We’re Still Here…

Well hello there!

I’ve been MIA for a while now and feel for the very few of you who read this, I should give you a little update on where we are at.

My health has been a little shady of late; Feeling over worked with a constantly crowded brain, I have recently found myself exhausted and letting rather a lot slide in all aspects of life. Turns out trying to run numerous social pages, a blog, raise a child, have a healthy, loving relationship, look for a house, handle the nagging desire for another baby, plan a wedding and have a ‘normal’ life is too much for one person to do at once – who knew, right!?

I’ve been unbelievably overwhelmed since joining my new job last June. As my first career-changing role since graduating a few years back and becoming a mother, I ploughed head first into what would become an all-consuming job. As workloads grew, I stopped doing the things I loved at home. Never, ever wanting this blog to slip, One Curious Mother has taken a very reluctant and unwanted back seat lately. With evenings spent barely awake and creative juices in serious short supply, I was brought back to examining why it was that I created One Curious Mother in the first place: to share the hidden wonders (and ailments) of first time parenthood, to document my journey through it and to, hopefully, help others too. I can honestly say, I feel I am meeting absolutely none of these objectives anymore. 

Needless to say, it was a welcomed moment when I realised that I didn’t need to wait for the ‘perfect moment’ and didn’t need to create just ‘pretty’ or, let’s face it, fake content. Thanks to this, I am now able to realign my focus to be on honest stories, asking & answering those curious questions we all have and helping build a community of ladies (or gentlemen) and babies who are looking for someone to say ‘hey, that happened to me’ or ‘WOAH I’m not alone in this anymore’. 

So what now? A solid promise for more communication and definitely more questions, to get back on track and look forwards, vowing to keep one foot firmly on the ground whilst doing so.

I hope you’ll stick around and join us on this journey and if there’s one thing I want you to remember is that you never have to feel alone!

Love to all,

OCM 💜

Greed or Guilt: Asking Too Much or Just Wishing For More?

Now, I’m not sure if this is a vent, a series of ‘but why’ or even a collection of deep thoughts but I’m attempting to make sense of what it means to have a second child, to look at the logical aspects as well as the emotional.

There are questions without answers and plenty of food for thought, but stick with me – maybe you can help?

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If I had a pound for every time I was asked ‘so when are you going to have another?’ or ‘time for another baby soon hey?‘ I would be a little less crippled by a mortgage size nursery bill, have a little more money for a gym membership and maybe enough money to fund my morning coffee obsession, just for starters.

As I push all bad jokes aside, I started to question ‘how do I actually feel about this?’ I honestly started to feel put on the spot and a little exposed too; but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that wanting another baby was something I hadn’t put much thought into. It started making me feel an overwhelming concoction of emotions; this mixture of guilt, greed and emptiness began to sew itself with curiosity, excitement, and many wonders of what could be. It’s no secret that I’m not sure I am mentally ready to have another baby or to put my body under so much pressure again. Rory’s birth and my c-section recovery were traumatic and tough but part of me is slowly becoming obsessed with the fact Rory is now 18 months old – I know I want more children but how long of an age gap is too long?

Motherhood: Feeling Guilty, Going Back to Work, Having a Family

Growing up, I always used to say I wanted three children: a boy, then a girl, then whatever God would grace us with. To be honest, I don’t think the big G was so keen on 17- year- old me’s plans if Rory’s arrival into the world is anything to go by – this definitely gives me a small heartache when thinking about wanting Rory to have siblings. Growing up with a sister just 19months younger than me meant we were quite inseparable as kids; we dressed the same, we acted the same and always had one another. Yes, our teenage years were super rocky for sure but thick or thin, we pulled through because having a sibling is a bond for life with always a lesson to learn; whether it’s how to share or learn to care, how to steal clothes and go unnoticed or even how to sneak a passport for an underage boogie whilst getting caught and forking out £200 for a new one a week before holidays… We really have been through the lot and I wouldn’t change any of it for the entire world. It’s something I want Rory to have for sure.

With all of the above swimming in my mind, the idea of more children, and money worries, I made the decision to go back to work full time. After 12 months maternity leave and 3 months back part time, I knew if I didn’t make the move at that point then not only would I really struggle to adjust to full-time work, but I would really have to fight further down the line to get a job doing something I actually wanted to do. I also knew the longer I left it to make a final decision about a new job and my career, the further away potential family expansion would become. It just so happens that I was incredibly fortunate in landing a job I used to dream of but we had bigger worries on the horizon.

