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
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Travel – Colchester Zoo

No matter what we do, or when we go, we always seem to attract the bad weather. However, we’re not the kind of people that let the weather dampen our fun. Many moons ago when we were a lot younger, we ached less, were less grouchy, had fewer grey hairs and before I had even farted in front of him, the hubby and I went to London Zoo for our anniversary. I bet you can guess what happened. To say we were a tad soggy by the time we were on the train home would be an understatement yet we loved it.

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Daddy and Daughter. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So our recent trip was, of course, no exception. To celebrate Zosia turning eleven months and to make the most of their online January discount, we had decided to make the trip up to Colchester Zoo. We had been before when our relationship was barely a few months old, so again like Greenwich, it seemed only right that we would take Zosia there too. We were hoping that she would be amazed, full of smiles, laughs and coos. Unfortunately I am not sure she was ready for it all. She seemed a little overwhelmed at times. So there are plans to take her in the summer when she is a bit older. Although, having said that, there were plenty of smiles for the giraffes.

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Exploring the map. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Colchester Zoo is a great place for a family outing.  It’s a nice day out, with some fresh air and is a great way to clock up some steps and get the heart rate going but there is an easier route mapped out to avoid steep pathways if you think you’ll struggle with the pushchair. Unfortunately for us many of the animals were inside due to the rain and cold weather but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t see all the animals. They have viewing rooms so that you can still see the animals indoors and so that you don’t miss out if they are sleeping or hiding. There are a lot of opportunities to watch the animals being fed or to even feed them yourself. I fed an elephant when I went for the first time and it was amazing (and somewhat snotty). You can also hold some of the insects including a Hissing Cockroach called Colin and a stick insect (great for kids that love Hey Duggee!). There are others but I can’t remember what else it was. We watched an encounter with the sea lions and learnt some fun facts about the differences between them and seals. There are plenty of shops and cafes for when you need a pitstop but personally, I would recommend taking a packed lunch as the food is a little expensive. For those of you with young children, you can find a few play areas dotted around the food areas to help those restless, energetic kids burn off some extra energy. You can walk through open enclosures allowing you a closer look at some of the animals. There is a wallaby and goat walkthrough which is great for little ones but we were advised that children under twelve months and pregnant women should not walk through due to certain germs and deceases that can be spread by some of the animals.

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Zosia and Colin. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

One thing I love about the zoo is their work in conservation. Much like the ZSL zoo’s, Colchester Zoo is working hard to help protect the animals home lands, their wild relatives and is helping to educate people who work with them. To help out, you can adopt a species through the zoo, which also makes a lovely gift, as do the Zoo experiences that you can buy either online or during your visit. The zoo has several breeding programs too which includes many of the animals at the park. The herbivore enclosures are some of my favourites as they include many species in one place, similar to their natural habitats.  You can also purchase a zoo pass, which gives you many benefits including discounts at the shops and on birthday parties.

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All Smiles. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Overall, we had a great time. Zosia may not have been as enthusiastic as we were hoping but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have fun. As I said, we will be returning in the summer with the hope that the weather is better and she will understand more of what she is seeing. Colchester Zoo comes highly recommended from us.

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Making Friends. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Have you been anywhere nice during the winter months? Any recommendations in the local area?

Thanks for reading.

Love and Peace,

Monsterful Mama

Want to find out more? Why not check out Colchester Zoo’s website and social media links.

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DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

JakiJellz

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

Setting Some November Goals

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November Goals. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Guess who’s back?!? YAY! It’s good to be back. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who have stuck around.

It has been a long, hard two months being back at work full time, but now I am finally free. I’ll be working part time doing supply teaching so I’ll have so much more time to spend with my family and to blog. For me, giving up my secure job was a tough choice to make but one that needed to be made. When you start a family, your priorities shift greatly. Compromise is no longer an option when it comes to those you love the most. So I have many things planned in the coming months when it comes to spending time with my little family. We’ve recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary so we made sure to make it a special one that included our beautiful little girl. Zosia’s first Christmas is fast approaching and we want to make it one to remember, even if she wont! We’re planning more days out and about and I plan on attending more mum and baby groups in my local area.

Blog wise, I have so many posts to catch up on but to start lets think about setting November’s blogging goals.

  1. Catch up on brands posts and correspondences (sorry if you are a brand that’s reached out and I haven’t got back to you, you were always in my thoughts I promise!)
  2. Catch up on Bullet Journal things and blogging about it
  3. Write an update post for Zosia
  4. Christmas ideas for baby and you
  5. Baby Led Weaning – our experiences so far (possibly some recipe ideas too)

That’s only five points but it is a lot of work. I am looking forward to getting on with some things now as I have been chomping at the bit. Along side these blogging goals I would like to work on a few personal goals too.

  1. Cook food from scratch so that Zosia can eat what we eat.
  2. Start doing Yoga regularly again, either at home or part of a group.
  3. Get organised for Christmas – including hand making gifts and decorations.

So,  that’s it for me, what have you got planned for November? Are you as excited for Christmas as we are?

