8 lessons I won’t be teaching my daughter

Mothers of daughters have a tough job, and a much tougher responsibility. As a feminist myself, I will of course raise my daughter the same way, meaning I will not subscribe to some of the more traditional parenting ideologies and styles.

I want my daughter to be fearless and strong, and emotional and kind, all at the same time. I want her to grow up knowing she deserves the world and more, especially now where we have a number of people (particularly in the political spotlight… AHEM… no names…) who think it is still acceptable to treat women like they are a lesser species. My daughter will NEVER be made to feel like this.

So, here are 8 lessons I won’t be teaching my daughter, in the hope that she grows up to be that fearless princess dinosaur that I already know she is on the inside.

1. Children should be seen and not heard

This is outdated and completely limits children’s imagination. I want Olivia to be comfortable in her own home, and everywhere else, to speak her mind and to be sociable. I will obviously still be teaching her respect for others and patience (waiting her turn when someone else is talking), but that doesn’t need to go hand in hand with mandatory silence.

2. Don’t get your clothes dirty

How else do you measure a child’s enjoyment if not by the amount of muck they manage to get on themselves in a day? My daughter WILL play outside and she absolutely WILL NOT be afraid of mud.

3. That’s a boy’s toy/not for girls to play with

Ugh, gender stereotyping. If she wants to play with a football, she can. If she wants to wear a princess dress while playing football, she can. If she wants to dress up as a dinosaur and do ballet, she can. The point is, again this is another silly social construct that limits our children’s imaginations. I don’t ever want her to feel that she can’t do something because she’s a girl, and that starts even at the youngest age with telling them they can’t have certain toys, games or clothes!

4. Don’t be bossy

Firstly, it’s not “being bossy”, it’s leadership skills. I am HATE the word bossy and I will never use it to describe my daughter. She is strong-minded, strong-willed and incredibly confident and independent. She is a handful at times. She likes being in charge and having people follow her lead. She is not bossy. A boy is never described as bossy, because it’s somehow a demeaning word, and I don’t want to suppress all of those amazing qualities Olivia has into that one word.

5. Be more lady-like

My daughter is funny and gross at times, but I don’t care. She’s a kid. I’ll teach her to be polite, kind and courteous, but not to be more lady-like. Plus, boys should be showing those qualities too!

6. Ladies first

I hate this. It makes me cringe. I’m all for holding doors open for people, but I have a particular disdain for someone holding it open and saying “ladies first” as I walk through. JUST WHY? Why and how did that even become a thing?

7. Respect your elders

Nope. Respect is earned. Not everyone deserves your respect purely because they were born before you. As above, I’ll teach my daughter to be polite, and respectful, but not that a certain class of people can demand respect from her. It’s hers to give!

8. You have to hug/kiss [insert relative here] hello/goodbye

Her body, her rules. I respect her autonomy. I never force her to give hugs or kisses if she doesn’t want to. She is an affectionate little soul and if she wants to show affection she will. If not, I don’t really care who it upsets. Everyone needs to respect that SHE decides whether she wants to hug/kiss them.

What other parenting rules are you breaking? What will/won’t you teach your children and why?

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Wonderful Women: Raising Children in Germany

This week’s Wonderful Women Wednesday is featuring Sarah, a full time working mum and army wife who has lived abroad for … years and is now adjusting to life back in the UK with her three kids!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for a living.

My name is Sarah and I am 44 . I have changed jobs recently during to moving back from Germany after 7 years away. I now work selling animal feed, garden bits and the boots department is my bit.

It’s good to be working with people, but hard work to start at my age .

2. You’re a mum of three kids, how old are they and what are they doing?

I have Taylor who has just turned 18 and graduated from boarding school. It’s good to have her home. Shes a little emotional right now as failed medical for Army and didn’t quite get the great results she needed or was hoping for from her IB exams.

Blake-Louise is 8 and just last week was diagnosed with autism. She struggles with emotional and social situations, and she is also being assessed for a bleeding disorder as she suffers from prolonged nosebleeds quite regularly. She’s holding her own at school and tries to make friends.

Then theres little Paolo who is 5 – he is the sweetest of the bunch. He suffers with allergies, and he carries an epi-pen as he’s had two episodes of anaphylaxis. He also spent his first years in and out of hospital with bronchitis.

Both the youngest only really know Germany so it’s taken time for them to get used to the UK.

3. Did you find it difficult having such an age gap between your eldest and the next two?

Oh boy yes did I!

It was like starting over again and I had to ask my sister things as I’d forgotten some bits! I felt old with the other two and my energy levels now are awful.

