An Open Letter To Anyone Who Struggled This Mothers Day

If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you will perhaps have already seen the Mothers Day post I wrote first thing yesterday morning. But incase you missed it, here it is…

Happy Mothers Day ❤

I know today is not always the happy day that it is sometimes expected to be. For alot of SEND parents, for example, it can be quite the opposite; the ‘demand’ (even if only perceived, not an actual expectation), the anxiety of ‘getting it right’, the change from the norm – all of it can lead to a difficult day for everyone.

Or maybe you are dealing with a bereavement. Or your family just isn’t around. There are so many reasons why today might be tough…

So whether there is a specific reason… or your kid simply decides that today is THE day to get out of the wrong side of bed and throw the most epic of tantrums ALL DAMN DAY… this post is for you. To all the mummas who feel sad, or frustrated, or under- appreciated right now; I am here to tell you that you rock! And it’s okay not to feel okay. Today or any other day.

May your rain lead to rainbows and may tomorrow be a brighter day! Love and strength to you all 🌈 ❤😘 xxxx

A selfie of Katie Living Life Our Way with rainbow drawings border

Alongside the post, I shared this selfie.

Why A Selfie?

I already knew, even at that time of the morning, that there would be no Mothers Day pictures to share. No cards. No presents, flowers or chocolates. No meals. No outings. No recent photos of my mum. Nothing.

(Although to be fair later in the day I did get a few cute photos of me sat on the sofa with Squiggle but I wouldn’t share those for privacy reasons anyway).

Sure, I could have used a stock image of a pretty bunch of flowers or box of chocolates but it just seemed abit inauthentic. So the picture is just to remind other mums that you aren’t alone! There is a real person behind these words, and I get how you feel. After all, I am that mum too.

Social Media Highlights

People on Facebook and other social media are often accused of only showing the highlights of their lives too though. Well yeah, sometimes that is certainly true – but so what? Way I see it, even if it was just one good moment out of the whole day, then you are blessed with that moment and why not share that with the world?! There is nothing wrong with focusing on the positives and sharing them for everyone to celebrate with you! So when you see others’ newsfeeds, please remember that people aren’t trying to make you feel bad or show off how amazing their life is – they are just the highlights!

Let’s all be cheerleaders in one another’s lives – goodness knows we certainly all need it at some time or another! As I said in my earlier message; sending love and strength to all those who need it. Together, we got this! ❤💪

(As a side note, the picture wasn’t meant to look so ‘posed’ by the way; it was taken at 3am after zero sleep (thanks to Squiggle pulling an all- nighter, yet again) and I was just trying to hide the fact I had massive bags under my eyes, haven’t done my eyebrows in forever, no make up (obviously!) and have very messy, unstyled hair. Oh, and I was sporting a scratch on my cheek from an earlier meltdown too! So I was just doing my best to erm… ‘style it out’ shall we say lol! But I mention this all now because, to be honest, I did kind of cringe when I looked back at the photo later in the day and wondered what others might think of my sleep- deprived choice! Oh well!)

Lots of love,

Katie xx

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success

As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy and healthy children with a bright future. We want to know that we’re doing everything we can to do what’s best for them, and once you have a child this little person is suddenly the most important thing in your life, you value it above your own. But knowing what we need to do to make sure we’re setting our children up for success can be a struggle, after all, no one knows what the future holds. However with that being said, there are a few things we can do that will always benefit our kids in later years, regardless of the direction they go in. Here are some ideas…

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success title with black and white image of child sat on adult's knee in a living room reading a book.

Teach Them The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. The leading cause of death in the third world is heart disease, which for the most part is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore teaching our children about the importance of health and setting a good example for healthy habits is crucial. Keep processed food, sweets and junk out of the house as much as possible, and try to avoid using them as treats or rewards, as this teaches children a bad mindset towards these things.

