leads us. She tells us when she is hungry and if she likes or dislikes food. She tells us when she has had enough. She feeds herself ninety nine percent of the time. It is the baby leading her own weaning with a little help from us to get her started. So snobby mummies, jog on!

As I thought more about this topic, it occurred to me that you can often tell a snobby mummy by the things they say or do. I am pretty sure I will have to get used to hearing this kind of nonsense when Zosia starts school or playgroup but it just drives me mad.

‘Little Jimmy only eats dairy, gluten, egg, sugar, salt, flavour free foods.’

‘She looks so tired. I bet her children are little devils.’

‘I cannot believe she lets her children play with plastic toys.’

‘Oh, she isn’t walking yet? My Jimmy was walking before he came out of my womb.’

‘You use Aldi/Lidl/Asda/Tesco/Disposable nappies?’

‘Oh darling, we never say the word no to our little Jimmy.’

‘Aw, she can count to three, how cute. Jimmy could read the entire Britannica Encyclopedia before he was one.’

‘Jimmy only wears high end brands. You won’t catch him in Primark/various high street clothing.’

‘Did you hear, she feeds her baby formula, in a plastic bottle?!? The shame of it!’

I really do not understand why there is so much of this behaviour in mums. We get slated for doing breast feeding or bottle feeding, feeding them totally organic, super healthy or giving them Maccy D’s, letting them run wild or being too heavy handed, the working mummy or the stay at home mummy, Yoga mummy or flabby mummy, doing baby led everything or keeping the routine strict; so why are we not doing more to build each other up instead or helping bring each other down? I guess you could say the mere nature of this blog post is just another mummy, bashing another group of mummies and you may well be right but to be fair, something needs to be said about these women. Some women fear going to those baby/mum groups that meet up in the Tesco café every Tuesday or whatever purely because of this kind of attitude. We fear being told we’re not doing a good enough job by the people who should be helping us, sharing advice and tips. Opinions shouldn’t be a part of parenting. Opinions should be kept to yourself. We should however, always welcome advice, tips and pointers, it’s up to us if we listen or not.

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Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to confidently go to one of these groups, or even in the playground and over hear something a bit more like…

‘I heard she feeds formula to her baby, I’m sure she has her reasons for this so I won’t bash her for it.’

‘Aw, she’s progressing nicely.’

‘That Primark outfit is really cute and it only cost £3, what a bargain!’

‘You look tired mummy, that’s a sign that you’re doing a great job!’

‘You are such a good mum, what’s your secret?’

‘A little sugar now and then won’t hurt them.’

I also follow a lot of daddy bloggers on social media and one thing I’ve noticed there, is dads don’t spend countless hours in coffee shops slagging each other off. When was the last time you heard Jimmy’s dad bragging about how ‘advanced’ he is or how that mother isn’t eating all the awful lactation cookies in the world so that she can breastfeed? Why does it seem like only women want to bring other women down? Being a parent is hard enough without the added negativity and if you look close enough, most of us are actually doing a brilliant job of raising OUR children the way WE want to. So, to the mummies and/or daddies reading this, whether you are one of these mummies or like me, a sick of this mummy – you’re doing great. Believe in your ability to parent the s**t out of life. It’s time we start helping each other up instead of wasting energy tearing each other apart! Be done with the negativity and work towards a world where our daughters can grow up free from all of this crap and be the kinds of mums they want to be.

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Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

If you have had any experiences of this let me know in the comments.

Much love,

Monsterful Mama

Zosia – 6 Months Update

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Meeting the Penguins. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Nobody said motherhood was going to be easy. Nobody said that some days you would just want to cry all day long. Nobody said that teacher tired would be a joke compared to new mum tired and I can only imagine how bad it must be with two or more! Nobody told me that once you have given birth, time automatically goes on fast-forward.

Zosia is now six months old! I simply cannot deal with how quickly this has gone. The tiny creature that regularly kicked me in the ribs, has become this adorable babbling, giggling, chunky monster that wants to grab and eat everything.

