The Mammy Guilt

Mammy guilt is a phrase that is now being bandied around regularly, possibly ignited by the fact that the pressure on mammy’s these days is huge. But what is Mammy Guilt exactly? And why do we let ourselves fall prey to it?

Picture this: a well kept, warm and inviting home. The smell of dinner hits your nostrils as you walk in the door. The children are occupied quietly with homework or various arts and crafts. Not an electronic media device in sight. Mummy is effortlessly gliding across the kitchen, apron on, broom in hand, smile on face……Now, lets add on 6 decades and see the contrast between the 1950’s and present day. Well, it would be easier to draw comparison – there is a house, kids and a mum. Everything else is rather different.
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When we think of Mammy Guilt, we think of the mother that hates leaving her kids on a Saturday because she has been at work all week. But this well known guilt trip has evolved. Mothers today are under so much pressure, whether they work full time at home or full time with an employer. One thing both parties have in common is the need to have everything perfect when it comes to raising a family. I have been on both sides of this and have felt the Mammy Guilt in a number of instances:

  • Classic Mammy Guilt – while working full time, any weekend activity that did not involve me spending time with the kids made me feel terrible.
  • Shopping Mammy Guilt – I go to Penny’s to pick up a few bits for me and come home with socks plus 2 bags full of toddler outfits and babygrows. They needed a few bits. Again.
  • Television Mammy Guilt – the baby is crying, the toddler is moving around the sitting room like a mini tornado. I do the unthinkable and turn on the TV so that I can dunk some biscuits into tea. And yes, the baby is looking at it to.
  • Nutrition Mammy Guilt – I fed my toddler a ready made meal. I let my toddler have a sugar loaded juice. My toddler sometimes has a dinner plate that does not contain colours because I am too shattered to get creative in the kitchen.
  • Nappy Mammy Guilt – yep, he’s been in that nappy far too long.
  • Angry Mammy Guilt – I’ve lost it with my toddler and shouted and felt horrible afterwards. I’ve asked the 3 week old baby with the hell she just keeps on crying. And felt quite stupid afterwards.

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There are so many situations, the above are a few honest ones of mine. These days we are overloaded with books on how to raise nutritionally sound, socially adept children; all developmental milestones are hit within a certain timeframe and they don’t see the TV until they are 18 years old. If we so much as stray from this hard and fast rule book, we beat ourselves up and worse yet, judge each other for not maintaining the standard. This is where the guilt comes from – we put the pressure on ourselves.

Motherhood is a rough ride – there are a fair few bumps along the way and it is not possible to be perfect. You will forget to give him lunch on time. You will lose the plot and shout. You need to go out with the girls and let loose on a Friday and feel like crap the next day. You will not have time to sit and interact and play games all day. And you will let the TV do some babysitting sometimes. Its called life, and we must live our own and not judge others for how they live theirs.

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In the words of two famous Craggy Island parishioners – careful now, down with this sort of thing! Mammy Guilt is not good.

Here is my antidote for dealing with Mammy Guilt:

Each day I will do my absolute best to care for my family.

I wont get everything right, but I will learn along the way.

I will take care of myself.

I will hug each one of my kids tight each night and tell them how much I love them.

Before I close my eyes to sleep, I will be proud of myself and the family I have produced.

I am so lucky.

I am a wonderful Mum.
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Out like a light – getting your toddler off to sleep.

Sleep.

We spend the first year of baby’s life yearning for it. Routines, methods, schedules – we will try anything to arrive at the holy grail that is a baby that sleeps through the night.

Google.

Poor old Google is absolutely worn out from mothers inputting the words ‘sleep’ and ‘baby’. Exhausted mothers to newborns everywhere are desperate for an answer. What they don’t want to hear is that it is simply something that gets easier with time. And eventually, baby will sleep. (Sorry new Mums reading this, but it is true!)

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Toddlers/Older Kids.

They don’t have sleep issues. They go to bed easily and fall asleep. Agus sin é.

Or do they?

Well, not quite. Now in my house, we have encountered a fair few sleep problems, compliments of my perma-wired 4 year old. Having autism, sleep issues come with the territory. So I guess that you could say that I sometimes have an extra tough battle on my hands. Then again, having spoken to many a mama friend over a large coffee or three, they too have had the toddler that just wont quit come bed time.

So, in the spirit of mama camaraderie, I have decided to share some of my tried and very tested (oh so tested) tips and ideas that can help get that little person down for the night.