Cook healthy and delicious meals at home- include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and other fresh raw nutricious ingredients. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for family friendly meals, and if you’re pushed for time you could try batch cooking at weekends. That way you have access to lots of frozen, healthy meals you cooked yourself and are far less likely to buy something convenient yet unhealthy and expensive. Also, numerous studies have shown that families that eat together raise happier and more balanced children, who tend to be slimmer and healthier. So if you currently feed the children and adults in your house separately it’s worth making a change.

Exercise is also very important, kids are naturally energetic so it shouldn’t be difficult for them to get in the hour of moderate to vigorous activity they need a day. The trick is to make it fun, avoid it feeling like a chore. You could go on family hikes or bike rides together at the weekend. Or take them swimming, trampolining or to a class they enjoy, such as dance or martial arts. Even hire a bouncy castle or buy a large trampoline for your back garden and they’re sure to have hours of fun activity with very little input needed from you. Getting into these healthy habits and seeing exercise as something that’s fun and enjoyable is something that will most definitely set them up for future success.

Think About Finances

Starting out as a young adult can be difficult. It’s more of a struggle to get onto the property market now than it ever was- and it’s set to get worse. By planning for your child’s future, you can give them an advantage once they’re older. Some money towards a mortgage deposit could help them onto the property ladder which might have otherwise been impossible for them. You could either put money into a savings account, or make a smart investment such as buying some property. A studio apartment or small flat wouldn’t be too expensive, you could then put away the money you earn from it each month into savings for your child. When they’re older, they could even live in it while they get established with their career or attend a local college or university. This would save on fees for halls or renting a student house, but still give them the independence they will be craving at that age.

Keep Them Curious

Children are naturally curious about the world, and keeping this magic alive is what will give them a great capacity to learn and do well in their education. Take them to galleries and museums, go on woodland walks with fun worksheets from Pinterest where you tick off the things you see. Take them rock pool fishing and teach them about the creatures they catch, go to the farm or zoo and tell them all about the animals. Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with books, keeping kids curious and giving them a thirst for knowledge is a fantastic way to set them up later in life. With a passion to learn they’re more likely to do well in future, and a good education paves the way for gaining the skills they need to later on enjoy satisfying career that they love.

Read to your kids often, sing songs, make up stories together. Do puzzles, teach them how to bake or sew. It’s all new, fun and exciting for kids and you help them to develop passions and hobbies that can help them meet new friends and develop their skills.

Photo of a happy laughing family having a water fight with buckets of water

Encourage Them To Be Empathetic

Empathy, being able to see things from another person’s perspective and feel genuine emotions towards them seems like the most human thing in the world. However this is not a trait we are born with, those who grow up without learning how to empathise don’t show it later on, their brains do not develop in the same way. Being empathetic, sensitive and able to understand the emotions of others helps people to develop meaningful friendships and later on relationships- it helps them to become a good person.

Encourage empathy by praising empathetic behaviour, avoiding anger and encouraging kids to talk about their feelings. Being able to label your own feelings as a child is very useful, as when others speak about how they feel the child is able to understand what it means and feels like.

One option for teaching kids empathy is to take them volunteering. Feeding the homeless, helping out at a children’s hospital, volunteering at an animal shelter or at a care home can all allow them to experience different emotions of others, and learn how it feels good to help. Growing up in touch with their emotions as well as being able to perceive others will allow them to create meaningful and lasting bonds with others.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

My Breastfeeding Story: From Latching Difficulties, Mastitis and Exploding Boobs To A Beautiful Extended Breastfeeding Relationship

To mark the end of world breastfeeding week, I am taking a look back at my breastfeeding journey. Here is my story…

I was very determined to breastfeed but our journey got off to a rough start after my c-section. (You can read my birth story here). I found it really difficult to begin with; I couldn’t get the latch right, she was unsettled and fidgety, and I was recovering from the birth. She was fractious and had to have blood tests to check her sugar levels. I was warned she would have to be topped up with formula if things didn’t improve, which left me feeling stressed and upset. I felt as a new mum that my very first choices as a parent were being undermined. If I remember rightly, during my two day stay in hospital I was told several times that the lactation consultant would see me but I don’t recall they did.

