Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Cherish Every Moment? No. My Advice For Brand New Parents

I was asked last week what advice, if any, I would give to brand new parents. I couldn’t help but think back to myself as a new mum. It made me feel a bit sad.

The New Mum Me was a bundle of self-doubt.
She wasn’t doing anything right. She wasn’t cut out for it. Her baby deserved better. She was failing. The New Mum Me once stood in the shower with her fingers in her ears, crying, trying to drown out the sound of the nursery rhyme CD which in turn was drowning out the sound of the screaming baby she could not settle. When her husband returned home she could only recall the 5 minute neglectful shower (she was sure this had emotionally scarred their baby for life) and not the 9.5 other hours she had attentively fed him ‘on demand,’ cuddled him and whispered to him that he was the most perfect thing she had ever seen. 
Very first pic as a mum. Terrible quality I'm afraid, I wasn't blogging then ;-)
So, with the magical wisdom of hindsight now bestowed upon me, I think I would tell brand new parents the following:

You are not obligated to cherish every moment.
It’s true that you will ‘never get this time again.’ It’s true that it will all ‘be over in a flash.’ It’s true that one day you will wake up and wonder where the time has gone, why you wished the days away, how it is possible that your baby will soon be heading out into the Big Wide World (reception). At 2am, however, when you’re not sure if the wet patch in the bed is leaked breast milk or leaked baby excrement, it is also true that you will quite justifiably wonder what the actual fuck has happened to your life.

Nobody cherishes every moment. Some moments are magic. Others are shit. On a sleep-deprived/‘cluster feeding’/nothing-stops-the-crying type day it is quite possible that the moment ratio will end up at 80:20 in favour of shit. Social media will never reflect this shitstorm because social media is not real life.

There is no shame in asking for help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Quite the contrary, it is a sign of strength. To be struggling and to admit that you are struggling demonstrates a kick-ass determination and fierceness in your ability to look after your baby. 

There is also no shame in putting your own needs above the needs of domestic chores. Of course we all know that the liberally-offered ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ nugget of wisdom is a bit of a joke (are you going to hoover when the baby hoovers, too?) but sometimes sleep is the most productive thing you can do with thirty minutes. Do not feel guilty about sleeping. If and when you have subsequent children you will kick yourself for not maximising naptimes the first time around (as you find yourself at the beck and call of a toddler who wants you to watch his Ninja Turtle kick for the gazillionth time).

Have faith when people tell you that one day it will all be worth it.
You might want to smack them in the face. But they are right. The New Mum Me who broke down in the shower couldn't see it. She was yet to feel her heart jump at the sound of her baby's giggle. She was yet to feel the overwhelming pride of watching him have a go at writing his name before looking up at her as if to say, 'I did it, Mummy!' 

If you're reading this as a brand new parent, I want you to know that there are magical moments to come. And some shit ones, too, which you are absolutely not required to cherish.

That's what I wish I had known.

The Unmumsy Mum

Monday, 11 April 2016

An Alternative Fireman Sam Script

[Dilys Price is chatting to Trevor Evans inside her shop]

Dilys: Oh Trevor, I’ve been having dreams about you and what we could get up to on your bus.

[Trevor, clearly uncomfortable about her sexual advances, is saved by the shop door flying open. Fireman Sam enters dragging Norman Price in by his ear]

Fireman Sam: I’m afraid Norman has been up to no good again, Dilys. I found him skateboarding between cars down at the harbour, he almost caused a pile-up.

Dilys: Norman Price! What have I told you about skateboarding between cars? You silly boy.

Norman: Sorry mam.

Fireman Sam: Sorry isn’t good enough this time, Norman. I’m afraid I’m going to have to have a word with your mum in private. Go to your room.

Norman price: You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my father!

[A knowing look is exchanged between Fireman Sam and Dilys. Norman’s face turns even paler than normal as he clocks Sam’s hair colour and starts reflecting on all the historic unwarranted patience Sam has displayed whenever he has been a total bellend]

Norman: Mam? Say something!

Dilys: It was one night, Norman. Strip poker got out of hand at the Floods’ house and Sam and I… well, Sam and I made you.

[Fireman Sam winces at the memory, it is plain to see he had his beer goggles on that night but doesn’t want to upset Dilys by labelling it a mistake]

Fireman Sam: We thought it best not to tell you, Norman. It has been tricky keeping it a secret. Both Station Officer Steel and Penny have voiced their suspicions, mostly because you have set fire to yourself and the rest of PontyPandy a gazillion times and yet still I have refrained from joining in with the others when they call you a dickhead.

Trevor: [coughs loudly] I think I should get going...

Dilys: Oh Trevor, please don’t be jealous of the night of naked passion Sam and I had on board Jupiter. It’s you I love.

[Trevor exits, leaving Dilys with her head in her hands]

Norman: I can’t believe I didn’t know that the bravest firefighter in PontyPandy is MY DAD. Are you going to pick me up and take me out in your fire engine every other weekend?

