Coming of a New Era

Too late for my sister and many other women I know which is beyond sad. Too late for me in many ways. Encouraging nevertheless.

Excellent article from Neil Gilbert* of the University of California.

1) Parents find it hard to invest time in caring for young children when they both have paid work commitments in the pre-school years

2) Work carried out in the home is of immense economic value

3) Whether it’s the mother or father that stays at home at various stages of the family life cycle is a decision couples make after a number of factors have been taken into account, not least who earns the most

4) Children benefit hugely from family time and the loving care a parent can provide

5) It makes little financial sense to outsource childcare when there are necessary costs to finding quality replacement care

6) Being in paid work incurs additional costs in transport and other work-related costs

7) Not everyone has help from extended family members and grandparents - so what works for some parents will not work for others

8) Trying to do everything all at the same time can result in chaotic households as everyone ends up rushing around and getting stressed. This is not exactly the ‘harmonious’ home life most of us hope to achieve for ourselves and our children!

9) It’s time to look at other models for supporting families, such as home-care allowances (or we would say fairer family taxation and allowances based on household income and care responsibilities), like they have in other countries.

10) We need to revive public regard for the social and economic value of what parents do when they’re raising children and taking care of them.

* Author of A Mother’s Work a book which takes a hard look at the unprecedented rise in childlessness, along with the outsourcing of family care and household production, which have helped to alter family life since the 1960s. It challenges the conventional view on how to balance motherhood and employment, and examines how the choices women make are influenced by the culture of capitalism, feminist expectations, and the social policies of the welfare state. Gilbert argues that while the market ignores the essential value of a mother’s work, prevailing norms about the social benefits of work have been overvalued by elites whose opportunities and circumstances little resemble those of most working- and middle-class mothers. And the policies that have been crafted too often seem friendlier to the market than to the family

You’re never too young to be chivalrous.

Happy days. The art of chivalry isn’t dead and Women Against Feminism is positively reviewed in Time magazine.


If I want to look back and reflect on life raising my son and remember it all it might be a good idea to occasionally keep this online journal. I simply do not have time.

Summer has been one long season of craziness. Saving trees from chop happy shit heads in the loony tunes Council - and winning. Meeting so many amazing people as a result. My son is nearly 2 and a half! Joseph has solid and wonderful friendships and as a result I am blessed with lovely, genuinely kind women and mothers in my life. These women have my back, share their dinner tables with us, babysit, share some evenings too with a few boozy nights out notched up now. I love them all. I am so happy to have such good friends. It’s been a long journey to this point.

Joseph keeps growing and astonishing me. The other day his loud and enthusiastic rendition of the ABC song, almost perfect from start to finish and rounded out with a self congratulatory “well done Joseph!” invited a round of applause and a chocolate from an elderly lady at the bus.stop. A walnut whip to be precise. He can count to 20 in English with ease and to 12 in Portuguese. He shows no interest in potty training. Which suits me fine, having been helpfully reassured by the local children’s centre course (fantastic course too). He’s so loving that I feel overwhelmed at times. He adores books, big floor puzzles, squilching in paint with his feet and climbing. As well as Curious George and Peppa Pig. I cannot complain with food either. He eats everything put in front of him.

I’ve battled bad news about my parents (possible cancer) and a definite series of mini strokes. Their last visit reinforced how great my son’s love is for them and how sad he is to see them go - which breaks my heart. My sister who has moved furthest away is now really struggling with it all. My husband is my rock and continues to work hard and provide. He’s our hero. Turning that financial corner has made a heck of a difference. I can sleep at night. Life outside of motherhood is all community related largely as a result of the tree campaign. I can truly see how mums at home knit together communities. One neighbour reminded me that had I been at work the trees would have all gone, the campaign would never have started and the community would never have come together the way it did. I was flattered and really like the people I have met especially the older folk who feel involved in something special.

I’ve done a few radio stints on the BBC for Mothers at Home Matter which I really enjoyed. One from an airport as I set off to France on my own, while trying to entertain Joseph. That was interesting! I am keeping it limited though. Joseph is my focus. Joseph and….well we shall see. I hesitate to jinx two pieces of family related news so I won’t. If one doesn’t become reality we believe the other surely will, growing our family. 

It’s been a tough, wonderful, busy, heartbreaking, reassuring, crazy, loving year and I cannot believe we are turning a seasonal corner which will no doubt see us rush headlong into…Christmas. Wow.

I made it.

No to Nursery

Time has come to scope out nurseries for Joseph when he turns three. I pretty much want him with me most of the time so he gets full adult attention and guidance to help him learn. I must say watching a child bash him over the head recently for no reason (“sorry he gets it from nursery and I cant seem to stop it) pretty much made up my mind. Grrrrrr. That and a second friend’s baby coming home with a HUGE bite mark in her face. No thanks! Biting was something his cousin did to him too and a nursery acquisition.