I took a big leap of doubtable faith when I took my current job and was left wondering if we could really afford for me to go back to work. As I mentioned earlier, crippling nursery bills is our little black rain cloud. At an amount that matches 85% of my wages a month nursery bills, could you just imagine the cost for two!? Bankruptcy and a resounding ‘no thank you’ to parting ways with so much cash is left ringing in my ears.  How are mothers of children under 2, 3 or 4 supposed to have a career, contribute to better their family, not seen to be having ‘time away from work’ and have that something for themselves when the whole system is against them and nothing short of fatally flawed. Team this with £40k in debt from university (I always call it fake debt I know but they’ll come knocking for it one day) and maternity leave which left me borderline bankrupt there is no wonder I have such little savings. FYI, statutory maternity pay is beyond a joke and at a grand total of £141 per week, which was a 57% pay cut for me, only covered 9 of the 12 months leave which really scrapes the icing off the cake, onto the floor, and into a deep dirty puddle. Like dropping the perfect 99-er into the sand on a sunny summer day – a total freaking liberty.

Aside from my money worries and what feels like pounds (lbs!) of career-guilt, I’ve now got a new anxious pot of thoughts sat waiting to be dished out; I’ll start with question one: WHY, oh why do I now feel greedy for wanting another baby? Why does it seem that even wanting to talk about it seems quite taboo and something a little shameful – why do I feel like I’m asking for more than I’m ‘allowed’? The worst is feeling like I’ve put so much effort and time (and money) into going back to work and fighting to make it work, how on earth am I supposed to put it all on pause to have another baby? There are a million external factors outweighing the positives of having another member of the family, it always seems to come down to ‘we can’t afford another baby’ but can anyone ever really afford a baby? I feel like I’ve jumped down a black hole of unknown thoughts, feelings, and landed in a pile questions with not a lot of direction. ‘Mom-guilt’ is something I think needs to be talked about more often and more openly; we should never be made to feel this way and supporting each other could be the ticket outta here – with this in mind, please send advice, help or if you have any experiences you’ want to share, I would LOVE to hear.

Motherhood: Feeling Guilty, Going Back to Work, Having a Family

I’m not sure feeling guilty or greedy is something that will last forever and I’m sure somewhere out there, there must be an answer for all this weird family and money maths; I just can’t think there isn’t something out there that would work for us and that could help us grow and not make us lose every penny in the process. Right now, it’s just looking like an unmarked path in the fog: no road signs, no help and no sense of direction.

To all those struggling to juggle it all but muddling through – I have a profound respect for you. For those never knowing which way to turn – I’m right here with ya!

Motherhood: Feeling Guilty, Going Back to Work, Having a Family

Love as always,
One Curious Mother .xo

 

Curiouser & Curiouser

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Welcome back, everybody! 

We’ll keep this one short & sweet as very soon we’ll have plenty to say…

Let me say thank you so much for coming back and ‘Hello, Welcome’ if you’re a new reader – it’s lovely to have you here. Over the past 3 or 4 weeks, we’ve been busy little bees and decided to have a blog spring clean. With a redesigned logo and website, we are taking a fresh new approach to how we will be using our blog and now our darling son is one, we will be heading into the second year of motherhood continuing to ask lots of questions – after all, we’re all curious here!

NEW POST COMING SOON

Love to all,
One Curious Mother xoxo

Mother for a Year: An Open Letter

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As we approach our little Rory’s first birthday I’ve decided to write myself an open letter, a letter to year-ago-me in the first days after giving birth. Things I wished I’d known, the advice I’d give myself and the hope that past-me really would have needed to hear.

I’m not going to waffle on before this, I’m going to let it speak for itself, so here goes nothing…

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Dear New Mama,

How you holding up?

I know you’ve had a difficult few days and you’re exhausted and emotional but your body has been through a lot in such a small amount of time. Bruised and drugged up to the eyeballs, I know you’re not feeling the full effects of your surgery yet but be nice to yourself, you undeniably deserve it.

I know you’re disappointed and upset. Surgery was the last thing you wanted but just remember, you were a fighter right to the bitter end. You were determined to birth your baby unaided and you did everything you could for this during those thirty-six hours. You produced a determination and strength within your body and within your mind that you never knew. You’re feeling damaged and defeated and it’s ok to feel that way – things didn’t go the way you wanted but you must never think of this as a failure. You absolutely did not fail. NEVER, ever, ever stop and think for one minute that you failed in this. You’ll read many articles, comments and blog posts this year about c-sections. You won’t believe how many people have opinions (and some don’t even have a uterus!) but please, don’t listen to all of them. People are always trying to convince women that a c-section was the ‘easy way out’ or that by having one you ‘didn’t really give birth’ but girl, you grew that baby with your body like a mighty warrior! The surgery was imperative to saving both your lives.

