Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – How to ask for help when you have been self-sufficient?

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

 

I’m so glad that this regular reader of my blog has asked this question, partially because she ACTUALLY asked and partially because it’s brilliant.

How DO you ask for help, when you’ve been self-sufficient and looking after yourself for 60yrs?  

But at the same time helping others and helping your community?

Here is her full question:

I have a subject you might want to write about, it’s how to ask for and to receive help.  You are the first person I am asking for help.  My husband will go home from the hospital tomorrow.  As you know he will need my close attention for several weeks as he recovers from 7 broken ribs and a broken wrist and we need to avoid pneumonia by walking and getting him to breath as deeply as possible.  I am not working so I am available 24/7.  Still it is a lot to cook, clean, care for him around the clock and try not to worry about money.

I have a couple of communities of people that he and I are involved in, but not many close friends.  I have always been self sufficient and since I am a person who has devoted myself to my family and I recharge by being alone, I have not had to ask for help much.  I do enjoy cooperation and I do help other people when ever I can, but again I am not a really social person.

So now I will need help and I want to receive it.  I feel fear about it.  I fear being viewed as thoughtless, inconsiderate or something else undesirable because I ask for something wrong or make an assumption somehow, or put someone out and they feel uncomfortable.  I can’t be responsible for other people’s responses, but I am not perfect either and may make mistakes.

I don’t know what is okay to ask for.  Food seems okay, but there are four people in my house (my husband and I, my 32 yr old son and my 11 year old granddaughter).  Should I just suggest a pot of soup?  Not everyone knows there are four people to feed, do I have to say it or just be grateful for whatever they bring to share?  How do I handle this when they volunteer to bring food or when I want to ask for them to cook something?

What work should I do and leave for others to do while I sit with and care for my husband; mow the lawn, watering my flower pots and garden, cook, clean the bathroom, do the dishes?  I feel caring for him myself is my top work priority.  Seems icky to ask someone else to clean the bathroom.  Yes, my son will do some of the housework, but his idea of keeping house is a lot different than mine.  I am thinking of asking my son to take on keeping track of the meds and doing most of the walking with him (my husband cannot fall with his ribs broken).  My husband is walking fairly well, but we must be careful.

I get embarrassed if my house is dirty and cluttered when people come, and it is not an easy house to keep clean because it is over crowded, cluttered and needs new paint and flooring in the kitchen and bath so it looks dirty easily.  I feel the state of the house reflects on me.  How can I get myself not to feel ashamed or embarrassed?

Could you please give me some advice?  Maybe your advice could help others as well and maybe even you your self.

 

The Gift Of Asking

Presents
The right present

Lovely, lovely J, from your posts, and questions I know that you help out the community a lot.  But you have not been giving your community the gift of a chance to help you!  This is not fair to them.

Think about it this way, by helping you they get:

  1. A guilt free chance of asking you for help in future.
  2. Or asking someone else in the world of ‘what comes around goes around’.
  3. The satisfaction of knowing that they have a purpose and did something useful.
  4. The opportunity to get closer to you

 

Not Being Really Social

Phone
Call us!

Don’t be daft – you built up a friendship with me over the internet having not even met me!  We are all social, in our own ways.

I know a lovely mummy blogger who believes she is not social (in fact several will now be wondering if I’m talking about them, as there are so many!).  But she is ‘social’.  Maybe she doesn’t go out lots, but has an active community online.  Maybe she is nervous and shy, but nervous and shy people make good friends.

In fact the other day I purposely called my ‘not social’ brother, because he is just that – quiet, reflective and a listener.  I’m not sure that he actually said much, but do you know what; talking is very over-rated!

 

Being Judged For Asking

Rubbish Mummy Cook
Rubbish Cook in ‘real life’ action

People who are nervous of asking for help will probably judge you.  In fact 50% of the world will always be judging you negatively.

Focus on the ones who wont be upset about it, and who will be chuffed by it – look at me, despite being up to my eyeballs, I’m so chuffed you asked, that I have written a blog post immediately for you.

The people who would judge you are frankly pants (hmm I think pants are trousers in american – I mean knickers!).  Smack your hand every time your worry about them, because they are not worth it!

It is not something to be proud of that you are capable of doing everything!  It’s not good for you!

Yes, there are people who I feel ask too much.  It’s when they ask, and then don’t make any changes to their lives that I get tired of it.  Or when they moan, but don’t want to do anything about it.  This is not what you are doing; you have a specific reason, specific problem, and need specific help.  It’s not like you are intending on throwing him off the roof once he is better so that you can do it all again!

 

Who To Ask and What To Ask For

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul

Keep an open mind on who to ask for help.  And regularly journal how you are feeling so that you can work out what the problem actually is.

For example, asking me is a perfect way to ask for help over the internet.  Keep doing that – we might not be able to offer practical assistance, but if we can reduce your emotional burden it will all go a lot more easily.  Plus you can ask for healing and prayers, which have been proved to help massively.

YOUR SON – it’s not helping him to let him get away with not understanding what you mean about housework.  He is a grown man.  So sit down and have a think about it and write very specific lists.  When things are specific about what to do and what the end result should be, he should be able to get it.  Yes, it is ideal to work to his strengths, but don’t let him get away with that male excuse of ‘oh but I’m not really any good at it’!  If you think that he will absolutely keep your husband from falling, especially as he is stronger than you, then this is a good job for him.  However, the role of carer and the forethought required is difficult; if he doesn’t have that skill then he will have to do the practical things.