I think Joseph will eventually benefit from a playgroup space but there is no hurry and pre three is too early. He now has a good handful of friends he is excited to meet and plenty of variety to his week’s play. He would eventually be bored senseless in the same nursery day in day out or even week in week out for a few hours!

From three I have my eye on a playgroup rather than a nursery which comes highly recommended by another stay at home mum. At £14 a week it’s very affordable and suits us better with afternoon sessions from 12 til 3. Two or maybe three afternoons a week from three should be more than enough. Helicopter parenting this isn’t but I feel very strongly about being here for him and I’ve seen him come on leaps and bounds with guidance which I just don’t think a nursery environment can properly provide for him.

Besides from a tender 4.5 years old he will have a lifetime of institionalising ahead of him so anything I can do to help free of him of that whilst providing friends, adventures, play and much much fun and learning is a good thing.

Ive also been asked to write for a website with a pay possibility so the hard work is paying off there too and gives me another focus. 

That said this is a brilliant reposte on the “full time mothers don’t use their brains, fulfil their education and set a bad example to their kids” bullshit meme feminists are so fond of advocating. A taster.

The feminists shout at us that we need not, and must not, think that parenting requires time. Indeed, they argue that your child will benefit most when you do not spend time with them. If you are educated, your child will benefit most from seeing you ‘use’ that education – away from them. If you struggle financially, they will benefit most from you working – away from them. The implication is that pursuing feminist equality and financial equality is of greater worth to a child’s well-being than the quality of parenting that he experiences.

Stay at home parenting is on the rise big time in the US. Let’s hope that the trend washes it’s way over here and that governments give women the full and complete flexibility they need to balance a work home life in favour of home and their kids for the short space of time they grow up around us,

(Oh and Holly holds an MPhil and PhD in Intellectual History & Political Thought from Newnham College, Cambridge if any of that really matters). 

Another mum friend is considering skipping the 3 year old nusery place altogether too which reminds me to catch up with her to discuss it.

Highly recommend Menorca.

Cheap living, cheap flights, cheap accommodation (we went independent of the big tour ops) and wonderful for babies and toddlers with a short flight, gentle heat and accessible virgin beaches with turquoise waters. It is an unspoilt little piece of paradise where a glass of delicious wine is not much more than a quid.

Our view from the appartment attached to a villa that we rented was of rolling soft green countryside and flower filled meadows. The nearest beach to us was a 5 minute drive through a national park which we explored on foot aswell. The beach at the end of the park was unspoilt with a vast array of shells to collect and fishes to watch and gentle toddler ankle high waters and inlets for him to explore. He completely loved it. Lunch was anchovies or little fishes fried in olive oil and local prawns flash fried. Totally delicious and kiddo loved the food. 

Home to zero traffic on our way back from Gatwick airport through central London and warm mostly sunny weather. 

Ive found a drop off playgroup for a tiny £ amount a week, right around the corner from where we live that is full of fun for kiddo. In the event we ever need it for a few hours a week, it’s good to know it’s there. It’s not institutionalised daycare which is great. It’s a proper playgroup with attendant care so I don’t have to be there. It can be drop in or a full week of morningo r afternoon fun for a pittance a week. There are a few of these around Tower Hamlets. I am surprised none of us knew about them. When I called up they said yes easy to enlist. Found out via a mum who uses them so she can grab a break with the newborn.

It’s All Coming Together Now

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy Tower Hamlets when we first moved here. After Joseph was born I struggled with making friends. But I can honestly say I now do.

Here’s why.

Friday I paid a visit to a mum to a newborn with a toddler. She contacted me out of the blue because she hasn’t seen me at the local children’s centre and was concerned. How nice! She is coping well with the baby and much more relaxed second time around but concerned her 3 year old daughter isn’t having that much fun without getting out so much - a huge struggle with a newborn. So I suggested we hold playdates at hers.  We visit her, the kids all play together and she gets to relax a little. We can also help her get out of the flat and into the sunshine of our closest park, right next to where we live. Her eyes lit up.

I then mentioned this to some ladies at our little Friday afternoon playgroup, they all agreed it was a good idea and one went on to suggest she would pay her a visit, though she doesn’t know her well, and take her own newborn baby and 3 year old toddler too - because “she needs to know help is very close at hand”. The second new mum feels a little more settled into her ‘new baby with toddler’ routine and wants to help. Then we all talked about each other and how we can extend this a little. How about holding playdates and letting a mum drop off her toddler and go about getting things done she may not ordinarily be able to do? Like get a haircut or go clothes shopping for a few hours?

And just like that we all just provided one another with childcare that is friendly, established, reassuring to our kids and free. And it starts Wednesday. Exciting! 

I also received warm praise for the craft activities at the little playgroup on Fridays. To be honest it has been a little stressful at times so it’s good that this is coming together and that something so wonderful and positive has come about from it aswell.

