March Of The Mummies 2017

On Tuesday 31st October the March Of The Mummies takes place.

Pregnant Then Screwed is an international pressure group and will be marching to Westminster from Trafalgar Square this Halloween.

Concurrent sister marches are taking place across the UK with our very own here in the North East.

The sister March taking place in Newcastle will start at Newcastle Civic Centre at 12noon and march to Grey’s Monument.

The protest seeks to highlight the issue of maternity discrimination which haunts 77 per cent of new mums, and pushes one in nine pregnant women out of their job (EHRC, 2016). 

There are five key demands, one of which is of particular interest to me:

Subside childcare from six months instead of three years.

Those who’ve followed me for a while will know I went back to work full time in January following ten months of maternity leave.

I pay approx £530 a month in childcare fees.

This is for 29 hours a week – three eight hour days and one five hour day.

The other day and a half is juggled by grandparents and flexible working.

I’m lucky that my employer does the childcare scheme, so £220 of my monthly salary prior to tax goes straight to the nursery. It probably equates to me being down about £150 a month rather than the full £220. So about £70ish ‘saving’ if you could call it that. (Maths is not my strong point!)

The other £310 is paid after tax.

Now before I get people saying I would be better off going part-time and not spending as much on nursery – I couldn’t afford it.

I’d still be paying for nursery the majority of the time and with less wage it’s just not feasible in our circumstances.

Plus I still want to be in the rat race.

To push at my career while opportunities are being presented to me.

It’s not easy but I’m managing to find a balance.

I just feel penalised for wanting to work and paying for the privilege because I’m a mother. Two years ago that £530 of my salary would all be mine. I wasn’t paying to go to work then – so why should i now?

84% of generation Z and millennials seek flexibility when job hunting and the UK economy would be £165 million richer/more productive if all businesses got on board (Government’s capital and wellbeing report 2017)

The economy benefits if more people are working, surely the government should be encouraging this?

Rather than forcing parents to feel like they’re sacrificing salary or hours because they are, well, parents?

I don’t blame the nursery either.

They need money to function. And that should come from the government instead of the parents themselves.

Like they fund schools.

Nursery is just as educational and should therefore be funded from the outset.

I’m working full-time.

Contributing to taxes and the economy.

Yet I pay 32% of my monthly wage to do this.

Because I’m a mother.

And in this day and age, with the cost of living being so high, I don’t have the luxury of not working at all.

So to help run a house, raise a family and god forbid have a career myself, I pay £530 a month for the privilege.

Where’s the fairness in that?

MUMMIES MARCH ACROSS THE UK THIS HALLOWEEN

The march is being supported by a number of MPs and celebrities. The demonstration follows the success of its recent campaign, ‘Give me Six’, which seeks to increase the time limit to raise a tribunal claim from three to six months. This campaign has the support of 99 MPs and more than 54,000 people. 

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed said: 

“March of the Mummies is our first demonstration, and we are encouraging those attending to dress up as mummies (the walking dead kind) to highlight the archaic legislation that is in place to protect and support working mums. Despite the success of our #GivemeSix campaign, little progress has been made on maternity and pregnancy discrimination. In March 2016, a Government commissioned report revealed that the number of women losing their jobs for getting pregnant has almost doubled in the last ten years. Since then no decisive action has been taken and in that time 84,000 women have lost their jobs. We are marching, along with our sisters in cities around the UK, to demand recognition, respect and change for working mums.”

The five key demands being presented to parliament:

1. Increase the time limit to raise a tribunal claim from 3 months to (at least) 6 months

2. Require companies to report on how many flexible working requests are made and how many are granted

3. Give fathers access to 6 weeks non-transferable paternity leave paid at 90% of salary

4. Give the self-employed access to statutory shared parental pay

5. Subsidise childcare from 6 months old, rather than 3 years

To find out more about Pregnant Then Screwed please visit www.pregnantthenscrewed.com

For more information about ‘March of the Mummies’ please visit www.marchofthemummies.com or follow the hashtag #marchofthemummies

Love Missuswolf xxx

Who’s Been In Our Tree 

Who’s Been In Our Tree is a book written by Diana Batchelor and is designed as a support mechanism for children who are victims of burglary.

Diana Batchelor is an experienced practitioner and researcher in the field of criminal justice.

