Posts by mumofsonny

Hello, I'm a freelance writer and mum from Belfast. I specialise in human interest, fashion, beauty, lifestyle and celebrity profiles. I live with my best friend in the shape of a pretty amazing husband in the east of the city, our beautiful baby son Sonny and a boisterous rescue cat called Rex, a more appropriate name might be Wrecks. I've been putting pen to paper since I was a teenager. starting of with angst-ridden poems and progressing to write about things and people that inspire me. I love writing, it's a wonderful form of expression and I take pride in eliciting emotions in people. For me, that's the ultimate reward. I'm 30-something, and to my shame. it's taken me this long to galvanise myself to start a blog. It's probably a confidence thing but, as you get older, you're not so paralysed by what people think of you anymore. This is me, like it or lump it. With this blog, I'll be writing about my life, what I've learned, what I've still to learn and hopefully inspiring you and making you laugh and/or cry. I'm not here to ruffle feathers or be controversial. I'm just going to be myself. I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say. Love, Davina x

Be kind to yourself, mamma

This post is sponsored by Natracare.

Being a mum comes with pressure. You are responsible for nurturing and shaping another human being’s life. It’s a huge responsibility and one that comes with endless sacrifice. There’s no medal for motherhood. It’s the hardest job you’ll ever do. 

Picture perfect

It doesn’t help that in this digital age, we are constantly being bombarded with saccharine images of motherhood being ‘perfect’. On Instagram, we see cleverly composed, perfectly lit images of beautiful nurseries and supposedly ‘candid’ shots of a mother with perfect makeup and hair and a spotless, beaming baby. It’s enough to make you feel entirely inadequate. As an Instagram user, I have on occasion been guilty of some of the aforementioned ‘fake news’. No, my dear son isn’t always pink-cheeked with shiny hair. A lot of the time he’s covered in food, his hair unkempt, his face contorted with frustration. Most of the time, my hair is scraped back, my pale face make-up free, dark circles under my eyes, my sweater stained from Sonny wiping his streaming nose. However, as a brand new bleary-eyed mum, I felt compelled to take endless snaps of my tiny baby. I even bought Sonny cute clothes, specifically for Instagram posts. I’d sweat buckets trying to get him in the right pose. It was far, far too much. 

No, my dear son isn’t always pink-cheeked with shiny hair.

Not another pic, mum!

I didn’t even realise that I was putting myself under ridiculous pressure until a good friend suggested I take a break from social media. I was anxious, depleted, exhausted, feeling like I had to show the world that I was coping – when I really wasn’t. I felt guilty for feeling overwhelmed when so many other mums seemed to have it together. I felt I shouldn’t complain, ‘you’ve only one’, some would say, ‘what if you had two or three?’. I’d take unhelpful anecdotal advice with a pinch of salt – ‘I know my baby best’, I’d say inwardly. 

Being a mum is no easy task

The early days of being a new mum were incredibly testing. I’d never even changed a nappy before Sonny was born. There is so much to learn and you question absolutely everything. I catastrophized constantly, scared myself to death with horror stories I’d read online. I was afraid to sleep, needing the constant reassurance of Sonny’s soft, even breathing. I was in a state of high alert, drinking far too much coffee, drinking wine to take the edge off, eating rubbish. It was only a matter of time before I crashed. This was my reality. Now, I can look back on the first year of Sonny’s life and acknowledge it was really difficult (it still is) but I got through it.

The love of my life.

Motherhood has utterly changed me as a person and I’m so grateful that I got pregnant easily, at 38. Sonny was planned but I’d no clue as to what to expect. I’d enjoyed my 30’s, I was completely cushioned from the wrecking ball through your life which comes with having a child. I don’t even recognise the woman I was before Sonny. Now, I’m very much living in the present. I cherish those moments where Sonny buries his head in my neck as I’m climbing the stairs to put him to bed. I live for his adorable laugh, his toothy grin. I feel like I wouldn’t even make sense without him now. 

I don’t even recognise the woman I was before Sonny.