Your grand daughter – I ran a whole household (3 brothers 20yrs older than me) when I was 10yrs old and cared for my sick mum; this was too much, but do not underestimate the self-esteem and experience she can gain from doing really helpful things around the house.  She can cook, she can tidy, she can clean, and she can help your husband keep his spirits up.

Your community:  I would ask for rest bite – times when people come to watch over your husband for an hour every week so that you get some time to YOURSELF.  Otherwise you will only make matters worse by getting sick yourself!  It is also wise to find new friends at any time of life, in fact it’s something I’ve been focussing on for the last 6 months and I can tell you it’s been a wonderful boon to me.

Food – a great idea.  All you need to say is that if anyone could possible help in the next few weeks, you could really do with some soups, casseroles, stews, pies etc for ‘My family and myself’ – at that point they should realise that they are making for more than 2 people and give you a bit more.  Weren’t you involved in a local food community?  Is there a chance that there are people growing lovely vegetables and fruit that they could bring round for your son and grand daughter to cook?

 

Housework

Getting our kids to do their chores
Hoover that floor child!

Yes, you will have to reduce your requirements of what gets done and how often.  Again see the ‘pants’ comment above for anyone who would dare to judge your house whilst you are nursing your husband.

Here is a list to give you an idea:

Bathrooms – once per week.
Kitchen worktops – every day.  Rest of kitchen – once per week.
Hoovering – if you don’t have animals like mine, I bet you can just hoover half the house every other week.
Dust – seriously, dust just comes back!  It doesn’t need doing every week.
Bedrooms – definitely can get away with once a month at a pinch.

But you do have the right to space.  You do have the right to ask your son and grand-daughter to keep their stuff in their space.  For example, you could ask that the main ‘visiting’ areas are on a daily basis cleared of ‘stuff’; the hallway and kitchen perhaps?

Tackle the decluttering later – I can help you with that too!

 

Finally

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

Just so you know you are not the only one, I have written about asking for help before.  These posts might help:

Be careful the types of people you ask for help, they aren’t all ‘ideal’.

A time when I needed a mate to help brainstorm a problem and reduce my stress.

A time when I had to ask for help from in-laws and strangers

A time when I felt guilty about asking for help

 

I’m so glad and touched you asked!  Give other people that chance to help you and get close to you.  Remember:

No man is an island!  (Or woman for that matter!).

 

To my readers: do you have any tips or similar experiences that you can share with J?

 

 

 

Don’t Cut The Easy Ones Mr Osborne, Cut The Right Ones

Benefits CutsToday I’m not here!

I’ve over at Britmums talking about Welfare cuts (if you haven’t read the story of Tamsyn Woods story of her fight for her husband, please do click over there) and how whilst we need to deal with this recession, we seem to be picking on the vulnerable and weak who can’t speak out at the moment.

Come and join in and if you are around on twitter tonight (fri 12th 8.30pm) join us with the hashtag #Shouting4Tamsyn.

It must be possible to have cuts with:

 Common sense

Fairness

The right priorities

 

In the meantime I have some ideas for where they can get extra money from – just took me 5 minutes off the top of my head.  Have you got any? (Yes, yes I know there are the bankers and the rich, but whilst we are being fair, lets look at the middle and bottom of the range too!).

 

Builders: (not all of course, my Dad was a roofer) the ‘pay in cash’ system is HUGE.

Peterborough: when I lived ‘up north’ (I know it’s not really up north, but it felt like it!), everything was done on the black market or in cash, I bet that is true of many places.

Benefits fiddlers: near me now (Hertfordshire) I reckon you could get back £1million easily from the people who are openly playing the system.

Councils: stop letting ridiculous people make ridiculous decisions like spending money on fiddling with the road near me that didn’t need doing.

EU: Oh don’t get me started on the EU.  Other countries don’t do what they say and they totally get away with it, why are you letting them play us for fools?  For instance, if you have a banding system for council houses, shouldn’t people born in England (from any colour/creed/background) get priority?  Shouldn’t people not born in the England pay for their NHS treatment?

Foreign Aid: of course we have a responsibility to help other countries too, but there are some seriously ridiculous spending going on and you know it.

 

Need help Mr Osborne?  Let me at your budget; I can give you a sense of perspective and reorder your spending in a month and I’ll do it for free; think of that, you can have common sense, intelligence, and the ability to add up all yours for a month for free!

 

In the meantime,  stop picking on Mums.  Mums are where everything starts, we are important.  I know you may not be in power when our kids grow up, but the ramifications of your decisions will have a dramatic effect on our society.  So support the strong Mums, struggling to provide for their families or overcome illness/disability.

And seriously Mr Osborne, we shouldn’t have to keep kicking off about ridiculous decisions with no common sense!

So come on, stop picking on the weak ones, and go for the ones that are meant to be paying, or make cuts that show us that you have your priorities in the right place.

 

 

Want to help speak up about this?

Read my Britmums post #Shouting4Tamsyn

Join us on twitter tonight if you can.

Sign the petition for Tamsyn’s campaign being organised by Babyhuddle for her.

Sign the general petition for disability cuts.

If you would like to know more, there is an interesting article in the guardian with lots of stats.

 

 

 

 

 

Can Mums have everything they want

Can Mums Have It All

Can Mums have everything they wantI haven’t blogged about this, despite Cherie-gate etc etc etc.  But this morning I’m grumpy, so I thought I’d let lose and have some fun with it.