Taylor doesn’t (and hasn’t for a while) come on days out with us as a family, as she’s not interested in the same things and often finds it boring.

4. Which stage is harder: toddler or teenager?

Toddler is so much easier I think. As a parent of a toddler you get to have fun, take photos and be a kid yourself again. Don’t always worry about a tidy house , just make memories.

I share quite a bit of stuff about kids on social media and I do think we need to remember in this day and age that they are little and learning all the time.

Teenagers are another ball game! You have a younger adult there who is trying to find their way with your rules. I have brought Taylor up to stand up for herself and now she’s doing it with us.

5. Your husband worked with the PWRR and was posted in Germany for quite a while! What was it like bringing the children up in a different country and how have you found it coming back to England after such a long time?

When we first moved to Germany, I was in a bad place.

My father has passed away in the March 2011 and we were due to move in the July with a 7 month old and a 10 year old. Neither my eldest daughter or myself had been to Germany before.

I felt so down and practically cried on and off for the first 4 months. My husband started work and had the car so that left me to walk everywhere with a pushchair and my 10 year old daughter in tow.

Thank goodness the German people are so kind! Many helped with speaking English when we went shopping. It took a while to make friends as all I did was stand at the bus stop, but I met a lovely lady who came from the Isle of Wight like myself. We remain friends now 8 years on!

Our first winter in Germany was a bit of a shock – the temperature dropped to -21 degrees! Christmas in Germany is amanzing and the culture there is very family orientated.

I soon settled and went to a singing group with the baby, Blake, in the end I was running it for 5 years.

The healthcare in Germany is amazing, too, and they have a separate hospital for children. I had another baby while in Germany and it was the best of all my C-Sections. We spent so many months on and off in hospital with my little boy as he has allergies.

My husband did a tour of Afghanistan while we were in Germany which I found very hard, especially not having any family near. But the friends I made helped me get through it.

Coming back to the UK after such a long time was a wrench. Germany was our home and all my youngest children knew.

My eldest came back early to go to boarding school, so she was used to living back in the UK by the time we came back!

6. Being a mum of three and an army wife must be difficult – do you spend long periods of time managing yourself, the kids, and your job on your own? What have you found helps you to cope with all of that by yourself?

Short tours away I think are harder as you don’t get used to them being away. 8 months with him away with a 4 month old, 3 year old, and 13 year old was tough and I really struggled at times. My husband’s mum and sister came to visit, as the Army paid for them to come to Germany.

No-one, and I mean, NO-ONE, understands how it feels and what it’s like unless you are an army wife, and I stand by that. My sister who has been an army wife gave me great advice…

Count the weeks, not the days. Have one thing to look forward to each week, whether it be treats, or a nice day out. Don’t panic if you miss a call from your man, he will call again. You can’t run your life waiting by the phone.

Claire, Army Wife

Chocolate helps, too, girls!

7. What do you find most rewarding about having three wonderful children?

Hahahahahaha

8. And the most challenging?

Everything is challenging!

Paolo, the youngest, has allergies and we carry an epipen. I have had to use it and it was frightening. I have done a paediatric first aid course, but seeing him have a seizure was heartbreaking. He has spent a lot of time in and out of hospital in his first 3 years of life.

Blake, the middle one, has bleeding issues and we are still trying to get answers. Taylor is my wing woman, so to speak, as it was just us two, butte has been through it, and we have both had mental health issues.

They are all lovely kids, though (when asleep)!

9. You’re also currently going through the motions of getting an ASD diagnosis for one of the kids – how do you manage her additional needs?

Miss B is 8 and a half now and we have had thoughts there’s something not quite right for a while. We started by speaking with our GP as B, after our two pet cats passed away, became obsessed with cats, said she wanted to be a cat and said she wanted to die so she could be with her brothers (the cats).

When speaking with CAMHS and the doctor it became apparent that there were other emotional problems. She also liked to collect things – from a young age she carried around batteries, eggs, and tomatoes. I seem to cope better than my husband does as he is far more short-tempered than I am.

She does not like surprises and so we need to make sure she knows what’s going on at all times. We have, since being in the UK, got her Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) done and are due to get paperwork confirming her diagnosis, which, even though we expected it, came as a shock, as none of our family thought there was an issue. They said she was just naughty, or rude, or it was just a phase.

10. Is there anybody else you’d like to nominate for our wonderful women feature? Anyone who inspires you?

My sister. Even though sometimes I’d like to kick her up the butt, or shake her and say “get a grip”, she has come through so much. Army wife, break up, and her husband had PTSD. She is a fighter – even though she wants to give up, she doesn’t.