It’s ok to feel angry. Angry that you don’t recognise yourself, that your body is scarred and in so much pain. You’re angry that your body is still healing three, six, nine, eleven months later and it’s normal to feel this way. Start by stepping away from triggering social media. It’ll really hurt you. Stop looking at other mothers on Instagram that had a baby last week and lost 3lbs off their pre-baby weight already. Stop obsessing about those with post-baby abs – it’s not going to happen for you sweetie. Don’t beat yourself up about doing exercise. Take it at your own pace and stop looking at those ‘fit-moms’. Despite this, you should have done more of those exercises the physiotherapist gave you to do. Even though they were uncomfortable and make you ache, they were designed to help you even if it doesn’t feel that way but don’t be hard on yourself, it’s justifiable. Don’t worry about running or pushing yourself too hard. You’ll end up finding badminton is your sport and you’ll take up Waterbabies both you’ll really enjoy. It’s all about finding the new normal for you as a mama, not you as the size 10 young twenty-something year old – she has left the building and isn’t coming back. Always remember your body was pushed to the furthest limit; it’s still recovering and it might be for some time yet. You’re still recovering now, a whole year later and you still have appointments and consultations to come. I know this is crushing you and you’re going to take this really hard for a long long time but please be kind to yourself. You’ll try and take care of your body but trust me, those little extra TLC moments will help with your recovery in the long run.

Our little moments…

Really focus on those real mothers out there sharing every drama and every mini-triumph. There are moments when you’ll feel so lonely and isolated; it’s in the many dark moments to come, that these mothers will make you feel grounded and the ones who make you feel like you’re never truly alone. Never feel embarrassed to talk about your mental health. It’s always as important as your physical health. There are loads of resources out there to help you and your health visitor is number one. Don’t shy away like you used to. Remember in the past that this has caused more harm than good. If you want to cry then cry and if you want to be angry then you be angry. It’s ok to feel helpless and on some days for your anxiety to consume you – you’re only human and having a baby has challenged every ounce of you. Don’t hide away, confide more in those you love and they’ll help you step-by-step. Take longer walks; ‘Have baby, will travel’ – bundle little one up and try your best to walk as far as you comfortably can. The fresh air will help clear your mind and you’ll feel so much better for it. I know it’s hard to envisage but in just six months from now, you’ll go on your first family holiday as a three to Holland. It’ll be a fantastic first holiday and you’ll think back on it almost every day. It will bring you the happiest of memories and make you excited for future holidays.

Our first holiday: Holland

Don’t feel like you have to answer everyone’s questions and there will be millions. ‘How was it?’, ‘Are you having visitors?’, ‘Why are you home so soon?’ etc, etc. Don’t hide, if people ask about your birthing experience, own it. Tell them straight up how hard and traumatic it was, that surgery was gruelling and recovery is unimaginably hard. Equally, you don’t owe anyone an answer. ‘Are you thinking about more kids?’ Sure, you’ve always wanted a minivan full but right now: HELL NO! You’re not even going to want to entertain the thought and getting pregnant will truly terrify you from this moment on. You will spend hours thinking about this. It will enter your thoughts and creep into your mind when you least expect it: you’ll be at work, out for a walk or trying to eat. It will keep you up at night, make you feel instant dread and even make you panic. Don’t over think it – you’ll have plenty of time in the future to tackle those fears and right now, in recovery doesn’t have to be that time. Try your best to keep those precious night-time hours aside for sleep because god only knows you need it. You’ll learn to cope better with this as the months go by so if you don’t think you’ll get through it, my dear you will. You’re stronger than you realise.

Breastfeeding will come in time. Persevere and don’t fear the formula, it’ll become a saving grace when you’re feeling like you’ve tried everything. Once it all starts to run smoothly, you’ll feel such a sense of triumph as all your hard work does pay off.  Breastfeed wherever the hell you want! You’ll shy away and feel nervous, you’ll worry about other people looking or telling you not to in public but babe, if a baby has to eat a baby has to eat. You’ll avoid doing things at the fear of these very thoughts but looking back now, you didn’t need to be. This isn’t always how you’ll think, you do eventually get past this fear and realise you literally don’t care. ‘Insta-moms’ will help empower you with this one – #normalisebreastfeeding (normalize if you’re from across the pond!)

