Pinewood Pods at Port Lympne Zoo

On the morning of Sunday the 13th October, we headed to Port Lympne where we were going to spend the next couple of days. Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve is about a 25 minute drive from our home, the perfect sort of distance away for a short break! Here is my review of how our stay went!

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The Accommodation- Our Pod at the Pinewood Pods facility was lovely. It had the room to sleep four, although in doing so- leaving the pod is definitely made a little more difficult. The bedding and towels were clean. The beds were comfortable and we had more than enough tea and coffee bits and bobs to get us through our stay. The Pods are located right next to the Lion and Tiger enclosures and hearing the Lions, especially Daddy Lion ‘Milo’ throughout the night was magical. The Lions have three beautiful cubs that were born about five months ago, staying so close to them was definitely very special!

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The facilities- Despite the Pod being well cleaned, the toilet and shower block was pretty dirty, not only did it not look clean, but it didn’t smell clean either. We checked out the facilities right after check in, so they were not dirty from use- if anything they should have been cleaned and ready for new guests. The extractor fan was thick with dust. The floors had a fine layer of watered down mud. The pedals on the sanitary bins did not work. The access to the toilet and shower block had steps, meaning that even if you were to stay at the accessibility friendly pod, you wouldn’t necessarily have an access friendly stay.

The Staff – The staff at Port Lympne generally seemed very helpful and genuinely happy to be there. The Safari drivers were fantastic and very knowledgeable. The restaurant and shop staff doted on my daughter and were full of praise for her manners.

The Pinewood Restaurant – When staying at the Pod we decided to bring our own bits and bobs for breakfast- juice, croissants and long life milk for F. I am very glad we did, because a basic dinner of hot dogs and chips for three of us, set us back over £35. I cannot imagine how much we would have spent if we’d had to buy all of our meals, snacks and refreshments there- but based on the prices for four meals at the Pinewood Café alone, we’d be looking at around £140 alone.

The Animals- I wholeheartedly believe that Port Lympne is one of the greatest zoos in the country for conservation efforts. This can be seen in their successful attempts at breeding endangered animals such as Lions, Gorillas and Rhinos. The work they have done to reintroduce animals that have been on the brink of extinction is nothing short of amazing- especially in regards to Silverback Gorillas, over 50 of these beautiful and endangered animals have been sent to wild Congo over the years where they are safe and thriving, all thanks to Port Lympne’s conservation and breeding success. The animals all appear happy, healthy and well cared for. The keepers and staff clearly adore the animals that they work with and see on a daily basis.

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The Safari- The Safari as an experience was excellent. Being able to see the animals wander free, without bars or the conventional confines of an enclosure was fantastic. F wanted to go on it three times and still didn’t tire of the whole experience! Some facts given to us by the three different safari drivers varied, for example “We only have one male giraffe here, if we have more than one, they may swing their necks to fight and this can cause a massive amount of damage, injury and distress to the animals and their enclosures” compared to “We have 4(?) females and 3 males in the giraffe house and surrounding enclosure” .. and “African hunting dogs have a success rate of up to 90% unlike other comparable but larger carnivores like tigers or lions who have a success rate of 20 to 40%” compared to “African hunting dogs have a success rate of up to 90% unlike other comparable but larger carnivores like tigers or lions who have a success rate of 30 to 50%” Leaving us wondering what exactly was true and accurate and what wasn’t. We were also quizzed by one driver on F’s age, when other drivers let babies less then six months on board- the inconsistency in safety information was definitely confusing! I also feel that maybe, like with rides at a theme park, it could be beneficial to warn people about how bumpy the safari is, so they can make an informed decision to ride- especially in case they are pregnant, suffer from back / neck complaints, arthritis, complex pain syndromes or heart conditions.

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Accessibility- Some types of accommodation include a Golf Buggy to use at your leisure throughout the park along a Buggy route, our accommodation unfortunately did not include this. We enquired to see if we could maybe hire a Buggy for the duration of our stay but sadly the reserve only ever has enough buggies to cater for users of higher end accommodation. I feel that if additional buggies could be made available, it could really benefit Port Lympne’s guests with additional mobility needs- the park is particularly hilly and access to manual wheelchairs is a nice option, but putting their use to practice seems almost impossible in a park where even pushing a three year old in their stroller was a struggle.

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We enjoyed our stay and really recommend going if you can find a similar experience at the off peak reduced rate. For the full £200 to be worth spending, the toilet and shower facilities need to at least be clean. As a whole, I feel that if I had paid the full £200 for a nights stay, I would have been disappointed, solely based on how dirty the toilet and shower facilities were. However, as I paid the off peak price of £100, I was very pleased with the value of money for two days park access for two adults and a child, a nights stay in a lovely little pod and unlimited rides on the safari- Realistically I would have been happy to pay up to £150 without extras for this experience! I have been visiting Port Lympne for just under 25 years and have never been disappointed- visiting the animals makes learning about them and their habitats super fun and interactive. I grew up visiting this zoo and I am pleased to be doing the same with my daughter as she grows!

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Tricks for coping with Chicken Pox!

Many of us are familiar with the signs and symptoms of chicken pox- if you’re not click here and have a read! Sadly it is inevitable that our little ones will deal with it at some point- so we thought that we’d put together some (tried and tested*) top tips for helping your little ones to cope with the Pox!

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(*All of the following has been tried by Harriet, with Flo, during her case of chicken pox in late July / early August. She recovered remarkably well and despite having sensitive skin, we managed to keep her comfortable and barely ever had to remind her not to itch or scratch! Her spots scabbed over very quickly and she had little other symtoms. I tried all of the below to keep her comfortable and feel that these things really helped to get her through ‘The Chicken Pox’ with ease!)