Wonderful Women: Being a mum of a disabled adult

How to raise a disabled child

Today’s Wonderful Women feature is an interview with Sharon, a nanny of three (almost four) and mummy to Lauren, who suffers with cerebral palsy.

Sharon was nominated for this feature because her whole life has been full of sacrifices as a parent of a disabled child. She gave up her career to be Lauren’s full time carer and has been in that role for nearly 27 years now! She also raised her two older boys into adulthood as a single mum… Let’s give it up for Sharon!

1) Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Sharon, I’m 56, I live in Ashford, Kent and I have 3 grown up children. The youngest is Lauren who is 26 and is severely disabled so she still lives at home with me. Before I had Lauren I worked as a dental nurse and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

2) Your children are all grown up now, do you have any advice for new mums/mums of teenagers?

Yes, my children are all grown up now, but really the only advice I can think to give for teenagers is to keep your boundaries. They seem to want you as another friend but you’re not, you’re their parent and they have to abide by your rules.

For babies, just do your best and make the most of it because before long they’ve turned into horrible teenagers!

3) You’re a full time carer to Lauren who suffers with athetoid cerebral palsy, can you tell us about that?

Lauren was almost a year old when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, although I had an idea before then that was what the problem was. Athetoid cerebral palsy affects all four limbs and causes severe spasticity in those limbs.

4) How has it impacted on your life having a child with a severe disability?

Having a child with a disability has had a great impact on my life in many ways, but I think the main one is taking away my ability to go to work and earn my own money… So I’m completely dependent on the state.

5) You probably never expected to still be a full time parent when your children had grown up, is it tough to carry on that role for longer than you expected?

It’s very tough to still be caring for your child once they’ve grown up, especially as I’m getting older myself! Our bodies were not equipped to care for our children’s physical needs once they become adults and, of course, I often wonder what she’d be doing in her life if she’d been born able-bodied. What sort of person would she be? etc…

6) Do you have any advice for mums with disabled children?

It can be a long slog but don’t give up. Make sure you’re getting everything you can because once they become adults it’s like they’re suddenly cured!

It is also very rewarding when your child achieves something you were told they’d never do.

7) Is there a lot of support for children with cerebral palsy?

There is a lot of support for children with cerebral palsy but unfortunate that stops when they become adults.

8) How much of an impact did Lauren’s health have on your other children growing up?

Lauren’s health had a big impact on my other two children growing up. Simple things like going somewhere for a family day out isn’t as simple anymore when you have a disabled child.

My two boys became my little helpers once I had Lauren and had a big role in helping me to care for her. They went from two little boys into two men overnight.

9) You have grandchildren now, and Lauren is an Auntie, how are the grandchildren around Auntie Lauren?

I have 3 grandchildren and they are all very mindful of Lauren’s disabilities. The girls are especially and Lauren has a lovely relationship with them and loves them coming over.

10) Finally, do you have anybody else you’d like to nominate for our wonderful women feature? Anyone who inspires you?

Sarah, you inspire me. Your drive and determination is unreal – the way you start things and see them through, even when life wants to chuck more shit your way you do all this off your own back. You had no guidance, no nurturing and, I suspect, no encouragement!

I’d also like to nominate all the women out there that get up and do their bit, juggling jobs / childcare / running a home and everything else life wants to throw their way! I don’t think you realise how hard motherhood is until you have a child.

Thank you so much to Sharon for being part of this series celebrating wonderful women everywhere! If you have anyone to nominate please get in touch!

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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!

rbf
  • 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.

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 20.29.51
  • 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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My daughter will be seen AND heard

I was recently trying to enjoy a nice lunch out with my husband and our daughter. What started as a lovely meal ended with me fuming, with my husband trying to calm me down.

Here’s why.

Here is my gorgeous lady. She’s a happy little soul, she’s usually pretty chilled, but she knows what she wants and how to get it. Know why? Because she’s a good communicator. She uses a mix of Makaton (baby sign), words and gestures to convey her wants and interests. She doesn’t shout very much as my husband and I are both at home with her, so she gets plenty of attention as soon as she needs. I’m confident in her communicative abilities, as are most people we meet. Until that fateful lunch date.

While we were waiting for our food, we noticed our daughter smiling and nodding at someone behind us. This isn’t too unusual, she tries to make friends with everyone she meets (including a few shop manikins). The vast majority of people make a few faces to her, give her a little wave, and then leave us alone. But not this time.

The first sign should have been when the man she had been smiling at came over to us to congratulate us on how cute our ‘son’ was. Never mind the fact that she was very obviously wearing a dress, and I’m sure half the restaurant had heard us saying ‘yes, good girl!’ when she had managed to sign the word ‘bird’ for the first time just minutes previously.