Can Mums Have It All?

This is the big question loads of people spend hours, days and months talking about.  Why on earth are they talking about something so ridiculous and wasting so much time on it I don’t know, but I’m now going to add my twopennyworth.

NO Mums can’t have it all.

Because NO ONE can ‘HAVE IT ALL’

There is a price/cost for everything we deem ‘good’.

There is always a trade-off.

 

Anyone who encourages Mums to work full time without explaining the downsides so that they can prepare for them is irresponsible.

The same goes for anyone who doesn’t explain to stay at home or work from home Mums that it’s not going to be the perfect picture of heaven that you imagined.

 

None of the options are ‘better’ than the others.

If you work full-time, you won’t see your kids as much as you would if you were staying at home and the guilt is tough, along with juggling holidays and sickness and it can affect some parts of your relationship with them (e.g. sharing them with the nanny can be hard).

If you are a stay at home mum, you won’t have the same amount of money as you would have done working full time (unless child-care costs more than you would earn!), and it can be harder on your self-esteem and sense of independence.

If you decide to work from home on your own business, you will likely  pay for the freedom to do school pick ups by never getting a lunch break or go to the gym and look back on reliable wage packets with wistfulness.

You can’t work full-time, do all the housework and chores, and not end up knackered if you don’t get some help.

If you ask the grand-parents to help, they will likely expect a say in your life and become too involved; but it’s cheaper than paying for it.

Even being married to a footballer won’t give you it all; they will either have big ears, a funny voice, or be sh*gging everyone else.

Try being married to a high powered banker instead; bet they have a downside too, probably that they are over-controlling and you can’t tell friends what your husband does.

Be high powered yourself, but you’ll need to be really good at interviewing and managing cleaners and nannies; not as easy as it sounds.

Eat everything you want, and you’ll become huge and be really unhealthy.

Drink alcohol constantly and wreck your liver and likely get a very red nose.

You won’t earn as much money stacking shelves as being an accountant or doctor.

But, ironically, the better paid you are, the longer hours you will probably work.

Not even the kids can actually be perfect (even if you love them unconditionally); No one has perfectly behaved, beautiful, clever, athletic, artistic, musical kids who excel at everything.

We leave our home towns for the best jobs, but then have no family support.

So we turn to twitter for an online community and get addicted!

The big question is;

Which prices are you willing and happy to pay?

The good news is:

You CAN Have what is most important to you.

So decide what your top 3 priorities are so that:

1) You can make sure that you can at least get them

2) You can be contented with what you have.

 

I love the freedom of being able to work from home and need to work for my sanity.  But I’m constantly having to improve my time mgmt to deal with the demands from so many different directions, and I could have earn’t loads more if I’d stayed as a computer programmer, rather than going all tree hugging.  We’ve got a great house we can afford, but the price for the affordability is a postage stamp garden.  I have the lovely Nanny Bets helping me out with childcare, but she is 74, so she is often unreliable, so I’m now going to split it between her and a more expensive nursery.  Then I’ll have reliable childcare, but also the worry about paying for it.  I don’t have parents sticking their nose in my life and causing havoc, but I also don’t have someone to call on the best/worst days.  There are lots of compromises in my life, as in everyones.

And ignore all that rubbish about ‘Mums having it all’.  They don’t.

They either have worked out what is most important to them and focussed on that, whilst ignoring the rest.  Or they are struggling to ‘have it all’ and hiding all the emotional/mental fall out behind a mask of valium/wine.

oooh grump over; that feels better!

What is most important to you, what did you give up for it?  Are you happy with the balance right now, or is it not working for you?

p.s. reading these posts from the Bearded Iris (very funny) and Claire Macnaughton, both on In the powder room were some of the inspiration to get writing about this at last!

 

I’ve been accused of being a ‘Yummy Mummy’; Is that bad?

So a few weeks ago someone made a very pointed comment about not liking a children’s farm that I like because it’s so ‘yummy mummy’.

Clearly I was being accused of being a ‘yummy mummy’ and not in a good way.

To be honest, I was kind of ‘why would you bother to let me know that you don’t approve of my choices’, but it made me think.

Me a Yummy Mummy?  Really?  Is it bad if I am?

Here is the Wikipedia description:

Yummy mummy is a slang term used in the United Kingdom to describe young, attractive and wealthy mothers. The term developed in the 2000s, and was often applied to celebrity mothers such as Liz Hurley[1] or Victoria Beckham,[2] who appeared to quickly regain their pre-pregnancy figures after giving birth, and would continue to lead carefree and affluent lifestyles.

The stereotypical yummy mummy was described by Nirpal Dhaliwal in The Times as having an existence “bankrolled by a husband working himself to death in the City, (dressing) in designer outfits… carries the latest must-have bag (and) whose hair and nails are perfectly groomed”.[1] A yummy mummy would have several children and yet remain a “girl-about-town”, dressing fashionably and appearing well-groomed and carefree.[3]

It was reported in 2008 that celebrity yummy mummys were contributing to levels of depression in young mothers, making new mothers feel “saggy, baggy and depressed” about their own bodies.[2

Family fun

Let’s see …

‘young’ – hardly – I’m 42.

‘attractive’ – ooooh thankyou, I’m not worried about someone calling me that, but suspect you haven’t seen me in the morning.

‘wealthy’ – seriously you don’t know what wealthy is if you think I’m wealthy.