  • Set times – you need to have your kid up at the same time and going to bed at the same time, every day. So set times that work and stick to them. Young bodies need a little bit of extra help in regulating their clocks.  Same is true for us adults if you want quality sleep.
  • Set the scene – ditch the TV, electronics and anything stimulating from their room. Try to keep toys out of the bedroom. The room needs to be dark, however most kids fear the dark so invest in a Gro Light. I got mine in Boots.
  • Set the routine – this is a big winner for us. Follow the same routine every night. For us, it’s a bath, a night-time story and drink and off he goes. We also stick to the same person putting him to bed each night which helps. Whatever your routine, stick to it. If you are having issues with a toddler getting up a lot, now is not a good time to plan nights out, trips away etc.
  • TV/iPad – we all let our kids watch the screen. Well I certainly do. And yes all the doctors and specialists will say not to but I am sorry, that’s life. However, letting them watch it before bed is a recipe for disaster. Have you ever been in bed on your phone and found it hard to switch off? Cut out the screen 2 hours before bed if you can.
  • Daytime antics – fresh air, playgrounds, walking, play centers…the more activity, the better. (For all of us). Get em out, get em active. Also, try to avoid naps and if they have to, have them earlier in the day. Hard when you are travelling in the car – this is what I keep the iPad for – keeps him awake. Use whatever will keep them occupied for the journey.

Maybe there is nothing new here to you, maybe you have done all of this and still you have no luck (or sleep).

Here are a few little extras that I have used….

Lavender – I buy a good quality lavender oil and add a few drops in the bath. I also use an oil burner in his room and burn the lavender in there about an hour before bed. Make sure you remove this when they go to bed – curiosity is a very dangerous thing.

Epsom Salts – again I use these in the bath. Epsom salts are said to increase levels of magnesium in the body, which can be lowered by stress. They also relax the muscles of the body.

Magnesium oil – bought in spray form, it can be sprayed on the soles of the feet, just before turning in. My little man gets a little foot rub as I do this which he really enjoys. (Ruined, I know). I bought Magnesium oil in Holland and Barrett.

 

And finally, do your best not to let your little person see you stressing when they are giving you a hard time. When you are putting them back to bed (for the tenth time) do not engage in conversation, the game of ‘why’ or inquisitive toddler conversations. If Mammy or Daddy are ‘boring’ then the game of getting up and down becomes boring.

Remember, they will go through phases of this. But they are just that – phases. And someday, sleep will come again. Might be a few years away (in my case) but we shall sleep again!!

“Even where sleep is concerned, too much is a bad thing.” – Homer

Homer didn’t have kids.

Homer was a dick.

Don’t be like Homer.

 

 

 

Blarneymum meets…….

To kick off Blarneymum Meets, I chat with Shaun Venter who works full time taking care of his son Grayson. Originally from New Zealand, Shaun shares his insight into life at home with an energetic 10 month old….

Thank you for doing this interview Shaun. Introduce yourself and tell us about your family.
I’m from NZ, 36 years old, married to Vicki for nearly three years. We have one little boy, Grayson who’s nearly ten months old and we have another baby on the way later this year. I gave up work as a chef to look after Grayson when he was a month old when Vicki went back to work.

What is a typical day like for your and your son?
Grayson wakes between 6 and 7 usually. We have breakfast and play until his nap at 9am which usually lasts for about twenty minutes. In the mornings we do whatever is needed – grocery shopping, housework etc. At the moment the weather is so nice we head to a park or down to the beach when we can. Lunch is around 12; he may or may not have an afternoon nap, if he does it’s usually about half an hour, not much longer. Then it’s more activities or outings until dinner at 5 and bed at 7.30 or so. If Grayson dozes off during the afternoon in the car or somewhere then bedtime is a bit later. He still wakes for a feed during the night. We’re trying to get out of that habit at the moment!

How has becoming a parent changed you?
I just asked Vicki and she said it hasn’t 🙂 – I suppose like everyone I’m more sympathetic or understanding towards other parents. I’m more tired as well. That’s all really I think.

Did you find it hard to transition from corporate life to the life of a full time dad?
We had always agreed that I would stay at home when we had kids so I was looking forward to it. I wasn’t enjoying work at the time I left which probably made it easier. I was hoping there’d be a bit more time for afternoon sleeps on the the couch though! It’s a lot more intense than I had imagined it would be. Ten minutes to yourself when you’re a parent is worth five hours to yourself before kids!

Can being a full time dad in Cork be isolating?
I don’t think so. I suppose it depends on the person – it’s as isolating as you make it. I have friends I meet up with on certain days, family I visit on other days and Grayson and I do activities outside the house as well like swimming which breaks up the week.

What do you do to unwind and ‘de-baby’?
I play a bit of sport and have occasional nights out with friends. It’s always easier when there’s two of you around to share the work. Grayson is a very energetic baby – he never stops so it can be tiring looking after him one on one.

