5 ways dad can support mum-to-be

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As requested by one of my readers, I've decided to do three series on how dads can support their other half during pregnancy, labour and after pregnancy. Research shows mum-to-be have an overall better pregnancy experience when dads are actively involved throughout the journey. This post would focus on how dad can support mum-to-be during pregnancy.

Undoubtedly, women literally do all the work when it comes to pregnancy, however there are several ways men can help to carry the load- after all it takes two to start the special journey. Here are 5 practical ways to support mum-to-be:

#1 Get informed
One of the best ways to get to grips with the changes at hand and show your interest in your other half's pregnancy is to do your research on the topic. Learn about her body and the baby's development. Read books, search the web, and speak to your dad friends about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Find out what to expect, attend birth classes if possible and get advice from trusted friends and family who already have children about how to be a great parent.

There is an app these days for everything and pregnancy is not an exception. You can download some useful pregnancy apps on your phone such as baby center, Pregnancy +, What to expect or Sprout to keep you updated on this journey. My husband found the NHS information service for new parents most useful as they provided a weekly newsletter tailored for dads.
Remember, never rely on app or books- always consult your doctor first.

#2 Help around the house
Even though growing a baby is exhausting both physically and emotionally, its vital that mum avoids stress as much as possible during pregnancy. The best place to help out is around the home especially since a bump in the way can make hovering the living area, cleaning the toilet or lifting heavy groceries much more difficult. Chores are usually not fun but it's for the good of your other half and your baby if you help around the house or hire a housekeeper if you can afford one. My husband can barely cook for example, however he would order takeout whenever I wasn't up to the task of cooking.

#3 Be there
In the United Kingdom, Fathers have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany expectant mothers to up to 2 antenatal appointments. Whilst most working dads would be unable to attend all antenatal appointment, its important to attend the first scan around 12 weeks and the 20 weeks scan if possible. You would be surprised at how much you can learn during the appointments, and hearing the heartbeat of your baby or seeing your baby on the scan for the first time is a truly special experience. Experiencing this together will help you to bond, and make the fact that you're having a baby seem much more real.

When it comes to pregnancy, massage is definitely a great skill to have. Treat your other half to a relaxing massage every now and then to ease her aching body whether its shoulder rub, foot rub, lower back rub or all over body massages (get creative)- use a massage oil suitable for pregnancy.
Finally, ensure you can be contacted on phone at all times in case of an emergency which means your battery must always be charged.

#4 Listen and Communicate
Be a shoulder for her to cry on when she is finding the pregnancy challenging or feeling worried, listen to all her concerns, and offer her the support and reassurance she really needs. Whenever she seems anxious or stressed, do encourage her to talk through any problems or anxieties she may have. Talk things through with each other, if you are a Christian pray together. Furthermore, speak to friends and family who already have children as you will realise its normal for new parents to feel anxious about becoming parents.

Do tell her she looks good even when she doesn't feel good about her feet being swollen or waddling
like a penguin. Its important you make her feel attractive even if you secretly wish she had her old body back. Focus on the positive changes that might occur such as glowing skin, bigger boobs or glossy hair, and remember that the changes are temporary and for a good cause.

#5 Prepare for the baby's arrival
Babies would require so many things in their first few weeks such as a crib, car seat, nappies, clothing etc. Make sure you and mum are prepared for the new arrival into your home. Ensure you have the right items and the house is as baby-proofed as possible. Stock up the freezer and cupboards with enough food supply for the early days with your baby as it generally makes everyone's life easier.

What other tips can you suggest?

Happy New Year 2016

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Happy New Year to all my lovely readers! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations, besides I also hope all your wishes and aspirations for 2016 will come true.

2015 was an incredibly busy and memorable year for me. I made tremendous progress last year personally in several areas, organized and participated in several charitable and volunteering causes which I'm very thankful to God for those opportunities.

And I wouldn't expect 2016 to be less busier...

With our second child on the way, I expect this year to be much more busier and exciting. However, just like last year I don't intend setting in stone any new year resolutions instead carry on with the positive and thankful mindset from last year and try to enjoy and appreciate the little things. That doesn't mean I still don't have aims or ambitions, but I've learned that life isn't always something that can be planned in the same way that work can be and sometimes it's best just to enjoy what you have now. Besides, I believe this positive mindset would actually help to keep pushing to aim towards becoming a better version of myself whilst achieving all I want to achieve. The good news is, I have no weight loss target this year! I can enjoy ice creams and cakes whenever I want:-)

When I decided to start this blog 15 months ago in October 2014, I didn't expect I would have much to write about my motherhood journey, parenting and lifestyle in general given I started other blogs previously that didn't make it past 4 posts. As much as I have come to love writing, the major challenge for me particularly from last summer onwards was finding the time to write given how busy my schedule is on top of my full time job, being a wife and mum- its too much hard work and there just isn't any time to sit in front of a computer.

