5 Mama Style Tips with The Mama Edits

The gorgeous Karran from The MamaEdits gives us some great style tips for everyday Mama life in this interview.  She has two beautiful girls and her Instagram feed is filled with style, outfit inspiration and daily motherhood life.

I have always loved how she puts pieces together and she is effortlessly cool with all her looks.

Find out what her favourite look is, her hero piece for the season and what all mothers need in their wardrobe!

Continue reading “5 Mama Style Tips with The Mama Edits”

Style Heroes with Mum Folk

I had been following Helen from Mum Folk on Instagram for a while when I discovered she had started a new series on her blog called ‘style hero’. I was excited to get in touch to find out more about her thoughts on this series and why she was pro for a fashion hero wardrobe.

She is a mum of 2, she a creative inspiration, running her own graphic design business and totally nailing the mama life wardrobe! I absolutely love her beautiful feed, it’s got some lovely style inspiration and some kick ass business motivation.

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How would you describe a style hero piece?

Style heroes came about because I wanted to become more selective and thoughtful about what I bought and what went in to my wardrobe. After assessing my overall style preferences and what I actually like to wear I realised there were quite a few holes in my wardrobe – so I came up with a list of key pieces that I would love, more premium well made pieces that I would enjoy wearing time and time again, are versatile timeless classics that can effortlessly elevate an outfit and set my sights on slowly adding these ‘style heroes’ to my wardrobe – so consciously thinking about my next purchase in order to escape this fast fashion cycle of bad choices I seemed to be making.

It’s the old adage of ‘buying better and buying less’ and paying attention to design accents and details that make a style hero piece enjoyable to wear on a daily basis.

How do you pick your hero fashion pieces?

I had a huge cull of clothes that had been hanging around my wardrobe for years – some totally unworn and others worn with regret – to start a new curated collection that I could build on. I base my style hero pieces on the overall look and feel of my wardrobe and decide on what is the key piece I could benefit from right now? What is it that is stopping me from wearing a particular item that I already own? Do I need a different pair of shoes to bring a few items together or is it a beautifully tailored jacket or coat?

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I also look at how many pieces I need out of every clothing category: for example jeans, tops, jackets, shoes etc. Without this conscious assessment I’d found that I’m just drawn to buying the same things – I’ve got about 10 bretton stripe tops and too many ill fitting blue jeans, when what I really should have bought were a pair of white jeans and a grey crew neck to open up the doors to new outfit possibilities for example. I’m much more targeted now in my approach to buying and know exactly what I’m lacking in my wardrobe.

I also base the purchases on classic shapes and silhouettes as for me this builds the most longevity out of your wardrobe and really helps you pull looks together quickly and effortlessly.

What are your hero pieces for SS18?

I’ve got my eye on a few things – a cotton trench coat is top of the list, along with a cropped leather jacket (a lighter weight for spring/summer) and a wrap dress for when the weather warms up. As well as kitten heel ankle boots and some statement gold jewellery. Accessories are a brilliant way of reinventing clothes that you’ve had for ages.

What are your top tips for finding the right style hero pieces?

Think about your lifestyle and what you would benefit from first or from the most. For example I rarely buy high heels now, not because I don’t like them, I do, it’s just I know day to day kitten heels are the highest I can go so I would rather build on these pieces or a nice collection of flats first than buy a pair of heels that get worn once a year!

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Then assess your wardrobe first & identify any gaps. Also make sure you have a good idea about your style & what suits you before you start shopping around. That way you’re less likely to make a bad purchase and more likely to stick to the plan of what you actually need when you go shopping. Think about the colour, material, type of silhouette etc and shop with a critical, discerning eye.

How would you describe your collection of clothes in your wardrobe?

My style is a mix of contemporary and classics. I like clean lines, often tailored pieces, have an addiction to stripes and a preference for neutral colours. 

What is a Style Hero and how to find yours

What is a style hero?

Fashion speak for a piece of clothing/accessory that is a ‘must-have’

Actually, I’m not 100% sure this definition is accurate. I believe (from my experience) as people get a little bit older and lifestyles change, their need for hero style pieces goes much deeper than just having a ‘must have’ piece.

Having various must-have trends that appear each season, just because it’s a must have in your wardrobe, doesn’t mean it will work.

Looking back I have been through many occasions where I have ended up getting rid of something, never worn with labels still attached, for following suit and buying something that is a truly lovely bit of clothing but it didn’t fit my life or my style.

