While my children were sleeping, I missed them.

Just before lights out, last night, I checked on my children.

Milin was as I usually find him just before midnight. He’d kicked off his duvet and lay curled up with his beloved bunny. I tucked him in, gave him a half-cuddle and a kiss, and held him to me for a moment knowing he was, as always, asleep deeply enough for me not to wake him.

He sleeps with a little Thomas the Tank Engine Go Glow night light, and I turned this off but left it by the side of his bed incase he woke up. I left his door ajar and open to the light from the hall because he doesn’t like sleeping in the dark.

With softer feet, I peered into Jasmin’s room. She is a light sleeper, and I have to ensure I don’t make a sound when checking on her. She sleeps on her side, pressed against the side of her cot, usually with one hand poking out between the bars. I checked she wasn’t too warm as she’s not been that well, and I stroked her hair from her eyes. Lowering the bars, I gave her a fleeting kiss, nervous about waking her.

And then, I turned her heater on low and pulled her door to.

It was just before midnight and I got into bed knowing they were fast asleep and content. But I felt a heaviness in my heart. I missed them. I wanted them by my side. I don’t know why I felt it last night more than any other, but it was an ache that made me sad.

Perhaps it was knowing that I would wake and it would be Tuesday – the first of my three days in a row at work. On these days, which I spend at my desk without them, I miss them all day.

Perhaps it was because I have been feeling recently like they are growing too fast. I don’t know when this happens – but I seem to look at them each morning and they’ve grown up even more overnight, while I wasn’t watching, while I was sleeping.

Some nights, when Jasmin’s teeth are bothering her and she can’t settle, she will sleep soundly between us in our bed. Last night she didn’t, and I missed her.

I can’t remember the last time Milin didn’t sleep in his own bed. I miss him there too.

These two of mine will never be so small as they are now. Sometimes, like last night, I want to capture all of their smallness and them-ness and the stuff that makes Milin and Jasmin my babies, and I want to hold it tight to me forever. But, instead, they slept in their beds and I missed them.

Sometimes, I feel like the minutes and days pass too quickly, and I’m not breathing enough of them in. Instead, I’m at work or they are in their beds or we are somewhere doing something and I don’t notice them suddenly growing. And I miss then.

while you were sleeping

Planes and rescue choppers: Visiting the RAF Museum in London

RAF Museum

We are lucky enough to live only a short drive away from the RAF Museum in Colindale, North London. It’s become one of our favourite rainy day places to go and so I thought it might be time for a little post about it.

The museum itself is huge and the displays are organised chronologically. For two-year-old Milin, it’s like a series of gigantic interconnecting aircraft hangars full of rescue choppers and bombers. He can run around them to his heart’s content and really get up close to planes from the last 100 years.

He knows exactly which planes and helicopters you can climb inside for a better look around, and he knows exactly where the cafe is serving croissants.

At the end of the museum is a brilliant play area where one-year-old Jasmin can join Milin in climbing in and out of planes and helicopters. They love this space and it’s perfect for tiring them out before the trip home!

I’d recommend a visit if you’re nearby – the museum is free, which constantly amazes me – and you just pay for parking in the carpark. It’s exactly what museums for kids should be – fun, there’s lots of space to run around, and there’s lots of activities to do too.

Here’s a short video of our most recent trip to give you a better  idea of how much fun the kids can have there. Enjoy!

 

Mother, this too shall pass

I have heard the quiver in your voice when you try to to make a joke of being so tired.

I have seen you blink back the tears when you talk of another tantrum.

I have watched you drop your head into your hands when you have run out of answers.

All of this – I have done it too. All of this – I promise you will do it less and less every day.

All of this – we have all felt it. We will all go through it. We will all look back on it one day from a different place.

And this is what I know.

Now, that I’m in another place, where there is a little more sleep, there is a little more to life than the cycle of feeding, settling, entertaining – and repeat.

Now, that I have had time outside that place where there was nothing but being tired and doing everything wrong and not knowing what to do to make things better or easier… this is what I know.

There were some things that made life a little brighter.