Once home, we continued to have lots of problems with latching on. The midwife was bolshy and grabbed at my breast heavy handedly, trying to get her to latch. I felt… well maybe violated is too strong a word… but uncomfortable would be an understatement. It didn’t help. I was ridiculously sore everytime I fed her and so I was recommended nipple shields. I think they may have been helpful and necessary in our case but they also interferred with the natural dynamics of breastfeeding and were fiddly.

She was also jaundiced so we were advised by the midwife that we had to feed every 2 hours around the clock, which meant we weren’t feeding on demand and she got into bad habits of having little and often, and waking frequently. I got mastitis twice, plus we rushed to hospital with an ‘exploding’ boob! (This is not as bad as it sounds; it was just a burst blood vessel. But when my daughter looked up at me with a mouthful of blood that I thought was hers, it gave me a fright that’s for sure!) All in all, our breastfeeding relationship was off to a pretty rocky start!

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I don’t think things really clicked and got easier until after 4 months, which felt like forever at the time! By then, I was also incredibly self conscious about breastfeeding in public because I was finding it so tough to get it right even in the privacy of my own home. My answer to this was to express bottles to use whenever I went out anywhere. This was a good temporary solution for me as it meant I felt confident going out and socialising and I think if I hadn’t have done that I probably would have been more likely to just give up breastfeeding completely, but it probably did prolong the issues in the longer run. 

I was close to giving up many times but it did finally get easier. I was glad I perservered, as I eventually got to experience how natural and easy it can be. Looking back, that difficult time seemed such a distant memory and I could see that those few months were such a short period in the scheme of things.

I ended up extended breastfeeding full term. I would call it self-weaning but in reality it wasn’t because my milk dried up after several years. She easily accepted it though so I guess she was ready, even though it technically wasn’t her choice. 

The bottom line is I did what I felt best at the time, and right for our family. And that is exactly what I think others should do too, regardless of what decision that is.

What Does Family Mean To You? #FamilyMadeSimple 

What does family mean to you? The truth is, family means different things to everyone. Long gone are the days of 2.4 children as standard. I look around me at friends and aquaintences, and I see a wonderfully diverse range of family units that include single parents of both genders, same sex couples, multicultural families, married and unmarried partners, and blended families. In addition to the childless couples, family sizes range from one child to half a dozen or more. Some families live in close proximity, whilst other (still close knit) families are geographical far apart. Some are related by blood, others aren’t. There is no standard; every family is beautifully unique in one way or another.

For us, whilst I wouldn’t consider my own family unit particularly diverse, we do have an only child, with no plans to extend our family; it feels complete already. Our family lifestyle is somewhat different to most too, in that we home educate Squiggle rather than taking the traditional schooling route. I guess that shows how modern family life can differ in other ways too!

The following infographic What Makes A Family? has been produced by Slater and Gordon Family Lawyers and has some interesting stats and information about modern families.

#FamilyMadeSimple, Slater and Gorden, family law, modern family life, general life, parenting, lifestyle

What does family mean to you? 

I asked some fellow bloggers this question. Some came up with lovely, sentimental and insightful answers…

Family means Christmas Day, Sunday lunches and the only kind of hugs that make you feel better.Planes, Trains and Meltdowns

Family means those who you can rely on and who support you and make you happy! Family is not just blood. The Smallest of Things

Love, support and understanding.The Incidental Parent

Family means everything to me. My Mother doesn’t do anything with me, and my kids and I think that’s one big reason to why I keep the rest of my family close. They are the ones I can go to if I need a chat and we’re always there for each other.Life As Mum