  1.  Avoid giving your child Ibuprofen at all costs! Ibuprofen disrupts the healing process and increases the risk of soft tissue / skin infections- including serious infections like necrotising fasciitis. Ibuprofen is an anti inflammatory and because of this, it can react with the chicken pox- making them go deeper into the skin tissue.
  2.  Avoid giving you child any form of Aspirin! Children who have Chicken Pox Virus can develop a potentially fatal condition called Reye’s Syndrome, which can cause severe brain and liver damage.
  3. Remember that you can use Piriton (Chlorphenamine), in children 12 Months and Older – this helps to soothe the itching and discomfort that comes with the Chicken Pox blisters healing. Please always read the instructions!  Piriton
  4.  Calpol can be given when your child has a fever or is struggling with cold symtoms that often accompany Chicken Pox. If your child doesn’t like the taste, you can try mixing in with squash.  You can buy cheaper versions of liquid paracetamol at your local supermarket or at drugs stores like Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy or Superdrug- they do exactly the same job as Calpol, often at almost half the price! Please always read the instructions! Calpol
  5. Applying Diprobase Emollient can soothe sore spots. Diprobase is often used as for nappy cream and for eczema. The emollient properties soothe the itchiness from the outside!Diprobase
  6. Using Vosene Frequent as bubble bath, at bath time can help to keep the scabs nice and dry. Florence said it made her skin feel “nice and cool and comfy again”.Vosene

7. Apply PoxClin CoolMousse to soothe itchy spots. PoxClin Is a relatively new product that you can apply to your child’s spots. It can apparently accelerate the natural healing process and prevents the infection of wounds. It is super light and fluffy so it is very quickly absorbed into the skin. Poxclin_CoolMousse8. Calamine lotion is the cheapest way to soothe those nasty spots. It is a tried and tested approach that goes back decades, just dab on with cotton wool and away you go!Care_Calamine_Lotion9. Keep fingernails short to stop the blisters from being scratched, as this can lead to scaring. In children under three you might even be able to get away with putting socks on your child’s hands to avoid scratching when they are asleep.

10.  Ice lollies are a life saver if your little one has cold symptoms with their Chicken Pox or, of their Chicken Pox has spread to their Mouth, Lips or Tongue!

11. Keep your little one very well hydrated, they might not feel like eating much- especially if they have spots in their mouth, so their usual milk or milk substitutes may help keep their energy levels up. Offer them fluids frequently as drinking lots can keep nastier symptoms at bay and can aid the healing process.

If your child is too young to be given Calpol, it is recommended that you seek medical assistance. Here are some signs and symptoms that aren’t always ‘normal’ to have when experiencing Chicken Pox, these might indicate that you need to seek further medical assistance for your child-

  • If you your child has a temperature of over 39 degrees.
  • If the skin surrounding your child’s chickenpox becomes red, sore or appears to be infected.
  • If your child has pain in their chest or difficulty breathing.
  • If your child is not managing to drink enough fluids.
  • If your child is struggling to pass urine.
  • Severe headaches.
  • Sensitivity to light (photosensitivity).
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Confusion.
  • Sleepiness, fainting, difficulty waking or unconsciousness.
  • Convulsions or seizures.

What have you tried to help soothe chickenpox?

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Wonderful Women: Mum of three, brain surgery & ASD

  • Although we are ‘Mummykind’, put being a ‘Mummy’ aside for a second and tell us about you!

Hello, I’m Rachel. I’m currently not working because I’m recovering from brain surgery. I’ve been working on some minor home improvements as I let my standards slip a little bit when I was poorly! I enjoy gardening, spending time outside, looking after my small menagerie of animals and enjoying the company of my beautiful granddaughter!

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  • How about your children? How old are they, what are they up to?

My youngest is 13 and in Key Stage three at school. Then we have my 20-year-old son who is off to University in September, where he will study Urban Planning. My eldest is nearly 24 and a Mummy to my Granddaughter, she enjoys writing and promoting Mental Health awareness.

  • What are your favourite and least favourite parts of being a parent?

My favourite part of being a parent is seeing my children genuinely happy and succeeding. I love the relationship my children and I have. When all else fails, I know I can depend on my little family and they know they can depend on me. They all have a fantastic sense of humour and there is honestly never a dull moment when any of us are spending time together! My least favourite part is when my children are ill, especially when I nearly lost my daughter when she was giving birth and also when my youngest had severe viral encephalitis. It has also been awful seeing my children being bullied to the extent it has impacted their mental health.

  • When did you first consider that your youngest child was different?

When he had just turned two, he suffered multiple convulsions that lead to a prolonged period of him not being able to breathe. After this period of ill health, his character and behaviour completely changed. He was still our little boy, but he wasn’t quite the same anymore. The specialist said that the period in which is brain was shutting down could have well have led to cognitive changes, causing ASD.

He started to stare at the washing machine as it spun around. If he was ever in a small space, he only ever wanted to escape – he’d run into walls and try to climb out of windows. He was sensitive to sound, touch, to having too many people around. We’d have to cut the tags out of his clothes, including his pants and socks. He was withdrawn and easily overwhelmed.

  • How difficult has it been to get him the help and support he needs?

It has been virtually impossible to get him the help he deserves. Despite showing typical signs of ASD and related disorders, he wasn’t diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder until he was nearly seven years old.