There was coffee, sometimes, with a friend who didn’t mind that I hadn’t brushed my hair. There was the very occasional snatched half hour when I lay down and closed my eyes and left the errands ’til later. There was the talking about it all when I didn’t always feel like I was strong enough. There was the realisation that it wasn’t just me and we would all get through it. There was the acceptance that I would never be perfect and it was time to make the most of just being me. There was the reaching out, and taking someone’s hand when it was offered…

These were some of the things that made life a little brighter.

There were others too.

There was the gradual letting go of the small stuff. There was the eventual refusal to judge myself and my actions. There was the turning my back on expectations I’d formed of a mother who didn’t exist.

There is no perfect mother, there is no supermum, there is no ideal.

It is hard – it is unfairly and impossibly so. But, it does end.

They grow bigger, and older, and cleverer and more independent. They no longer spend each night in your bed. They no longer wake screaming from teething pain every hour. They no longer need you to carry them around everywhere and change their nappies then feed them then carry them then do it all again.

You, mother, will always be the beloved, the needed, the one.

But when it feels like the load is lighter, you will miss their dependence.

I’m not saying making the most of this. I’m saying their needs will diminish. Your love and theirs wont. But you will, one day, struggle to remember the almost-suffocation of not being able to put one down all day even though you haven’t had a coffee or are desperate for the toilet. You will, one day, search back in your mind in a panic because you can’t quite remember how small they were on the day they were born. You will, one day, sleep all night through and wake up and wonder when everything changed.

Because they will change, they will grow. They will always be yours, and you will always be their beloved. But, slowly, they will do more for themselves, they will occupy a space a little apart from yours, and their demands will become less physical. And so, this intensely beautiful, never-repeated, exhausting time that is yours and your baby’s – it will pass.

babyboy

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Introducing Mum Talk TV

There’s a new channel over on You Tube, and it’s called Mum Talk TV. Why is this exciting?

Well…. I should start at the beginning.

MumTalkTV Logo

Since starting Mummy Says, I’ve got to know some brilliant people and I’ve also made some amazing friends. We’ve bonded over breastfeeding sagas, we’ve commiserated over sleepless nights, we’ve sympathised over teething nightmares and empathised with each other about toddler tantrums.

I’ve also met an incredibly inspiring group of mums who I’ve collaborated with on a new and rather exciting project – Mum Talk TV.

The six of us are all – among other things – bloggers. We love the sense of community our online spaces have given us, we love the friends we have made in these places, and we love the companionships and support we have found. But as well as writing, we all also love making little vlogs and videos. So we figured it was something we should do together.

Mum Talk TV launches at 7pm on November 23. We’re ridiculously excited about the content we have coming up.

You’ll find a new video posted every Wednesday and Sunday at 7pm. We’ll be chatting about parenting – the big issues and the not so big ones – and we’ll also be featuring a bucket-load of fashion, beauty, lifestyle and home articles too. We’ll have expert guest videos from a fantastic line-up of other bloggers and YouTubers too. There’ll be useful tips and tricks, how-to vlogs and tutorials, and also plenty of other stuff which will be just a bit of fun.

If you’re like me and love putting in your headphones and losing an hour on YouTube – this is for you. If you’ve not yet been sucked in  – do take a little look at to our shows to see what the fuss is about.

Please tune in for our launch, subscribe to our channel, and come back again for more. It’s a bit of fun, something we’re going to be learning-as-we-go with, and, above all, something we hope you will love!

Thanks for watching x

Mum Talk TV

At the back of my wardrobe

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I’m sure every woman I know has a few little things at the back of her wardrobe she just can’t part with. I certainly do.
They’re not the most expensive clothes I’ve ever bought, and they’re definitely not the most beautifully cut classics or on-trend pieces. But, they are little things that I love – so I thought I’d share them.

I should start off by explaining first that there isn’t much in my wardrobe that has lasted the test of time. It’s not because I buy poor quality clothes – it’s more that I had the most liberating, wonderful clear-out when we left New Zealand last January. Milin was 13 months old so for almost two years I’d been in maternity wear or nursing wear. Plus, I was pregnant with Jasmin, so I knew my next two years were going to be similar. As it turned out – I spent more than three years either pregnant or nursing – so I was probably right to give away most of my clothes when we left New Zealand, instead of shipping them over to England. By the time I’d fit into them again, many would have been incredibly out-dated.