Mad Busy

Took kiddo to get new shoes yesterday in amidst the chaos of the busy past three weeks, finally managing to squeeze it in! He is 7. Of course we decided not to buy from Clarkes after the fitting as they are just too damn pricey. Bought a bunch of 7s only to find out they were too tight. Went back and got him an 8! He is clearly taking after his grandfather heightwise, who is 6 ft 4. We also had him registered at the dentist. 6 month waiting list for this place off Roman Road but worth it as they were brilliant. No waiting at all. Got myself checked out whilst there and dentist recommended a filling. Not because of decay but because my tooth was grinding down. I grind my teeth, I know this. So I had my first ever filling in my life and can honestly say I would sooner not repeat this experience. Otherwise she was shocked at how good my teeth are considering I have not seen a dentist in 25 years. Well thank you mum! All that dentistry we had as kids at her insistence has paid off. My son refused to open his mouth but that’s ok at least he is on their register! I intend to be as strict as my mother about caring for teeth at least until 18! We also booked a holiday to Menorca which I am so looking forward to. My son was conceived there, we thought it would be fun to head back. Beautiful kid friendly beaches, lovely countryside, calm and peaceful. Quick flight, short car journey. Win! This little spot on the net is my diary and I am behind with so much of it including kiddo’s birthday, farewells to friends and my husband’s promotion and our wedding anniversary. I want to chart this as soon as I find a spare 5 minutes. We are also hoping like crazy that we can have my mother in law come over to stay. That would be wonderful. I love the woman to pieces!

Small blessing

I had decided to put money away for some plastic tables and chairs for Joseph’s party, thinking I could use them for the playgroup on Fridays afterwards and maybe claim the money back if we ever get funding. Then I realised the tables were £8 each from the local market, corner store thrift shop and not £4 as I had stupidly imagined they were. I imagined kids eating on a mat on the floor which isn’t ideal. The little playgroup we attend inside St Dunstans church may have come to our rescue. The lady there is lending us her collapsible tables and little chairs. Very sweet of her. Just need to figure out how to get them from A to B without spending a fortune. I think a taxi would take them if they fit. Hope so.

Yesterday my son turned two. We have a party planned this weekend. In the rather sad absence of so many family dotted all around the world birthday celebrations tend to be a bit “light” so we thought we would get a few buddies along for him to share it with us. I hope it goes well. I’m making most of the food which I am keeping simple and we have scrimped and saved to get an entertainer to come along for an hour. Hope she’s ok. 

But it was yesterday that he turned two. On Sunday night I got a text from a mum who asked me if we fancied making a trip to Greenwich for a picnic. Very thoughtful of her as I was expecting a low key, normal day and hadn’t said anything to anyone. Having family far away herself she knows too well how it feels I suspect. I woke up and had a bit of a blub. I find it hard to fathom that he is two already! Then we set off to Greenwich. We took a big red bus of course. Followed by a ride at the front of the DLR. We headed to the Maritime Museum at the other mum’s suggestion. It’s a wonderful bright airy space inside an historic building and was much fun. A huge space for toddlers to race around in safety, while we watched sipping a “Paul’s” coffee. Yum. We had our picnic. Joseph stuffed his face. I am convinced he is just on one long growth spurt the amount he is stuffing at the moment. We took photos of the two of them racing around the world map. With photos of him in the USA and Brazil because family in these parts of the world cannot join us. Thought it would be nice to make them feel a part of it all. Outside it was sunny and quite warm. After a stop to take in the park and the water features, we headed home. Front seat DLR again with people only too happy to relinquish their seats for him without me asking. Thank you London. I may be at a miserable distance from family who long to be with us and vice versa on a day like today but you have a habit of filling our lives with wonderful adventures and distractions. 

Two years ago today

Today two years ago I was induced at the Royal London. I can quite safely say I do not have fond memories of the dreadful care, complete lack of interest (rude to careless) or failure to spot an issue which left me in an unnecessarily long labour or without pain relief for a long period of time for a “back to back” labour.  I lost way too much blood as a result and wasn’t well for days. I was to put it mildly terrified. To read of the cases of women dying at the hands of the NHS in childbirth has only made my anger grow. I was also then bullied into breastfeeding. Should I mention the posters all up around the wards saying “ask a midwife how to breastfeed”? I asked. Noone came. In the four days we were in I asked about a dozen times. I was self taught completely to begin with. All in all not wonderful. I am grateful to God for my beautiful son. The NHS, nope.

Happy Playday

It’s my son’s birthday on Monday. We are going on a mum’s outing, this time to Greenwich. His birthday will include a picnic, most unexpectedly - sounds lovely. 

Joseph’s life has been centred in or around the various play centres/groups he attends weekly for play. They have been good to us and for us despite my occasional grumble. Today was the last chance to attend the Under Twos session. 

I cannot believe he is turning two. I remember the first time we went to this session (which feels like last week) and distinctly recall how far off two felt.

We took along some extra food for snacktime. Cheese and pineapple plus a nice mango. Everyone tucked in. At the end of the session we all sang Happy Birthday at songtime.