I’m not going to deny that motherhood has changed me but I think it’s fair to say that we’ve adjusted to parenthood particularly well. Of course it helps that we have such a well behaved baby. She’s an angel really. She’s not a fussy, clingy baby. She is quite independent in the sense that she’s happy to chill with a toy while we work. She lets us know when she is bored or hungry. She rarely complains or cries. She’s always smiling, even if she is fed up. We’ve been so lucky.

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Summer Smiles. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

I know that things can always change of course. We are just beginning to teethe and will soon be toddling so we fully understand that things are about to kick up a notch. If I am completely honest I am looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see our little pudding pop crawling about the place, chatting to her toys. Watching her grow up, watching her learn through trial and error makes every sleepless night, every tear and tantrum worth it.

The update.

Zosia can now hold herself up whilst standing, but not for too long. She needs something to hold on to and I’m always right behind her, ready to catch her if she falls. She gets so excited when she realises she’s holding herself up. This often leads to an excited wiggle which topples her but she still smiles.

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Standing Tall. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

We began weaning at about five and a half months. She loves food. She was still hungry after full bottles (260ml/9ounces) so after speaking to the HV we decided to begin weaning early. We started small. One meal a day for a week and gradually increased as time went on. We introduced her to puréed vegetables as we were worried that baby led weaning this early would be terrifying. Turns out it’s terrifying no matter how old they are! She loves her vegetables, bananas and rusks. We use the reduced sugar ones as my hubby and I are both terrible sugar addicts! She’s now having a go at feeding herself. We first tried banana but it’s far too slimy for her to grab and hold. Then, on her six month milestone we treated her to some cooked vegetables and frozen yoghurt. She really loved being able to play with the food. She enjoyed trying to pick up the carrot and the cucumber and even though the broccoli was too soft, she loved trying to eat it. There was some choking. I come close to a heart attack maybe two or three times every meal time but she is learning to swallow. She can get a tad frustrated if she’s too hungry so we’re trying to pre-empt when she’s going to be hungry and feed her before she gets to ‘hangry’. Her meal times are pretty easy to predict which helps. As we transition into baby led weaning, we get to watch her learn and process new skills and we love it. Our little lady is growing up so fast.

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Print – Created by and Copyright of Monsterful Mama

She rolls over with minimal effort now but still can’t roll left. She holds her head up nice  and high when having some tummy time and has even been caught watching telly whilst on her front. She will often roll towards an object to try and get it and this makes changing her nappy more challenging. She will reach out for her bottle when you’re feeding her and when we feed her purée she will reach for the spoon to feed herself. She also enjoys grabbing chunks of my hair, even when it’s up in a pony tail or bun. She just wraps her fingers up in your hair and yanks.

She loves to play with her mirror. Smiles and laughs at it. Not yet realising it’s her in the mirror but it’s so cute. To be honest, she soon gets bored of it and ends up trying to eat it. Everything goes in her mouth these days. She can now use her hands to pick up toys and will reach for one if you offer it to her.  She will choose which toy she wants to play with out of a few on offer.  She even chooses which purée pouch she wants for lunch.

She’s always chewing her hands as she’s teething but she has been doing this since about 12 weeks. Her first little teeth have just cut over the last few days.  We didn’t even notice until she was chewing daddies finger.  There was no change in behaviour, no tears etc.  She is such a good girl.

She can now sit up on her own but tends to slump forward or fall to one side after a while. She’s slowly getting better at picking herself up. She rocks back and forth when sitting on your lap and we’ve guessed it’s to help strengthen her core muscles so that she can hold herself up for longer. She is also practising pulling herself up from laying down. She’ll let you know if she doesn’t want to lay down any more because she will grunt and do baby crunches.

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Ice Creams. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

She has now found her feet and it’s the cutest thing. She chews on her big toe and everything. Sometimes if she has been asleep in her downstairs bed, we will know when she’s awake because you can just see her feet popping out the top as she plays with them.

She can give a high five. Okay, we know she’s just slapping her hands on ours but hey! She thinks it’s funny. She loves to smack us! She laughs at a lot of stuff now. Including herself when she sneezes. She loves being tickled and she giggles when pretend to eat her up.