Getting that diagnosis took continual visits to the GP, countless visits to our local specialist, support from his primary school and other trusted people’s supportive documents. He has been declined 5 times for a Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) as he isn’t “Autistic enough” despite being “too autistic” for mainstream school, according to his specialist provision at school. He has many struggles with not only ASD, but ADHD, APD and even some aspects of Tourette’s (to name a few!) – but he is high functioning, which hasn’t helped at all with his EHCP.

  • Describe a typical day to us? What are your biggest daily struggles? What are the highlights?

Mornings are so stressful – we have a minute by minute system of what we need to do to get him out of the house on time. It has taken 18 months of almost literal blood, sweat and tears for us to find a routine that works for him. We face multiple difficulties like him struggling with shoelaces and his tie because he doesn’t like how it feels. His anxiety levels are so high that he can’t get the bus to school, so he must be driven. He is almost done with his second year and still not doing a full school day.

He has started doing more mainstream lessons as he prepares for his GCSEs. The highlights are when he comes home happy, when he has learnt something new that he’s excited about. He does so well academically despite his difficulties that in most subjects he’s on the same level as his neurotypical peers. He is really interested in Physics and has a keen interest in space… hearing him talking about something he is passionate about makes me so proud.

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  • How has the past year been for your family?

It has not been the easiest of years! This time last year my brain condition was affecting how I thought, how I walked, how I talked – I was using a stick and wheelchair. I wasn’t myself at all. I had surgery for this at Kings in December and I’ve been recovering well since! I am so thankful that I had that surgery done when I did, it’s been life changing.

My husband had a DVT which lead to a life-threatening DVT pulmonary embolism, causing permanent lung damage – he’s been placed on medications for this and since then he’s been much better.

My son’s specialist unit at school has closed, so we’ve been in lots of meetings regarding a new smaller provision that is being piloted. We’re hoping this works well for him and helps him feel secure enough to continue to achieve.

There have been so many mishaps and incidents – I’m just thankful to have my family and my dogs by my side!

  • How have you managed to cope? What do you do to unwind and relax?

My family inspire me to keep going, as I said before, when all else fails, I still have them, and they have me. We try to get away on holidays whenever we can. I love a good soak in the bath, or a cup of tea and a chat. You can’t go wrong with either of those!

  • What hopes do you hold not only for your youngest child, but for your whole family?

Understandably my youngest causes me the most concern, above all I just want him to be happy on whatever path he chooses to take. School, work, college? If he’s happy and fulfilling his potential, I couldn’t be happier! I hope my eldest son does well at university and enjoys his chosen career. I hope that my daughter finds an answer to her many medical problems, so that she can live a happy and healthy life with her little girl. After all, I believe the most important job in the world is brining up happy and healthy children.

  •  Do you have anybody you’d like to nominate for our Wonderful Women Wednesdays?

I’d like to make a couple of nominations, if that’s okay? Firstly, Maria of Mummykind – I admire her fight to save the world for future generations. She is an excellent influence and recently won an award for her green thinking! I’d also like to nominate my Mother, Angela for a different perspective on parenting and to incorporate and include ladies from a further range of backgrounds.

Do you have anyone you’d like to nominate for our Wonderful Women feature? Let us know!

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Introducing… Wonderful Women Wednesdays!

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Welcome to Mummykind’s new feature Wonderful Women Wednesdays! Every week we will be interviewing Wonderful Women that we find inspirational and sharing their stories on our page!

Our first post will be launched on the 3rd July and the feature will span over the next couple of months! Stay tuned to find out loads more about some amazing women! We hope you’re just as excited as we are!

(MEN)tal Health.

Mate, you just need to man up!

As I am sure most of you know, mental illness will affect 1 in 4 of us in our life times… That is a pretty scary statistic. What is even more scary? Women are twice as likely to receive help for mental health issues and illnesses than men… (and we wonder why suicide is STILL the biggest killer of men under the age of 35!?) Put it this way – I have around 1000 friends on my Facebook profile, from all over the world. I’d say a good 60% of them are male; taking that into account, around 150+ of them will experience mental health issues in their life times. That is a HUGE amount of people. Devastatingly, more than 1/3 of these lovely guys could end their lives, due to inadequate mental health treatment and the mental illnesses they experience.

SOME IMPORTANT FACTS TO REMEMBER –

  • As I was saying, mental illnesses are very common and can have an impact on anyones lives regardless of gender, physical health, race, sexuality, etc.
  • EVERYONE has mental health, yes absolutely everyone.
  • Mental health, like physical health is a spectrum from ‘good’ to ‘poor’.
  • Just because many mental illnesses are caused by hormonal imbalances it doesn’t mean females are the only sufferers. It may seem obvious, but too many people forget that WE ALL HAVE HORMONES.
  • Mental health is just as important as physical health and go hand in hand, as part of a healthy life style.

There are many misconceptions around men having mental health illnesses. As a campaigner against mental health stigma, some of these are so preposterous that they literally make my skin crawl – others I understand are just down to pure naivety.

  • If a fella has a mental illness they are ‘weak’ for showing their emotions and having such an illness makes you ‘less of a man’…

Most of the brave male friends and acquaintances I have spoken to have fear of facing stigma from this disgusting misconception. Stigma is DEFINITELY shrinking, but frustratingly, too large of a proportion of society seem to brand any man who is open about their feelings and mental health as a ‘pussy’ or ‘being weak’. Let me be completely clear here, I know I am not the only one to think that a man who can talk about his feelings and be a little more sensitive, appears so much more manly than a guy who keeps it all to himself. This misconception is likely to come from your buddy, maybe even a male relative, who means the best, BUT constantly makes you regret emotionally confiding in them by telling you to ‘man up’, ‘get a grip’ or tell you that ‘life isn’t that bad’ or asking ‘what do you have to be upset about?’.