Leaving your baby after spending every waking minute together will be hard. Separation anxiety is totally normal, hell it’s part of the postpartum package alongside buckets of tears, body hatred and sleep deprivation. It’s the real frickin’ deal but don’t feel like everyone is trying to take the little man away. It’s ok to hate being away from him and you will feel like no one knows him like you do. You’ll feel like you’re the only one who can comfort him and you’re the one who went through so much to bring his little precious life earth-side that you don’t ever want to be away from him and quite frankly don’t want to share him with a soul. Really though, don’t feel rushed into being without him. Do every step in your own time and at your own pace, after all, no one can tell you exactly what to do and when to do it when it comes to you and your son. You do you and let everyone else fall in line. (By the way, this totally works and you didn’t have to feel bad because you did what was right for you!) You’ll learn how to let other people, family and loved ones, take the reins every once in a while. You’ll find a balance where you’ll go to those mother-baby classes and have some time for yourself too. It’s all about finding the new normal.

Too many shades of beige! 

Now lastly before I say goodbye, my last piece of advice: SOAK. IT. ALL. UP. Every little hour, minute and second because it will fly by. Rory is amazing. He’s smart and happy and the just the bee’s knees. He’s got a smile that’ll make you weak and a laugh that makes your heart burst; he’ll develop this amazing personality and you’ll love his sense of humour Look how perfect your little boy is! You’ll spend hours looking at him, working out who he looks like most, what colour his eyes really are and how on earth his skin is so soft. You’ll cry many, many times just watching him sleep wondering how you made something so perfect and so beautiful. Don’t worry – all mama’s do this, I’m sure of it.

Enjoy every high and low; every long night and rainy day, every cuddle and snuggle, every laugh and cry. Someone once told me ‘The days will feel long but the years will fly by’ and by god weren’t they right!?

Lots of love,
Future Mama xxxx

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I don’t feel like I need to say much more: my life has changed so much in just a mere twelve months. I’ve learned a lot along the way even though there is so much I wish I’d known before. I’ve dealt with things I never thought I would and although it’s been unimaginably tough at times, it’s those moments that have shown me just how rewarding motherhood can be.

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

PS. No sources for today’s post but here is a list of helpful links!
Postnatal Depression – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/symptoms/
Postpartum Anxiety – https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-type/postnatal-anxiety/
Parental Separation Anxiety – https://www.babble.com/parenting/parental-separation-anxiety/
Babies with Separation Anxiety – https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/separation-anxiety-0
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/ptsd-and-birth-trauma/#.WpwE7SOcZ-U
Birth Trauma – http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/help-support/what-is-birth-trauma
Loneliness – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201703/the-unexpected-loneliness-new-mothers
Peanut App – https://www.peanut-app.io

A Grand Afternoon: Christening Rory

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Today’s post will be brought to you by the letter ‘F’: Family, Fun & Fitzsimons!

For me, nothing is as important as family. It was instilled in me from a very young age that your family is your rock; you’ll love each other, protect each other and support each other in everything you do and when I was growing up we did just that. Of course, as we headed through some difficult times, we grew even stronger. Like many who lose a member of their family or have a parent in the forces, you pull yourselves together through the good and the bad and it’s made us so much closer as we’ve all grown older and newly expanded! As a mother now, I see it as my duty to my son to show him how important family is and create memories to last a lifetime.

Some of my favourite memories come from the many gatherings we had year after year. Family gatherings were a solid staple of my childhood: every birthday, every holiday and festivity. They never consisted of anything over the top or anywhere other than in a living room or back garden. We would spend hours sitting around chit-chatting, playing games, drinking a million cups of tea with never any danger of running out of cake. Come rain or shine we always had the best times together.

 

Feast Aplenty!

I still love those family get-togethers and still reminisce about our favourite moments of the past. I want our little man to cherish his own family memories the way that I do and carry them forth into his future. We’ve all had a birthday since little man was born, we’ve done his first Easter, Halloween, and Christmas and in just over three weeks’ time he’ll be ONE. After much deliberation (for around six months), we decided we wanted to have him christened and before his first birthday and hey, who doesn’t love an excuse for a party!? As a self-confessed Pinterest addict, I could easily spend 12 hours a day scrolling and pinning over and over with happily sacrificing sleep to find inspiration to make my life more colourful, easier or just to bring a bit more feng-shui to my life. This party was the perfect excuse to spend some time doing just that. After trawling through board after board, we decided to go with tradition. Pale blue as a staple colour for the decorations, we jumped on the bandwagon with oversized foil balloons and I personally designed the cake which our wonderful friend at Hannah Culley’s Cakes baked to absolute perfection – A victoria sponge top tier with a double chocolate lower tier and 50 lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd! (If you need a cake and you’re local to the South-West, check her out – links are at the end of my post!)