Being together through thick and thin. Being happy to be just spending time with family, whether you are on a fun day out or relaxing at home.Dillydrops

To me, my close family are the people who know me better than anyone else, who I can completely be myself around, and who love me without judgment. And vice versa.Five Little Stars

Someone to support you through the tough times and celebrate the small victories!Two Hearts One Roof

Family means to me being around people who want to spend time with me and will be there with me no matter what. Always have my back and stand up for me.The Mum Diaries 

Whilst others had a more witty, lighthearted response…

People to argue with that are available on tap.The Money Shed

But Beth really sums it up perfectly…

Quite simply – Everything ❤️ ~ Twinderelmo

So, what do you think makes a family? Tell me in comments and/ or join in the discussion on social media using the hashtag #FamilyMadeSimple

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Slater and Gordon Family Lawyers.

My Pregnancy Care Story: The Highs and Lows

Good patient care throughout pregnancy, birth and post-natal is essential; it affects our body’s ability to heal from pregnancy and birth. Experiencing poor medical care or negligence during this time can not only lead to injury but also contribute to developing mental health issues such as postnatal depression or anxiety, which could potentially affect future decisions. It could also make it more difficult to care for our child (and any older siblings too), delay recovery or impact on enjoyment of life.

Yet did you know that, despite extensive guidelines in the UK about how pregnancy and birth should be handled by professionals, 25% of women felt that they were not always involved in decisions about their care? (CQC Maternity survey). Furthermore, there is limited government guidance on post-natal care for mothers, and Mumsnet aftercare, not afterthought survey reveals worrying experiences in some cases. For example, 45% could not access required pain relief, 61% lacked food when needed and 21% had no access to water, plus 19% did not have access to washing facilities.

On this note wants to help raise awareness of what to expect from healthcare professionals, and what to question, in order to empower new parents to know their rights as a patient during pregnancy. They have done some research into women’s experiences of pregnancy and birth on the NHS, and have pulled together some interesting statistics on how some women were treated during their pregnancy and labour. You can find further details on their blog.

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My own maternity care had its ups and downs. I had a fairly smooth pregnancy but there was a small bump in the road when, during my 20 week scan, I was told that my baby had a severe cleft lip. We were referred to a consultant but it turned out to be a false alarm. I understand mistakes happen but I did feel that it was not dealt with very well, and it left me feeling quite nervous for the rest of my pregnancy. 

The birth itself was somewhat traumatic; my plan was to have a natural water birth in a midwife-led unit, but I wound up having an emergency c-section instead. I’ll try to keep a long story (fairly!) short but basically my waters broke at home, before I had even noticed any real contractions, and there was very clearly meconium. So I headed straight to hospital and was sent up to the labour ward to (reluctantly) be hooked up to monitors. I was not allowed to eat during this time as they were already preparing for the likelihood of me going into theatre sooner or later, which made me feel impatient, stressed and miserable to be honest because I was really hungry!

However, the midwives and consultant respected my preference to give birth naturally if possible, but I was induced to speed things along. My contractions then started coming fast and strong very suddenly and at this point it became more obvious that my baby was in distress. They waited as long as possible but I failed to dilate at all (I was not even at 1cm!) so it was agreed I would most likely be needing to head to theatre sooner rather than later. I was being closely monitored and waiting for an available anaesthetist, but then a crash c-section happened so they were rushed in ahead of me. By the time the team were available again, I was fast heading towards a crash situation too.

It all happened so quickly I honestly cannot remember how much ‘choice’ I was given at this time, but I did feel like I was kept informed and I fully understood that it was just a difficult situation that had limited options. I was wheeled to theatre so hurriedly though that they almost forgot that they hadn’t given me an epidural! It wasn’t an issue as such, it just meant that I had to have a spinal block instead, but I did panic for a moment at their ‘oversight’! I remember my partner being sent off to put on scrubs and me screaming that they could not start until he was in the room. Then I recall him worrying that my heart dropped so low, but everything was abit of a blur after that.