  • Only Women self-harm and have eating disorders…

Self-harming exists in all gender identities. Male self-harm is at an all time high and is almost at a 50/50 split with females. Although eating disorders statistically affect more females than males, they are also across the board and can impact anyone, at any time. No one chooses to have these illnesses and no one takes the decision to harm themselves lightly, whether it be substance or drug abuse, cutting, pinching, hair pulling or putting yourself in risky and triggering situations. It’s a release and in NO WAY is a “cry for attention”.

  • Men only face mental health issues through drug and alcohol abuse…

Statistically, men are only slightly more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, although there is a link between this and mental health issues, it is by no means the only cause. So many mental illnesses are caused by hormonal imbalances in the brain, some are hereditary, others are caused by triggering life events such as abuse, failure, grief, change, hardships, social standings and economic backgrounds can all have a negative impact on your mental health.

  • Talk therapy? Sounds like circle time to me…

Going to therapy is possibly one of the most daring things anyone can do in attempt to turn their mental state around, laying yourself emotionally bare to someone you’ve never talk to if you had more of a choice is hardly appealing to anyone. There are many types of therapy, but those that work best, generally are those that allow someone to talk through what they’re experiencing to make sense of it in their own heads. Being open doesn’t make you weak.

  • Suicide is an easy way out…

No one contemplating suicide takes that decision lightly. Having tried myself, I can 100% vouch for that. Many men who suffer with mental illness experience extreme amounts of guilt, feeling that because they are feeling the they way that are, that they’re unworthy and a disappointment to their friends and family. That, because they can’t face the day and get into work, that everyone would be better without them? Not being able to accomplish their dreams, so they’re a write off? OBVIOUSLY, this is never the case but when you’re in the wrong mindset, that’s exactly how it feels. Suicide may stop things getting any worse- but it brutally stops the chance of things ever getting any better.

  • Mental health leave is for slackers and is a complete cop out…

I think this is sooooo ridiculous! Say, you’ve broken your ribs, you’re in too much pain to get out of bed so you’ve had to call in sick? What if you’re so low that moving makes you vomit and the idea of getting out of bed brings you to tears? What if all you see is emptiness and you know you need help? Why not call in sick then? It’s just as painful and crippling. Physical illness is no more important that mental illness.

  • Medications are for people who can’t sort their own issues out…

This irritates me endlessly, so i’ll keep it sort and simple- if you’re diabetic and you need medications to get by and live, what is wrong with taking medications to help with mental illnesses?? I may just be one woman, but I know a lot about mental health stigma and have a lot of experience in this field. It may not count for much but you’re never alone and PLEASE never be afraid to speak out. Getting help is more difficult than anything you may ever experience, but you’re not the first and you won’t be the last. A problem shared is often a problem halved and you should never worry about being a burden to anyone who cares about you. Recovery is always possible. You can never be replaced.

At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to emotions. Always be respectful; everyone is going through their own battles, so try not to be a dickhead. If you guys can take ANYTHING from this, let it be to talk. You have no idea how just a text can turn someone’s day around.

If you’re worried about a friend, let them know you’re there- take them out for a pint, go play cards, darts, go to a gig or for a coffee. All of these things are so simple, there is really no excuse to leave anyone out of contact if they mean something to you.

Useful UK links…

http://www.rethink.org
http://www.samaritans.org
http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth/Pages/Mentalhealthhome.aspx

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Things that new Mummies and Mummies to be are sick of hearing…

