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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Letting go of the mummy guilt.

Ever since I became a mum 3yrs ago, mummy guilt has been a constant part of my life in one form or another. If you have a child you'll probably know what I mean. The constant second guessing if you're doing everything right. The constant trade offs, if we do this then we can't do that. The constant desire for alone time, but then desperation to be with your child once you finally get it. Parenting is a constant battle with internal guilt in some shape or form, for me anyway. Since I've been pregnant the mummy guilt has sky rocketed to another level.

Pregnancy has affected my ability to spend quality time with her in so many ways. For the first few months I suffered badly from morning sickness, like I need to spend all day on the couch or in the toilet or I may die kind of nausea. It was a huge adjustment for her because she's used to me being so interactive and spending the day playing with her or tending to her every need. Constant nausea has a way of controlling how much you can function whilst upright though, so we both had no choice but to adapt, and unfortunately that meant she needed to get used to fending for herself a little more.

As the weeks progressed my pelvis decided to separate again. It happened last pregnancy so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but it's happened a lot worse and a lot sooner this time around. Some days this simply means I wear a belt and am uncomfortable, other days it renders me unable to walk more than a few metres and in excruciating pain. It ebbs and flows each day and is rather unpredictable.

I'm not going to lie, I've been feeling so incredibly guilty about my pregnancy and the impact it's had on her. For the first few months I felt like I was neglecting her and saw everything in a negative light, but then I started noticing small moments and changes in her that made me realise this experience hasn't been as detrimental as I first thought. There have been many positive things to come out of the whole experience for both her and I and these are helping me to slowly but surely let go of my mummy guilt.

She's learning to be more independent - I've always been one to do most things for her thinking it was my job as her mum. Since I've been physically unable to satisfy her needs at the drop of a hat I've been teaching her to be more independent and do things for herself. She now knows how to go to the cupboard and fridge and get snacks/drinks for herself when she needs them {she still asks first thankfully or she'd be eating nothing but chocolate all day}. She also gets out toys for herself to play with and has become quite good at fetching things for me too.

She's learning to spend more time independently playing - She's always wanted me to be involved with activities or play along side her and hasn't really liked playing by herself, but the last few months she's learnt to go off and play blocks or "read" books on her own. She also sets up play activities with her dolls and other toys and her imaginary play is evolving in leaps and bounds because of this. I'm finally learning that kids being bored is not a bad thing, because they learn to adjust and make their own fun.

She's spending more time with her daddy - He works shift work so there's not usually much of a chance for us to spend quality time together, but we've been specifically trying to carve it out lately. Or at least they have been {I've been mainly trying to rest on the couch when he's home}. Now that I can't go food shopping {physio orders} and I have to attend hydrotherapy each week, it's given them two specific periods of time where it's just them and it's fast becoming their own little ritual. I'm loving that this has started now before the baby comes along because she'll be relying on daddy for entertainment a lot more often once I'm attached to a hungry/tired/clingy newborn all day.

I'm learning to go with the flow - I'm normally a control freak, I have everything planned out and prepared and I like everything to happen in the order it's meant to. Being physically unable to do things {like walk, drive, lift things etc} has forced me to slow down and realise I can't do everything, even when I have the best intentions of doing it. I'm struggling a bit because I don't want to let anyone down, but I'm also learning to listen to my body and go with the flow more.

So while being pregnant has been physically and emotionally hard, it's also been quite enlightening. I think we're both learning to make allowances for each other more and we're all helping each other out a lot more. I'm learning to let go and trust in her abilities, and she's learning how to adapt to change, and daddy's been stepping up to the plate too. My mummy guilt is still there, but it's not as loud as it was before.

Toni x

Linking with Kylie
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | My Creative Box

Before I had kids I never thought I'd be a crafty mum. I loved art as a kid myself, but for some reason I could never imagine myself sitting down and doing craft activities with my child. Most likely because I thought I wouldn't have the patience for it. Evidently I was wrong. So wrong.

Turns out I love doing craft activities with her. Granted my ocd does get tested a fair bit when she's decorating or making things, and so does my tendency to want to control everything, but that's the beauty of being a parent ~ you adapt and change, and if not look in the other direction to stop yourself from "fixing" everything. As much as her doing things differently to the way I envisaged does test me, I really love watching her imagination come to life as she creates and I love that we get to share that together. For this reason we usually do a craft type activity at least once a week, whether that be drawing, painting, something more elaborate like making pom pom monsters or something themed like making Christmas wreaths.

Even though I love doing craft and am always looking up new things we can do together, there are times where I just lack motivation or enthusiasm to come up with new ideas {or trawl through pinterest for inspiration}, especially now that I'm seven months pregnant. There's also lots of nights where I don't want to spend ages prepping activities for the next day. Unfortunately though her desire to do activities never wanes, so I have to come up with alternatives, which is why I'm so glad I came across My Creative Box on Instagram.