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Having the Holy Oil crossed on Rory’s forehead

The day was sunny but chilly and the service was just beautiful. We had a stand-alone service as there was nearly eighty of us so was lovely to have just us present for Rory’s special day. We were so fortunate to have all our family and closest friends surrounding us including all four of my grandparents too – having four generations present was really something special. Little man was well behaved throughout the service even though he didn’t think much of having his forehead bathed – his expressions are always pure gold! Our vicar was wonderful. She was funny and had a way with her that felt a lot like home. It’s been many years since I regularly attended church on a Sunday but Jane made us feel like we’d known her all along. She kept little man’s attention for the full forty-five-minute service and helped us belt a hymn or two. It was such a personal service with a beautiful reading of ‘Children Learn What They Live’ by DL Nolte read by my Papy. His soft welsh voice filled the church and made me feel so proud and grateful for my family. Rory was fascinated by the font and didn’t even flinch whilst having the holy oil or water placed on his forehead – the whole service was a huge success, to say the least.

 

St Bartholomew’s Church – My cute Papy reading the poem ‘Children Learn What They Live’

Once the service was done we headed down to the local pub/restaurant/hotel (and my old place of work) where we hired their function room: ‘The Ballroom’. We filled the room and spent four hours having the most amazing time catching up with friends who’d never met Rory, the family who’ve been living miles away and soaking up such a special occasion for our special little man. We decided on a mixed buffet of sandwiches, hot chicken, sausage rolls and crudités accompanied by teas & coffees and plenty of cake. We judged it spot on and there was barely anything left at the end. Chit-chatting away with crammed plates and huge slices of cake; it was the perfect recipe for a grand ol’ afternoon. After standing on a chair and thanking everyone for coming with what was a super short & sweet speech, little man had lots of cuddles, giggles and food followed by a nap for over an hour in amongst the hustle and bustle – I guess being center of attention is really tiring! We cut the delicious cake during naptime and were all finished in time for his royal highness to wake up for playtime. Then by 5 o’clock, as everyone started to leave, we took down the decorations and boxed up the cake. We were all partied out and started to fancy the chicken casserole mum had so wonderfully turned on in the slow cooker nine hours earlier – what an angel!

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Cake cutting with The Great-Grandma

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The months of planning, cake designing, invite writing, venue hunting and decoration collecting, when the day finally came it ran smooth like puddin’! Nobody was late or got lost en route, nobody argued or had too much to drink; everyone was fed, watered and happy all having had an amazing day. It was one I’ve definitely banked in my ‘favourite days so far’. Rory was utterly spoilt with so much love along with incredible and generous gifts, some which he’ll be able to treasure forever. This has been one family filled event to add to the never-ending list of family days that I’ll truly treasure forever.

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The FitzPriddings

Never take your family for granted. Always show them love, protect them and support them through life as you grow and learn together. It’s these memories you make that’ll bring you closer and last you a lifetime.

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

 

Source List:

Balloons – https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/occasions/party-supplies/balloons?filter=Themes~Letters/Colour~Silver/&followsearch=9716
Cake – https://www.facebook.com/culleyscakery
Cake Topper – https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/twentyseven/product/personalised-christening-cake-topper
Paper Fans – https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/blue-tissue-paper-fan-decorations-3-pack/620555-1001 (Silver not available online)

Rorys shoes – https://www.mothercare.com/first-walkers-and-crawlers/first-walkers-t-bar-shoes/LPC036.html?dwvar_LPC036_color=brown&dwvar_LPC036_footwearSize=2%20jnr&cgid=#q=brown+shoes&start=2 
Rorys suit – Monsoon Outlet (Swindon)

 

 

 

Our First Family Holiday!

CATCH UP POST NUMBER ONE – OUR HOLIDAY!

After scrolling through my previous posts and realising that a lot of them were very real and somewhat heavy topics, I decided it was time for a fun one: Our first family holiday! This post will be full of our first fabulous European adventure along with tips, tricks and hacks of how we survived and blooming’ loved our first family trip!

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Our Holiday Home

Four months ago, we took our first holiday as a family. Both nervous and excited, we decided to drive into Europe and up to Holland. Although my hate of ferries is very real, we got an early crossing from Dover to Calais and we used a wonderful company called ‘Eurocamp‘ for our accommodation. ‘Eurocamp’ are a wonderful company that rent out camping grounds, safari tents and a series of mobile-home style caravans across Europe.  Having used them in the past for holidays in France we decided to venture a little further-a-field and chose Duinrell, Wassenaar in Holland this time. (Eurocamp code ‘HL012‘) Whilst I had never been, K had once visited as a child and was eager to rediscover the country. We chose a campsite with plenty to do for all ages, made sure it had a pool and was near to plenty of sights to see whilst all being baby friendly. With Rotterdam 30 minutes away and Amsterdam just 60 minutes away, day trips were a comfortable car journey away.