Last year, I had few opportunities which I remain grateful to work with brands such as Party pieces and Missguided that unfortunately didn't materialize due to my busy schedule. Also, part of enjoying every moment meant that I didn't have much time to document several moments as much as I would love which is fine. This is one of the main reasons I concluded vlogging is definitely not for me- I'd rather enjoy a nice dinner with my family than trying to film the moments. As much I haven't posted alot since last summer, I still managed to maintain an average of 35 visits to my blog on a daily basis which to me is great.

Few things you can be sure going forward is:
  1. I still love to learn new positive ideas about parenting and write about them
  2. I still love to connect with other like-minded parents whether online or face-to-face
  3. I would make every effort to interact more with my readers.
  4. I constantly remind myself that we can’t be perfect all the time- there will always be setbacks but that's OK.
Realistically, I don't expect to write any more this year but you can be assured any post I put out should be worth your reading time so don't forget to subscribe if you haven't done so.
Moreover, you can drop a comment below to let me know what topics you would be interested in reading about. I would definitely appreciate you dropping a feedback to let me know you enjoyed my posts, that in itself could encourage me to write more.

I would also love you to not only read about my 2016 goals but to hear back from you about any new year resolutions or goals you've made so please leave a comment after reading. 

Thank you all my lovely readers for your support and taking the time to read my posts over the last year. I truly wish you all a wonderful and successful 2016.


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Why I think Men really matter in parenting

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I was very fortunate to be raised alongside my brother and sister in a stable environment by both my mum and dad. Even during the early years up to the age of 7 when my dad travelled frequently on national and international work assignments, he was definitely a capable caretaker when he was at home. My dad would pick us from school, read to us, help with our homework, take us on outings, play computer games with us. I spent so much time with my dad growing up and even up to my early adult years. I recall an occasion when I was 5, my sister and I had our hair cornrowed at the hairdressers, however the hair was plaited so tight such that when we got home, my dad was unhappy we were put in such agony. He went ahead to take out the cornrows for both me and my sister. 

It is an undisputed fact that besides bringing home a payslip, fathers are vastly important in their children’s lives, in several ways that parenting experts have overlooked. Indeed, there has been a surge of interest in the relationship between father involvement and the well-being of their children. This is reflected in the number of books, reports (e.g Cabinet Office) and articles published on this subject, as well as the number of websites dedicated to fathers such as Fatherhood Institute and Daddy doin work. The ideas of fatherhood have changed, there are high social expectations for fathers to spend time with their children as evidenced by recent workplace provisions of paternity leave and flexitime in the United Kingdom.

Here are 5 reasons why I think men, fathers and father figures really matter in parenting and in the home:

The power of relationships

The father/child relationship can affect all of the child's relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, acquaintances and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with the father are usually the same patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships. For example, girls will look for what they have experienced and become familiar with in childhood. Because they've gotten used to those familial and historic behavioural patterns, they think that they can handle them in relationships. Boys on the other hand, will model themselves after their fathers. They will look for their father's approval in everything they do, and copy those behaviours that they recognize as both successful and familiar. Thus, if dad was abusive, controlling, and dominating, those will be the patterns that their sons will imitate and emulate. However, if father is loving, kind, supportive, and protective, boys will strive to be that.

Literacy and Intellectual development
Several research found that positive engagement by both the father and the mother contributed significantly and independently to children’s attitudes towards school. There is some evidence that suggests that fathers use more challenging vocabulary than mothers do. Fathers have been shown to use more abstract words when interacting with their children or different words altogether, which significantly improved the child language and literacy. Research consistently shows that children with affectionate, supportive, and involved fathers and parents in general show improved IQ scores, academic achievement, higher self-esteem, self-confidence and a strong inner core resource.

Emotional and Cognitive development
Children who grow up with actively involved fathers benefit in numerous ways, including increased cognitive abilities, increased social competence, healthier relationships with peers both as adolescents and adults and better health outcomes. Children whose fathers are well-bonded with them, played with them, read to them, took them on outings, and helped with caring for them had fewer behavioural problems in the early school years, and less likelihood of delinquency or criminal behaviour as adolescents and could be somewhat inoculated against alcohol and substance abuse. Yet when fathers are less engaged, children are more likely to drop out of school earlier, and to exhibit more problems in behaviour and substance abuse.