Do you ever suffer from the Daddy Guilts if you are away for a period of time?
Not really, I do miss him when I’m away for a night or whatever. I’s always nice to have a good nights sleep though!

We all have our support network as parents. Who is that one person that you couldn’t be without for parenting advice?
Vicki obviously, we figure most things out together. Her sister lives close by and has four kids so she is always there with advice. My sister lives in America but has a six month old and a three year old so she knows what we’re experiencing. Everyone has an opinion and their own way of doing things but I suppose you have to have confidence in your own knowledge and instincts as well.

Why do you think so many men are reluctant to stay at home to care for children in Ireland? Is it similar in New Zealand?
It’s pretty much the same in NZ as here – I don’t know why really, maybe they’ve heard how hard it is 🙂 I suppose it’s tradition for the mum to stay at home and maybe women don’t want to give it up! I’m really glad I’ve been able to do it. I wouldn’t change the decision to give up work.

And finally, what is the best advice that you have been given as a new dad?
Get them into a routine as early as you can! We didn’t and we really should have!

This is what Autism looks like.

On April 2nd, some of the most iconic landmarks in the world (including Blarney Castle!) will light up blue to raise awareness of Autism. In Ireland, 1 in 100 people have Autism and for reasons unknown, it is becoming more and more common.

Autism is a spectrum disorder which means it can range from mild to severe, and symptoms can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Basically, no two people with Autism are the same.

Having a child diagnosed with Autism is an extremely traumatic event in any parents life. They say initially, the parents grieve the loss of the child. Will he ever go to the local mainstream school as I visualized? Will he play sports? Will he drive a car? Will he ever get married? Hopes and dreams are initially dashed and parents experience grief. The future becomes very uncertain. Naturally as parents we dream about our children’s future. As an Autism parent, you learn to look at things day by day.

Autism parents everywhere want you to be aware of Autism. Why? Because children with Autism grow to become adults with Autism. And these adults belong in society as much as you and I.

The child in the playground who wont wait his turn. The kid in the supermarket covering his ears and saying ‘mmmmmm’ loudly. The little boy in the play center playing alone, spinning in circles. Is this what Autism looks like?

The little girl throwing a ‘tantrum’ with her mum in the queue in front of you, holding up the whole shop. Is it a tantrum? Or Autism meltdown?

Please do not judge that parent. It may be Autism, and if it is, they are going through hell right now and your tutting or judgmental staring does not help.

The little kid who has his head in the iPad while mum sips a coffee? Don’t judge mum. Sure, too much iPad is bad but in a crowded place it can help this little guy block out all of the loud noises which cause him pain. And trust me, this mum deserves her cup of coffee.

So how do I know? Because I am an Autism mum. I have written this article to raise awareness. I am using my blog to raise awareness. If just one of you reads this and knows a little bit more about Autism, my work here is done.

Autism is a condition, it does not define a person. My son has Autism, I chose not to refer to him as autistic. Why? A wise friend of mine explained this really well – if Autism were the flu, would you say that your son is the flu? Or that he has the flu?

I want my child to grow up in a world where people will be aware of his challenges. An Autism mum’s biggest fear is what happens when I am gone? This is why we light it up blue every year, to let people know that autism exists.

So what does autism look like you might ask? It looks like me and you. It’s the little girl next door. It’s the man waiting at the bus stop. It’s the teenager you just walked past.

In my family, it’s cheeky, mischievous, gorgeous, bright eyed and handsome. It’s smiley, energetic and extremely affectionate. It’s just so handsome I could eat it!!

And I don’t care if I am biased. Because it’s my boy. x

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It’s just a touch of colic

My little girl turns 3 months today – that milestone that is supposed to bring sleep and a more settled baby. I have been counting down the days to this, because we had a ‘colicky baby’. 4 hours screaming a night on average, nothing could settle her. Passing her from mammy to daddy and back again. Rocking, bouncing, swaying, putting her in the buggy…..you name it, we tried it and it failed. I became a Google monster, looking up everything and anything, desperate for a cure. In desperation I turned to my doctor and was told ‘it’s just a touch of colic’ and she will grow out of it.

This enraged me. How can anyone be sure? What is colic anyway? I was not happy to see my little girl suffer and scream in pain. I’m not a first time mum so knew it wasn’t just wind. I persisted and the formula trials began….Comfort, Anti Reflux and then Colief…nothing. Until we tried one last effort – Neocate. It’s a prescription formula that has the cows milk protein broken down (amino based). I suggested it to my doctor after much research. Within 2 weeks I had a new baby.

Neocate is not the answer to everyone’s sleepless newborn nights, that’s not my reason for writing this post. I want to reach out to anyone going through Colic, to say to you to trust your gut and don’t be afraid to take no for an answer. My little girl cannot digest milk protein and was in agony (now confirmed by a paediatrician) so I’m glad I pushed.

