campaign, childcare, Thinking Out Loud

March of the Mummies 2022

March of the Mummies 2022. Demanding reform of childcare, parental leave and flexible working. Thousands marched yesterday, pics from the Cardiff march.

I cannot believe we still have to protest this shit. It was rubbish a decade and a half ago and it still is now.

Things have changed since I first went on maternity leave and had to use a private nursery (all only possible because of incredible family support). I didn’t have the Childcare Offer For Wales (up to 30 hours free for children aged 3-4) that I’d have been eligible for now but that still leaves 3 years of childcare challenge. The poorest I’ve ever been was on statutory maternity leave, which is still piss poor.

More companies offer better paternity leave now and the Paternity Act passed in 2010 but there is more to be done. Childcare is horrifically expensive in the UK but childcare workers are still underpaid and undervalued.

These issues are still so relevant and we need to challenge, especially with proposed changes to regulations in England that would change the childcare ratios. We can’t sacrifice quality and safety for affordability. We all deserve better than that.

Big love for the wonderful @pregnant_then_screwed for her tireless work on this issue and the cwl Cardiff campaigners who made the Cymru contingent happen. @amothersplace @bethansayed @blackandbeech @jenburkedavies @rowanmeg

Thinking Out Loud

To #ad or not to #ad

If you’re a fellow mum blog lurker on the gram, you can’t fail to have picked up on a recent anti-ad mood. I’m not an influencer. Not by a long shot. No siree. Not in the blogosphere, on any social media platform or even in real life (I can barely influence my own kids to eat vegetables). My relentless “Easter things to do” recommendations are exactly that, they’re ideas and suggestions. Some I’ve tried out with my own kids in the past and some just sounded incredibly cool and I wanted to tell more people about them. No one has paid me to mention their place or promote their thing. No #sponsored #gifted or #ad here.

That said, I’m not anti-ad. A gal’s gotta eat. I blog, insta, tweet and facebook in between work and mothering and the rest of my life. It still takes up a heck of a lot of time. My following is miniscule (but ever so appreciated, thanks for coming). I’m typing into the ether, ranting in a vacuum most of the time.

From comments on social media and chatting with real life mates I’ve picked up a sense of frustration with influencers, with mum bloggers who’ve built up a “I’m just like you”, “we’re all just muddling along together”, “yay for Mums” type of vibe. Then it turns a little sour, a tad ingenuous when they’ll go on a fancy holiday, go to a swanky restaurant or wear something and you’re foolish enough to click through to the company and then you do a little sick in your mouth at the cost. Jealousy is an ugly little beast but sometimes I just can’t help it. I feel out of depth, poor, worthless and a bit like I’m still at school where it felt that it mattered to be cool (which I wasn’t) and popular (which I wasn’t).

It’s made me question why I’m even bothering with this. Why me? What have I got to say that some other mum isn’t already sharing online? Does the world really need another white, straight, female, English language parent blogger? Nope. I might come across as confident in real life but I assure you that nearly every waking hour I am wallowing in self-doubt. I’ve not started this to make money. I’ve not started this to be popular. I’m doing this, in the words of Billie Piper, “because I want to, because I want to”.

So good luck to the others, the behemothers (see what I did there?) and monetising moms. I follow a massive range of them, some for their clothes, some for the giggles, some for the campaigns, some for a mix of all three. I’m just using the approach I apply to the rest of my life, making it up as I go along. Some people feel a weird fandom ownership over the most followed and well known mum bloggers and intagrammers. They’re just playing the game like all of us. Maybe they’re better resourced or ahead of the game but so what. Just do you. There’s room for all of us and if only 5 people read this (OK, that’s optimistic and I’m definitely related to at least one of you if there are 5) then that’s fine too. Oh and if anyone wants to give me any free stuff I’m definitely not too principled to consider the offer!

School Days, Thinking Out Loud

To my children on the first day of school

Enjoy! I won’t cry, you won’t cry. That’s not our thing. No severe case of stiff upper lip, just a case of being a totally normal thing to happen at the start of September. I love that you love school, that you’re bright and a good friend.

You’ll get up to all sorts of exciting things this year. All of you. Trips and projects, odd crazes and funny stories. You’ll pick up fodder for anecdotes in your adult years. You’ll learn and you’ll grow.

I’m getting soppy. I should probably have started the school year as I mean to go on by laying out your uniforms and preparing your packed lunches but we’ll muddle through somehow.

And a special extra note for my step daughter: I hope you have a better first day than your dad did.

Thinking Out Loud

In Praise of Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital

We’ve been lucky enough to have very healthy children so up until fairly recently my only experience with my offspring at the Heath (or UHW as it’s apparently called (it will always be the Heath to me, much in the way that I insist on calling those gross fruity sweets Opal Fruits not Starburst)) has been getting a bump on the head checked out at A&E. Unlike a lot of their peers, neither son was even born there.

Oh how I wish it had stayed that way. One son has had a couple of outpatient visits there over the past few months getting something sorted for him. He’s been happy with the whole thing, it’s solved a problem for him and each appointment has been calm and expected. He was amazed at the scale of the hospital and delighted by the fish tank, the concept of wards and floors being named after creatures and space and the luxury hot chocolate I treated him to for being such a cool dude about it all.

The youngest gave us a fright this weekend by ending up needing emergency surgery. He’s on the mend now and it all went well, thanks in advance for your concern. I’m not going into any medical detail about either boy’s situation because it’s private and doesn’t bear any relevance to what I want to say about the wonderful place.

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital is an excellent facility. It’s beautifully designed, well thought out, the tellies are tuned to cbeebies or citv or cbbc (a detail the 8 year old appreciated) and the staff in every department, in every situation have been warm, helpful and made both boys feel safe and cared for. I know there are lots of families who spend a heck of a lot more time there and some who’ll never have to enter those doors and pass fish. The well-stocked play rooms and the stunning children’s outdoor play area all help to make the experience less scary and more child focused.

Sadly, Alex Karev wasn’t around but that’s probably because he’s not real and we were in Cardiff not Seattle. However, on the Grey’s Anatomy side of things, there was a definite Arizona Robbins approach to looking out for the “makers of the tiny humans” with all of the staff being friendly, polite and making sure I knew what was going on at every stage.

Hip hip hooray for our NHS! From NHS Direct to our local GP surgery, from the out of hours service at Barry Hospital to all of the tests, checks, procedures and the operation at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital, it was all free at the point of need. No worrying about how much different options would cost or whether health insurance would cover any aspect. My children had top quality treatment on the NHS. Let’s look after it.

I’ve written this blog to sing their praises and thank the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity for all the hard work and fundraising that has gone into bringing it to life. It hasn’t always been a thing and we really can’t take it for granted. If you’d like to donate or take part in a fundraising event there are plenty of ideas and event details on their website: Noah’s Ark Charity