‘regained their pre-pregnancy figures’ – nope got a whole dress size to go for that, and really can’t be bothered to get into a size 10 jean, so it’s not going to happen.

‘bankrolled … husband working to death in london’ – actually it’s the hairy northerners choice to work there, I’d be happy to go back to Bristol and chill out a bit more.

‘designer outfits’ … do New Look, Next and Joe Browns count?

‘must-have bag’ – that would be an Alexa mulberry – nope, not in my wardrobe; but I am a BIG fan of handbags and got a lovely one in Accessorize last weekend to try to reduce my back pain.

‘hair and nails perfectly groomed’ – I’ve got curly hair, so there’s no chance of perfect grooming and my nails are glued on by me, because otherwise I find my real ones too tasty.

‘contributing to levels of depression’ – I would be GUTTED to know I’d made things worse for mums as the WHOLE POINT to what I do is to try and help them enjoy being exactly who they are.

Oh and no mentions of children’s farms with lots of simple indoor and outdoor fun for the kids – hmmmm.

 

I decided that I am definitely NOT yummy.

I live in St Albans.  I’ve met yummy, and I am not dedicated enough to the gym to be yummy.  I’d put me down to more ‘middle of the road’; neither yummy or scummy.

 

Then I had another thought …

I think it’s a really bad thing to give the impression that being a ‘Yummy Mummy’ is a bad thing.

 

After all, they are looking after their bodies and their health, and although there are bound to be a few selfish shallow women who put material stuff above their kids and husbands needs, I very much doubt that they are in the majority.  Plus they might be ‘yummy’, but they are still human, with stresses, worries and feelings.  Maybe different from ours, but I know that EVERYONE has problems in their lives.

So those against ‘yummy mummies’ are suggesting that it’s not good to take care of ourselves, eat healthily and do some exercise?  Plus that we shouldn’t care what we look like or consider our self-esteem in any way.  Aren’t all of us stay at home mums being ‘bank rolled’, in our own way, and why should we be made to feel guilty for it?  Is it only right if we drudge away every day and never have a cuppa with a mate?

A lot of the celebs mentioned HAVE to lose the baby weight quickly due to work pressures.  We should just count our lucky stars that we aren’t under that pressure.  There are  few with ridiculous ideas that the express in the media, but just as many who say balanced things.  There are hardly any saying ‘you should do what I do and look like I do’; so isn’t it our fault if we are daft enough (oh yes I’ve done it too) to compare ourselves to them and feel bad about ourselves.

 

What do you think?  Am I yummy?  Have I made you feel bad about yourself?

Or are you yummy and proud?  Scummy and proud?  Or middle of the road and proud?

Is it all the fault of yummy mummy’s that we feel bad about ourselves, or do we need to work on our self-esteem?

 

 

An Amazing Woman In My Life

It’s amazing what you can find in Tesco’s; I found a 73 year old, Irish grandmother with a huge heart.  She cares for Little Dimples while I work, gives Curly Headed Boy the security of a nearby grandma, and supports me in the way that my Mother would have wanted to if she had been alive.  She would say that she has gained so much from us, but I she doesn’t know how special she is.  So here’s to you Nanny Bets, an angel sent here to watch over us xxx

 

 

I am writing this post as part of the 90 words about 90 women for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which was started by ‘Kate On Thin Ice’.  If you are a blogger and would like to join in and support Kate, click here for more info.

 

If Your Friend Has Fallen Out With Them, Should You?

So your friends in real life, twitter or Facebook have a falling out.  Should you remain friends with those people?  Or is that disloyal?  What about if they fall out with a whole association or organisation?

I’m friends on twitter and Facebook with people that I know have fallen out with other people in the long and distant past.  In ‘real life’, I might stay on ‘polite’ terms depending on the situation; like with neighbours.

I’m also happily available for any blogging community like BritMums, Love All Blogs, Tots100, Net Mums, Mumsnet, ooh and if Huffington post or Parentdish fancied me, then I’m here!  But I can totally understand that this could be frowned upon as many are much more loyal to just one community.

I’m trying to mix a balance between four wise, but contradictory pieces of advice …

Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face

Judge people on how they treat you

If they did it to someone else, they’re just as likely to do it to you

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

We all makes mistakes

Everyone deserves a second chance

 

There have been times in my past where I’ve been upset by friends sitting on the fence, I think it can easily make you a little paranoid.  In a way the clarity of being disliked is very secure!  However that is really rather daft, as not everyone in the world fancies both David Tennant and Ryan Reynolds, so why would we all have the same likes and dislikes in terms of combinations of friends?

It might sound cynical to say ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’, but when I wrote about the ‘Mums Standing Up Together Campaign‘ idea I’d had, my twitter time line got very quiet, and it was almost like my back itched.  Eventually a mummy blogger I only vaguely knew let me know that she had been inundated all day by messages about it and my suspicions were correct.  But should that actually bother me?  After all when I thought about it on reflection and realised that there are many different types of discussion, I also realised that to do what I want to do will mean that this happens a hell of a lot more.  I’ve been warned about people appearing supportive, but not being behind closed doors, however, on the other hand there are times when I have been really nice to someone in a situation where they needed help, but wasn’t really close or fond of them at all.

I was talking to a good friend yesterday, and she explained that in ‘cave man’ times, we would have competed psychologically for the men, who used the more simple technique of clubbing each other over the head.  The woman who survived the psychological attack and appeared stronger emotionally and mentally would appeal more to the physically stronger man.  So if it’s that hard wired into us to be horrid sometimes, maybe we shouldn’t blame each other for it and just get on with it?  Does it mean that we can’t but help to view every woman as competition?