Funnily enough, I’m getting used to people mistaking her for a boy. It’s an easy mistake, her hair is only just starting to grow longer, but I usually politely correct, and there is no further issue. But for some reason, the fact that she was a GIRL meant that we had a further issue. Here’s how the conversation went:

ME: Oh, she’s actually a girl, but thank you. We think she’s very cute!

HIM: A girl?! Well you’ve done a fabulous job there then!

ME: What do you mean?

HIM: well, she’s barely saying a word! That means you’ve raised her right!

ME: Sorry? (half confused, half hoping this isn’t going where I think it’s going!)

HIM: All the girls nowadays are so loud! They’re talking all the time, making so much noise, having an opinion on everything. Not like the good old days, don’t you think?

ME: No, I’m afraid I don’t agree, and I doubt my husband would either. I’m sure your mother would be thrilled to know you think all women should be seen and not heard.

HIM: (smiling awkwardly and going a beautiful shade of white). Congratulations. (While walking away he forcefully pats my shoulder in some weird form of congratulations for having a quiet baby? And dislocates my shoulder due to my EDS.

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds scripted! Nobody would approach a stranger to say something like that! Well I promise you, it happened, and I was fuming. And you guessed it, I’ve got more than one issue with this encounter.

The phrase ‘seen and not heard’ originates from the 15th Century, so there’s no ‘I’m from another generation’ excuse for starters. Unless you’re 600+ years old, there’s no way you can get away with using that excuse.

Secondly, this mentality doesn’t just expect young children (or in this case, women) to be quiet, it denies them a voice completely. Why should she (or I) be expected to be quiet simply due to gender? For starters, to deny her a voice would be to deny her her freedom, the ability to share her ideas and creativity, and it reinforces the idea that she is only worthwhile when a man gives her permission to be. And I am NOT going to reinforce that.

IMAGINE praising a child for not speaking (or not being able to). Not everyone would agree with me, but I believe the only time a child should not be allowed to talk is….never. Children are naturally curious beings, how are they supposed to grow and develop if they can’t express their questions and frustrations?

So, I’m raising my daughter to be noisy. I’m raising her to express herself however she chooses, to be loving and creative and happy and free.

You know why? Because well-behaved women seldom make history.

Have you encountered a similar mindset? How did you react?

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Is it okay to dress my daughter up as a princess?

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I am a Feminist.

Pure and simple. Always have been and always will be. From as long as I had the ability to understand what the hell that was, I knew I was one.

For those of you who are still unsure on what being a feminist actually is, it is nothing more complex than this:

I BELIEVE MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL.

Yes, there are numerous variations of feminism – there are different sub-categories of feminism which have been adapted to suit the different sub-categories of women that exist (i.e. black feminism for black women as an even further marginalised group who have their own specific cultural needs). BUT the basic principle across all feminism is that women are no less than men, and should not be treated as less than men.

I have obviously adapted MY version of feminism for me – there are certain ideas that I subscribe to, such as being against gender stereotyping, and there are ideas that I don’t subscribe to, such as the radical feminists’ view that men are scum (though there are many men, and probably as many women, who are scum, but it’s not a gender thing).

Gender stereotyping, for those of you that don’t know or think I’m a bit “PC gone mad”, is basically that boys and girls from BIRTH should not be told or encouraged to act a certain way, dress a certain way or play with certain toys because of the genitals that are between their legs. Why is that important to me? Because somehow, even as a child, being a girl is still seen as being less.

Think about it… I bet you’ve all heard these phrases tons of times that normalise certain behaviours depending on whether it’s a boy or a girl that is the one behaving that way:

  • “Boys will be boys” – often used as an excuse for them being little shits, reinforcing the idea that boys and men are, characteristically because of their genitals, little shits.
  • “Man up”/”Grow some balls” etc. – implying that men are stronger emotionally. On a side note, this one is actually quite damaging for men’s mental health – no wonder suicide is the biggest killer of young men when from SUCH A YOUNG AGE we tell them that because they are men, they are not allowed to display feelings.
  • “She’s bossy” – when have you ever called a man bossy? Trick question, you don’t – a man is assertive, not bossy. Same behaviour, completely different word association, tone and meaning based on what bits are between their legs.
  • “She’s a bit of a tomboy” – god forbid a girl “acts like a boy”… Getting messy, being boisterous, loud, active, loving the outdoors – these are all qualities we associate with boys, and if a girl exhibits them, she’s not a girl anymore, she’s gained this new “tomboy” identity, whatever the hell that is.