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Snoozing Away

Whilst the journey from Calais to Duinrell wasn’t more than 4 hours, we decided that en route to we would make a pit stop in Antwerp, a place we’ve never been but always wanted to. WOW. We absolutely loved it. Adding a little luxury to our holiday, my parents brought us a night’s stay at the ‘Hilton, Old Town’ for K’s birthday. It was blooming beautiful and breakfast was just… make your own waffles is all I’m going to say! There was so much to see with the Grote Markt, long walkways down the riverside and restaurants & bars everywhere, we more than enjoyed eating a ridiculous amount of ‘Frites et Fritessaus‘ and Nutella smothered waffles. Following on from our hotel adventure, we had a short 2 hour drive on to Duinrell.

Antwerpen

The campsite was fantastic. With absolutely everything you would ever need onsite and about 10-minute walk offsite, it was perfect for families of all ages and sizes. On the campsite part of the site, they had a small supermarket shop in the same building as two restaurants, a pub and a bowling alley. Just by the entrance there was a huge pen full of bikes for hire. With a mixture of mountain bikes, kids bikes, trikes with baskets, baby seats, kids trailers and even go karts (for onsite use only) there was no excuse not to enjoy the many cycle paths in the countryside surrounding the site. In the amusement park part of the site there was much more to be enjoyed by older children and adults with several fast-paced rollercoasters along with mini-golf, token arcade and the ‘Tiki-Bad’ – an indoor and outdoor pool facility with many slides, a shallow baby play area, lazy river and wave machine. We delved into the pool twice in a week and only wished we’d had time to go again even though there was an extra cost of €5 per adult and free for under 2 year olds for 2 hours and €7 for 3 hours – Pretty cheap entertainment for a rainy afternoon!

Dinner Time!

Our caravan was just what we wanted. This particular time we opted for the ‘Esprit’: a slightly more upmarket version of the caravans available. Better than the budget ‘Classic’ but not quite as posh as the ‘Avant’. It was just right for us. It was the perfect size for the three of us, with two bedrooms, a toilet with separate shower room and a huge kitchen living area, there was plenty of space for us and all the baby kit too. One of our favourite things about Eurocamp (and one of the main reasons we will go back again and again) is that you can hire baby & toddler kit FOR FREE – yes you read that right! At absolutely no extra cost you can hire any of the following kit for your stay (proving they have it available course!): travel cot, bed rails, highchair, potty, baby bath and changing mat. This was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders as we only started introducing foods to little man the week before left! To add to these wonderful things, the beds were comfortable, the kitchen well stocked complete with 4 gas hobs and oven – we wanted for nothing.

Duinrell, Wassenaar

In terms of location it was close enough to larger towns and cities for day trips but far enough away to enjoy the countryside. We were just a 10-minute drive from ‘Hundestrand Wassenaar’ (the local beach), half hour drive from Rotterdam and an hour away from Amsterdam. We took advantage of these! The beach was beautiful and had SO MANY SHELLS. It was incredibly long so we only walked a section of it with the dunes lined with bars and restaurants which I imagine are bustling during the summer. Unfortunately, most were closed due to it being off-season but it was September and rather chilly so we were more than happy to get back in the warm after a long windswept walk.

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Hundestrand Wassenaar

Our first day trip was to visit Rotterdam Zoo – what can I say! One of the best zoos I’ve ever been to. Impulse decisions can sometimes backfire but this one did not disappoint. An old fashioned inner-city zoo that’s evolved with the times, the zoo has hundreds of animals in spacious enclosures clearly designed to mimic that of their natural habitats. It was a perfect mixture of zoo and aquarium with just so much to see. We easily spent 5 hours there and could have easily spent much more time there too. ‘Any advice?’ Take your own lunch. We ate before we left and took snacks but main eateries seemed to be far apart and again, due to it being off-season a lot of the smaller food stands were shut up. I can imagine during peak-season this would be much less an issue of course. It might also save you a few pennies for the gift shop too! There were plenty of benches to rest and picnic spots too – the whole zoo is quite large and with a six-month-old in a pram, these were perfectly placed. A 10 out of 10 from us and given the chance to go again, we would say yes, every time!

Rotterdam Zoo

Amsterdam. Another city we’ve wanted to visit but never got around to it. We were a little nervous about going with little man but to be honest, we had absolutely nothing to worry about. We paid ahead for underground parking right in the centre, we took his pram and a bag with everything he’d need – including his rain cover we absolutely needed – and we picked up a map when we got there and just started walking. We didn’t want to plan too much as doing anything with a baby can sometimes be unpredictable so we pin pointed a few of the main things we wanted to see and aimed for those. We decided to give the Anne Frank house a miss – with queues for days and no place to store a pram, this time just wasn’t right to visit this museum but definitely one for a future visit. We took an obligatory selfie by the ‘iamsterdam’ sign, walked over a million canal bridges, ate more waffles and found some cute vintage shops. It was such a lovely day and a good first city trip that I’m sure will go on to inspire many more.