With the use of animals as the characters, Batchelor tells the story of the aftermath after their tree is burgled.

Fox, Badger, Hedgehog and Squirrel wake up to find that everything in their tree is upside down.

Furniture is empty where the TV and games used to be and they discover that a bag of their favourite things has been taken.

Batchelor has used the animals to depict different reactions that a child may experience and relate to.

A child will then be able to identify which animal they feel that their emotions relate with the most.

Batchelor has, in conjunction with Dr Fiona Snyder – a Clinical Psychologist, written about the strange things that start to happen after the burglary.

Again, each animal experiences something different – something strange.

Like a bad dream.

Or feeling frightened to be alone.

The story proceeds to tell of different coping mechanisms for each animal to try.

Again, a child reading this could identify the animal that their fears relate to the most and see how that animal coped with their experience.

At the end, there’s the opportunity for the child to reflect on their experience in the ‘What About Me’ section. It is here they can create their own plan on what steps they’re going to take to make themselves feel better.

There’s also a useful section for adults to consider in ‘Things To Talk About’. This encourages grown ups to listen to the child and ask them about their reactions and feelings.

I caught up with Diana Batchelor who told me more about the book …

Can you tell us what the story of Who’s Been In Our Tree is about? 

Who’s Been in Our Tree? is a book for 4-8 yr olds to help them deal with the impact of burglary. The story is about four animals whose tree has been burgled. It teaches children about a range of shock reactions, reassures them that feelings of anxiety and stress are normal following a traumatic event, and equips them to make plans to cope. The main emphasis is on letting out feelings – finding ways to share and express them. It was developed with the help of a child clinical psychologist. Feedback I have had so far suggests it could also be helpful following any type of stressful life event, and that older children appreciate it as well – perhaps up to 11yrs or so.

What motivated you to write this story?

It all started when I was supporting children who’d been victims of crime in London. One boy had been having nightmares ever since the family home was burgled. I met with him and his dad over a few weeks and we drew pictures together. One week he drew his front door that had been damaged, and then together we drew their shiny new one which helped to make him feel safe. It was clear that he could express his feelings through drawing, which he was finding hard to do with words.

His dad asked me whether there was a story book they could read with him, to help him understand what had happened and feel safe again. I was determined to find one! I searched high and low but had no luck. Fortunately, drawing helped the family communicate and they found a way out of the nightmares. But now some years later I’ve written this book with him and his dad in mind. It uses bright, simple drawings as a way to help children like him understand their own feelings and come up with their own ways of coping. He doesn’t need it anymore, but I hope it will help others like him!

You can find out more about the book on the Who’s Been In Our Tree website

The book is also sponsored by Victims Support. Read more on Batchelor’s interview with the organisation here.


~Social Media~

Twitter @WBIOT

Facebook 


~ Where To Buy Who’s Been In Our Tree ~

Amazon 


Love Missuswolf xxx

Disclosure – I received a copy of this book as part of this feature 

This post contains affiliate links 



This entry was posted in Books.

All The Eighteen Month Olds

As I was doing my usual Sunday morning scroll through Insta – a plate of toast half balanced on my lap while Mr Tumble entertains the Little Lady – I came across Chrissy Teigan’s adorable video of her daughter Luna.

Luna is a similar age to Ella and I love following Chrissy Teigan’s motherhood journey.

The video is Give Me All The Eighteen Month Olds and it’s Luna copying every word Chrissy says.

And it’s utterly adorable.

Chrissy starts by saying the words mammy and daddy and then goes through some other words, each one in turn Luna copies.

My heart melts.

As it’s very much Ella. Copying every word in her cute little interpretation. (Although Ella is actually nineteen months I’ve used a bit of poetic licence for this post.)

Like this week ‘Palpol’ (Calpol) has been added to her vocabulary after the recent bout of nursery germs.

Her most common phrase is ‘I’m stuck’ – which is thrown about when we are so blatantly trying to entrap her; the high chair, the car seat, her cot bed.

It’s actually her overused phrase; when she can’t be bothered to get off the sofa herself, when she’s trying to climb onto the dining room chairs – when I’m pottering in the kitchen and she’s clawing at my legs, desperate for a nosy at what I’m doing.

I’m in love with this phase and the inquisitive little sponge that follows me around.

To watch her grab her books and bring them to my knee (def a girl after my own heart).