So why does this bother me so much?

Well, it always has – I hated being called a tomboy when I was little. I was a girl, who liked playing football. When I found out I was having a girl, I didn’t immediately go and start buying tons and tons of pink stuff. Yes, I bought some, if I liked it, but ultimately I tried to find bright or neutral coloured clothes, and I found one particular range of unisex clothing I absolutely adore. Little Bird by Jools, stocked by Mothercare, if you’re interested.

I point blank refused to buy Olivia a baby and a pram, until one day at baby group she toddled over to find one on her own and enjoyed playing with them, so we got her one for home. I did not want to have that as an option for her to play with at home before she’d even shown an interest with it simply because she’s a girl. Similarly, I refuse to buy her toy hoovers, irons, kitchens etc., because these are ALL targeted at girls! Come on people, we are a progressive society, why should my daughter be restricted to playing with these toys which basically just reinforce the idea that only girls can do the cooking or the cleaning? IT’S 2019 FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, PUT SOME BOYS ON THE BOXES AND USE LESS PINK. Also I want her to have higher aspirations in life than spending all day doing the bleeding ironing.

Equally, if I’d had a boy, I wouldn’t have stocked my house full of action men. If he’d wanted a toy baby and pram, I’d have got him one the same as I did for Olivia. If he’d wanted a football for the garden, I’d have got him one the same as I did for Olivia.

So why oh why have I bought my daughter so many princess dresses, you ask? (SERIOUSLY she has like 20 of them!)

Well, because she wants them. At the age of 2 going on 12, she has decided that she LOVES dressing up, in particular, dressing up as a princess from any and all of her favourite Disney movies. She can be Snow White, Rapunzel, Belle, Elsa, Anna, Cinderella, Merida… Whoever she wants to be!

You may have seen Kiera Knightley talking about how she doesn’t want her daughter watching certain princess movies, and I’m minded to agree. I hate her watching Snow White (mostly because it’s boring, not gonna lie), but also, she watches Mulan and Brave and Tangled as much as she watches the others, and those are hella FEMINIST (way to go, Disney!)

The point is – I will never teach her to aspire to marry a prince, but by dressing up as whoever she wants to be, whoever her idols are at this phase in her life, I’m teaching her that she can be whatever she wants to be.

She loves dinosaurs equally as much as she loves princesses. Her favourite book is about a penguin who learns to swim by taking a brave leap of faith into a huge, scary ocean. Her second favourite book is about a witch and wizard becoming a dragon and a dinosaur and having a battle of who can have the best costume to a fancy dress party. Why would I stifle that imagination?

So, yes, I’m a feminist, and my daughter will grow up a feminist, knowing she can be whatever she wants to be, whether that’s a princess, a dinosaur, the Prime Minister, or a nurse.

What are your views on gender stereotyping? Do you try to actively avoid it in your home as well?

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5 reasons why I never want to be pregnant again!

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Babies are great… Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… They CAN be great, when they want to be. But most of the time they’re either sucking the life out of you (LITERALLY) or shitting on you (AGAIN, LITERALLY) and I swear they enjoy every second of it!
 
But anyway, they can be great… I mean, who doesn’t love babies? Pregnancy, however, is a whole different kettle of fish, and my god do I never want to do that again.
 
Here are my 5 reasons why!
  1. For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…
  2. As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets. But it’s not just the midwife, it’s all of your non-pregnant friends! One friend literally breathed down my neck about me eating mayonnaise, and said I didn’t look pregnant, just like I’d had a big lunch (I forgave her for that and we laugh about it now, but hello?! Heightened emotions!!!!!!). AND THEY ALL WANT TO TOUCH YOUR BELLY AS IF IT SUDDENLY BELONGS TO THEM.
  3. Following on from that one… In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out. And guess what? If I didn’t like seeing and feeling it myself, I also didn’t like other people touching my belly and setting the whole “let’s kick mummy to shit from the inside out” rhythm off!
  4. It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point.
  5. Post-pregnancy, I’ve had all these ridiculously annoying baby hairs sticking out of my forehead making me look like a baby lion. It’s not nice. My daughter is now 2, and I still have these! My hair, skin and nails didn’t glow while I was pregnant and now I’m stuck with this mega hair growth that’s so pitiful and annoying all at the same time! I can’t even wear my trademark mum bun for more than 30 minutes without the baby hairs pointing up and making me look like a tit in public. And god forbid it’s a windy day! Windswept would be an understatement…
Are there any reasons why you’d prefer not to go through pregnancy again? Let us know in the comments!