But there were a few things I couldn’t say goodbye to… here are my favourites!

This silk Max shirt wasn’t particularly expensive, but when I wear it, it feels like it cost the best part of my weekly salary. I love it with skinny cropped trousers or a pencil skirt – but I’ve never quite had the nerve to wear it anywhere but work. Still, there’s something, I suppose, about the timelessness of polka dots plus silk that make it work – even though I’m not usually a shirt wearer. It always, always, attracts comments too.

A photo posted by Kiran Chug (@kiranchug) on

 

Isn’t this pretty? I love a good blazer with jeans, and wearing this makes me happy. I’m usually rubbish at finding charity or vintage store bargains, but this is probably my one exception. It’s from the Banana Republic petite range and I spied it in a second hand store in Wellington almost ten years ago. I wanted it immediately, and even though I only wear it occasionally, it makes me smile every time I put it on. I’m forever in jeans too, so this instantly takes jeans, a tshirt and flats and makes them part of a special outfit.

A photo posted by Kiran Chug (@kiranchug) on

 

I bought this cape when I was pregnant with Milin and it’s just something I can’t part with. I’m not a big fan of the duffle toggles, but I still love the look this gives me – especially with straight cropped trousers. It’s an instant pick-me-up. I usually adore anything camel, but this in tan just works for me – particularly when the hood is up. And, if I’m feeling uninspired about what I’m wearing, this is guaranteed to change my mood!

A photo posted by Kiran Chug (@kiranchug) on

 

What few pieces do you have hiding at the back of your wardrobe – and how often do you get them out?
Fashion Friday on MummysGotStyle.com

Does a mother have more empathy?

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[Trigger warning: Child abuse and death]

There was only ever one story, while I worked as a reporter, that made me cry.

The little boy’s name was Duwayne Pailegutu. When he was seven years old, his step-father beat him so badly that he spent the next two weeks slowly dying in a council flat. His mother, Mary, watched her only child’s body shut down – but was too scared to get help.

On the night of Duwayne’s death, after a detective friend had told me in confidence what had happened, I went home and lay on my bed and sobbed for a long time.

Years later, I still think of Duwayne and I know I’ll never forget what happened to the little boy who was murdered because he left his jumper at school.*

But why am I thinking about Duwayne tonight?

Well, I’m wondering about how I might have been a slightly different reporter if I had been a mother back then.

For the best part of a decade, I worked as a news reporter – at a provincial daily, at a national daily, at the state broadcaster on air.

I covered other murders, suicides, accidental deaths – each were tragedies on their own. But, somehow, I didn’t let them get under my skin. Seeking out grieving family members and knocking on their doors at the worst moment of their lives was my job, and – somehow – I got on with it.

Would I be able to do it today? I don’t know.

Because something has shifted.

It all moved when Milin was born.

The tears now come quicker, the laughter comes more readily. My heart aches somehow more keenly for the pain of others. I feel little flashes of stress encroach into my being, little things get to me when perhaps they once wouldn’t have. I’m told, not infrequently, that I look like the day has beaten me, that I look tired or sad. I’m not though – not really – but maybe I’ve been caught in a moment of letting things get to me a little more than before.

I wonder if I would have been able to cover Duwayne’s murder trial today.

It is not that becoming a mother has made me any more sympathetic. I believe I have always acted kindly. But, something is different. I almost want to say that I somehow feel things more.

Is it because I am older, I have lived more, hurt more, and loved more? Or is it because, quite simply, I’m tired all the time and so the little things get to me?

Perhaps. But, perhaps, too, it is because I have learnt a new empathy.

Since the birth of my children I know what it is to feel intensely that life is so much bigger than me, that others come first, that my needs aren’t a priority any more, that the small things aren’t important but they are still everything. I have watched a child cry because to them a small disaster is the end of the world. I have watched their day crumble because we’ve run out of Rice Krispies. I have watched them need to hold my hand because they are afraid of the dark. I have watched them, helpless, depend on their mother for life.