To listen to her little voice as she copies the words she knows, or shout ‘Quack Quack’ at the duckies or ‘Woof Woof’ at the doggies.

To watch her toddle in her pink glitter wellies, chasing the autumn leaves and squeling in delight as she jumps in muddy puddles.

To watch her pick an item of wet clothing out of the washing machine and bring it to me to hang up (it’s not too young for child chores is it???!)

Not that it’s all puppy dogs and rainbows.

Far from it.

This morning hasn’t been without it’s frustrations.

This phase has brought with it a clingy child (I think it’s complete noseyness at what I’m doing to be fair but we’ll go with clingeyness).

Although I’m finding this new found clingyness adorable (I finally get long proper cuddles hurrah!) It has again made the simple art of showering an absolute hurdle today.

The constant whinging.

It would be ok if it was a full blown tantrum and bam you’re done.

But the sheer constant whinge drives me Insane.

So while the other half plays football, I’ve ‘I’m stuck’ her somewhere, jumped in the shower, thrown on some clothes, attempted a slight smear of make-up and ruffled some dry shampoo in my god-knows-when-i-last-washed-it hair.

The last week has been a tricky one – working full time round a poorly toddler while the OH works away. Throw in my own immune system deteriorating i’m sure it’s one of those weeks I’ll look back at in awe (or some warped sense of fondness).

Motherhood is an ecstatic ride of frustration, exhaustion, hurty heart, complete and utter awe all wrapped in  overwhelming undeniable love.

I’m finding each phase is not without its difficulties; the lack of motion isn’t savoured with a new born due to lack of sleep, the enjoyment of movement is then masked by the physical exhaustion at times of racing after a toddler.

Who always wants to go in the opposite direction.

Or where they’re not supposed to.

So it’s easy to look back with rose tinted glasses at those new born days.

Just like I’ll look back on rose tinted glasses on these days.

But these days of walking, talking, sharing and exploring are truly magical.
And with each phase, like they said it would, it passes quickly.

I need to stop.

I need to slow down.

And enjoy and embrace this topsy turvy toddler.

Watching your little person find amazement in mundane things you take for granted – it makes you see the world in a whole new light.

So like Chrissy Teigan says.

Give Me All The Eighteen Month Olds.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images Unsplash and my own 

World Mental Health Day 2017: Awakened

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

Last year’s World Mental Health Day post focused on the importance of mental health while on maternity leave.

This year, I’m taking the angle of work-life balance.

More than ever I need to look after my mind. I’m working full time, attempting to run a house as well as look after an eighteen month old.

I’ve got everything I ever wanted.

Which is why it’s important that I look after myself.

So I don’t loose it.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to read a book called ‘Awakened‘.

Debbie Stokoe, a copywriter and blogger, shares her experience of depression and the importance of a work-life balance.

The book came at a perfect time in my life.

2017 has been one of significant change.

I went back to work after maternity to a new job.

That in itself was hard. Not only did I have to mentally prepare for leaving a little person I’d spent the last ten months caring for full time. I had to prepare for walking into a new job.

Fast forward two months and I’m offered a project role.

In that same month, I also moved house.

The cards had well and truly been thrown in the air.

And over the course of the summer they’ve slowly drifted back down into place.

Their new places.

It’s a wonder I didn’t have some form of break down.

Reading Debbie’s book has helped me put things into perspective.

Too much change at once can be difficult to process.

There’s a paragraph that really struck with me.

It’s about mindfulness.

Being in the moment.

Something a lot of us (including me) are not very good at.

I once thought being busy was good. I thought I was achieving things.

The constant.

Thinking that The Constant was good.

It meant I could race through life and not be alone with my thoughts.

To over think things.

But since embarking on motherhood, I’m more mindful than ever. Babies quickly grow and a triumphant toddler soon takes over.

In that respect I’m now mindful to take each day as it comes.

To enjoy the moment.

To listen to her little chitter chatter.

To take the plastic tea cup when offered. To pretend to sip it. To gasp that it’s the nicest cup of tea I’ve ever had.

And to inhale that freshly bathed smell as I read her a bedtime story.

As it ain’t going to last forever.

So I’m grateful for Debbie’s book to put things in perspective. And to also to introduce me to meditation.