She is mimicking sounds more now. She gurgles her spit in her throat to make a funny sound. She can say mama. She doesn’t know what she’s saying and it’s mostly when she’s getting hungry, fed up or tired but hey, I’ll take it. We’re pretty sure she said ‘I love you’ this morning too. Obviously we know she didn’t actually say the words but she mimicked the sounds I made as I said it to her. She often spends time in her crib talking to herself and wakes us up by chatting to herself in the mornings.

She is now becoming more interactive when we go out. She used to just sit in her prom taking the world in but now she loves to sing the song of her people which isn’t too dissimilar to whale song! She will play with her toys too.

She loves it when friends come round. She will take a few minutes to recognise them but once she does she will smile at them and ‘talk’ to them.

If she is tired when you’re holding her, she will snuggle into you. She will just face palm you and rub her eyes. It’s so cute.

I can’t really think of anything else at the moment. As I’ve said before, each day is a gift. We love to watch her become a little person. Her character is coming through and it is cheeky. We can already tell that she will be a mischievous little imp when she’s older and we’re okay with that. We’re really excited for the next six months. The crawling, the eating, the growing, the talking. It’s all going to be a wonderful adventure and we cannot wait.

Thanks for reading,

Monsterful Mama

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Celebrating 6 Months. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

 

Mama Rants 2 – Parent Parking Bays

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So, today’s rant is bought to you by ‘twats that park in parent parking bays’.

So many times I’ve gone into town or to the local supermarket and stupidly driven down to the parent parking bays expecting to find a space. It’s silly of me to assume there will be any available spaces for us because it is quite obvious that the generously sized spaces that are conveniently located close to the store entrance are very enticing to some (lazy) people. Now, let me set this straight, this is not a parking ‘faux pas’. This is down right lazy and irresponsible. Most recently we witnessed a woman casually drive into a parent parking bay (she didn’t even straighten her car up – I also hate people that park REALLY lazily!). I watched and waited to see if she would try to get a pushchair out of the back of her car. She did not. She was wearing gym clothes so I assume her workout was so intense that she could not walk the few extra steps from a normal parking bay.

‘Won’t somebody please think of the children?!’

I’m honestly not sure why on earth you would do this. Are people really that lazy? Do they even realise the hassle of trying to get a baby or toddler out of a normal bay? The spacing in parent parking bays, or even a disabled bays are much bigger than normal parking bays for a reason. Not so you can haul your tired, post workout butt out of your car and so you can walk fewer steps to the shop. They are separated by a walkway for a reason, so that we can park and have clear access to our boots without the hassle of some twat who has parked right up our jacksie! They are placed closer to the shop so that there is less danger to any small children that may be walking to the shop with us. With cars reversing in and out of bays, many without double checking, the car park is an extremely hazardous place for littlies.

This young lady was not the first, nor will she be the last offender. Men are just as bad. I’ve seen countless men sitting in the parent bays, no child seat in sight, having a ciggi and a chat. These spaces are not a layby – if you need to pull up for a cigarette, do it somewhere else. I do not want my children having to breathe in your cancerous fumes. I am not sure how people can be so inconsiderate. Anyway, does anybody really know the law around these parking bays. We all know that you should get a parking fine if you park in a disabled bay without a blue badge and get caught (HA! I wish more people would get caught out by this!), but is there even a law or any rules to parking in parent bays? If not, should there be?

Should the government be able to ticket people who are taking up our parking spaces?

Well, after having a quick Google, it would appear that there is no law that is being broken (why on earth not?) when people do this. Although there are some leading supermarkets that apply their own set of rules for this (yay). The problem being, is how can they really enforce this rule without the help of the government? According to one source (Motor.co.uk), Asda have been known to hand out a Parking Charge Notice (not to be confused with a fine) to offenders for up to £50. This is however, fairly easy to avoid paying. Other supermarkets have their own rules in place but are quite relaxed about it.

So the question is, should the government; local council or even the police, be able to issue fines to people who are taking up our parking spaces? I think the answer has to be yes, not just for the sakes of us poor parents struggling to get a parking spot, but also so they can make more money to be able to fix the roads (pothole season is nearly upon us people), so that they can get more people out in car parks to help enforce parking issues and eventually make more money for the police departments (or Theresa May and her cronies back pockets more like) so they can better police our streets.