Have I learnt to feel more? No. But I have learnt the love of a mother. And it’s changed everything.

Duwayne Pailegutu

*Duwayne’s step-father pleaded guilty to murder in the High Court at Nelson, New Zealand, a few months later. He is still in prison.

 

I’m a mother, therefore I should…

When, as mothers, do we start doing things for ourselves? When do we start doing the things that make us happy, the things that deep down we know will make our children happy, and the things that we aren’t doing out of obligation? Or should I ask these questions from another perspective? Because what I’m really asking is when, as mothers, do we start doing things because we feel we should?

I’ve been thinking recently about how I’ve felt, more than ever since being a mother, obliged to do things.

It started, naturally, at the beginning. I should talk to my bump, I should hope to give birth a certain way, I should teach my baby to self settle.

These days, I should take my children to music classes. I feel like I should limit their screen time. I feel like I should feed them exotic fruits and quinoa as well as apples and bananas and pasta. (Not that they eat quinoa – that’s just one of my wildest dreams.)

Of course, all of this thinking about feeling like I must… has come about since I posted yesterday about how I don’t like playgroup. So many of you  said you didn’t like it either. Yet you, like me, had kept on trying. We all kept going out of some vague sense of it was meant to be good for the kids, and therefore something we should do.

Much of this internalised obligation is, I imagine, derived from guilt. In my case, at least, I feel like I should do things because in doing them I will lessen some of the guilt I experience as a not-very-perfect-mother.

If I serve the kids strawberries and mangoes in winter, does it make up for the fact that Milin eats no vegetables or meat… ever?

If I take them to swimming lessons does it make up for the fact that I’m crap at coming up with enjoyable and educational craft activities which are age appropriate for both kids at the same time?

If I fill our schedules with activities and playdates does it make up for the three days I don’t see them because I’m working?

Of course – the obligation comes out of the pressure I put on myself to be that mother who doesn’t exist. The one who goes to playgroup and loves it and talks to everyone and still manages to keep an eye on her kids and be there to break their falls off the slide. The one who makes home-cooked meals for every lunch and dinner which contain items from every food group and the kids practically lick off their plates. The one who smiles every moment of the day because she’s having so much fun building a tower out of Lego. The one who works until 1am every night because she’d rather survive on five hours sleep than miss out on time with her babies… oh, wait, I’ve got that one down actually.

But the rest of it – it’s all come from my own projection of a misconstrued ideal. (Yes that misconstruction has been put together largely as a sum of parts fed to me through the media I consume, but it’s still my construction.) I know supermum doesn’t exist. I know everyone gets bored playing trains sometimes, I know everyone feeds their children food from a jar sometimes, I know everyone secretly despises Pintrest because their home-made crafts look nothing like the ones on their boards.

Yet even though I know this, I find it hard to turn my back on the mother, woman, sister, wife, friend who is everything to everyone and who does it all. I still find it hard to shut her out – I’ve made her up in my head and I can’t help but kind of feel like I should be her. Just a bit.

When I do though ignore that feeling of should have could have would have – when I stop doing things because I feel like I should – that’s when life is better.

When I do things like take the kids out to dance in the rain instead of to music class, when I feed them plain buttery pasta in front of the  tv while we have a cuddle on the sofa, when I just let them loose with the paints and no instructions – these are the times we are all happy.

When I step away from feeling like I should, or like they should, or like we must – these are the moments that make life ours.

To return to my question – when do we start doing things for ourselves and our children and not because we feel we should? It’s probably when we have the strength to acknowledge that misconstrued ideal, give her a little nod, and then wave her on her way. That’s when.

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I don’t like playgroup

playing with dolls at playgroup

Every Monday morning, I take Milin and Jasmin to our local playgroup. It’s in a cold church hall, the carpet looks like it was last hoovered 3 years ago, and the wall of noise that hits you when you open the front door gives me a headache. But the children love it.