One negative thing that did stand out for me happened straight afterwards, once I had been stitched up and was ready to leave theatre. The spinal block had meant that I lost the use of feeling in my arms and upper body too; this is apparently not usual. However, when I tried to tell the midwives this they dismissed me. I then got worried that they placed my baby in my arms to head to the recovery suite but I really couldn’t feel her, let alone safely hold her, so I asked for my partner to take her instead under the circumstances. But the midwives gave each other a ‘look’ as if they didn’t believe me, which understandably made me feel stressed about the total physical numbness, as well as helpless and guilty about something that in reality was entirely beyond my control and not my fault.

However, there were some positives too; it was obvious that they were trying to salvage any scrap of my birth plan that they could, which really helped me to cope better and it made it feel all abit less out of my control. For example, they played my CD in theatre and asked her dad if he wanted to cut the chord, as I had requested. Little things like that made all of the difference; it helped me to feel respected and valued. The simple fact is that things don’t always go to plan; it is what it is.

maternity, pregnancy, birth, postnatal, postpartum, medical care, newborn, baby, new parents, parenting, Your Legal Friend, Living Life Our Way

My hospital postpartum care was a mixed bag of contradicting advice and unsympathetic midwives with some who were absolute gems. I regained feeling after several hours but my mobility was still limited from the op and also from a drip in my elbow. (It got pulled from my hand several times until there were no other veins left!) However, I had drink and food available, plus washing facilities and pain relief so that ticked most of the boxes. My daughter was also extremely fractious throughout our 48 hour postpartum stay and had to have blood tests, which made things more challenging than they might have otherwise been. But to be honest I think she just needed a more comfortable environment – she just wanted to get home as much as I did! We both just couldn’t wait to be discharged!

maternity, pregnancy, birth, postnatal, postpartum, medical care, newborn, baby, new mums, parenting, Your Legal Friend, Living Life Our Way

When it comes to pregnancy care there are a few points to remember:

  • Pregnant women have the same rights as everyone else when it comes to making decisions about their body. 
  • Genuine and informed consent must be given for medical treatments (unless you are unconscious or otherwise unable to). You should be told the risks, and should not be bullied or pressurised into decisions. 
  • Your birth partner can be a great advocate, so make sure they understand your birth plan and rights. 
  • A final point I would add is that I asked for a de-brief with my midwife and a copy of my maternity notes, but this did not happen. I think that is a massive shame as it would have really helped me to process everything better. I really recommend that mums request this if they think it would be helpful and please definitely do pursue it if you get fobbed off at first or forgotten. I wish I had! 

    How was your pregnancy care? Share your story in comments!

    *Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Your Legal Friend.

    My & Me Jewellery – Turning Children’s Artwork into Beautiful Silver Charms 

    My&Me Jewellery turns children’s artwork into beautiful items of silver jewellery to treasure forever. Founder, Maxine, got her inspiration from the creative doodles of her 6 year old daughter, after she came across a page of the young artist’s artwork in her jewellery sketchbook one day. Much to her little girl’s delight, she decided to make one into a pendant; and it got such a great response that the concept of My&Me Jewellery was born. 

    MyandMe Jewellery, jewellery, keepsake, silver, art, gift ideas, parents
    Squiggle’s seal character drawing made into a beautiful silver heart pendant.

    Maxine works from a small studio in South Harrow. She also teaches classes and will soon be running workshops for parents to make their very own My&Me Jewellery with BaB courses. This practical workshop will be organised with the attendees convenience in mind; parents can bring babies, toddlers and home ed kids along with them and they will be entertained in the same room while parents can enjoy the workshop without the issue of childcare. Brilliant thinking! 

    The range includes shaped silver charm pendants priced from £49 for a single charm to £124 for a pendant with four charms. Or opt for a disc shaped or heart shaped engraved single charm bracelet or necklace (£55). These lovely items of jewellery would make a fabulous gift or a wonderful treat for yourself!