I have noticed a few variations on what the term means to other mama’s, but for me, a hero fashion piece is something you can go back to, over and over again and you know you will feel good in it. It’s that piece that fits in nicely to your existing wardrobe by being interchangeable with different pieces. The piece that matches your style personality and works hard for you!

How do I pick mine?

First of all, at the start of each season I’ll have a bit of wardrobe editing session. I wrote more about this in this blog post, explaining my 3 steps to getting the wardrobe you love.

Once I’ve detoxed the wardrobe I can clearly see which pieces I’m missing and what I need to buy to create go to looks with what’s left in the wardrobe.

I consider both my style personality, what’s on trend and what’s inspired me. I will look on social media, websites such as sheerluxe, a style album and Who what wear. Pinterest is also a great one, I pin lots of outfits for my inspiration and then I can work out how I can recreate something similar.

However, the thing that really works is having an understanding of what suits me and knowing my body shape and what colours, shapes and fits work for it. Knowing what suits you ensures you don’t get sucked into that high fashion buying impulse, only to find it hanging in your wardrobe for months on end, untouched!

This season pencil skirts are the go to shape, however, I know that not only do I not suit them but I also feel very uncomfortable in them, so no matter how tempting it is to look like you are on trend, its just not worth it sometimes.

Once I have thought and done the above,  I’ll make my list of the hero pieces that will complete my wardrobe to give me those looks/outfits for the season.

My Style Heroes for Spring 2018?

On my list I have;

1. Trench coat– The trench coat is big for SS18. There will always be a place for the trench, but this season it’s time to get a bit playful with them. I have been looking for a pastel shade for this season.  I got very lucky when charity shopping and found an oversized pastel shade of pink, a vintage one from House of Fraser! Otherwise I would have gone for the Marks and Spencer lilac mix gingham trench coat

trench

2. Athlesiure pants– These are so versatile and I invested in one of my favourite brands to give me the pair of the season.  The Biba side stripe tassle detail trousers. The side stripe is everywhere right now and has been for a while. Not only that but the horizontal side panel is such a flattering detail to elongate the leg. Who doesn’t want the illusion of an extra couple of inches on those pins right?! I can’t see the athlesiure trend going anywhere. I feel so comfortable in this look and have many different ways to wear them.

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3. Dark denim jeans– After finally packing away the maternity jeans, I am on the search for some dark indigo jeans. I don’t know many people who don’t have jeans as a staple piece in their wardrobe, but I also know how many people struggle to buy denim and hate shopping for it. This is where understanding your body shape plays a big part in getting this right. Since having my baby, my thighs and hips have got bigger and I’m finding being in looser fit clothes much more comfortable. The ‘mom’ and ‘boyfriend’ fit is my go to style now.

4. Slogan tee– Is there anything the slogan tee can’t do!? Provide a strong feminist message? Tick. Add to a cool layered look? Tick. Provide a statement? Tick.  Look cool tucked into trousers and skirts? Tick. Tick.

5. Vintage floral dress- There is room for many different types of florals this season. I’m still carrying through some big bold floral prints from previous seasons which I will continue to wear. However, as I have a few weddings this year, I want a more romantic feel. I’m loving the yellow floral dresses out there right now! Don’t be fooled by a dress either. It’s not a one trick pony. Layering a roll neck underneath or pairing a big slouchy piece of knitwear over the top helps the longevity of a spring dress.

yellow dress

I have some other items that will carry through as basics and I’ll be utilising some polka dots and stripes from previous seasons but the above 5 pieces will give that seasonal update and provide some different looks with my existing clothes.

Top tips for finding yours

It’s important not to get too hung up on looking at the trends. Focus more on your style personality, and take inspiration from the trends to ensure you add touches to the seasonal updates but you don’t let them rule over what you like to wear and what actually suits you.

Work out your lifestyle. Let’s face it, you don’t need 5 going out outfits if you are only ever going out once every a few months. As sad as that might sound, motherhood does change our lifestyle but doesn’t have to have an impact on our sense of dressing fun. Just make sure you invest in the premium products that you need more of. That pair of everyday denim. Those pieces of knitwear. The cool dress.

Try not to buy one top for just one pair of trousers. Hero pieces should be something that will work across various items to give you different looks. For example, the roll neck will always be a hero piece of mine as I love how you can layer them or use them as the main feature of an outfit.

5 Things I Have Learnt Since Becoming A Mother

As I write this blog post, it is 1 month before I return to work after being on Maternity leave with my first baby.

As anxiety of going back to work and using my brain in the same way it did pre baby, kicks in, I thought it was time I make a list of the skills and abilities motherhood has taught me.