It might not be the same for all women, but you can pretty much guarantee that the second that you announce your pregnancy, comments will start to roll in. Quite often, positive and supportive comments, slowly start to roll into slightly more rude and patronising ‘advice’. I truly believe that most people offering this advice, mean well. However, I am a firm believer that- unless you are asked to give advice OR a baby appears to be at risk due to a new Mother’s uncertainty (even then, there are ways to go about this nicely!) then you shouldn’t feel compelled to launch comments and advice from your mouth, so sternly that it wounds. In fact, really you don’t need to mention anything at all.
Listed below are the comments that have got to me the most, in my nearly year and a half of being both pregnant and being a first time mummy.
“You can’t expect him (the baby’s father) to take an interest in the baby straight away. When the baby starts doing more, he’ll find the baby more interesting and become more involved!”
Okay! SO a man can partake in making a baby, he can do the dirty, the dance with no pants. BUT doesn’t have to commit any responsibility until ‘the baby becomes interesting’? If everybody had this outlook, babies would be solely raised by robots up until the age of around 4/5 months. Important bonds are formed within the first few weeks of a babies life, and although they won’t remember if someone doesn’t play an active role in their life during this time. The people who worked so hard to keep the baby happy and ensured that they were set to flourish, WILL remember.
AND it WILL hurt their feelings.
“Was it planned?”
IT?! IT?!  Regardless if a baby is planned or not, a child should not and cannot be branded as an ‘accident’ or mistake. If a woman has made it clear that she is happy with her pregnancy, referring to her unborn child as “it” is endlessly rude, disrespectful and hurtful.  Due to many issues, including but not limited to; Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a right ovary that is believed to not be functioning properly, a cyst in my uterus, taking the contraceptive pill for hormonal control and the intended use. Topped of a with a very large bleed- Conceiving Florence was nothing short of a miracle for my Partner and our families.
This question is rude, hurtful and honestly? The answer is none of your business.
“Better get used to having no sleep!”
Nothing like new parents being filled with fear before the baby has even arrived. I have found this to be a total myth when it comes to my Baby’s sleeping habits, although I think that I am pretty lucky! Florence has slept through the night on and off, from exactly 1 Month Old and takes frequent naps… So no, I haven’t had to adjust to having no sleep YET.
Thank you for your concern.
“You’re not married? What a shame! I thought you were a good girl!”
Helllllllloooo! We are in the 21st Century where, lots of marriages last as long as a clean nappy. You don’t have to be married to have a baby. You don’t have to have a baby if you don not want one. You can use contraception can prevent pregnancy (well its supposed to, but there is enough stories on the baby group to suggest otherwise). You can have a baby if you’re a same sex couple. If a woman decides to keep a baby that was conceived after a one night stand and raise the baby herself? Good on her- A Happy mummy = A happy baby, and really, that is all that matters. We live in an age where families aren’t always ‘conventional’ and I think that it is beautiful. I’m no less of a person for having my daughter when I had her. Married or not.
Your views are outdated, please get with the times.
“Nappies are so gross! Hope you don’t mind yucky things!”
Nappies can be gross. butttttt… so is your sick after drinking too much and your own poop, for that matter. Worse stuff  has happened. I’m just going to leave this one here. It is so childish and so ridiculous.
You too sat in your own wee and poo. So you really have NO room to comment.
“Your body will never be the same again!”
It might bounce back, but it might not. Most women end up with stretch marks whilst pregnant, but some lucky ladies do not. I personally resemble an albino tiger- Pale. pasty and covered in stripes (haha) but you know what? My body is quite literally a temple of life. As shitty as it may be and even if I do hate it sometimes… My womb made a human life. I grew a beautiful, healthy and strong baby girl. I almost died getting her here, but I did it!
Now that, is pretty badass.
“Well, back in my day…”
Or
“Well, I didn’t do *that* and my baby turned out fine.”
I don’t know, I would like my child to turn out a little better than just ‘fine’? Yes, we get it. You weaned your babies at 3/4 months. Some smoked and consumed alcohol whilst pregnant because you had no idea of the risks, no one did! You didn’t have a massive list of foods to avoid whilst pregnant. Amongst many, many other fairly substantial changes, that have been based on research over a very vast time period. Times have changed and even if babies haven’t- Guidelines to keep them safe and healthy has changed too. No, we don’t need your opinions or comments on breastfeeding or formula. Dummy or no dummy. We’ll give you a shout if you need help though! 
Lets face it, we only want the best for our babies- regardless of if they are 23 days, weeks or years old.
Giving birth was a breeze for me, I cannot see what all of the fuss is about?”
Or
“Yes, I know about your experience, but mine was awful.”
Labour was easy for you? Fab! You go girl! Tell me about your experience! Labour was awful for you? Lets talk about it. I can understand your pain. Just because you had a baby and had no issues with labour, it doesn’t mean that everyone has had the same experience. Women need to be kinder to eachother and support one another with this massive life shifting change. Not turn it into some kind of competition between who had it the worst and who had it the easiest.
We’ve all achieved the same incredible result, so where is the love?
“There goes your social life! Wave goodbye to freedom, nights out and time to yourself!”
Haha. I will keep this short, but sweet. I didn’t have much of a social life before my baby. So I can say with confidence, that not much has changed. In fact with baby dates, I’m probably socialising more than ever.
“Everyone from school is having babies and I am over here, planning my next holiday.”
It’s great that you have a desire to travel the world. But, having a baby doesn’t stop you from traveling the world or doing anything else that you want to do. I am very lucky to have gone on numerous holidays a year, to a variety of places when I was growing up. I’ve been 1/5 of the American states and visited several different contries. In no way, do I feel that my baby has restricted my life or the way I wish to live. She has enriched my life tremendously and I couldn’t have welcomed her into my life at a better time.
“I hope that you’re planning on waiting before you have your next baby! You need time to enjoy this one!”
I don’t plan on having another baby right away, as having Florence was quite nearly the death of me. But, if I wanted to have another child so that my children would be close in age, then I would. Your opinions have no weight on how I decide to live my life. Or how anyone else should live theirs, for that matter. If you spent too much time planning for the correct time and suitable age gaps- you’d probably never have a baby, let alone multiple babies. If a women wants to have a baby straight after having two sets of twins… Her body may not like her for it- but that is up to her! Not you! 
You can stop it right now, with your “you two have been busy!” Crap. 
“How do your parents feel about you having a baby? Are they excited?”
My parents have always been incredibly supportive. This hasn’t changed since them knowing that I was pregnant or since having my baby. You know what? I was so ill before being pregnant with Florence, that my parents thought something was seriously wrong. So a baby was almost a relief to them. However, if they weren’t supportive- it wouldn’t change my wanting to keep and care for my baby. I think I speak for most Mums when I say that. You don’t need supportive parents to be a good parent. Ultimately, it matters to some people, to a degree as to what their parents think- but to some it means nothing. 
Having a baby doesn’t have to have anything to do with your parents. Although having amazing Grandparents is lovely for your children.
Oh, and the incessant and constant sharing of pictures showing horrific nappy spillages on to our Facebook walls, with a comment saying “Good luck, lol” needs to STOP. If you haven’t got anything nice or useful to say, don’t say it at all. 
I hope you enjoy reading these and feel a little less alone, in your constant battle against the views and voices of the world around you.

You’re doing a great job. 

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Steps I am taking to be a ‘Sex Positive’ Parent to my Toddler…

Sex Positivity is all about embracing sexuality and understanding that sex and everything relating to it, is a natural part of life as a human being.

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Like most of us at Mummykind, you may have grown up in a family environment where not even a word about sex was ever uttered- leading you to experience feelings of shame, guilt or discomfort about a wide range of completely natural sexual subjects. Sex positivity and awareness of sex isn’t exclusive to contraception and the big talks that we may have once had as a teenager. Sex Positivity is all about embracing sexuality and understanding that sex and everything relating to it, is a natural part of life as a human being.