My relationship with playgroup has never been easy. It’s always been somewhere I have gone to out of a sense of obligation – and I can’t say I’ve ever looked forward to it. This week though, something changed. I realised it’s time to stop carrying around the burden of guilt I take through the door with me each week. I don’t like it, and that’s ok.

I’m in the midst of my longest continuous stint of going to playgroup. You might remember that this stint started back in September. It was a new term full of promise, I was feeling confident about outings with two children, I was looking for something for us to do on Monday mornings… and so I went back to playgroup. (I’d abandoned it a year earlier because keeping an eye on a toddler and a newborn in a room full of toys and 30 other children was too much hard work). This September though, I braved our return. That first week went ok – I even wrote a post about how I thought it might be different this time, and I made a little video of the kids playing happily on the dirty carpet.

But we’re two months in now and I can say it. Nothing’s changed. The kids are still happy there. But I don’t like playgroup.

Yes – the benefits remain – it’s an easy rainy day option which gets us out of the house, it’s cheap and there’s no termly sign-up fee or register, the kids get to socialise with other children and play with other toys… I’m sure there’s other great things about it too.

But – then there’s the other stuff. I never, ever, ever manage to drink a coffee. I know this isn’t a big problem in the scheme of things, but I like coffee. It’s the thing that makes life work for me and I’d be a mess without it. So when something is noisy and bad and dirty – good coffee can make it better. This never happens at playgroup though because I don’t get both hands free for long enough.

The small talk is worse than not having a coffee. I’ve stopped joining in – I’ve realised. Broken conversations, left hurriedly because Jasmin is crying because a big girl pushed her over, just don’t do it for me. In the 27 seconds I get between joining in a play rescue with Milin and picking pushed-over Jasmin off the floor – I’m not going to suddenly bond with someone I might never meet again just because our kids look like they might be the same age.

I know playgroup isn’t about finding a best friend. And I know that for new mums it can be a lifeline. In fact, the kind-of-playgroup (SPACE programme) I went to in New Zealand from when Milin was five weeks old was a time of the week I looked forward to desperately. I made friends who I still keep in touch with, despite being on the other side of the world. But the sessions were calmer, more structured, and I was a new mum who needed that contact with others in my situation.

Now, perhaps, I’ve just accepted that we all go through rubbish times, and my good times will alternate with the bad, but no-one knows my children better than me and talking about how my child doesn’t eat won’t make things change.

And then – to return to the not-great-things-about-playgroup – then, there’s the guilt. I go to playgroup because I feel like I should. I’m not blaming anyone else for this – it’s a situation I’ve crafted all by myself – but I for some reason have felt like like it’s good for the kids to spend their Monday mornings in a big cold room full of mismatched toys and a snack of a little fruit and biscuits I’d rather they didn’t know about.

So it stops here.

I don’t get enough time with my children. My three days at work mean there’s three days in the week when I don’t get to hang out with them. On one of the four remaining, I’m over doing things because I feel like I should.

Milin goes to nursery. Jasmin goes to music. The kids go to swimming. They have cousins and friends and play dates, they’re spoilt with trips to the zoo, museums, the theatre. We go walking loads – playing pooh sticks, going to the park, collecting pretty leaves and going on bear hunts – we have all this wrapped up. We paint silly pictures, we make train tracks, we play crazy funny games, we read, we laugh…. we don’t need playgroup.

I know it’s right for some people. But for me, just now, I’m giving away my sense of obligation that it’s good for the kids. Everything I do for Milin and Jasmin is good for them. Not going to a weekly playgroup won’t make them live less fulfilled lives, it won’t make them hate me, it won’t make them want for fun.

There might be the odd week, I know, particularly through the winter, when I’ll crave the easy set-up of that church hall – and so, we’ll go back. But until then, I’m putting a stop to doing things because I’ve told myself I should.

It’s not a coincidence that I started taking Milin and Jasmin to playgroup when I returned to work. But enough with the guilt of filling up our days off together. I know our hours together are happy and full. From now on, that’s going to be enough.

playgroup

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My Autumn Winter Wardrobe 2014

This is the first autumn and winter in four years that I’ve not been pregnant or breastfeeding. So, it’s also the first time in four years that I’ve been able to wear the clothes I really love during my favourite seasons for fashion.