Anyway, those are just my musings.  What do you think?  Do you stick to a clique, or try to be friends with everyone?  Is it fickle to be in both Mumsnet and NetMums?  Do they mind?  I admit to feeling a subtle pressure to pick one blogging community and not be a tart and spread myself around all Love all Blogs, Tots100 and Britmums.  Are there people out there subtly recording my fickleness; I suspect so?

Right I’m off to a toddler group; another bastion of female cliqueness!  So that Little Dimples can learn to share by hitting someone over the head.  Soon she’s going to be facing these all important questions about friendships, but at the moment, just being the same age is about all the criteria she needs.

 

Discussion Arguing

When Is Discussion Healthy or Unhealthy?

Discussion ArguingI’m trying to work out whether I’m a fan of discussion or not.  I like a good old chinwag, and brainstorm.  But discussion?  There is a strong tendency in me to want ‘efficiency’;  So a part of me kicks in with ‘seriously, isn’t it obvious?’, but clearly it really often isn’t!

A ‘healthy’ discussion to me is where both sides learn things; either to understand other perspectives, or to shift theirs a little.  It’s where all parties are confident enough in themselves to be open to new ideas, and to not need to convince other people of their ‘right-itude’ (you know what I mean – the fact that they are more right than anyone else in the conversation).

To me an ‘unhealthy’ discussion is where no one hears each other, everyone is stuck in their ‘right-itude’ so it starts to descend quickly into a personal attack.

But I’m seeing as I write this that if there’s to be discussion, there is bound to be a bit of both ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ in it.  I wonder whether my concern over this has sometimes limited my blog, because I’ll often cover all aspects, rather than leave it to be discussed in the comments?

There have been a lot of incidents over the past few months that have got me thinking, in particular about discussion amongst Mums:

There was a big spat when someone called ‘Real Mum’ (great right-itude name) had a go at one of the newer bloggers, Mammasaurus.  It was just plain old nasty ‘Mums judging Mums’ stuff, quickly descended into bullied victim + persecutor scenario.  But if we all learnt to control our outbursts, would the mummy blogging community literally get bored?

There’s bitching behind the scenes in the mummy blogging community about ‘blagger’s as well.   A number of people commented on a post I wrote called ‘I’m a blagger blogger, fancy joining me‘, without actually reading it, just desperate to not be associated with the term; so not much discussion there.

It’s not just Mummy Bloggers, celeb Mums love to have a good go to; Sally Bercow insulted Kirstie Allsopp in the Daily Mail: which to me felt like a complete waste of time.  Plus publicly slagging off another mother, in a society where Mums aren’t regarded with deep respect anyway, is surely going to just make matters worse?

Twitter is full of spats between celeb mums taking umbrage at someone else using a different parenting technique.  Half of them ended up in the big brother house together, where they realised surprise surprise ‘she’s actually quite nice’!  Perhaps the short written word like Twitter, Facebook or blogs isn’t ideal for discussion?

There’s been some neighbourhood incidents where Mums bitterly fell out mainly due to a lack of empathy for different scenarios, ages, relationship lengths, no’s of children and financial situations.  There was absolutely no discussion which is probably why it went all tits up.  Perhaps ‘pastures new’ will be good for the Mums though?

Whereas there was another little spat in the blogging community back on Mammasaurus’s blog (she must be the lucky one heh!), which seemed to be respectfully resolved in the whole discussion/commenting process between the parties, with the slagging off commenting well controlled.  Perhaps that was a good example of where it’s wise to get things out in the open and discuss them, otherwise it could have become really gruesome in a few months time?

I experienced being involved in a blogging community discussion after launching my ‘Mums Standing Up Together‘ campaign.  I’d approached all the mummy blogging communities, but was more obviously supported by Britmums in their blogging prompts.  Blimey do these women know how to press buttons and get the discussion going.  Initially I was disconcerted (not upset) by the feeling that there were people writing about what I’d said and misunderstanding it.  After lots of tea I decided it had been useful to ensure that I was really clear about what I meant.

At home there are plenty of ‘discussions’ between me and the hubby.  Over 22yrs I’ve tried all sorts of things, like raising issues every couple of months (a bit like the big blow ups in the blogging community), or just compromising and keeping my opinions to myself which isn’t so good for my own identity.  A constant regular stream of little discussions before they blow up seems like the best compromise for us.  It’s unrealistic to not expect misunderstandings between the southern cheeriness of me and the hairy northernness of him.

Finally I saw a conversation on twitter where a mum took umbrage at Kelly Rose Bradford’s article in the Daily Mail and was pulled up for publicly criticising her (the joy of twitter!).  Kelly didn’t reply to all the nasty comments on the Daily Mail and said that ‘I wrote it purely to spark a debate‘, plus that all her family and friends understood her job.  This was a HUGE eye opener to me, because she saw the debate as the objective, whereas I see the resulting consensus or agreement to differ as the objective.  This is potentially where I’ve often been going ‘wrong’.  She didn’t feel the worry that I had about being misunderstood.  What a huge revelation!

I blogged recently about setting Life Priorities for the chinese new year, maybe I need clear ‘people priorities’, so that I can be clear on who it matters understand me?

