Mummykind’s December (and 2019) Top 5

Here it is! The final one of 2019! So as well as just a roundup for this month, we’ve done a roundup for the whole year.

Top 5 Blog Posts in December

Top 9 Blog Posts in 2019

  1. Planning a Moana themed party
  2. Getting your toddler through a cold
  3. Collecting colostrum during pregnancy
  4. Ideas for your paper anniversary
  5. Post-partum haemorrhage
  6. Sarah’s birth story
  7. I refuse to be ashamed about my miscarriage
  8. Recognising the signs of sepsis
  9. How I use my bullet journal to get my parenting shit together

Top 9 Instagram Posts of 2019

And, just because it’s easier and prettier, here are our Top 9 instagram posts of this year!

Personal Top 5s from 2019

As it’s the end of the year and it’s always good to focus on the positive things… here is a personal Top 5 from each of us!

Sarah

  1. Got pupillage!
  2. Managed Christmas alone with Olivia while Jamie is away in the Falklands
  3. Went to New York in April
  4. Got her first car after passing her driving test last year, OH THE FREEDOM!
  5. Went to see Frozen 2 with Olivia… 4 times…

Amy

  1. Went on holiday to New York
  2. Got Mummykind featured on BBC South East Today and inspired lots of mummies across Kent and East Sussex with her story about Postpartum Psychosis
  3. Oliver began interaction therapy for his ASD and is even saying some words now!
  4. Felt more empowered than ever as a single mum
  5. Started learning to drive

Paige

  1. Made an effort to be more present with friends and family, which meant spending less time on her phone or online
  2. Spent a long weekend camping with her church family
  3. Prioritised her mental health, especially avoiding eating disorder triggers
  4. Made more time to plan date nights with her husband!
  5. Finally got answers and diagnoses for lots of medical problems that have long been an issue

Charlie

  1. Had a beautiful baby boy!
  2. Went on holiday to Norway
  3. Got engaged!!
  4. Got promoted at work to a specialist vulnerable women’s worker
  5. Had a mini break at the New Forest

Maria

  1. Had a beautiful baby girl!
  2. Maria’s son started school this year
  3. Received an environmental award
  4. Started a new business – South East Reusables CIC

Harriet

  1. Started an Open University course in Psychology
  2. Got a 1st class mark in her first university assignment!
  3. Went on holiday to France with her family
  4. Celebrated 6 years suicide attempt and self-injury free
  5. Had her first plus size modelling gig

Top 5 Other Blogposts we LOVED

  1. Preemie Parents – Guilty as charged
  2. Advice from a Twenty Something – 7 ways to take care of you this holiday season
  3. Confessions of an Irish Mammy – When the bin truck comes early
  4. Counting to Ten – Christmas with my family
  5. Mama Castle Writes – Embrace the motherhood

Mental Health Monday: The Aftermath of Christmas with Sensitive Kids

We have had a fabulous family Christmas. It’s been intense but it’s been fun and full of love and laughter. We’ve had overnight guests, cooked for 10 on Christmas day and then another Christmas dinner for 8 on Boxing day. It’s such a busy week every year because we are the ‘hub family’ and tend to host more than anyone else for the sake of practicality. We love it, but something happens with our little boy when things get crazy.

Our usually well behaved little guy becomes completly horrible. It started on Christmas eve when we accidentally lost track of time and didn’t feed him his lunch before we left the house, we had to stop at the only place I knew I could get a quick bit of dairy free food for him and hope for the best. So he had a muffin from  a coffee shop for lunch. The rest of the day involved full blown tantrums over every single little thing, in the packed town centre (our own fault for being disorganised I suppose!). As a result, we spent far longer out and about than we had planned and of course that just made things worse. When we got home we still had tons to do and he just wanted to cling to us relentlessly. Anyone who knows our little guy will know how fiercely independent he is, and how uncharacteristic clingy behaviour is. He has been going from cuddly to lashing out at us over the tiniest thing. I’ve had to keep reminding myself that he wasn’t doing it on purpose, he was just tired and confused. We stopped the feverish tidying  and organising and played trains on the floor until his eyes started getting heavy and put him to bed, he had conked out before I had even finished reading to him.

We didn’t think much of his low appetite on Christmas eve, but after we specifically made him mashed potatoes and peas to go with christmas dinner the next day and he didn’t even touch two of his favourite foods we knew this was more than just fussiness. The over excitement had drained our little lad and then we sit him at a usually calm table with 9 other people, Christmas crackers and music and expect him to eat dinner as normal but at lunch time? No. It just wasn’t happening. We let him go, knowing there had been a bit of snacking and that we could try again later. He had a late nap, followed by a jam sandwich and more excitement – the poor kid doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down by the time he gets to bed 3 hours after his bedtime.

Boxing day rolls around and we do it all again with my side of the family (on a slightly smaller scale). There are sweets and snacks everywhere, he somehow gets away with eating an entire moo free cocolate Santa in one hit, he’s completely baffled by how much other stuff has cows milk in it so he isn’t allowed to eat it but everyone else is.