Varied play activities
Many babies, as they grow older (my son included), actually tend to prefer playing with their fathers who tend to provide varied, unpredictable, stimulating, exciting and fun interaction whereby such play fosters social, emotional, and intellectual development. My husband is more likely to let my son practice driving his car, he's more likely to put him on him on his shoulders during a stroll. He plays football with him. Without the father’s more arousing and energetic play behaviour, development of the child’s left hemisphere is negatively impacted. All these fun and play activities which a man is more likely to involve in makes the child happier, increases their exposure, broadens their mind set and a better and well-rounded child is likely to be raised.

Career progression
Women with supportive and committed partners backing and helping them at home are usually able to flourish in their career or businesses. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO described how the most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry. I have seen and read cases of many women whose promising careers and business went downhill as soon as they had children because they just didn’t have a supportive and committed partner backing them at home.

Undoubtedly, children can grow up happy and successful with just a mother (or just a father) but we must not overlook the benefits that fathers are more likely to bring along.


What are your thoughts on this topic? Why do you think men matter in the home?

Volunteer Mum: Barnard Playground Islington

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Its been a super 'cra' busy summer period with loads of events particularly weddings and travels hence the very less frequent posts. Moreover, I prefer being outside whenever the british weather behaves than being stuck indoors behind a PC:-). Last month, I organized our annual work team volunteer day with the help of our CSR department and our partner corporate volunteering organization, Involve- an employer supported volunteering organization. I requested an outdoor project for 32 people preferably in a school, park or playground within the month of July.

The organization I work for recognizes and encourages employee volunteering whereby the CSR department run a range of volunteering programmes encouraging employees to spend time in schools, take part in community sports, to share business knowledge and experience and to act as mentors to a variety of local community and business projects. Employees are allowed to take up to two days leave every year to volunteer within one of the bank's community initiatives.

The Project- Barnard Park Adventure Playground, Islington
After several phone and email communications, Involve was able to secure a suitable project for my team at Barnard Park Adventure Playground. Its is one of the 12 Adventure Playgrounds across the London Borough of Islington  providing children with a range of play settings that they can choose from. It is located in Barnard Park, and is a free, open access staffed adventure playground for 6 to 13 year olds. As well as offering exciting structures on which children can play in a safe environment they have a football pitch, basketball pitch, amphitheatre and fire pit . They also run arts and craft classes.

The playground is open from Tuesday to Saturday during term time and Monday to Friday during school holidays.

Volunteer Tasks
Barnard Adventure Playground wanted our team to help with a range of tasks to get the playground ready for the summer season. Tasks included:
  1. Painting murals
  2. Building timber benches and tables x 3
  3. Renovating planters: Weeding, topping up with soil and planting bright flowers
  4. Zip wire safety 
  5. Surface pit topped up with bark
  6. Redesigning and constructing 2 new sand pit covers
  7. Lifting and manual handling
  8. New safety pit created for grass swing area.
  9. General tidying up
On the day
Our team of 32 participants arrived 9:15 am at the playground to undertake the allocated tasks. Thankfully, it was a nice sunny weather with highs of 26 C. We split ourselves into 4 sub-teams to divide the tasks. My sub -team was responsible for painting the murals on the walls.

Feedback from Host Representative
We received below a feedback from Senior Worker from the playground:

"The children are always commenting on how bright and colourful the playground wall mural looks and the planted features introduced to the empty boxed planters, add to that zestful brightness of summer even when the sun's not shining. The extra seated picnic benches the teams created using flat-packs and their own inventiveness with the decked areas they created have added more places to relax and chill out around the playground and they are well used. The re-furbishing of the sand pit covers has allowed a weight to be lifted of our shoulders (literally) as opening and closing the sand pits before when they were made from heavy scaffold board took a minimum of 2 people and was still heavy. The new slim lined , ply board covers the teams created means one person can open and close each panel by themselves if required and with little strain on the back and arms. 

The teams also assisted with the levelling and back filling of the zip wire safety pit with play bark and also revitalising and disinfecting the sand in the sandpit. This has allowed the children to have 2 play apparatus opened back in time for the summer holidays which might not have realistically been achieved in the time frame with only our 2 fulltime staff working on tasks that day."

The feedback was extremely positive, everyone that participated absolutely enjoyed the time spent outside the office and found it very rewarding. It felt very fulfilling being able to start and complete a project within a day for a change. We hope the children love the look of their enhanced and brightened playground."