[Fireman Sam’s phone rings]

Fireman Sam: Hello? Penny, what’s happened? [cartoon squeaky phone voice from the other end] I'll be right there... I’ve got to go, Dilys - Mike Flood is stuck on a roof again and Elvis has made the situation worse. I honestly don’t know why anybody finds the ineptitude of a brainless firefighter so endearing - Elvis is a bloody liability. Let’s pick up this conversation again later, Norman.

Norman: Okay dad.

[Fireman Sam leaves the shop, vowing to never have drunk sex with a randy shopkeeper again].

The End.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Paid Posts, Free Stuff and Gut Feelings

This isn't my usual type of post, which is ironic considering it has its roots in my reluctance to stray from my usual type of post. Clear as mud? Allow me to explain. 

I have always known that people blog for a wide variety of reasons. Because they have something to say, because they have something to sell, because they love writing, because it helps to pay the bills, because there is every chance they might get a whole heap of free shit.

It's the latter two motives, the bill-paying and the free shit, that I have been thinking about for the last couple of months. Mostly (and in the spirit of this blog’s honesty) I have found myself wondering if I am missing out by refusing to entertain the idea of sponsored posts and brand collaborations. In fact, I have been told several times that I am indeed missing out. That I could earn a substantial amount of money from ‘paid posts’ (we’re not talking a few squid to spend on the annual messy-night-out dirty burger here we’re talking whole extra income territory).

But (and it’s not an insignificant but) it feels a bit like I’ve been offered a job I don’t want. Quite simply, it’s just not my cup of tea. And after much to-ing and fro-ing with a number of different people via email, I reached a pretty major conclusion at around midnight last night. I couldn’t get to sleep and I realised it was because I felt uncomfortable. Not physically uncomfortable, like when your knickers are a bit small and you can’t adjust them without looking like you’re touching yourself, but uneasy uncomfortable. And just like that, a decision was made (I am really very sorry to all the brands/companies who received an email from me at midnight last night with a polite but firm Thank You But No Thank You).

I woke up this morning feeling like a weight had been lifted and I wanted to share this with you because I think it’s important that you know exactly what you are seeing on my blog and social media pages. (I appreciate this is by no means the most interesting thing you’ll read on the internet today and if you’re already bored allow me to suggest BuzzFeed’s ‘Can You Guess Who These Powerpuffed British Politicians Are?’).

So, here’s some upfront honesty from me about paid posts and free shit.

Paid Posts
I have never been paid money to promote a product on my blog or social media pages. I have obviously been paid to write articles/features for others (writing is my job these days!) but I’m talking about being paid by brands i.e. ‘we’ll give a few smackeroonies to post a link/blog about our exciting new highchair.’ (Not quoting an actual email there, obviously, though it’s not far off). After last night’s moment of clarity I’ve realised that despite tempting offers my stance on this hasn’t changed, however I should add in the disclaimer that if somebody offers me a million pounds I will pose naked on their highchair with nothing but the brand’s logo covering my modesty.

Free shit
I have been given free stuff, which is in itself a kind of payment for the potential future sales generated by me having the free stuff and my followers seeing it.
My rules are as follows:
  • If it’s something I would have bought or used anyway, or something I genuinely fancy getting my mits on after admiring it from afar, then it’s all good (i.e. if I needed a highchair - which I don’t by the way I’m just sticking with the highchair example - I might accept a free highchair in return for telling people where I got the highchair when they inevitably message me to ask me where I got the highchair). I may post a pic of the highchair. I am unlikely to ever post ‘WOW look at my amazing highchair it has CHANGED MY LIFE’ on Instagram (but you never know). There will also be no ‘Reasons I Love This Highchair’ or ‘The Unmumsy Clan Test the Highchair 3000’ blogs because I don’t do reviews on this blog. That doesn't mean I won't do reviews for 'work' just not here.
  • I will never agree to casually dropping a key branded message into my post. In other words, I will not be told what to say (i.e. ‘Having such a great day because the easy-wipe highchair tray is designed around the modern messy family’ – you get the picture).
  • More often than not I will tell you where we've stayed on holiday (if I don’t I’m only met with ‘where did you stay?’ comments). Sometimes we will have been invited to stay in return for a mention and sometimes we won’t. If I love it, I’ll probably tell you I love it because you might love it too. I will never accept money to tell you that I loved it.
In a nutshell, you quite rightly trust that what I post and share is ‘real’ and my gut feeling tells me that  this is how it should stay.

The Unmumsy Mum
PS This honestly wasn't an arse-about-face way of bagging myself a new highchair, we've got one.
PPS This is not a dig at other bloggers who are paid to promote stuff on their pages. This is just what works for me.
PPPS I wouldn't pose naked for a million pounds. I look better with clothes on.