If you follow my #ootd – outfit of the day – posts on Instagram, you’ll already know that this little selection below contains some of my most-loved pieces at the moment. They’re all items which make me feel good but, are practical and comfortable, but also save me from a wardrobe rut. Here they are:
autumn look book

Top left: My weekend staple – a Boden jersey deer print tunic I wear as a dress. It’s so comfortable but fun as well.
Bottom left: A Joules tunic smart enough for work or an evening out.
Left of centre: Boden super skinny jeans in indigo. These jeans and me just work – so I’ve also got them in forest green.
Centre: Joules dress – could this print be any more lovely?
Right of centre: Boden bistro trousers. I’m coveting these in an ankle-skimming capri length too and I can’t get enough of this print.
Top right: River Island leather biker jacket. Goes with everything.
Bottom right: Told you I love this Boden print – it definitely livens up a pink Tshirt.

Want a closer look? I’ve filmed a little vlog to show off my mum style this season… enjoy!

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Fashion Friday on MummysGotStyle.com

Kim Kardashian didn’t break the internet, but I love her

The Break The Internet front cover of PAPER magazine featuring Kim Kardashian’s naked butt almost did what it intended this week. It didn’t quite break the internet – we’re all still here – but it did get a large chunk of the web talking about Kim, her behind, and a magazine a lot of us had probably never given much thought to before.

I don’t need to show you all again those shots of Kim, but if you haven’t seen them, imagine her standing on a box, looking over her shoulder at us, the readers who can’t take our eyes off her naked derriere. Other pictures include her balancing a champagne glass on her bum (quite a skill by the look of it…), and there is a full nude inside too.

My instant reaction to these images was that they are beautiful. Whatever you think of Kim Kardashian, a woman largely famous for the publication of images of herself, she is gorgeous. Beauty is subjective, yes, and Kim has been predictably lambasted for the stunt. But I can’t help thinking that she should be celebrated a little too.

Kim Kardashian backstage at The Heart Truths Red Dress Collection 2010

Kim Kardashian backstage at The Heart Truths Red Dress Collection 2010

Who is Kim Kardashian? From the image of herself she takes pains to show the world, she is a loving mother, sister, daughter and wife. She works bloody hard. She cares about herself, she cares about charitable causes, and she has an incredible self-confidence that surely cannot be a front for insecurities.

In an age where social media makes celebrities (think Zoella and Alfie Deyes), in a world where you can become one of the most talked about people on the planet for a moment because of a status you write on twitter, in a time where you can be famous  for the selfies you post on Instagram – Kim Kardashian is winning.

On her terms, Kim Kardashian is championing the right of individuals to celebrate themselves, to get to the top through entrepreneurship, through imagination, through hard work and through spotting what’s on trend and running with it. She shows us her life through the lens of her phone – it’s a life where she turns the lens on herself and shows us her skin without make-up and her life without filters. She lets us in to the everyday behind the photo shoots.

Kim Kardashian is up front too about nudity and its power – and she does it with a smile on her face and knowing full well that really, this should all be a bit of fun. She takes her clothes because she might ‘break the internet’ and get somehow even more people talking about her behind. But you know what? She shows the world her curves – there are no starved limbs, there is no four-inch thigh gap. There is the naked body of a mother who – for the first time – has convinced me of the argument that a woman posing nude is perhaps not being exploited by the media. She admits to insecurities about her figure after the birth of her daughter, but she also shows us that she’s working hard to make herself look they way she wants.

Kim Kardashian has chosen to use her own body to exploit the media she uses to make her famous, she playfully exploits us all too, and plays on our obsessions with self.

I despise that PAPER magazine have described their cover star as “like a beautiful anime character come to life”. In these words, though, they have admitted that our fascination with the ‘real’ Kim Kardashian is what will drive their sales to new highs this month. Kim Kardashian, the woman in the selfie, is showing us her life. She’s showing us a life to celebrate and be proud of. She’s convinced me, anyway, to put the scepticism aside for a moment and, believe in the power of a woman who loves her own body.