Much love,

Monsterful Mama

An Apology

So, let’s start off with a small apology.  Since returning to work earlier this month, the blog has taken a massive hit.  Being a mum and working full time is as difficult as you’d imagine.  Despite not having the full range of teacher duties (marking, planning, data and assessment etc.) I still find that I have very little time left, and the little time I do have is spent with Baby and Daddy. The house is getting untidy, it is driving me mad but Daddy is also a full time worker so as you can imagine, it’s a struggle.  Of course it is about prioritising and unfortunately, a tidy house is not high up on the list.  That’s not to say that I live in a pig sty, this is purely my inability to deal with my interpretation of untidiness. We’ve barely got time for each other but our relationship is as strong as ever so we’ll manage as we always do.  We will soon be celebrating our first wedding anniversary, so that is something to look forward to.

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Anyway, like I said, sorry for not being so active at the moment.  I am hoping to be able to pick up the pace again after the October half term as I’ll be looking for a new job or, fingers crossed, already in a new part time job.  Life will always find a way over the bumps.  Perseverance is key.

Now, what should you look forward to between now and Christmas? Well, I have a few sponsored posts coming up, my first ever bloggers event, plenty of autumn, winter, Halloween and Christmas themed posts as well as a couple more in my ‘Mummy Rants’ series. I will also be looking at writing about our first year of marriage. I am planning on doing another spotlight post featuring my sister.  She is an awesome freelance illustrator.  I’ll also be doing a few other posts based around mindfulness, bullet journals etc. So keep an eye out for the next few months.

Again, thanks for sticking with me during this slight down time.  I will be back with a vengeance soon enough.  It means a lot to me that you’re all still here.

 

Peace and 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

 

Why you Shouldn’t Keep a Password Spread in your Bullet Journal!

So today’s post is about preventing identity theft. In my relatively short time using a bullet journal and being a part of the fantastic community I have witnessed several horrifying spreads. No, I’m not being cruel and talking about individuals designs, I’m talking about Password Spreads.

Now I fully understand that it’s hard to remember your passwords for everything; social media accounts, work computer passwords, various email accounts, application passwords or even gaming passwords but, and this is a big BUT, in what crazy universe did you imagine they would be secure in your bullet journal??

If you’re like me, you take your bujo everywhere. If you keep a spread for your passwords and then lose it or have your bujo stolen what do you imagine will happen? In an ideal world if you lost it, some kind soul would hand it in to the shop/cafe where you left it or even into the authorities. This is not an ideal world that we live in. Imagine that the person who finds it is less than kind, what will they do with your bujo? Have a flick through to see that juicy, personal information is ripe for the taking? Now try to think about ALL of the personal details you’ve got in there, birthday trackers, period trackers, your name and address…

Now this questionable individual not only has your bujo with your password information but also knows where you live. Anyone store their bank details in there too? Great, this person now has everything they need to commit fraud and potential burglary if you had your bag stolen with keys-or without, this persons morals isn’t about to care for a smashed window or broken in door. A quick whizz around your house, they know where to go because of the cleaning/decorating spread you created, pick up your electronic devices and this person feels like they’ve won the lottery. Let’s face it, they might well have done. You made it so easy for them.

Now you’ve lost everything. You’ve been burgled. The criminal stole only a few items but your house no longer feels like the sanctuary you spent ages trying to create. You don’t feel safe in your own home. Your bank has cancelled all of your cards but with technology today, they don’t your cards to take your money. You try to put a post up on Facebook for friends and family. You want to let them know that you’re ok but if they have any information, maybe a neighbour saw something, that they could contact you somehow, but you can’t because the criminal has now changed your Facebook password and claimed your identity. They’re going though all of your pictures and statuses trying to piece together the person they’re stealing from, so they can become you. You’re now the victim of theft, burglary and identity theft all because you left your passwords in your journal.

Now obviously I am painting a worst case scenario here. Yet it could happen. I hope you can understand just how dangerous it is to store all of your passwords in one place. You run the risk of all the above and possibly something even worse, like being held accountable for all of their spending, losing your home etc. Because you felt like trying to remember all of your passwords was too hard a task.

So, how can you securely find a way to store them all? Firstly, there is no secure place to store your passwords. Your mind is the most secure place. If you do not trust your own mind to remember, ask a responsible family member.

If you really must have a hard copy of your passwords, don’t store them all in the same place. You could also try to find a way to encrypt even your written copies of them. Take a look at this website for a few ideas – Life Hacker

If you want to keep them digitally then you can save passwords on your electronic devices, but again if you lose it or it’s stolen they have easy access to your passwords. There are even password apps that can store all of your information but I personally wouldn’t use them. If you are considering it, do your research. Make sure the creators of the apps are genuine. I believe you can check with Apple or Android if your not sure.

There are so many useful websites and articles out there to help you to stay secure on-line. Here are a few handy ones:

  1. Washington Post
  2. cnet
  3. PC World

I’m not going to claim to be an expert on on-line safety. Far from it. But I do know enough to protect myself from worse case scenarios. I know that bullet journals are not the place for your passwords so please do not store them there. If you have already consider destroying the page somehow. Remove it and shred it. Glue the two pages together or glue something in over the top of it. Anything that will destroy the page if they try to unstick it will work. Use permanent marker to black it out but black out both sides of the page as some pens ghost or imprint depending on the pen or paper you have.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to worry about this kind of thing. I truly hope this post has helped people to understand. I hope you you can see the danger you place yourself in if you keep these kinds of personal details in your bullet journal. Bullet journals should be fun and functional and I would hate to lose mine, but if I did I know I can rest assured that there is very little in there that a criminal can use- unless they care for detailed recounts of child birth and breast feeding!

Thanks for listening,

Monsterful Mama