Oh and it definitely convinced me that photo’s are massively important, because that is one bad photo of you Kelly!  Anyone fancy doing a photo shoot for me in return for a blog post, because mine looks a bit too ‘nice’ (back to the blagging!).

A Name For Our Revolution: Come and have your say

I’ve got a plan for a revolution.  First starting with mummy bloggers, and then spreading out into the world.  It’s your revolution too, so I’d like to know what you’d prefer to call it.

So what’s the idea?

  1. To strengthen the position of Mums in society.
  2. To encourage Mums to feel strong and confident in our differences
  3. To help them to appreciate that given different circumstances and different shoes, they might be different too

 

A ‘good mother’ is a mother who is herself, not trying to be someone else.  Therefore we are all going to be different, with different types of families, different backgrounds and different priorities; just plain different.  Difference is interesting.  That’s the objective; for there to be a point to you, because you are a unique you; as Ralph Waldo Emerson (a 19th century philosopher) said “Envy is ignorance, Imitation is Suicide”.  It’s ok to have a different opinion and you can still like/respect me whilst disagreeing with me.  Plus, that if I’m sure of myself, I won’t be threatened by you having a different opinion.  I won’t even need to try to convince you of it.

Mums are incredibly important to society, because we are where things start.  At the moment we don’t have a strong standing in society, and I believe it’s time to change that.  If we publicly have a go at each other and criticise each other (which is different from disagreeing respectfully), that we reduce our power and standing in society, plus waste time and energy.  I’m not suggesting that we can never bitch about someone or sound off to a good mate, as getting it out can be helpful in gaining perspective.  What I’m suggesting is to change what we do after that.

I believe that there is ‘hope for us’ as women, and we don’t have to accept the gender generalisation that a large group of women will always spend time having a go at each other.  I think that we can learn to take a breath, have a cup of tea, and imagine standing in another woman’s shoes to find the common ground; and that by doing so we’ll get the insight to stop slagging each other off.

So here are the ideas for what to call the ‘revolution’.  They’ve come from the first Mums already excited by the idea.  Now we need a name, then a badge, then for some big communities to back the initiative.  So what would you like to call it?  The only ‘rule’ is that the name doesn’t point the finger at another community e.g. Dads or non-mums and that it focusses on what we want rather than what we don’t want; so ‘Mums without judgement’ actually uses words that we don’t want.

If you have a better option, feel free to add it in the comments, otherwise let me know which ones you prefer ….

1) Standing in other Mums shoes

2) Mums stand together

3) Mums in each others shoes

4) United Mums

5) Mums Different United

6) Mums United Different (shortens to Mud)

 

Which name is the most powerful, the most inspiring?  Which one will people remember?  Please let as many people know as you can, so that we can get as much feedback as possible.

UPDATE: Tag Line and Badge

After all the fabulous comments here and at BritMums, I’ve decided to definitely go for ‘Mums Stand Together’, I’m going to grab the twitter id’s and sites for that and ‘Moms Stand Together’ just incase we need that at some point.

But you guys are right – now I need a tag line!  Plus it must take into account all the concerns – so it’s not about us all agreeing, or not debating, or all being the same.  The main objectives are

1) to help a Mum step back for a moment and think about how she would feel if she stood in the other Mums shoes – hence reduce the in fighting

2) to help us have a stronger presence in society by standing together

Hows about:

Mums Standing Together, strong in our differences?

Also, I either need someone willing to do a swap for a header and badge (I can offer an hours coaching worth £130?) or a company to sponsor someone to do it for me – any ideas?

Time for a change: Women bitching about other women: Sally Bercow vs Kirstie Allsopp

Time for mums to stop bitching about each otherSo another story about a mother, having a go at another mother, very publicly because obviously the Daily Mail loves that sort of thing.  Sally Bercow decided to slag off Kirstie Allsopp for being out of touch and middle class. So I’m going to have a rant.

For a start when are women going to understand that until we start to stand together we are going to be cutting off our noses and constantly degrading our social power?  It’s perfectly OK to have different interest and different beliefs and still stand together for goodness sake.

Sally criticises Kirstie for having too much time to waste on doing crafty stuff.  But she herself clearly has too much time to waste if she spends it slagging off another mother.

Apparently it is also a crime to be ‘middle class’, but I’m pretty sure that it’s been proved that ‘the middle class’ is now the majority of everyone in the UK, so that would be at least 3/4’s of the british public then Sally?

She also says that Kirstie is out of touch.  But that is totally untrue as I have learnt since becoming a ‘Mummy Blogger’, because the blogging world is full of Mums making stuff with their children.

Personally I love doing creative stuff with the kids, and I’m well aware of how important it is for their emotional and mental well being to keep their creative juices flowing somewhere other than the Wii.  But I’m totally undomesticated and have no ability to make clever craft stuff myself.  In fact my son goes to sewing school club because he said it was a good idea as I’m so hopeless!  So I’m not the type of person that you would expect to watch Kirstie’s craft program, but I LOVE IT.

It took me ages to work out why I love it, but I did.  She has passion for what she’s doing and I find it infectious.

Passion is what we need right now.  Plus in a time of financial strife, ideas on things to do that don’t cost hundreds of pounds are also a very good plan.

Now in my blogger/blagger post I got loads of responses when I said that I have a plan for Mums for  2012 to create a movement to change the way we behave towards each other, and give us more power in society.  My plan is to build on top of the wheels already in motion, not to create new ones, so I’m not looking to create a new community or forum, it’s more a ‘movement’ that connects all the existing ones together as a recognised set of shared values.