 

 

I stumbled across a fantastic page on Instagram @sexpositive_families (some of their infographics and quotes are featured on this post!) several months ago- it promoted the importance of sex positivity in families, especially in parenting and since then I have made a conscious effort to be the most sex positive Mummy I can be! We all want our children to be happy and healthy,  I think its massively important to remember that raising healthy children goes beyond what they’re eating and how much exercise they get- Their mental and sexual health is massively important too! 

Needless to say- “sexual health goes beyond just puberty, basic human biology and very occasional sex talks.” When we start sexual health talks and awareness early, we give our children awareness that affirms they are neither strange nor wrong for any of what they are experiencing. 

Obviously the Mummykind kids are between a few months and three years old, so the sex positive parenting steps that I am going to recommend will mainly cater for this age.


As parents we have to tell little white lies all the time- about father Christmas, about the tooth fairy, about how long 5 minutes is- but sex, relationships, sexuality and bodies are some of the things we should always try to be honest about. 

  • Do not ban any words at home, no matter how uncomfortable they might make you feel.

Children need to know they can trust you and talk to you about anything- use proper words for body parts when and where possible or opt for words that cant mean other things. We call a vagina a ‘nuna’ but often use the word vagina anyway. Words like ‘cookie’ for example have alternate meanings and this can lead to confusion and abuse being missed due to being misunderstood. 

 

  • Let your child be naked.

If my daughter is at home and she wants to be naked, then she can do as she pleases. Her being comfortable to be undressed is important. I don’t deliberately go around naked at home, but I don’t hide away when I am. I have a full figure, stretch marks and scars and I want her to see that is normal and okay.

  • When your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss someone, don’t make them!

“Make a habit out of asking permission before you touch them or share affection with your children, Respecting their boundaries’ highlights the importance of their bodily autonomy and lays a crucial foundation and ‘understanding of consent.”

@sexpositive_families reminds us that common consent violations can include-

“Being tickled past the point of comfort, being hugged or kissed without their permission, telling a family member to “stop” without it being respected, being told to eat food past the point of being full, having your personal items looked through without being asked for permission or being told to show affection to another person when you did not want to.”

  • When you catch your toddler exposing or touching their body parts, don’t freak out.

Exploring your own body, including your genitals is a valuable part of sexual health that often begins at a young age. A child touching or fiddling about with their genitalia shouldn’t be discouraged, but more reiterated that there is a time and place for doing so. For example if your child is playing with his penis, you could try saying “We don’t touch our penises in the living room darling, if you want to do that why don’t you go to your room or the bathroom?” … touching and exploring their own bodies isn’t the issue but the place they decide to do it often is! Kids understand when things are compartmentalised and so offering an alternative that is safer and more appropriate to explore themselves should make sense and feel normal to them, a bit like “No eating whilst using the toilet”.

  • When they ask about private parts, don’t shy away from the subject.

I was shopping in Aldi when I picked up some sanitary towels- my daughter decided to shout “ARE THEY FOR YOUR BOTTOM MUMMY?” although I felt a little embarrassed, I wanted her to have no shame around the subject or use of sanitary products so I proudly proclaimed “YES, yes darling, these are for my bottom… Lady days!”.. No matter where and no matter when, try to never shy away from your child questions about their body, your body or otherwise!

  • When your child asks about intimacy, try to explain it in a way that makes sense and is appropriate to them.

“Why are they kissing?” “Why are they holding hands?” – Talk about how when people want to touch each other it can make them happy to do so, but it could also make them sad if it was unexpected or made one of them uncomfortable. ‘Safe Touch’ and ‘Unsafe Touch’ can be taught from early ages. Try to avoid making physical contact and affection sound like a negative, but more focus the child’s attention on what other lovely things they could do if they’re feeling like they want to kiss somebody that it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to kiss – like pick a flower or draw a picture for them. We are all such emotional beings, discussing these emotions with our children can only make them stronger.

My daughter is almost three and has always followed me around as I go about my day to day. If I shower, she’ll be in and out as I do- the same as when I use the bathroom. If she sees any blood or any use of sanitary products, I tell her that it is for my ‘lady days’ – I have PCOS and really suffer when I have a period and knowing that my daughter could experience similar when she is growing up made me want to be as vocal about my experience as possible. I talk to her about my cramps, I talk to her about the bleeding when and if she sees it and I talk to her about my use of sanitary products. If I am feeling unwell for gynae reasons I will discuss it as if it was a cold or flu. I don’t want my child to feel any once of shame for a natural process. I want her to know it is normal and it is okay.

Your response to your child saying these words lays a foundation for their understanding of consent!

  • Listen to anything that your children want to tell you. If you don’t listen to the small stuff now, they won’t tell you the big stuff later.https://www.instagram.com/p/BqBNKK9B_mB/

In summary- “Sex positive parents are parents who raise children that are prepared to make informed choices about their bodies, relationships and sexual health.” “The best sex education is given over a life time, not in one talk or occasional school lessons.” @sexpositive_families

Here are some of my favourite Sex Positive Parenting resources

https://www.instagram.com/sexpositive_families/

https://www.instagram.com/the.vulva.gallery/

https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/10-ways-to-support-sex-positive-kids/

https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1466718-Sex-positive-parenting-blog

https://theswaddle.com/sex-positive-parenting-toddler/

**Please note that Sex Positive Parenting isn’t exclusive to any gender, despite a variety of resources suggesting that it is mainly something that parents of girls need to think about**

A special thank you and shout out to @sexpositive_families who have been quoted throughout this post. Their work is invaluable and you most definitely need to check them out!