You may think this is a bit of a weird task to do, but after having 9 months off with my son, I thought to reflect on what I have learnt during this time, would not only be a nice way to look back on this journey but also to build my confidence that even though I haven’t been ‘working’ in the tradition sense, I have still developed.

Although, I am pretty confident I have forgotten how to use words any bigger than 1 syllabol and 4 letters long, and the thought of conversing with actual professional adults again is giving me high levels of panic!

My brain has had 9 months off the usual day job, I am not even sure I remember how to use my brain in the same way I did before Beau. However, reality is that Motherhood has given me skills, emotions and abilities that I would just never have gained if I didn’t have my son.

The good news is that all these things are pretty transferable and have made me a stronger, more confident person.

What I have learnt;

Multi-tasking

I could multi task before but this is a new level.  I have actually amazed myself with the amount of things I have done at once! Not to mention the things I can now do one-handed, while holding a baby.  Buttering toast, eating, pulling off a piece of toilet roll, sssshhhing and rocking your baby while you get dressed, piling clothes into the washing machine as you make the baby’s feed, and bouncing the baby on one knee as you try and cut up your own dinner. There is no getting around learning to do as much as possible in as little time.

Levels of patience

Okay, so I have to admit, I still need to work on this a bit more, but there is no doubt, if you weren’t a very patience person before, you will definitely have learnt to take a few extra deep breaths to get you through the day.

You seem to build this infinite reserve of patience, even though you get tested daily.  You think you are being pushed to the edge and then something else happens, no matter how small, but it happens, and you suddenly realise that your head hasn’t exploded and you’ve screamed less into the pillow then usually! Some days Motherhood throws you some tough dark days, with some pretty frustrating situations but you get through them, and always with love and patience.

Management and organisation of life

Going out and leaving the baby with a babysitter means more planning and preparation than organising a wedding

Long gone are the days of getting out the house swiftly too.  Getting ready to leave the house requires 10 times more effort and 100 times more planning than ever.

It does mean though that your planning skills, being organised and managing your days has become impeccable.  Even though you feel you are winging it some days, you are winging it with some organised chaos.

Flexibility

A baby dictates your life.  Its taken me some time to realise this but the power of being able to be flexible for sanity sake has been a big learning curve.  It is much easier to adapt your life around a baby then force the baby to adapt to yours.  Its 100% giving and makes you appreciate the uniqueness of not only your baby but everyone.  I have tried routines and its important for babies but the best thing to do is not get weighed down them.  Everyday is different and no can guess what will happen.  You have to prepare mentally, emotionally and phyiscally at the start of everyday.

I’ve learnt to react and respond accordingly and effectively to the new challenges that life and motherhood throws at me!

The speed of getting things done

This is a good one! I can be like Flash on speed when I need to be. It’s amazing what you can cram in when the baby goes down to sleep.

I know that the skill of being able to power multi task kicks in here too, but you work with such a sense of urgency that you tick off jobs with utter speed! All for the chaos to start again once the baby wakes up!

So, any Mama’s out there going back to work, feeling a little anxious and scared, I would recommend taking some time to reflect on your maternity leave journey.  You will be surprised at what you have achieved and how you have grown as a person.  The daily tasks of your non mama job will come back to you and if anyone underestimates your ability from having so much time off, remember, you have the job title of MUM on your CV now, and that’s the biggest most important job out there!

3 Steps To Get The Wardrobe You Love

The Wardrobe dilemma

If you have or are still like I once was, stared into the abyss that is your wardrobe, its full of clothes but you are left thinking ‘I have nothing to wear’, then I may just have some tips to help sort this out!

Dressing in the morning should be fun.  I see it as a way to express my mood, to showcase my style, my individuality and personality.  So when I was spending more time throwing clothes on the floor through pure frustration that I hated all my clothes, I knew I needed to make some changes.

Then, once my first baby arrived it became even more apparent that time could not be spent really on myself anymore and getting ready had to be completed in approximately 3 minutes, 25 seconds before the next demand of the babe was calling me!

So I set myself the challenge of creating a wardrobe I love.  Having a wardrobe that suited my mama lifestyle.  Having a wardrobe that was more streamlined without taking the fun away of mixing and matching pieces and ensuring that my wardrobe was full of pieces I love.  My hero pieces!

Now, before I go into how I did this in more detail, I just wanted to point out that even though there is an element of it, I haven’t created a capsule wardrobe here.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of the capsule, however, I really didn’t want to limit myself to a set few pieces each season.

What did I want to create?