Step 1 is to start in the mummy blogger world.  The campaign needs a name, badge, and ‘manifesto’.  I have a rough plans for them all, but I’m only the ‘founder’ of this movement, I’m not planning on being the ‘boss’ of it.  So I’m going to set up a Facebook group and let anyone who is interested help out with the final choices and polishing of this step.  I’ll also share some of my other ideas for the next steps, and look for people and communities to put their hands up to be involved.

The message is going to be empowering, not about victims.  It’s about what we are aiming to create, not what we don’t want.  It’s about declaring that we are going to try our best to give other Mums the benefit of the doubt and try standing in their shoes for a moment.  It’s a reminder to us to do it when we get stressed or upset my another Mums behaviour.  We can still disagree, it’s not about mindlessly agreeing with each other, its just the method of disagreement that’s all!

So are you up for it?  If you didn’t comment on my previous post about the blogger/blagger issue to say that you were keen, pop a comment below and I’ll be in touch!!!  I’ve got loads of ideas on how to make this work, we just need Mums to get involved and decide it’s time for a change.  Come on guys, let’s make 2012 the year that we start to be the people making changes in our society!

Blogs

I’m a Blogger Blagger, fancy joining me?

So loads of people have been commenting about whether bloggers in general are blaggers, or whether it’s just the new ones, just mummy bloggers or just a small group or large group of them.

Then there was a particular incident where a ‘Real Mum’ (how self-righteous is that title) decided to have a go at a Mum who had missed a problem her daughter had.  Us bloggers tend to cover our embarrassment and shame with humour, and ‘Real Mum’ didn’t understand the psychology of it, so just decided to lay into the Mum.  Of course what this does is create a scenario where loads of people come to rescue the ‘victim’ and it all escalates.  Included in this conversation was an attack on the ‘new bloggers’, blah blah blah.

It’s a pretty typical Mummy Blogger rant about how some people are better than others etc etc.

Officially a blagger is basically a scrounger.  The feeling is that they ask for too much for free, and they are a pain wasting people’s time.  There is a sense that they are asking for too much and not giving in return and with no discernment.  There is that feeling that they are asking for something that they probably don’t deserve or haven’t earn’t.

So let me set a few things straight.

  1. We are ALL blaggers somewhere in our lives.  If you aren’t blagging on your blog, you are doing it somewhere else, it just might be somewhere more socially acceptable or subtle.
  2. It’s always wise to aim for a fair deal where anything is concerned, and in this case that the PR, company with a product, blogger and reader wins.  It’salways going to catch up with people if they don’t follow this rule, and you don’t have to do anything in order to make sure of it.
  3. It’s crazy in a recession to be self-righteous about earning money or being valued for your time as an entertainer/writer/blogger.  It’s not bad to get something in return as well as the enjoyment of writing.
  4. You don’t get much unless you ask.  Just because you aren’t tweeting, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking.  If you are on any kind of blogging list or using any kind of SEO you are basically putting yourself out there to be found.

So I’m going to confess.  I’M A BLAGGER.

I’m not of the old school, my blog was started in 2009.  So I’m also not of the new school of Mummy blogs.  I have some street cred blogging wise, but there are people who get thousands more hits a month than me.  But I’ve definitely blagged.  There are also times in my life where I didn’t blag.

How can I say that everyone has blagged?  Be open minded for a minute and look back over your life.  Did you ever blag clothes, food, money or stuff from your parents?  Did you ever blag to get a job?  Did you ever blag to keep a job?  Have you ever asked your kids to do something, go somewhere or get ready for bed/dinner/bathtime without really offering something in return?  Have you ever pretended that you were in complete control of the situation with your kids, but weren’t really?  Have you ever asked your husband to buy you something that was probably too expensive, but you ‘really needed those shoes/handbag’.  Did you ever cover up a haircut?  In the case of anonymous bloggers, isn’t there a sense of them pretending to be someone?  In fact don’t all of us do that a bit, as most of us have rules about what we don’t blog about.  Have you ever pestered someone to get something done, at work or at home?  Rather than think that you have never done it, just look for where you did.

Here are some examples from me:

I failed at blagging when it comes to money, rent free living, car etc from my parents, whereas my brothers got all that stuff.  But I did come out of it more independent and financially stable, so it worked for me long term.

I totally blagged my first job, it was a recession, I’d just graduated and I phoned up a company for a consultancy job I didn’t have the experience for.  Someone told me a week ago that they heard me as a 20yr old saying ‘You’ve got to interview me, because otherwise you’ll miss out on a really hard worker’; what a cheek!  I feel that my 13 yrs in IT was a blag.  I might have become a ‘global technical specialist’, but it was actually because I did work hard, and not because I was a techie at heart.

As a blogger I blagged the most amazing competition prize from The Wagon company, and in return I got nearly 600 reads of my post, The Wagon company got more hits, more learning about social media and some great contacts, and one of the 126 people who applied for it got £180 worth of Red Radio Flyer.  I count it as a blag as I hadn’t done a competition before, and suggested it to the company after they approached me to use a picture of my daughter in our wagon.  Plus I was really lucky that I had a relationship with some family festivals who were happy to let me mention it on their walls, so I got lots of mentions.