    You can find them over on facebook and instagram.

    ***Giveaway now closed***

    Competition closed 12th May 2017. 

    How Do You Entertain Your Children? 

    As a home educator, I spend alot of time with my daughter. We play, talk, research and do activities together, or go to classes, out on adventures and meet up with friends. Aside from the usual parenting duties, I view my role mainly as learning facilitator and to support her development in all areas. However, for the most part, I don’t see it as my job to entertain her per se. But of course there are times when I do need to keep her entertained for one reason or another, or rather help her to entertain herself! 

    So how do parents choose to do this? Do you reach for a tablet, grab a book or get out board games? Or maybe you have a different approach? Rattan Direct are conducting a survey to find out more about how parents entertain their children. (Click here to complete the survey) 

    activities at home, family fun, parenting, Rattan Direct, survey

    The survey asks questions such as which room in the house do your children spend the most and least amount of time; do they tend to hide out in their bedroom or do you all socialise in the living room together? Or perhaps they are most likely to be outside in the garden rather than in any room at all! 

    What do you prefer to use as entertainment at home for your children; books, board games, gaming or TV? How about on car journeys? Do you struggle to entertain your children or not? And what are your thoughts on technology; is it a good way to entertain your children, do you think it is educational and do you think it affects their sleep?

    activities at home, family fun, parenting, Rattan Direct, survey

    Personally I think technology can be educational and I think whether or not it affects sleep depends on the individual child. I do not personally use it as entertainment for Squiggle but that is down to our personal preferences and mainly due to her needs too. 

    We are most often in the living room or the garden. She often grabs a book or magazine to look at, or chooses to do some drawing or writing as an independent activity if I am busy for a few minutes, whereas games tend to be something that we play together. If we are going on a journey, she takes some toys to play with in the car and listens to music.

    activities at home, family fun, parenting, Rattan Direct, survey

    The final questions ask about furniture; for example, what do you look for in new furniture now that you have children? For us, there are alot of factors to consider but cost is important and durable is an absolute must! 

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this survey, leave your comments below!

    *This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

    #TimeToTalk Mental Health 

    As it is Time To Talk day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some facts about mental health.

    Time To Change, Mental Health, #timetotalk, mental illness, Living Life Our Way

    Mental health can affect anyone of any age, at any time. In the UK alone, one in four adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001). Furthermore, one in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. (The Office for National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005).

    People of any age suffering from mental health issues need to be taken seriously and supported by those around them. The stigma that sometimes still exists around this subject in our society must be broken down, because people need to talk openly about mental health problems with the expectation of understanding and acceptance. Sufferers must never feel they have to hide their true feelings from the world, for that is the most dangerous thing of all.

    However, as MQ Mental Health research suggests, the majority of young people are not in touch with mental health services and there is a serious lack of funding for such services too. In addition to this, around half of young people with mental illness are concerned about stigma and how they will be treated. This has to change.

    As a parent of a child with an anxiety disorder, I know how important it is to talk about this subject and to ensure your child receives the treatment and support they need. Childhood mental health needs to be taken as seriously as adult mental health, and that also should be seen as just as important as any other health issue. But many people believe young children cannot possibly suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues; this is simply not the case. And having a ‘happy childhood’ does not guarantee against it either.

    As an article from The Guardian explains “depression (like all mental illnesses) typically doesn’t take personal factors into account. Mental illness can affect anyone….

    …Smoking may be a major cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can end up with it. And a person’s lifestyle doesn’t automatically reduce their suffering. Depression doesn’t work like that…

    …Perhaps none of it makes sense from a logical perspective, but insisting on logical thinking from someone in the grips of a mental illness is like insisting that someone with a broken leg walks normally; logically, you shouldn’t do that.”