Thank you Note from Host Representative
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, CAS and the group of 30+ volunteers who came from Deutsche bank to help out with the various maintenance and refurbishment tasks at Barnard APG. Usually, there would only be a 3hr window each day to carryout maintenance tasks plus all the other admin, accounting, planning, H&S check tasks etc so having a team down for the day enabled us to spruce up the playground and additional features. The financial contribution is secondary to the people power contribution on the day but it is still an important factor to recognize and give thanks for the team challenge funding of a majority of the materials that we utilized on the day. Thank you all so much and hope to work with you again in the future.


Feedback from Team Members
“Very good. Well organise. Good cause. Visible/tangible outcomes and results. Thanks.”

“Excellent day – fun and rewarding !” “loved that they kept getting everyone involved”

“we had a great day and met a few people I didn’t know. Great for team building”

“Wonderful, great day. Hope the kids like it” “Totally enjoyed the experience. Well organized”

“Giving back to the community is brilliant”

 



















What have you been up to lately? Have you been involved in any volunteering this summer?

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Volunteer Mum: Inspiring the Future

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I recently received an invitation to attend the launch of the Inspiring the Future event at a primary school in Rochester, Kent. Whilst I haven't done any volunteering of this nature in the past and was a bit daunted with the prospect of having to speak to 120 8-9 year old pupils about my job, i eventually accepted the invite.

What can be expected from a Inspiring the future volunteer
  • Talk about their jobs and enthuse the children about the
range of opportunities open to them and how important reading and numeracy were in their school days bringing learning to life and making it relevant.
  • Talk about the different background and cultures they come
from and in doing so help broaden young people’s horizons and raise aspirations.
  • Take part in a literacy or numeracy activity with a small group of children to contribute to improving basic skills and confidence.
  • Act as judges in projects and competitions e.g. enterprise or environment schemes or get involved in the activities using their expertise.
  • Think about taking on the role of a school governor.

There were 8 of us volunteering from the private and public sectors with jobs ranging from HMRC tax advisor, banking, NHS doctor, photography etc. I spoke to the kids about my job and what i do on a day-day basis and how important Maths, English and handwriting are in a bank. One thing is very clear, children who from an early stage understand the connection between the world of work and what they learn in school are much more likely to be successful.

I asked few of the pupils what they would like to become in future, whilst some of them didn't have a clue yet, here are some of their responses:

Dog Walker
Teacher
Veterinary doctor
Footballer
Child Minder
Sweet Seller
Games Sales
Pet Rescuer
Lego builder
Actress

During the 1-2-1 networking session, the pupils had several questions to ask me such as:

Why did you choose to work in a Bank?
Is this your dream job?
What do you like most about your job?
What do you hate most about your job?
How much do you earn? since i promised on instagram to provide my response to this question, here was my response "atleast £2000 monthly"
Are you allowed to play games at the office?
Is your job serious or fun?
Where are you from?
How far is South Africa from the UK?

I was particularly pleased when the head teacher asked the pupils for their feedback at the end of the sessions and a few of them raised up their hands wanting to work in a bank. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the pupils and hope similar opportunities would be available to my son one day- helping children to widen their horizons, aspirations and make connections to their future at an early stage.

A big thank you to the organizers at the school for the opportunity and providing me such a warm welcome and hospitality. I totally enjoyed the cakes and treat at the end :-)








Does any mums or dad have an idea of what their child or children would like to be in future? Please leave your comments below x

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Celebrating Fatherhood: Father's day 2015 photos

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Check out the remaining photos on Instagram, follow me and other cool mums @amnotjustamum #teamnotjustamum

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The Green Aviator

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Being parent is like being the pilot or captain of our child or children's lives especially in the early years when they rely on us for pretty much everything. That mum you might have seen with her screaming toddler throwing tantrums in a busy shopping mall i.e asda could have been me trying to regain control of a flight that had gone way off course.

The important thing with being a pilot mum is to ensure I'm giving my son some side-by-side flying lessons. Some of my tasks as the pilot mum includes nurturing him, building up his social skills, navigating his interaction with other kids, reminding him to say please, sorry, thank you and bless you, teaching him to share his toys with other kids and disciplining him when he goes off course. I want him to grow to become his own full-time pilot equipped with the skills required to fly his own plane.

I will always cherish and treasure the time I have to be my son's full-time pilot because in a not so distant future when he becomes an adult, I would retire and be out of his plane.

What skill do you think is most important to succeed as a full-time pilot mum?


Dress: En Focus Studio. Sandals: Prada
Hat: Miss Selfridge. Sunglasses: Claire's.


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