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Coffee Shop Stop, Amsterdam

We really didn’t want our first holiday to come to an end. Packing up was done begrudgingly and the drive back to Calais was quiet as we thought back on all the adventure we’d had that week BUT we were not ready to go home so we made a stop off at Bruges en route home. Another city we’ve always wanted to go to but never found the time. We didn’t stop for long but managed to squeeze in a walk around the town, seeing Belfry Tower, a tour around the chocolate museum ‘Choco-Story’ and time for coffee and ice cream! It was the perfect end to a perfect week.

Bruges

A lot of people don’t see the point in taking a baby on holiday. I must say that now we’ve done it, I couldn’t disagree more! We know that our little man really won’t remember our first holiday, staying in a caravan, seeing Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam zoo or Bruges but for us it was a fantastic way to make first family memories for us parents. It isn’t all about your little one – you’re a family, a team and it’s now about you all – yay! We took thousands of photographs and we can’t wait to share them with our little man in the many years to come. What I will say though is that it was worth waiting until he was 6 months old. He was so much more aware of his surrounding, was awake for more of the day and was so happy to sleep just about anywhere and everywhere. Bottom line? Just book that holiday and enjoy every minute!

Not quite mastered a selfie yet!

It’s definitely one of our favourite memories and I can’t wait to see what adventures we have in store for next year!

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

Mr & Mrs: Does it really matter?

 

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‘So when are you guys going to get married?

Yes, I’ve decided to talk about that wonderfully awkward question. Why is it that if you’re heading towards 25 and have surpassed the 5-year anniversary mark, marriage becomes an instant hot topic? Well let me tell you, if you have a baby and out of wedlock, the conversations only become much more frequent. Now don’t get me wrong, getting married is something I want (something we both want) but it forever gets more and more awkward as old fashion tradition still appears to dictate a lot of finer details around marriage.

Pre-baby days – Who doesn’t have a go-to photo spot!? (aka the front door)

As a woman who believes in marriage and pretty much everything it stands for, it forever leaves me in an awkward position when people ask. There is usually an echo response from the right hand side to others that’s along the lines of ‘oh no, not yet‘ or a spiel about lack of money, want for other things, not the right time, etc. – all of which might be very well be true but still leads to some kind of awkward smile between you and your partner and no doubt a slightly sympathetic comment from the questioner that sounds something like ‘well all in good time‘. What is a woman who wants to get married supposed to do? Do you just wait to be asked? Is this too old fashioned? Is it too ‘cringe’ or ‘desperate’ to ask your boyfriend? In this modern day and age with equality, should you make a decision together? Why are there so many taboos around women wanting to be married – I have so many questions! The tradition of marriage is one that can sit quite uneasy with many modern day women. From becoming your husbands ‘property’, folding your identity with the change of a surname to giving up your rights to be a wife, these were once traditions that are now unapologetically out-dated. With the rise in Feminism and standing up for women rights worldwide, a light has continued to shine on changing practices and traditions that once saw women as nothing more than objects. How have things changed is the western world? Am I going to have to wait until my Dad gives my boyfriend his permission?

The media has always done a cracking job of keeping taboo subjects in circulation year in year out and to no surprise I had no trouble finding content on the subject of marriage online. Just over a month ago, I came across and article on Cosmopolitan online with the headline ‘Don’t Ask Your Girlfriend’s Dad if You Can Marry Her’ – What an eye catching title! After reading I found despite it being an article for American Cosmo, the content was still relevant. The article talks about how asking your girlfriends father to marry her has become an out-of-date, sexist practice which let’s be honest, is rather true. The tradition stands that the groom-to-be would ask the future brides father out of respect but Cosmo questions whether there was any respect spared for the bride-to-be at all. This dates right back to when getting married was seen as a ‘change in ownership’ of the woman she was to become her husbands property. Fair to say this is no longer the case for the majority but worryingly will still be a normal practice in some cases.