What I wanted was to find the right items for my life and my style and make getting dressed fun and easy again.  I wanted a hard-working wardrobe, that had staples I could return to, again and again and have luxe separates with seasonal updates to see me through each season with style.

How can you do it?

EDIT YOUR WARDROBE

You will need to invest in some time for this.  The easiest way is to pull everything out your wardrobe.  Give yourself a blank canvas.  Then the fun (nightmare) begins.  At this point, only put back in the wardrobe what you absolutely love.  The pieces that you know fit well and you feel good in.  The pieces that are season appropriate. Then bin, put in a charity bag or sell anything that you have outgrown, don’t like anymore or simply haven’t worn for months and months.

With the remaining items, you should now have 2 options.  Are they next seasons clothes? Are they maybe’s? Store next seasons clothes away, under the bed, in the loft, just put them out of sight for now.  The maybe’s.  I put these under the bed for a few months and set a reminder on my phone to go back through them.  If I hadn’t missed them or needed them for a particular look, I put them in the charity bag.  It’s amazing how a few months not seeing something can confirm it’s not an item for your wardrobe anymore or its something you’ve been longing for!

What you will be left with is an edited wardrobe with only the clothes left hanging in there that you know are pieces when you put them on you make you feel good!

ORGANISE YOUR WARDROBE

Personally, it helps me if I then put my clothes in a particular order.  Maybe it’s from my days of working in retail, and I like to see things lined up in product groups? But this next step will help you with step number 3. Some people might colour code their wardrobe but I go for grouping all dresses, tops, trousers, skirts etc together.  That way I can see how much I have of each and then easily grab each item to put together my outfit for the day.

If you are a little OCD (like me) you can take it the next level and have items in length order, and colours grouped together. The aim of doing this is so you can easily find pieces, but also so you can pull together the look you want to create with no hassle at all. You want to be able to see each individual item.

GIVE YOUR WARDROBE A HERO MAKE-OVER

So the fun really starts now! Once you have a wardrobe with pieces you love and its organised by product group you will then be able to see clearly what you are missing. This is when I would start creating a shopping list of the things I need for the season ahead.

These items would then make up my hero pieces that give my wardrobe a new fresh update and will also work with my existing items to create versatile and interchangeable looks. These change each season as I like to have some trend led pieces, but essentially they are the items that I can go to over and over again to create fresh new looks.

Having all your items layed out so visibly makes it easy to see what you need.  For example, you may find you are left with 3 pairs of trousers but with limited options to wear on top. So, you may add a white shirt and a cute knit to layer together to complete the look, but this is where you can start to look for your inspiration as to what they are. I get inspiration from magazines, websites, but mostly Instagram! I see some amazing outfits and looks that other mum’s have styled. It gives me the ideas I need to complete my seasonal wardrobe.

In regards to the hero pieces, I will be sharing what these are, how I choose mine and how you can find yours in the next blog post! But in summary, a style hero piece is your go to piece. It may be one thing, it might be 5, but they are the things that make you feel good.

My top tip is, try not to over think it, especially when it comes to detoxing your wardrobe.  Sometimes we become emotionally attached to an item for no real reason, and unless its adding value to your outfit collection then get rid!

The above steps should give you a good foundation to get started and make you feel refreshed in the wardrobe department.

Make sure to check out next weeks blog, to give you more details on finding those seasonal style heroes.

Power Maternity Leave: my journey so far

I first started talking about ‘power maternity’ back in February 2017 when stylist magazine published an article about this new ‘trend’ and I was 4 months pregnant. 

It suggested that time out after a baby can make you feel like a step off the career ladder, and because of this women were using the time to reinvent their work lives. 

Something resonated with me about it, so I took to write about why, which you can read here.   However, that was a while ago and now my baby is actually here, am I fulfilling the ‘power maternity’ concept or am watching back to back series on Netflix? Also, what are others saying about this theory of new Mums taking maternity leave to the next level.  

As a women who has worked since I was 14 doing various part time retail jobs and then full time since finishing university, I have always been ambitious. I’m career driven, putting all I have into each role. 

I have also been the type of person to look for extra activities, from becoming qualified in Swedish massage to help running the local youth break dancing classes. I’m always on the hunt to how I can learn something to better my skill set or get involved in something. 

So when I read this article about women using maternity leave to start businesses, learn a new skill etc I knew I wanted some part of this growing ‘trend’. 

Since the stylist article was released there have been a couple of contradicting arguments around this concept. 