I’d also like to share some tips and thoughts that might help anyone in those first few months:

  • Colic or whatever is causing the non stop crying is not your fault.
  • Long crying spells with a baby are damn hard, and will test you and your relationship. Admit how hard it is and have a good cry about it if you need with a friend.
  • Try to remember that all things will pass – visualise the future when you baby is no longer drinking bottles!
  • We all Google symptoms etc – it’s ok to read but but best to check things with a professional
  • Ring formula company help and info lines – they usually can tell you more than some doctors! A good pharmacist is also essential, I found Boots great.
  • Get on line in forums with other mums. Swap ideas with your friends. Speak to your public health nurse.
  • Trust your gut mum/dad…..the primary care giver knows baby best. Have confidence in yourself.
  • Most important – take care of your health, mental and physical. Your little baby cannot get through the this without your love and care and reach out for help when it is needed.

We still don’t sleep through the night in our house, we still feed every 3 hours! But gone are the screaming sessions, and bottle time is not a battle ground. Now we just have to get through the teething….🙄😊

Pip & Pear – all of the goodness, none of the guilt!

I am all for buying Irish, so was so excited to hear about Pip & Pear chilled baby food. Irene Quealy is a restaurantuer from Co. Waterford who has combined her passion for food and motherly know how to create the Pip & Pear range. The business has gone from strength to strength and after sampling some of the range I can see why they have won so many awards!

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We are not weaning in my house just yet, so I tried things out on myself and the fuss pot of a toddler I have. He is going through this phase of not really eating his porridge so I grabbed some of the Stage 1 pots to add to breakfast. I got involved too!

First up – Banana Blue (apples, blueberry and banana).

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This is delish! Really sweet and gorgeous with porridge. The fuss pot cleaned his bowl that morning! He also had some that afternoon on the spoon and he devoured it. I will definitely be getting this again when I am weaning my little girl.

Next – Spiced Apple & Pear

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This one is actually my favourite 🙂 I gave some to my toddler with some yoghurt and he loved it. So then I added it to yoghurt and museli for me – unreal! I think it’s the light hint of cinnamon that makes this one.

Finally – Lamb Tagine

The reason I tried this one is that I wanted to see if it would help me to get my toddler to eat some rice. I added it to some pilau rice, which he has been having issues with of late and it did the trick. There are lots of hidden veggies in this so it was great to sneak the goodness into him.

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I will definitely be using these as a back up to my own home made stuff when weaning the little one – everything in these packs is natural, gluten free and dairy free which is so important, but also they taste amazing; so much nicer than other brands. I like the fact that anything not eaten by the weaning baby can be used up by toddler or mum as well.

Pip & Pear are available in Supervalue stores nationwide. If your local store does not have them in stock, they will happily order them in for you if you ask nicely 😊

http://www.pipandpear.ie

Battle of the Teething Gels

Red cheeked baby, wash basket full of bibs, Mammy and Daddy sleep deprived – just another day in the life of the family with the teething baba. Just when you have them settled and out of the ‘colicky phase’ the next era of grumpy, crying baby begins. And this one lasts a lot longer. We have all heard of the legends of the babies that sailed through the teething phase; it just didn’t bother them says a breezy, chilled out Mum. I have yet to meet one of these mythological, non-teething creatures and so I will side with my scepticism and say that they do not exist.

Luckily, there are quite a few remedies that can be used to help soothe our little darlings as they cut their chompers. Teething gels are often the first reached for and so I have selected three that I currently have in the house to review:

Up first, a classic – Bonjela

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Bonjela is synonymous with all things mouth and gums and Bonjela Teething Gel is a pretty effective pain reliever. It contains Lidocaine Hydrochloride which is a local anaesthetic used to numb the gums. Baby must be over 2 months and Bonjela can only be used up to four times a day – when you have a crying baby, these 4 times can be gone fast!

Next, my preference, Nelson’s Teetha.

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This one is homeopathic and more of a ‘natural’ gel. Also available in powder format which some babies love, and you can actually combine both so long as you stick to the recommended dose. It can be given up to 6 times a day, and is said to help with flushed cheeks also. I find it tends to calm my baby down quickly.

Lastly, Dr. Talbot’s Teething Gel

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This one is all natural, but baby must be over 4 months before you can use it. I tried this one on myself and it is the strongest of the three, so definitely fast acting. However the tutti frutti flavour is very, very overpowering. I gave some to my little girl and she hated it! I can see why – the sensation was very like those lip enhancing lip glosses that make you tingle. Will be storing this one until she is older.

Do you use any other teething gels? What is your experience with the above? Share your experiences and tips with other mums.