    I’ll leave you from the following message from Jason Manford, written shortly after the death of Robin Williams:

    “If you feel alone and down, anxious and low. If you feel deep sadness but can’t find a root cause. If people tell you to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘things can only get better’ or ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, know that it’s simply not always true. Sometimes it does kill you. Please seek help. No one will think you’re being melodramatic, I swear. No one will think you’re silly or wasting people’s time. No one will say ‘what? But you’re always so happy, maybe you’re just having a bad day’. For some people, every day is a bad day and they get through it, but sometimes they stop getting through it.

    If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world’s greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time. If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague. I always remind myself of the quote from Watchmen: “Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” 

    Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don’t want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP. The world needs you even if you don’t think it does. I promise, we need you here, now.” (Jason Manford, August 2014)

    If you need more information on mental health and/or where you can find help please visit  You can also find a therapist at

    *This is a sponsored post.

    Game Play Has No Negative Affect On Children?

    A UK longitudinal study carried out on over 11, 000 children by the Medical Research Council at the University of Glasgow concluded that:

    • Watching TV for 3 hours or more daily at 5 years predicted increasing conduct problems between the ages of 5 years and 7 years.
    • No effects of TV at 5 years were found on hyperactivity/inattention, emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems or prosocial behaviour.
    • Playing electronic games at 5 years was not associated with increased risk of problems.

    The results are interesting but I do feel rather than take them at face value, it is important to think about the study itself. The original research paper can be found on the British Medical Journal website.

    Firstly, the most obvious point is perhaps that it is carried out by survey and therefore relies on the parent’s perspective of their child, and also assumes they have tracked screen time correctly and recorded it accurately. Although the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) given to the parents to complete is described as “a widely-used survey instrument with high validity and reliability,” I have carried out the questionnaire personally and feel the questions themselves are rather subjective and the tick box answers very restrictive. In addition, each parent’s perspective on what the terms themselves mean, how the questions and answers are interpreted and parent’s perception of the children themselves will inevitably vary greatly. For example, one question states is the child “obedient”. Define obedience. Is the child obedient in which situations? What factors does it depend on and is this relevant? And how to then answer accurately with the limited options of not true, somewhat true or certainly true? Even the mood of the parent at the time of completing the SDQ or events taken place just prior could change the answers. Without a more holistic picture of the child, the questionnaires can not be assumed to be at all accurate, in my opinion.

    Secondly, the study sets out to look at direct links between amount of screen time and mental health, ignoring the potential indirect affects. “Links between screen time and mental health may be indirect, rather than direct, for example, via increased sedentary behaviour, sleeping difficulties and language development.” If mental health is indirectly affected this should be equally noted in the conclusion in order to give a clear and unbiased presentation of the results. The other thing noted in the research itself and I feel relevant personally, is that the study was only carried out to show the effects on children up to aged 7. These are not long term results, there is no point of reference later in childhood or even into adult life. I think it is important to consider possible delayed effects that might not show up until later in life.

    Also, the types of games played and nature of programmes watched were not taken into account and this is perhaps far more relevant than the amount of screen time. “There was also no information on weekend use, or the content or context of early screen time. Other research has indicated the importance of content for aggression and attentional problems in young children. Screen time in the context of parental restrictions or discussion of content may moderate negative effects.” The study itself suggests further study in this area is needed. “The study highlights the need for more detailed data to explore risks of various forms of screen time, including exposure to screen violence.”

    Gaming, negative affects, mental health, behaviour, SEND, parenting childhood, research, living life our way
    Stock photo (image not my own)

    In addition, studies should further examine the associated child and family characteristics which appear to account for most of the simple associations between screen exposure and psychosocial adjustment. What is appropriate for some is not appropriate for others, particularly in content.