An article in Jezebel stated ‘power maternity leave is the latest way to make ol’ new moms feel incompetent’ 

Arguing that stylist have made out that if you don’t start your own business you are a lazy new mother. Suggesting that most of these women who have launched a business are ‘well-off’ and that’s why they were capable of doing so. 

The Gaurdian’s title in respond to stylist stated ‘working motherhood: not sure a band of cupcake mumpreuners is the answer’ 

Again suggesting that it’s a certain type of middle class women who are setting up knitting, vintage bridal and organic evening glove businesses!  

For me, I do think they have missed something around the concept. It’s not just about ‘middle class, well off’ women setting up ‘knit your own owl collection’ (nothing wrong with that if it was) it’s about any class of woman who don’t want to lose the career part of them pre baby.  Or those that see an opportunity in the market which they may have only come across because of having a baby! 

Let’s take me for example. I don’t have the financial backing, I’m the breadwinner in our relationship and me being on statuary maternity pay has meant a massive pay dip for us. We get by each month by the skin of our teeth. I feel guilty that I’m not earning money and yet the activities I have to get out the house is baby yoga and coffee dates with other Mums. I like it, but something doesn’t sit quite right me about it. 

I have a job, a great one which I have loved for 5 years. I hope that I can go back to it in some way when my maternity ends. However, i’m also completely aware that even if I could do part time the traditional 9-5 hours at an office desk is not always as flexible as you’d hope.  

So what’s wrong with me trying to learn a new skill, get myself out there to meet people with a similar mindset to help me build something so I can provide for my family in a more effective way? 

So, what am I doing? 

  • I’m part of the mama tribe team for London covering events. 
  • I have just started a course with digital Mums to train how to be a social media manager (long term plans of combining social media with skill set from existing role and go freelance- this is me thinking of a setting up a new business)
  • I’m continuing with my own personal blog and Guest writing for various other sites such as mama tribe and mothers meeting so I can raise my profile within a fantastic community and build a brand.

What I want to point out is, this doesn’t mean I’m neglecting my child, or not bonding with him or working on developing him through these precious months together. At the end of the day a newborn baby and beyond will dictate your time anyway. You just have to work out what you want to do during those nap times or ‘down time’. 

Motherhood, has and will continue to be the hardest job I’ve ever had. The first 3 months I couldn’t do anything except nurture my baby boy. Washing and feeding myself can still be a challenge some days, I battle with my hormones on and off and some days I feel lonely, sad and unmotivated for no reason at all. Some days I can achieve something brilliant while still looking after this little human who depends on me to live. It’s a balancing act. 

Personally, I think all maternity leave requires power. However you choose to spend it and whatever your choice is, it is the best for you and your family.  

What is Power Maternity and how I am preparing for it

Maternity Leave

‘A period of absence from work granted to a mother before and after the birth of her child’

Power Maternity Leave

‘The hours spent while baby is sleeping are devoted to starting a new business or skill’

What I am planning

I am opting for Power Maternity. It is a growing trend and movement and I am discovering more and more ‘mumtrepneurs’ which is just incredible and inspiring.

Recently I passed my 5 year anniversary working for House of Fraser and looking back it has been an incredible journey.  However, rather than planning what my journey will look like there for the next few years, I am busy working out a plan for my ‘replacement’ and crazily working through all the feelings that going on maternity leave brings.

What i do

I’m a learning and development advisor specialising in product, styling and service training. I love my job (90% of the time) and have been very fortunate to be in such a creative position where I can use my love for style and fashion, as well as drive results and the business.

With always being an ambitious and career driven girl, that’s why power maternity appeals to me. But am I being naive to think that having a new born will still allow me to work on sideline projects and start a new adventure?! Hmmm, time will tell, but I have never been one for just doing the norm. I always look for new adventures, skills to learn and ways to push myself.

My career, and more so my role at House of Fraser was the reason I started blogging in the first place and to be honest, it is a big part of who I am today. I’ve thrived off my job, it excites me and gives me confidence.

To be leaving this behind, to start my new chapter as a mother for potentially any time between 6-9months or forever, is daunting!

So, what am I worried about?

  • My replacement doing a better job than me
  • My replacement messing up what I’ve built
  • I am jumping off the career ladder
  • Feeling I’ve lost my identity
  • Being lonely
  • Not having enough money to survive
  • Will I ever go back to work and have that part of my life back
  • Will I be a good mother

Nothing too serious then!

Yes, I can’t wait to meet my little boy. Yes, I know I’ve always wanted to be a mama and I will bloody well throw all I have in to it and cherish my days trying to raise a strong boy.  However, with a unplanned pregnancy your mind finds it hard to adjust sometimes to the concept of motherhood and what this purpose will bring.