When he refused his meal again on Boxing day I felt a pang of guilt that we had put him in this position, he’s acting out because suddenly everything he knows has changed in the blink of an eye and he has no idea how to handle it.

I’m tempted to pack away the decorations early to help us get back to business as usual  as soon as possible, because my poor little guy is exhausted and miserable now, especially since all the presents are done and the people are gone. We’re just left here with wrapping paper all over the place and a super fractious little boy who is needing a lot of contact and reassurance.

So if you need me, I will be on the sofa cuddling my toddler until the new year. See you on the other side.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Decluttering Christmas

For the first time ever I’m doing away with the polite “oh, you don’t have to get us anything” because that doesn’t actually mean anything. We have a fairly definitive list of things we would like across varying budgets and we are letting people know. It’s mostly stuff that we need, things that will make our lives that much easier.

This year we have decided to take the “stuff” out of Christmas. I find myself getting stressed about Christmas earlier and earlier every year. Partly because of the shopping we feel pressured to engage in and partly because of the inevitable bombardment of…stuff.

We have enough stuff and I have enough stress so this year we just aren’t doing it. 

For the first time ever I’m doing away with the polite “oh, you don’t have to get us anything” because that doesn’t actually mean anything. We have a fairly definitive list of things we would like across varying budgets and we are letting people know. It’s mostly stuff that we need, things that will make our lives that much easier. Things like stock pots and storage boxes for us, swimming lessons and tickets for our 3 year old.

We have warned people that if they don’t tell us something they want they won’t get anything, because we are done buying gifts for the sake of gifting.

Gift wrap is out the window, if I don’t already have it I’m not buying it. I’ll wrap in fabric or use Christmas stamps on brown boxes to pretty them up.

Certain things we’ve had a lot of over the last few years, we’ve  gently asked not to have more because we are still enjoying the ones we have! This includes framed images and wall art – our house is cast concrete and it takes hours to drill into the walls to hang things. T-shirts are taking over, my husband gets 2 or 3 each year and they don’t wear out that quickly. Alcohol is a classic – we actually bought our own wedding bar, we still have the leftovers stashed away and at the last count, we had 7 bottles of Jack Daniels. We aren’t big drinkers at all so we imagine this will last us forever.

We also encourage second hand purchases – some of the best toys, clothes and gadgets we have came from charity shops (they just don’t make things like they used to!), give me 20 year old Brio trains and  Duplo any day!

Santa will make an appearance with a couple of hardy wooden toys and some clothes and then we will focus on spending the day in togetherness with good food and family. I am so excited.

Now, before anyone says I’m ungrateful or entitled, I hear ya. I’ve been tormenting myself over this since July because it isn’t the “done thing”. My friends and family understand my situation, I’m sure there will still be some little token gifts that I will love anyway, I’m just taking the stress and the guess work out of the festive season because I need to start enjoying Christmas again.

Are you bucking any trends this year?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

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

Traditional Boozy Make and Mature Christmas Cake

Let me start by saying this: if you don’t want your Christmas cake to pack a serious boozy punch then this is not the cake for you. This is for grown ups only.

You may also be wondering why I’m talking Christmas cake so early… well, the clue is in the title. This cake takes some serious maturing. So this recipe will be broken down into a rough schedule to help you pack the biggest boozy punch into your Christmas cake.  I have written this recipe so it’s easy to make half, the written recipe is for a large family sized cake.

September

Soak 1kg of mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried peel – the works) in 200ml of whichever booze you choose. I start soaking in early September in a clip sealed lunchbox and give it a good shake once or twice a week, whenever I remember really. This just makes sure all the fruit gets a good soak and not just the bits at the bottom.

This year I am using Honey Jack Daniels, last year I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and the year before I used cheap supermarket own Brandy. It all works and it’s all preference.

If you skip this stage you can just soak for an hour before you bake but I prefer a good mature soak.

October

Time to  bake!

At some point in the first week of October you need to bake your cake. Don’t worry about it going stale or going bad, you’re going to spend the next two and a half months feeding it more alcohol.

Here’s what you need:

Equipment:
LARGE saucepan
LARGE mixing bowl
LARGE tall sided cake tin.
Baking parchment or bake-o-glide

Ingredients:

Your pre-soaked fruit plus another 50ml of your chosen alcohol
250g Butter (because of allergies, we use dairy free spread or baking blocks and they work very well)
200g Soft Brown Sugar (light or dark)
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange

1tbsp Ground Mixed Spice
1tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

200g Plain White Flour
100g Ground Almonds
100g Flaked Almonds
1tsp Baking powder
4 Large Eggs

Method:
1. Put the fruit, booze, sugar, butter, spices, vanilla, zest, and juice into the saucepan and gently bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for at least half an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line your baking tin. A circle at the bottom as usual but the paper around the edge needs to be around twice the depth of the tin and sticking out the top. It’s a good idea to check your oven shelf is the right height to accommodate this before the oven gets hot.

4. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving the eggs until last and beat well.