Remember that if words fail you, there are plenty of appropriate books that can be purchased online for various different age groups that can say what you might be struggling to. @sexpositive_families have devised a fantastic reading list that covers a wide range of subject to a multitude of ages, find it here.

 

ENDED: Perfect Puppets Giveaway – just in time for Christmas!

Here is your chance to win one of our favourite products from the fabulous Fiesta Crafts!
“Children who love story time will adore these hand and finger puppets which have been beautifully designed to spur on even the wildest of imaginations. Reflective of the key characters in two of our most treasured children’s stories, one large hand puppet plays a key character supported by a series of embroidered fabric finger puppets to make the retelling of these classic fun and fully interactive! Not only is it a great toy for individual play, it is also designed to encourage role playing with others – improving confidence and social / communication skills. The finger puppets can be stored in pockets on the hand puppet after play making it easy to keep the whole set together in one place.
Beautifully made and thoughtfully created, the hand puppet and finger puppet sets which will stimulate and entertain, encouraging children to retell classic stories in their own, unique way. Suitable from 3 years plus. RRP £25.”

 

Closes at Midnight on 30th November 2018

Our Favourite Fiesta Crafts toys!

Fiesta Crafts create traditional toys with fun contemporary twists! They design and manufacturer toys that help children to develop their creative, imaginative, communication and language skills. Here are some of Mummykind’s tried and tested favourites!

 

Push N Roll Toys…

 


For walking, for crawling – a perfect developmental toy. The dinosaur push n roll along is beautifully colourful, sturdy and fantastically crafted. The Push N Roll Along toys are designed to be the perfect play toy for small children- supporting and encouraging them as they develop from sitting to crawling to walking. It comes with a detachable wooden rod that inserts easily into the back of the toy. The Push N Roll toy can be rolled (sitting or crawling) or pushed (walking) via the wooden rod with an easy-to-grip  handle. This 2-in-1 toy with its moving parts will keep little ones greatly entertained. The bright colours and attention to detail are sure to make this toy a much-loved addition to any toy collection while helping younger children to improve fine and gross motor skills as well as becoming familiar with new sounds, shapes and animals. Also available as a giraffe, pink elephant, police car and fire engine. Suggested for 18 months plus. 


Wobbly Garden Toys

Wobbly Garden from Fiesta Crafts is a bright and enchanting set of 18 hand-painted colourful garden creature pieces and wooden garden wobbly board. Children carefully place pieces onto the board without tipping over. But watch out! Don’t be the one who makes the board tip and make all the pieces fall. Wobbly Garden can be used as a fun children’s game for 1-4 players or individually for a fun way to enhance fine motor skills. Box contains 18 colourful chunky wooden pieces and a big garden balancing board piece. The aim of the game is to balance pieces on board before they all fall off!The wooden pieces include butterflies, ladybirds, flowers and hilarious goggle-eyed frogs. The game has been designed to help improve children’s fine motor skills and increase general physical awareness of balance. Suitable from 2 Years.          

 

Giraffe Play Blankie                    


The Giraffe Play Blankie is an adorable, exciting and interactive combination of a teething toy, a comfort blanket and activity toy all in one – perfect for keeping little ones entertained.These gorgeous Play Blankies have soft, friendly faces and bodies, and four entertaining and engaging activity paws. They are visually appealing with their brightly decorated fabrics and  entertaining with different textures to feel and squeeze. Each paw has something for the baby to interact with – one of the paws has a teether/chew piece, perfect for teething babies and sore gums. Another of the paws has a jingly rattle, a third with colourful fabric tags, and the fourth has a push to squeak stripy star. The Giraffe Play Blankie appeals to multiple senses, it is the perfect cuddling comforter, and even has two cords so that it can be tied on to a cot or buggy and provide comfort and entertainment wherever you go! Also available as an elephant. Suitable from birth onwards.

Musical Boxes

 

 
This beautifully crafted musical box is the perfect addition to any nursery. Nothing soothes our babies more than music. This hand made rotating music box plays Brahms lullaby, lasting approximately four minutes each cycle. The bright coloured wooden animals make it a cute but stylish accessory for a child’s room too. Recommended for handling from ages 3 and up.                   
 

Cush N Case                                                  

 


These amazing Cush N Case toys is soft, loveable and extremely practical! It’s a cosy kitty cushion that doubles up as a travel case. Perfect for using as a height boost at the cinema or at the dinner table, sleeping on or taking on adventures inside and outside the home. Fabulous for travel, with zipped storage for those little bits and bobs like lolly sticks and pencils that our cheeky children simply ‘must’ take with them. Our babies can also cuddle up to the very comfy Cush N Case and sleep on it during those long car and plane journeys. Featuring adorable little ears and beautifully sewn whiskers, noses and eyes. They come complete with a matching character soft toy so that children have a new friend to match their cushion and play with on their travels. The Cush N Case is genius, handy, practical and also transforms into a fun toy that can be accessed on the go, wherever your little ones are! Also available as a tiger. Suitable from 12 months plus.            

 

Hand & Finger Puppet Sets                

 
 


This is our favourite! The fabulous hand and finger puppet sets come with a soft and cuddly main character hand puppet and multiple other story characters as finger puppets! All of the little finger puppets attach to the hand puppet for tidy storage. Ideal for re-enacting their favourite stories and creating their own! I honestly feel that these are the perfect toys for encouraging imaginative play and enhancing social skills! Playing with these fun puppets is a fabulous way to entertain children and their families as well as furthering the development of children’s creativity and imagination. 
 