What would you say?

I know mums out there reading this will be saying having a child is a new sense of purpose.  Which I completely understand and get.  I am sure there will be days where I love sitting on the couch with my boobs out, nursing my baby boy.  I also know there will be days I will hate it too and miss being in meetings with buyers and designers having those creative conversations.

So, recently I have been reaching out to find what it is I can and will be doing on my power maternity leave and it’s helping to keep me motivated and inspired, rather than worrying about all those thoughts mentioned above.  More to come on this, but just know that even if you have so many questions unanswered like myself, there are so many new opportunities out there, which I have already started to learn and it’s amazing!  It’s also okay if you aren’t 100% embracing the thought of maternity leave after building up a career that you love.

“Studies show that during pregnancy our brains are more resourceful and creative”

says psychologist Marisa Peer, author of Trying to get pregnant and succeeding, and by removing ourselves from the day to day stresses of work, it recharges our minds.  So, maybe it’s not all about dirty nappies and leaking nipples after all?!

The unexpected

No one knows what their maternity leave will bring, there is no one size fits all (based on listening to my friends and reading blogs) so I really don’t know what to expect. All I do know is that I have too many ideas and creativity to sleep while the baby sleeps and to binge on box sets while I’m late night feeding. I maybe delusion, and while some will say sleep and rest when you can because you’ll be knackered and it’s challenging enough. I also know there are hundreds and thousands of mums that used maternity leave to build businesses.

I am inspired by mothers every day following all different types of directions, and to reiterate, no maternity leave fits all and I’m not saying I will build an empire, all I am saying is, I can now see options and that’s something to be excited about. For me, that option is power maternity.

5 tips for getting through the 4th Trimester

How has having a baby made me feel?

There is actually no simple answer to this. Motherhood has been a rollercoaster of emotions, high and lows.

But one feeling I’ve encountered, which took me by surprise is guilt. Here’s why;

Power maternity leave

A while ago I wrote a blog post for a bunch of mum’s which you can read here. about how I’d planned to make my time off work, power maternity leave. There was something about this concept that resignated with me and it made me feel empowered that I could achieve this too.

I’ve always known I wanted to be mum. I had maternal instincts but when I fell pregnant I also knew I’d struggle to be a stay at home mum.

Guilt

This feeling of guilt then… well, there’s something about arranging coffee dates, taking long walks, scrolling through the peanut app to find new mama friends and sitting on the couch all morning long, that I just feel like I’m being terribly lazy. Especially when Michael is going to work every day to earn money for us to live. Granted, I am also completely aware that being at home with a newborn is not lazy!

There’s just a feeling of… I could be doing so much more but my new lifestyle is not permitting me.

Why?

Maybe it’s because the arrival of our baby was so early that I had to finish work so abruptly and so I didn’t have any time to get closure on what I was working on. Or to prepare my mind and body for what was about to happen and that’s why I have a slight craving of getting that fix of worklife?

Although, my biggest problem in life is not living in the moment. I’m always busy thinking of the ‘next thing’, planning ahead.

Nothing has changed in this situation of having a baby either. I mean seriously what is wrong with me!?

Power Maternity Plans

Writing my blog, starting a course with digital mums, scouting for mama tribe and coming up with ideas of potentially a new business are like little voices in my head. I miss that side of things from my life, where I have a ‘business’ head on and being creative.

Top this off with a baby who doesn’t sleep 85% of the day, and so wiping your own arse seems like a luxury, you are left with a new mama trying to achieve the impossible.

But Seriously though, put all those ambitions aside, with your partner around or a family member it feels like a breeze. As soon as your on your own, those walls close in on you and everything heightens! Or so I have found.

You have zero time to do anything, you have no time for your self and there is definitely no alone time. I’m writing the majority of this blog post at 3am with my baby on my chest crawling on me like he’s running a race up Mount Everest! Take the time where and when you can!

As soon as my son finally goes off to sleep, it’s basically like a ticking time bomb… how long will this nap last? Shall I eat first? Shall I shower and get dressed? Shall I do some washing? Tidy the kitchen? Oh yeah, maybe I should wee first? And that’s after I’ve dried my boobs out with the pump. Once you’ve done the basics it’s time for another feed and that battle with a baby fighting sleep starts again.

With having little family close by to lend a helping hand it’s a case of suck it up and mother the shit out of life.

The basics

Just getting through the everyday stuff on your own is hard enough let alone then starting to think about blog writing or that idea you have to work freelance. Or for now it is anyway.