    However, the biggest point that the study itself mentions but that is not highlighted in reports of the findings, is the many factors that can affect how a child is effected by screen exposure. “For problem scores (conduct, hyperactivity/ inattention, emotional and peer relationship), detailed modelling (not shown) indicated that the set of maternal and family characteristics produced the greatest reduction in the effect of screen exposure; followed by adjustment for child characteristics. For prosocial scores, family functioning measures produced the greatest reduction in the effect of screen exposure.” This might seem obvious to many but I feel there can be a danger of oversimplifying the summary of results and not taking into account the other factors and, most importantly, the child themselves as an individual.

    So do I think that there is a case for limiting screens? Yes and no. It depends entirely on the context. Limitations might be in time, or could be in content only. It might not be an imposed limitation necessarily, it could be mutually and respectfully agreed upon by the entire family. Sometimes the child might set their own limitations because they have decided for themselves that they are not comfortable with the content, or would simply rather do other things with their time. It might not be an arbitrary rule but rather stem from a very genuine and obvious need for it. The adults in the house may also limit their own screen time to meet the needs of the family. What works for one family may well be very different to another.

    The fact is that everyone has different needs and I feel we need to be accepting and understanding of this in all aspects of life, screens are no different. Individuals are exactly that, individual, so the assumption that there is a right or wrong answer as to whether or not screens have any negative effects is, I feel, misguided. Families need to support their children in meeting their own needs rather than be guided by research one way or another. A million people can say they personally did or did not experience negative effects but if you feel differently and think it is causing any type of harm to yourself or someone you are responsible for, you are probably right.

    In summary, according to the research paper “findings do not demonstrate that interventions to reduce screen exposure will improve psychosocial adjustment. Indeed, they suggest that interventions in respect of family and child characteristics, rather than a narrow focus on screen exposure, are more likely to improve outcomes.” It is not about reducing screen exposure or otherwise, it is about respecting individuals and how their needs vary.

    Reasons Why I Am #RockingMotherhood

    Parenting is hard. And it is easy to focus on the mistakes we make, the things we haven’t done and the things we could do better. All too often we criticise ourselves, and give ourselves a hard time, rather than celebrating our own achievements as a parent, the things we did right and how much we actually rock! So I really appreciate both Mama Wilkos and The Baby Boat Diaries tagging me to write this post about the reasons why I am, in fact, rocking motherhood

    • I know my child. Ok, this sounds like I am stating the obvious, I’ll admit. But she is a very complex child with some major additional needs, and I really get her. It doesn’t always make it any easier to deal with of course, but at least I understand exactly where she is coming from!
    • I am her mum, teacher, friend and therapist. I am her rock. I am even her business partner! I do my best to be absolutely everything she needs me to be.
    • I have taught myself the extra skills that I need to support her as fully as I possibly can with her needs, including CBT. 
    • I have adapted our lifestyle and carved out our own path to better suit her unique needs, even though it isn’t always easy to go against the grain. 
    • I support her in finding and developing her true passions in life, and to follow her interests.
    • I give her the freedom to learn at her own pace, and allow her the time and space to enjoy a raw simple childhood.
    • I teach her to be comfortable and confident with herself and who she is. 
    • I make sure she is never afraid to fail or try out new ideas.
    • I help her to be a solution-focused, free thinker who throws away the box completely! 
    • I nurture her sense of wonder and exploration of our natural environment and the world around us, and teach her how to protect it. 


    I tag the following awesome mamas to take part in this challenge too!

    Friendly First Foods

    Me Becoming Mum

    Better Together Home

    Cups Of Charlotte 

    Mrs Mummy Harris 


    • Thank the blogger(s) who tagged you and link to their blog.
    • List 10 things you believe make you a good mother (This is just a guideline, it can be more or less, I really don’t mind)
    • Tag 3 – 5 bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag.
    • Grab the #RockingMotherhood badge and add it to your post or sidebar.

    If you would like to, you can also tweet your post to me at @followourpath and/or @whitecamellias (the lovely mum who started this challenge). We would love to read them and RT for you!