My Creative Box is a monthly art/craft activity box which can be purchased as a one off box or via a subscription. It's the brain child of two childhood educator mums, Leanne and Abby, who wanted to bring fun, creative learning activities to other children. As educators they realise the many learning and development benefits of children being able to express themselves creatively, but they also understand that lots of parents are time poor so organising art activities can be a challenge, so they've done all the work for you. Each My Creative Box is designed for preschool children {3-6yrs} and includes 4-6 different craft activities each month. The activities included in the boxes are designed to encourage children to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, cognitive skills, build confidence and express their creativity through multi-sensory experiences. We've been working our way through the activities in the February My Creative Box over the last fortnight and this is what we think.
My creative box monthly art and craft activity kit

My Creative Box is literally packed with activities and I love that there's a guide page attached inside so you can see all the activities easily, which helps with choosing which one to do first {although if your child is like mine they'll want to do that one and that one AND that one first}. I also really love that everything you need for each activity is included {literally everything right down to the glue or paintbrush for example} and they're all packaged into separate bags for each individual activity. It's so easy to grab out a bag and set up an activity in less than a minute. No prep, no gathering of materials, it's all done already. 
My creative box February contents

Each activity comes with a comprehensive guide card which lists how to complete the activity step by step including photos. There are also extension activities listed at the bottom as some of the items can be re-used again and there's also usually excess materials {such as paint} left over once the specific activity is completed. On the back of the guide card the girls have also listed all the skills the activities help your child develop {like fine motor skills such as hand strengthening, pincer grip etc} and there is also suggested prompts to use when doing the activity to aid in language development too. The aspiring childhood educator in me loves this addition.
paper plate beach craft idea for toddlers

One of her favourite activities included in the February box was this sea plate craft activity. She loved gluing down each of the pieces of the blue tissue paper and choosing where each one would go to make the ocean. I then sprinkled the sand onto the bottom of the plate and she placed all the shells and fish where she wanted them to go. We didn't glue those down because I wanted to keep the plate as a more fluid kind of small world scene that she could change up each time she wanted to play with it. She kept moving the fish and crab around making them talk to each other and moved the shells around to make imprints into the sand.
beach sensory paper plate craft from my creative box

Being the February box it also included some fun valentines day crafts to make homemade presents. She loved putting these together, especially the clay heart necklace which she straight away told me was for grandma. Why do the grandparents always get the good stuff? Every single time we make a necklace, pretty picture, painting etc she always wants to give it to grandma. What about mummy? I'm the one who puts in all the effort, haha I'm totally not jealous at all! Luckily for me there was enough clay to make a few hearts so I got her to paint another one I'm keeping for myself.

Her most favourite activity of all was decorating her very own library bag. To be honest I think she was just as excited to paint all over a bag {because she thought she was getting away with something naughty} as she was with actually being able to paint it any way she liked. This activity did test my own ocd a bit because my brain wanted her to draw a nice pretty picture, but I knew it would end up being a bunch of random colours and lines. I managed to control myself though and allowed her to decorate it however she wanted and it was actually really amazing talking to her about what each squiggle was. She drew rainbows, mountains "like da pyramids" and one blue squiggle is apparently Sonic the hedgehog. Kids imaginations really are the best.

We've really enjoyed doing all the activities included in this month's box and I love that she also practised so many development skills while creating all her little crafts. The activities definitely helped to improve her hand strengthening as she can now squeeze a glue bottle without needing my help {which may bite me in the butt later if I leave her unattended with glue, but at the moment I'm just super proud of her}. To see all of our finished activities from the box check out my Instagram feed.

It's evident that Leanne and Abby have put a lot of time and planning into curating My Creative Box so that the activities appeal to a range of children and each activity {although comprehensive instructions are included} has a wide scope of how it can be completed given each child's imagination and individual way of manipulating the materials provided. I really love that each activity is so easy to set up and everything is provided so all you need to do is help your child to create a little masterpiece. They're great for rainy days, hot days when it's too hot to go outside, time poor parents who want easy no fuss activities and also crafty kids who love to create. I've already ordered the March box because she loved this one so much and I'm pretty sure we'll be ordering more in future months so that she has something just for her once her little sister has come along. I'm certain I'll need help coming up with creative ideas when I'm knee deep in sleep deprivation again, so I'm glad I have this special craft box {as she calls it} up my sleeve to keep her entertained.

Do/did you enjoy crafting with your kids?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided the February My Creative Box for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the items and activities included in the box. I did not receive payment for this review and have already ordered the March box because we had so much fun doing the activities from this month's box.

Linking with Kylie.