I keep hearing that it gets better after 3 months. First of all, what’s ‘it’ and secondly, roll on the 9th September if that’s the case.

I haven’t given up on my ‘power maternity’ I just need to ensure that I take a step back and embrace my boy, sleep fighting, gorgeous boy. At the end of the day, I’m basically his little bitch at this age and so instead of getting frustrated that I can’t get him to sleep, I just need to entertain him and give him what he wants. At the end of the day, it is fun.

What I have learnt so far

New mamas to be.

If I can offer any advice it would be this.

  1. Be prepared to put your life on hold and live in the moment.
  2. Learn to have patience. Your day will rarely go as planned. And honestly, take each hour by hour, rather than day by day. Newborns are VERY unpredictable.
  3. Get out on those coffee dates with other mamas because it will bring you sanity.
  4. Get some support where you can. Those weeks Monday to Friday when it’s just you and your baby is tough. You need a release and a break.
  5. Don’t set any expectations. For you or your baby. It’s so easy to look at social media and think every other mama is handling this mama life better. Or they’ve managed to establish a routine within the first few months. They aren’t and if they have, that’s quite rare. They may not have the same issues as you, but they will be struggling. Talk to them though. Get ideas and see what they are doing. Communicate and build a good network, even if it’s just through social media. I’ve found so many lovely mamas through Instagram and they reassure me daily. Not only with advice but that they also lose their shit too sometimes.

And a note to myself… stop feeling guilty. No one but myself is putting pressure on to do anything but take care of my baby. It’s about trusting that it will all work out and it will all fall into place.

All that aside, I can tell you this: Any good day and that first smile and all the other smiles outweighs any of those crappy ‘for the love of god someone help me’ days xx

Getting through the 4th Trimester

What you may have been told during pregnancy

In my last blog post about our journey on the 4th trimester I described going from that jump from 9-5 worklife to Motherhood and how I struggled with the transition.

If you are pregnant you may have already been given so much advice.  Don’t do this, do this, you can’t do that anymore, and why don’t you try this.

Either way, you can become quite consumed with it all.  But one thing that really stuck with me, because i think every mama i knew or spoke to, told me that the first months are tough, but ‘It’ gets easier after 3 months.

The truth

It is tough. It’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through so far in my life and to be honest it’s hard to explain. I realise that’s a lame thing to say here, especially if you are pregnant as you may want more description right about now! But bear with me.

My first few months

What will happen is this…your partner will return to work, the cards stop coming, visitors will stop and you switch to survival mode. Lack of sleep, no proper meals, washing yourself at the speed of light and little adult conversation. Days, hours, minutes merge into one.

When you are in this situation, it kinda feels like this is it. It will always be like this. You think having an army wash (fanny and armpits in the sink, whilst in stealth mode) is how you’ll always wash now. You can’t see beyond these days; feeding, shit, sick, burping, nursing, repeat.

Not quite knowing what your baby’s cries mean yet, makes it hard to judge the situation.  You’ve feed them, changed them, burped them but they still want something else? You have little idea and question if you are doing anything right.

This constant cycle then on top of that you have the ‘baby blues’ to contend with.

You long for the minute your partner returns.

Pre baby expectations

There will be things you do that you swore you wouldn’t before your baby arrives. We were adamant we wouldn’t use a dummy for example. Also known as a soother which is a much more adapt name as it does exactly that. Soothes your unsettled baby. Well for us it did. Needless to say 3 weeks in and Beau was getting dummy’s pushed in to his sweet little mouth.

My point being, try not do that to yourself. Newborns are so unpredictable. Every one is different and some love and get soothed by a dummy, some don’t. I personally think you might make it harder on yourself if you go in with a list of rules you won’t do, or will do, because they maybe the things that work for your baby or don’t. No day is the same. Just go on the newborn baby ride without any pre-conceptions. And especially no expectations.

Go with the flow in the early months

No matter how hard we tried we didn’t get a routine. (A ridiculous thing to do at this age and stage) but you may see someone else has managed it and so you try everything they did. The first time Beau slept from 10pm – 5am the following day/night I tried to recreate the exact same thing as the day/night before. Impossible really and was just a recipe for an over obsessed mama.

The thing is, the more you can just go with the flow the better and more calm your baby will be and your day won’t be a bundle of stress and frustration.

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‘IT’ gets better

After the 2 month mark we noticed a difference. Most people will say to you ‘It gets better’. It was reassuring but I had no idea what the ‘IT’ was.