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As fairly new parents, I would like to add that for us it is purely about the space needed to get baby out of the car safely. We don’t mind having to walk a bit to the shop. We are the kind of people that even before we had our baby, we would park far away (less opportunity for simple folk to ding our car doors) from the shop entrance. I hate having to leave the push chair base at the back of the car in the road whilst I try to navigate a tight space to get Zosia out. I worry that somebody will try to steal the base, or the nappy bag etc. I am not silly enough to leave my handbag on the pushchair. I worry that if I try to put the shopping in the car first, somebody will either hit the pushchair or try to snatch her. I shouldn’t have to be worried about these things. I should be able to have my pushchair beside my car, not worrying about dinging the car next me or anything else, and safely get my baby into my car. Is that really too much to ask for?

I would love to hear about your parking woes (yes, I know it sounds dull) so let me know in the comments. Also let me know what you think about expectant mothers using these bays. Should they be catered for in these bays or have their own?

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

Three Things That Make Me Truly Happy!

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Created by and copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So as life goes on, the things that makes us happy evolves.  Ten years ago I would have said something along the lines of; alcohol, sex, music, reading, video games, friends etc. Now things are so very different.  Firstly, I’m ten years older, the greys are beginning to show, I’m sure I am fatter than I was back then and I now drink coffee like it’s going out of fashion and smother most foods in garlic.  My life now is so far removed from what it used to be.  I was a confused girl back then.  I had no sense of purpose or direction.  I didn’t even know who I was let alone what truly made me happy.  You see those six things listed above are a lie.  Alcohol was damaging my relationships.  It skewed my understanding of what love was.  It replaced the need to be loved with this sickness for desire.  I yearned for someone to want me, need me, for them to not be able to function without me as I so often felt about someone else.  This sickness for desire corrupted a relationship I was in as I felt he didn’t want me enough.  You see it in the films.  A love and desire that’s so fierce that a person would do anything for you, including give up a dream job, because that’s just how much you mean to them.  I was becoming the kind of person I had hated so much as a teenager and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.  A few years later thing only seemed to be getting worse.  I was a mess and things were getting scarily out of my control.  I had lost myself in this other person.  I was no longer the bubbly, slightly in your face girl.

Now, ten years on, I finally have someone that gets that, that can provide all of that for me and has helped me grow into the woman I am not and that’s where number one comes in.

1. My soul mate:

We met eight years ago through a mutual friend.  We (my mate and I) went to the local pub for a drink as a foursome.  I remember the first moment I saw him as he walked past the floor to ceiling windows.  He looked kinda goofy.  All arms and legs with a mop of hair on his head.  I even remember the t-shirt he was wearing because it looked like a piece of paper with lines on it.  I spent the night getting a little tipsy on a drink that could’ve killed him (although I didn’t know that at the time) or at least caused a bit of swelling to the face. That evening I went home to stay at my friends house.  When we woke up the next morning, make-up round my eyes, hair askew, breathe a little stinky, I messaged him on her MSN.

‘Hello sweet cheeks!’ I wrote.

My friend and I giggled as I sent it.  We chatted with him for a while and then we went on with our day.  I didn’t speak to him much after that but I saw him again and my friends birthday party.  I spent the evening flirting with him and a week later we went on our first date.  I guess the rest is history as they say.  Eight years on this goofy, lanky, mop headed fool is my husband.  He has allowed me to be the best version of me.  He has given me the most beautiful and funniest little girl who is currently ‘singing’ to herself. He makes me laugh so hard I cant breathe and my laugh becomes a series of squeaks so high pitched that only dogs can hear it.  Yes, there are times where I could kill him but they are minimal compared to the good times, the fun times we’ve had together.  France, Belgium, Italy, JAPAN! The countless comic cons we’ve been to.  The endless hours of movie nights and the all nighter games nights.  Through all of the tears and tantrums, he has been my lobster.  Without him, the happiness I experience now, would not exist.

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Happiest Day of my Life pt 1.  Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography and Monsterful Mama.