I don’t do many reviews, normally it’s of stuff I’ve bought already.  Mainly because I do them on a whim and can’t be bothered for a few pounds.  So I’m not just a blagger, but I’m an expensive disorganised blagger.  I can’t really be self-righteous about the fact that I don’t accept many of the offers I get, or that I don’t take free stuff from events, because I’m just a choosey blagger, that’s all.  Plus, if I was more organised, I’m sure that I could review products that I need and it would work out for everyone.  It’s a bit like the fact that there are people who earn a living from competitions, and one of the reasons is that loads of us don’t enter competitions because we don’t think we will win.  They don’t win all of them, but they enter so many that it works out to be viable.

I have just blagged an £89 gorgeous coat for my readers (watch this space, because it’s going to be in a competition in a couple of weeks).  To be honest the lovely ‘Best British Bloggers‘ offered to connect me, after I cheekily tweeted that I loved Joe Brown’s stuff, and had lost weight and couldn’t afford to buy a new coat, so did anyone know how to contact them.  This is still true, however in the rules of wiseness that I mentioned above I’ve now suggested to them that we might all gain more fairly if I do a competition (sob sob, shiver shiver).  So they agreed, and have kindly thrown in a consolation prize of a top for me to review.  It’s totally a blag according to the rules of the game, because I tweeted the company name and was there anyone who could get me a free coat.  No I haven’t done many such tweets, part from a blog post about how much I love IKEA, which didn’t work.  However, it was really cheeky considering the price of the coat, and although it will work with one of the themes of my blog, there are people out there with more hits that might work better for the company.

My blagging is going really well because of the MADs win.  Someone with three times my readership asked me to write a guest post about being a successful blogger, and I agreed.  I decided that if that’s the way people wanted to see it I wasn’t going to argue with them, even though it was really only down to a very beautiful glass ornament.  In reality I blagged the glass ornament by asking my readers to vote for me, several times, and maybe a few more times, and did a silly video.  Because of the blag that got me a MADS win, I’ve won a Netbook, which I’m seriously considering giving away as a competition prize to my readers because of the wiseness rule I mentioned above and because I’m about to ask for something else from my readers.  You see; another blag.

Stop worrying about other people blagging, it’s a waste of energy.  It’s a phase, people will grow out of it.  Things will change.  New ways of blagging/PR requesting/making relationships with companies will come and go.  Yes, it puts us into disrepute, but the media will always find a new way to have a go at Mums or bloggers anyway.  There will aways be blaggers.  We will all blag free stuff somewhere in our lives.  Blagging will continue.  It has it’s uses.  When misused it backfires.

What’s most important is that we are all MUMMY bloggers (i.e. Mums who blog, please don’t get all het up about the fact that you happen to be a Mum and a blogger and that I’m not distinguishing between them).  So we are all MUMS.  What this world needs is stronger MUMS.  It needs MUMS who stand together despite their differences and say that we are a force to be reckoned with.  Mums are where everything starts.  It’s where the family starts and that’s where society grows from.  We are REALLY important.

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have much clout out there in society.  They don’t value us much, we don’t get the pick of the resources from the governments, and the media totally enjoys taking a hit at us.  So what do we do.  Do we give other Mums the benefit of the doubt, imagining that we might do the same if we were standing in their shoes?  No, we slag each other off.  No I don’t imagine that we can stop being judgemental, just maybe that we could stop being judgmental of Mums.

I’m not suggesting we stop disagreeing either.  It’s just that there is disagreeing, and there is trying to make sure the other person knows you are right.  There is discussion and there is bullying.  There is open and interesting exchanging of views and there is ridiculous mud throwing.  There is politeness and there is the use of inflammatory words that will piss people off and upset them.  There will always be mistakes in communication.  The key is to own up when we piss people off and not keep trying to defend out ‘rightness’ in making it look like we were criticising someone.  It’s about being secure in the knowledge that we are all different and that is OK.

My final blag is that I’ve written a book.  Some people think this is amazing to have been able to write a book.  To be honest it feels like another blag to me as it is a Kindle book, and I love to write, infact I’ve got another 10 books sitting in my head.  But I know that my intentions are true, even if it is a blag.  This blag could help a pile of Mums who are overwhelmed to get less stressed and enjoy being a Mum more.  It could bring back the sparkle to their lives.  So it’s a blag worth doing.  Oh and it’s a blag that will be out next week, and following that on other ebook readers, and then paper back.  Oh and it’s a blag that will only cost 99p, so it’s a no brainer as far as far as I reckon it.

So I’m all sorts of things that make people cringe.  I’m a Mummy.  I’m a Mummy Blogger.  I’m a Blagger.  I’m judgemental, but I’m trying my hardest to stand in the shoes of other Mums and give them the benefit of the doubt.  I make mistakes, but try to own up to them and not get defensive.

You are also all of those things, but are you aware of it?  Or are you spending too much time in your neighbours business?  Or are you interested in making a change, using your blaggness for good?

I’ve got a plan for 2012.  It’s a HUGE blag.  It’s to do with getting Mums together, and showing how powerful and important we are.  It’s going to encourage Mums to proudly stand together in their differences (not against Dads, or none Mums, just together).  I need some fellow blaggers …. let me know if you can blag enough to make a big enough difference.  I need blaggers with influence, blaggers with something inspiring to say, and blaggers with connections.  I’d like to connect to other blaggers also interested in the same issue too.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, more combine a pile of wheels into a juggernaut for change.  I’m not going to explain how/why/what yet, it’s a secret for a little longer, but if you are interested let me know and we can start the ideas growing.