For me, it turns out it was this:

  • After what feels like forever, a little routine was established with sleeping and feeding. I am now more in control and days are actual days, not a hazy daze of nappies, sick, ssshhhhhing, and feeling trapped in the 4 walls of your house.
  • A less colicky baby. Yes, we still have sick, farts (that actually make me giggle) and burping but i see my baby less uncomfortable with wind and that makes things a little easier.
  • I now know what my baby’s cries mean and I can respond accordingly.
  • Little to none night feeds, so you get bigger chunks of sleep time.
  • A baby that can now sit in his bouncer or under his play mat for a good chunk of time so I can actually shower, eat and get on with normal everyday stuff.
  • I don’t feel as lonely anymore. I have attended classes and have more lined up. I have made mum friends through the mama apps peanut and mush. Even the amazing mum community on Instagram is enough to help you through some days.
  • Smiles are now everyday. He’s chatty and he responds to me. He watches me. His face lights up when he sees me. My god, it’s amazing! He makes me laugh and smile. You now get something back.

But its just the beginning

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I have this mama hood thing nailed. I am perfectly aware that this is the very beginning and more challenges await us. I just wanted to share that it’s okay to be a mess in the first 3 months, and actually not fully enjoy it. Its a new and life changing.  You are keeping another human being alive, its tough. But in the end of the 4th trimester, things do settle down and the smiley chatty baby you have in front of you is heaven on earth.

I set myself too many expectations. I thought I could do it all, but really i had no idea. It hit me hard. Looking back I feel I struggled the whole way through and couldn’t enjoy it. I won’t get those new born baby days back. But it is what it is and that’s okay. I’ve come out the other end, and we are both happy and healthy. Everybody is different, every baby is different, listen to your instincts and try not to get caught up in the amount of ‘advice’ you’ll be told during pregnancy and those early days. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and you will find your stride.

The art of buying Shapewear

Occasionwear season will be fast approaching with the races, weddings and garden parties being on most people’s calendar entries.

No doubt in a few months we will be seeing lots of posts and articles on what to wear and outfit ideas, inspiration for styling these types of events.

However, how many of you are aware of the one piece that can transform any outfit? The foundation to your outfit that will enhance, minimise and define your body shape to create the perfect silhouette?

I am of course talking shapewear.

It’s definitely an area that gets missed when planning that #ootd but can have amazing impact overall.

Before i finished for maternity leave, I was working on a new bra fitting training programme for House of Fraser and this included shapewear.

I’ve been aware for a while now that shapewear isn’t just for the formal dress anymore, where we need to hide those muffin tops. The demographic has changed, shapewear has changed. The Bridget jones pants are becoming a thing of the past (RIP Bridget pants) and we are now seeing much sexier, prettier product.

However, if you were like me to start with, shapewear can be like the black art. If you look at the many products, styles, shapes and types, it can instantly put you off. Where do you begin?

Here, I have broken down the two main aspects to consider when making that shopping trip for shape wear solutions a little easier:

1. Where do you want to shape/control?

Start with the area you want to shape.  Whether its whittling your waist or smoothing things out decide where you want to focus on. Shapewear also can create curves, so please don’t think it’s just to hide and minimise body parts!

If you want a sculpted silhouette from bust to bottom, flatten your tummy and lift your bum, try an all over body solution.  There’s waist and smooth tummy solutions with pieces to help you create a 50’s inspired hourglass! Amazing right? Want a smoother bottom? Then there are pieces from the full thigh slimmer to high leg knickers.

2. What level of control do you want?

It maybe that you are looking to take off a whole few inches, or that you want to achieve subtle results with lightly smoothing out the desired area without flattening it. There are various levels of control from extra firm through to light control so depending on your outfit and occasion its worth having an idea of what you want to achieve.

For example for those perfect pair of jeans you might want to just gently smooth out the thighs and hips with light control thigh slimmers.  Or for that fabulous dress an extra firm fitting body suit might just give you that silhouette you’ve always wanted.

Top Tips

Tip: Look out for the different fabrications.  Some brands have pieces with unique low friction finish to eliminate that shape wear tug of war, and many have boned products for extra shaping.

Tip: Don’t be fooled into buying a size smaller either as that just causes ill fitting pieces and what have the desired impact.  It will just end up with you fighting yourself trying to squeeze into it!

Shapewear has moved on such a long way, the technology behind this concept is pretty incredible, and all to give us that perfect finished look.  From laser cut products, seam free, anti static and cling free, no roll waist bands, boning to thin but powerful fabrics.

My advice is to build up a shape wear wardrobe so you have a solution for most outfits and occasions.  It will transform everything!