2. My daughter:

I think it is safe to say that she is most definitely the apple of my eye.  My whole world revolves around her and her needs.  She is such a beautiful baby, inside and out.  She is only five months old but is already such a little character.  I could spend hours watching her sleep or play, listening to her test her voice with the sweetest coo’s or when she lets out a little giggle.  I love to see her reach little development milestones and I love being her mummy.  She makes me so happy that I swear I have ovaries growing on my ovaries and a heart the size of the moon.  This is a new kind of happiness though.  One I’ve never experienced before and I love every moment of it.  I cannot wait to see her become a more and more animated as she learns new things.  I am so excited for our first proper conversation and to start teaching her the ways of the world.  I look forward to seeing the woman she will become too.  It is all so new and exciting.

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Big Girls Lunch.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

3. Friendships:

Many times I’ve read that becoming a mummy means your social life will suffer.  Friends will disappear and family will only want to come round to see the baby, not you.  Yet, this is not true for me.  Since Zosia was born my friendships have strengthened.  The lads love to come round to see Zosia (they pretend they want to play cards but I know its cos they love our cheeky little monkey!).  I meet up with the girls regularly and it’s helped to rebuild bridges with a few old friends.  I am sure I will lose a friend or two on the way, I think that will be inevitable but I also look forward to making new friends, mummy friends, super nerdy, awesome friends!  Since I left my home town, I found it really hard to make new friends.  Sure, the lads are my friends too, but they were his friends first.  I was missing female companionship.  At university I made few acquaintances but nobody that would stick around for long.  So it makes me very happy that I now have a few gal pals to hang out and scoff ice-cream with every now and then.

What is happiness to you?  What makes you truly happy?  Leave me a comment and let me know.
Thanks
Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

 

Mama Rants!

So there are many things that bug me in this world, because you know, I am human. For example; the lack of support from the government as a teacher, the old ‘I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic etc. BUT...’ line, judgemental people, trash TV like Love Island/Big Brother etc., the Conservative Party being in power, men who wear flip flops or shoes without socks etc., people that park in front of your driveway regardless of the drop curb or even on your drive! I mean, the cheek of it.  I think you get what I mean.  I could go on of course but that would be boring.  But there is one thing of late that’s really starting to get on my nerves.  Mum memes that imply all mums are raging alcoholics!

 

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I mean, why does every meme insist that to ‘survive’ her children a woman must drink copious amounts of wine?  WTF is that all about anyway?  Are people implying that as women, we can’t cope with the everyday pressures of motherhood?  I mean, yeah the worlds a pretty F’d up place at the moment, what with the likes of Donald Trump and Theresa May being in charge of entire countries (I know right!) but do people really still live with that kind of low level sexism?  We are currently being bombarded with sexist discrimination in the work place.  The BBC and its inequality in salaries between men and women is a hot topic on the news and social media at the moment.  Equality in the work place is very important.  Inequality is not something I’ve had to deal with but I fully support the women of the BBC in their quest.

 

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It just frustrates me more than anything because it kind of belittles the mental well-being of mums.  We can’t cope, so we must drink.  Not one ounce of support for any mother struggling.  No words of advice for us.  It makes me feel like our mental health as mothers is just a bit of a joke.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just over thinking this as a person that chooses not to drink alcohol.  I’m not here to bash mums who do have a drink at the end of the day, I just cant understand why this meme has become so popular.  Would I be as offended if it implied that as a mother all I need is a slice of cake (let’s be real, it would be the whole damn cake!) to get me through the day?  Or maybe even coffee. Coffee I would understand as we are mostly sleep deprived.  But also, why are there no memes that imply dad needs a beer after a few hours alone with the kids?  Is it because he is a man, he can ‘cope’?  Does he not suffer from mental illness because he is a man?  I think men’s mental health is a discussion for another day but you get my point.

Anyway, I hope I am not alone in this thought.  Let me know if you often reach for a bottle of wine or you also feel the same.  Remember that as a mother, you are never alone.  There are millions of us out here if you ever need a rant.  We know exactly what you are going through.

Thanks

Monsterful Mama