Also available as Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryJames and the Giant Peach, The BFG®, Puss in Boots, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Big Bad Wolf, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Nursery Rhymes, The Gingerbread Man, Cinderella and The Frog Prince. Suitable from 3 years plus.

If you loved these as much as we do stay tuned for a Fiesta Crafts give away, with the chance for two of you to win one of these fantastic items – Just in time for Christmas!

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Clothing for Curvy Mummas – Where is hot and where is not!

In the first few months after I had Flo, I had sort of accepted that my life as Harriet was over. I think “accepting” this was my way of rationalising that it was okay to not give a shit about myself anymore. I had signed myself up for a life of over sized tops and leggings and I was more than okay with that.

A few months and a few mental health medications down the line, I was clearly in a better mind set. I accepted myself and made sure that I accepted body. After all, it had grown a perfect little mini me, so I couldn’t have been that bad, right?

I slowly got back into who I was. I’ve always enjoyed expressing myself, I’d always loved being different and realising that there were markets that cater for my new shape, identity, style and body really allowed me to get back to finding who I am.

Trawling through ASOS and favouriting items until I’m brave enough to buy them (or they go down in price!) has played a massive part in rediscovering ‘Harriet’-

I couldn’t tell you how many things I’ve tried on, with my mum whilst shouting “THIS WOULD HAVE LOOKED SO NICE ON ME BEFORE THIS” *points at stomach*….
or how many kooky items I’ve got for “jokes” that have looked gorgeous on me!
All I can say is thank goodness for free delivery and refunds!

Here are my favourite plus sized retailers and why,,,

1. ASOS – In my opinion ASOS is the biggest contender in the plus size game. Not only does ASOS have it’s own plus size range (ASOS CURVE) but it has plenty of other well known plus size ranges available on its app and website including but not limited to New Look Curves, Maya Plus, Daisy Street, misguided, boohoo, Chi Chi, John Zack Plus, Levis Plus, River Island, Little Mistress, Unique21, ect. With a fantastic range, massive variety, frequent sales and a great customer rewards system – ASOS is by far my most frequented fashion retailer and app!


2. New Look Curves – I love that New Look uses the same fabrics and prints for all their women’s ranges. This means that regardless of a ladies size, they can wear what is on trend and feel comfortable rocking it. New Look’s clothing never fails to pull me in and I’m almost guaranteed to spend money every time I visit their website or store.


Tea Dress / New Look / size 22 / £20


3. Forever 21+ – Despite what the name says, I’m certainly over the age of 21 but always manage to find lovely pieces on F21. Generally their ranges seem to be targeted for slightly younger audiences, but I never seem to be sort of options in their sales! Their prices are generally fairly reasonable and despite their sizes not being conventional – 2x or 3x usually tend to fit me very well!

Cami Dress / Forever 21 / size 2X / £10


4. George – Unlike most supermarket brands ASDA’s george caters up to a size 24. Their size 24 is usually pretty generous and always fitted me very well, even at my biggest (four stone heavier than I am now!) … They don’t differentiate styles between sizes which means a size 24 lady can rock the same dress as a size 10 lady. Their clothes wash well, last well and look good.


Dungaree Dress & Top / ASDA’s George / size 20 / £20


5. Simply Be – although generally quite expensive, you can quite often find some pretty lovely pieces at Simply Be, most ranging in sizes up to 32. Simply Be does well at catering for all sorts of ladies in all sorts of walks of life.


And here is my guidance on other well known plus sized retailers that aren’t doing it for me like my top 5 do!

1. Pink Clove – Pink Clove have the right idea. With on trend designs and patterns, they could have so much to offer. The quality of Pink Clove’s clothing is pretty poor- I got a tropical print dress that only took one wash to bobble and a dress that unraveled at one of the seams just from being tried on once. I’d generally recommend to avoid unless you have time to throw away fixing clothes that should really last longer.

Baseball Dress / Pink Clove / size 22 / £12


2. River Island – With amazing quality and fantastic pieces to get anybody asking “where did you get that?” I couldn’t recommend River Island enough. However, their plus size range is incredibly pricey and really quite limited.


Cardigan / River Island / size 26 / £40


3. Supermarkets like Tesco’s F&F and Sainsbury’s TU – Are usually the perfect place to pick up a fashion bargain. With the same ranges available for both mainstream and plus sizes, they’re certainly a winner for me. Although the fact that most stores only cater up to size 18/20/22 many, many women are left out. Generally their women’s range sizes are also fairly stingy – I’ve known plenty of ladies who have had to get a size or two bigger than they actually are. That being said, I’ve heard Tesco’s F&F are planning on catering for up to size 30- of this is true, I hope all other supermarket fashion brands follow suite!


Top / Tesco’s F&F / size 22 / £7


4. Boohoo – Am I a size 18, or am I a size 28? With Boohoo I have literally no idea. With items almost identical to the smaller sized range, they have their heart in the right place, but the quality between that range and their plus sized range shows that plus size ladies certainly aren’t their priority.

Velvet Wrap Dress / Boohoo / size 28 (still doesn’t cover my bum through!) / £20

5. Yours – Primark quality at Topshop prices all because you’re considered plus size? Yeah, jog on. I avoid unless they’ve got a sale on and even then, I only stick to the lingerie section. I have heard that their men’s plus size range – Bad Rhino is actually pretty promising. I hope this serves as a reminder that you’re allowed to be you and have your own identity, even on this side of parenthood! Being dressed in what you want to wear can make such a massive difference to how you feel and how you see yourself. Treat yourself and see that even the little things can go a long way in making you feel more human. x

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