Debbie recommended Jessica Mullen and The Honest Guys. I’ve found them on You Tube and they’ve been really useful to listen to.

I’ve lost touch with reading this year with everything that’s gone on. Awakened has pulled me back into the reading game. I’ve now picked up The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. A book I started before I moved.

So what is Awakened about?

Debbie kindly gives us an insight into her book and her life …

Having read Awakened, you’ve written a compelling journey of self discovery through your working life as well as personal events. What inspired you to write Awakened?

I went through a lot of pain and the main inspiration was to help others to avoid that if possible. I talk about how I was affected by perfectionism and low self-esteem as a child, which affects a lot of young kids today who feel pressure to push themselves too hard, so part of it was to hopefully get a message to them to start being more compassionate towards themselves. In terms of the work-related mental health issues I experiences, I just felt very alone and scared when I was going through severe depression and wanted other people who are experiencing similar things to realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I guess I tried to write the book that would have helped me when I was ill. Hopefully it will also help family members and friends of people who are suffering from similar health issues to understand it better.

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

It was also a healing process for me to write about what happened to me, and cathartic in many ways, even though I had a lot of resistance arise about revisiting these difficult times in my life. It helped me to understand myself better and to work on certain things that still affect me (I’m still too hard on myself about a lot of things).

How would you compare writing Awakened to anything you’ve previously written?

I’ve never written a book before so it was a new experience! I’m a copywriter so I write for businesses for a living, and I’ve been blogging about art and culture for about six years, so I’m using to writing things like websites and blog posts. I decided upon the chapters then dedicated a couple of hours each morning for four months to writing it. I was pretty disciplined about writing every week day. I hadn’t been that vocal about mental health in the past so it was quite daunting being so honest and discussing my deepest, darkest feelings. There have been times when I’ve felt like not putting it out there as I have some fears about what people will think, but the message is more important than my fears.

How do you organise your work and life to ensure you get a healthy balance?

I became self-employed partly to have more control over my life, and to a certain extent it’s worked. It suits me better as I can organise my workload if I’m having a down day (I’m still affected by low mood) and I can work from home which means I don’t have to deal with people that annoy me as much! It has its stressors though, mainly because of the uncertainty and ‘feast or famine’ cycle that can happen when you’re self-employed (either too much work or not enough work) so it can be difficult to feel balanced.

How do I stay in balance? It’s a lifelong work in progress and I’m constantly changing my routine to feel more balanced. I have a morning routine which involves a combination of yoga, meditation, a walk and drawing an oracle card (I talk about my spiritual path in the book). I am still trying to limit my use of technology but I make sure I stay off my phone after 9pm and read before bed. It’s important for me to get out in nature at the weekends and switch off. A weekly yoga class also keeps me in balance, and regular holistic therapies such as massage and reiki. Reading a lot also helps and I go the cinema or theatre once or twice a week which inspires me and gets me away from a screen.

If you had one piece of advice on wellbeing that you’ve learnt, what would it be?

Learn to love yourself. It sounds a bit cliched, but life gets much easier when you’re your own best friend. I’ve always been too hard on myself, which started at school. I was always pushing myself to be an A grade student and if I didn’t achieve that standard I would berate myself. Being a perfectionist does not lead to a happy life. You can never celebrate your achievements and nothing is ever good enough. I think it’s so important for kids to learn to love themselves (not in a narcissistic, selfie-taking way) and not measure their happiness against external factors, which society teaches us to do. When we learn how to do that (and there are many ways to do that, such as learning about self-care, finding your passion and purpose, and learning to appreciate the little things and have more gratitude) life flows better.

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

If you read the book you’ll know, but I have a Facebook spiritual group with over 1,300 members. I realised that I felt ‘different’ and was having interesting spiritual experiences, so I created it to find my tribe and talk about spiritual topics such as angels, past lives and the law of attraction with like-minded people. Now I don’t feel so lonely or out there and have made life-long friends as a result of the group.

You can get a copy of Awakened here.

Where to find Debbie and her support groups:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/DebbieStokoeWriter

Twitter – @DebbieStokoe111

Instagram @socialbflycomms 

Stay Sane At Work website – www.staysaneatwork.co.uk

Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/StaySaneAtWork 

You can take part in World Mental Health Day today in the Time To Change #inyourcorner campaign

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Time To Change website

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Awakened as part of this post