Cosmo found that in 2015 in a survey carried out my TheKnot.commore than three quarters of men ask for permission from their partner’s father or parents before they propose. By contrast, only 58% of brides say they knew a proposal was coming, but just weren’t sure when – for 40%, it was a complete surprise. In other words, more men talk to their girlfriend’s father about a plan to marry than talk about marriage, in serious and relatively immediate terms, to the woman they actually want to marry.’ Now isn’t this ridiculous?! Going back to my point about feeling somewhat ashamed of wanting to get married and not wanting to wait around to be asked – ARE WE SURPRISED!? For decades women haven’t had a say in this decision-making process and with the rise in Feminism, this was bound to change. Despite the negative connotations around asking a girlfriends dad to marry her, the article goes on to say that in modern times it should be all about total inclusion. Marriage should be an on going discussion between a couple even if ‘will you marry me’ is asked instead of mutual agreements and that ‘it’s possible to involve all of your parents in a conversation about your impending marriage in a respectful way‘ which I totally agree with. For me marriage isn’t just another step to take or another event to plan, it’s about declaring your love as well as becoming that team, a united front and being a family taking on the world together so would be more millennial to include both your families.

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The Fitz/Priddings

What makes me want to get married? I think it’s a combination of love, trust and sometimes-questionable tolerance for one another and that humble connection that brings happiness and keeps you grounded. It’s the joy you bring one another and the commitment that defines your relationship. Adding a baby into the mix is a serious decision but it’s one that has nonetheless made our relationship stronger. With these thoughts and reasons in mind, marriage always enters the discussion here; as for me I am bothered on astronomical levels that our son and I don’t share a last name. For me, it goes back to what I previously said about being one unit. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t be ‘one’ and that it should be compulsory to take your partners surname (they could take yours or neither) but for me it makes me feel very separate from my boys. In 2014, in an article by The Guardian, it was found that between 2009 and 2014 an estimated 600,000 women had been stopped whilst travelling with their own children with a fair few being noted as being a result of having differing surnames. This mortifies me and the idea of being stopped to prove I am my son’s mother sounds nothing short of arduous.

My boys

Aside from my personal feelings, the bigger thing for those around us is the legal side of having a child and being unmarried. Turns out that if you have a baby out of wedlock, the only one who truly has responsibility for that child is the mother. Now automatic parental responsibility also goes to the husband or female married partner of the child’s birth mother if they are treated as the child’s legal parent or if you are an adoptive parent… But what actually is ‘parental responsibility’? The Citizens Advice Bureau explains that parents/guardians with parental responsibility are entitled to have a say in all areas of the child’s life such as the where they will live, their health, education, religion, name, money and property. Parental responsibility then lasts until the child reaches 18 or gets married between 16 and 18. Who can get parental responsibility? If you don’t have parental responsibility, you might be able to get it. You can get parental responsibility for your child by in the following ways: ‘registering (or re-registering) the birth of your child together with the child’s mother, making a parental responsibility agreement with the mother and registering it at court, obtaining a parental responsibility order, becoming the child’s guardian (which would only take effect on the mother’s death) or marrying the mother.’ The biggest worry for me is if anything should happen to either of us (*touch wood*), what happens to our little man? What are we legally entitled to? After digging a little further I came across these explanations: ‘Living together – If one partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything unless the couple owned property jointly. As an unmarried couple, you need to make wills if you wish to make sure that the other partner inherits. If one partner dies without leaving enough in their will for the other to live on, the surviving partner may be able to go to court to claim from the estate. If you inherit money or property from an unmarried partner, you are not exempt from paying inheritance tax, as married couples are. Marriage – When your married partner dies, you will inherit under the will of the dead partner if it makes provision for you. If either married partner dies without making a will, the other will inherit all or some of the estate.’ What have I learnt? We basically get nothing unless we get married or have a will… we don’t have the latter (*googles ‘writing a will’*). Even if you don’t have a child, marriage binds you both legally in many different ways and whether we like it or not, trying to break tradition isn’t always easy and the subject of marriage is no different. Getting married still holds a lot more significance than just love.

One year makes a huge difference

I never really thought that the order of either getting married or having babies would make much of a difference to my life. Always knowing I wanted both, I set aside the traditional marriage then babies ideal when I got pregnant just over a year ago now, I’m not sure I would have chosen to have a baby before marriage now knowing how it would make me feel and what it would legally mean. With all of the things I have discussed about my personal opinion, tradition and the coverage in the media, I have definitely come to the conclusion I now feel being unmarried with a child does make a difference. Maybe it will change in the future but I’m sure it’ll be ‘all in good time’!

 

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

PS. If you have children and you’re not married or if you are and you have had any positive or negative experiences with deciding to get married, sharing surnames or anything else – I would love to hear from you!

 

Sources:
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/living-together-marriage-and-civil-partnership/living-together-and-marriage-legal-differences/#h-children
https://theparentconnection.org.uk/articles/parental-responsibility-for-unmarried-couples
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a12107658/ask-bride-father-permission-proposal-engagement/
https://www.brides.com/story/asking-fathers-permission-before-proposing
https://www.theknot.com
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/may/12/passport-control-border-children-parents-different-surnames