5. Transfer the mix into your prepared tin and bake for 2 hours. If you end up with too much mix you can bake whatever you have left in a loaf tin or muffin tin and enjoy them before Christmas! (Smaller cakes will need less time in the oven so check regularly once the first hour has passed)

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before poking a generous number of holes into the top of the cake with a skewer, fork or spoon handle and feeding it 25ml of your chosen alcohol.

October, November and December

You can store your cake in the baking parchment it was cooked in, wrapped in a cloth or tea towel or wrapped in cling film if you have nothing else. It’s best to then keep it inside a tub or a tin as well.

Feed it 10ml weekly or 20ml every two weeks until two weeks before the date you would like to ice it. If you feed it too close to icing it, it will be too wet to ice.

Icing

Traditionally, I ice my cake on Christmas eve, possibly because no one can be trusted not to eat it once it’s iced. I will hold my hands up to this: I use ready made marzipan and fondant icing. It’s partly a skill thing, partly a cost thing, partly a time thing. The end result is the same so I won’t lose sleep over it. You can also leave the cake naked if you prefer.

1. Roll the marzipan into a circle big enough to cover the entire cake
2. Brush the cake with some warmed up marmalade or citrus jam. One year I used ginger preserve which was delightful.
3. Lay the marzipan over the now sticky cake and smooth down the edges
4. Trim off the excess marzipan and save it for later
5. Repeat the above steps with the icing but substitute marmalade for vodka of you have it or whichever alcohol you have been feeding your cake.
6. Add any embellishments to your cake that you would like and try not to eat it straight away.

The leftover marzipan and icing

I make it into sweets. It’s the best.

1. Roll the icing into a long flat strip  and inch or two wide
2. Roll the marzipan into a sausage shape the same length
3. Moisten the  icing with a dab of water (child friendly)
4. Roll the icing around the marzipan nice and tight
5. Cut the roll at 1/4 inch intervals to make small festive treats

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Is Santa Claus Damaging Children’s Mental Health?

Now we are drawing closer to the festive season I am seeing more and more early birds on social media with their Christmas shopping already sorted. They have stacks and stacks of toys for their children and are posing questions like “Is this enough for my ___ year old?” and “How much of this should be from Santa?”.  I think it’s amazing that people want their kids to have nice things, and I am pleased that they can afford to do that but honestly? It makes me a little uncomfortable. 

It’s a crazy concept, isn’t it? That our jolly Christmastime character could cause any harm at all. I have been thinking about this for some time now, although I am yet to implement operation Santa in my own home because my son is so young. This will be the first year for us and I am so excited to introduce the spark of magic but I am also very wary of starting down a road I’m not too sure I want to travel. 
First and foremost, Christmas is a religious holiday and that should ALWAYS be respected and taught to children – they ought to know what they are celebrating.  Over the years that has taken a bit of a back seat for a lot of families but the values and spirit of Christmas remain unchanged. 
Now we are drawing closer to the festive season I am seeing more and more early birds on social media with their Christmas shopping already sorted. They have stacks and stacks of toys for their children and are posing questions like “Is this enough for my ___ year old?” and “How much of this should be from Santa?”.  I think it’s amazing that people want their kids to have nice things, and I am pleased that they can afford to do that but honestly? It makes me a little uncomfortable. 
This year, ‘Santa’ will be bringing my son a wooden train stacking toy and a wooden hammering bench wotsit. I am also going to make him a blanket (with FIIISHESSSS on it, because he loves them) and buy him some clothes and maybe a new dolly. Do I feel guilty? Not at all.  I am teaching my son to be humble, not to expect to have everything he wants handed to him and when he’s a bit older he will understand that mummy and daddy can’t always afford to buy expensive gifts and Santa will bring the kind of thing that Santa has always brought. That consistency is so important. 

So how can Santa Claus be damaging? 

I’m sure everyone can think back to a time in their lives that they were made to feel like they weren’t worth as much as their peers. It’s not a nice feeling and you would never wish it on anyone.  In the school playground in January the children are going to be talking about what Santa brought them for Christmas and one kid got a new games console, loads of games and whatever the latest must-have toys are. How are the other kids’ families supposed to live up to that? Sure, some kids know their parents aren’t as well off as others but Santa is supposed to be fair. (He’s also supposed to make the gifts which is partly why all of ours are wooden).

So then you have children from the families who can’t afford as much believing that they did something bad. They might even believe that Santa doesn’t care about them and that they aren’t as good as the kid who got everything on Christmas morning. This isn’t to say that Santa shouldn’t make a visit or that you shouldn’t get nice gifts for your family, just think about what you’re putting on the label so you aren’t setting the bar so high. If you ever find yourself struggling over Christmas you’ll be glad that Santa only ever brings a few modest gifts.

Now consider the way you discipline your child all year round – in the lead up to Christmas have you ever issued the empty threat “I’ll tell Santa not to come” just to get five minutes peace in a packed supermarket? You may not think any more of it but your child will pick up on the inconsistent discipline structure and, particularly for younger children, that can be confusing and emotionally exhausting.

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This was written as part of our Raising Healthy Minds campaign.