Changing paths

Becoming a parent has changed my career trajectory too. I was made redundant shortly after returning to work from maternity leave. I now work for The Mummy MOT, a service that provides a specialist postnatal examination for mums after natural and C-section deliveries. It’s so important for me to do work that is fulfilling having spent most of my career in sedentary jobs, working to pay the bills and have a few nights out. Sometimes I feel like I wasted a lot of years, but I know that every second of my life has led to where I am right now and I’m in a great place.

Self-care is key

I had a Mummy MOT, a specialist postnatal examination about a year after Sonny was born. It was empowering and it made me realise just how amazing my body is. I’m also really lucky to work with some amazing brands that I believe in. As a parent with responsibility, I feel accountable for what I consume and what products I use. I’m ashamed when I think of all the non-biodegradable baby wipes I’ve used because they’re cheap or just convenient. I’ve recently started using Natracare baby wipes which are made with organic cotton. Not only do they smell lovely – they’re saturated with organic chamomile, apricot, and sweet almond oil – they’re so much gentler on Sonny’s bottom. I also love their cleansing make-up remover wipes. Although I’m much better than I used to be at taking off my make-up, sometimes I can’t be bothered with lotion, so these wipes are a super quick way of cleaning my skin before collapsing into bed. I love Natracare’s ethos of providing women with a viable, eco-friendly alternative to pads, panty liners, and wipes. Using this brand, I feel a bit less guilty, and that’s a big plus for me. 

Natracare Baby Wipes are a guilt-free choice.

As a parent with responsibility, I feel accountable for what I consume and what products I use.

A conversation with a lovely neighbour led me to start meditating and deciding on what I want from life. I’m unapologetically ambitious and driven. I know what I want and I’m undeterred by what some people may think. Meditation has really helped me, and while I let it slide sometimes, I know that spending just 20 minutes in the morning, being mindful and expressing gratitude, sets me up for the day. I’m also working out three times a week, another thing to make me feel good about myself. 

Find beauty in the small things.

Taking a break from social media was the best thing I’ve ever done, and it also had a domino effect, encouraging me to focus inward and be sensitive to my own needs. You have got to look after yourself if you are going to look after someone else. It’s that simple. 

You’re doing amazing, mamma

I’m approaching my 40th birthday, excited for the future. In some ways, I feel like my life is just beginning. I’m doing great a job of being a mum – and so are you. 

For more information:

Visit: https://www.natracare.com/ and https://themummymot.com/


Ready, steady, go mamma! Why motherhood requires the discipline of an athlete.

If eating was an Olympic sport I’d win gold several times over. I’ve never been sporty, I’ve never had the coordination skills. I was always the last to be picked in netball at school, seeing a ball hurtling at me as something to dodge. My spatial awareness is awful, which probably explains why at almost 40, I still haven’t got my driving license.

That said, I do find watching women’s athletics quite thrilling. There’s a certain pleasure that comes from wearing your slobbiest tracksuit bottoms and hoody watching supreme female athletes throw themselves at various tortuous obstacles. OK. I’m just a bit envious of their taut, goddess bodies but there’s some entertainment observing their scowls when they don’t quite meet their expectations. Women, no matter how supremely skilled, how much they are admired, are so hard on themselves.

It’s the same as motherhood. We’ll always second guess ourselves, always compare ourselves to the ‘perfect’ Insta mum. It’s mostly bull. As a mum who uses social media in her career, I do hope I offer a real side of motherhood. While I follow beautiful accounts, I know they’re not real. They are carefully thought out, composed, editing software used. Motherhood is really difficult. It’s not all chubby pink-cheeked babies grinning in their pristine outfits. Every day is a marathon. Every day is beset with hurdles, sprints to stop your toddler from getting in the washing machine, hauling laundry up and down the stairs. Wiping up poo, regurgitated food, wiping streaming noses and big, heavy tears.

Every day is your eyes on the prize, getting your baby or toddler to bed and putting your feet up with your reward, a hot cuppa and chocolate bar or a big glass of red wine. That’s your medal, for getting through another day of motherhood relatively unscathed, ready to face another race the next day. Yes, mammas, it takes hard work, it takes grit, it takes patience, it takes determination. You know though, you’ll get there in the end. You’ll cross the line knowing you’ve given it your absolute best.

There will be so much to savour along the way.  Watching your child totter into their first day of school, their double-digit birthday, their formal or even going to university. Parenthood is for the long haul. It’s a marathon and the only way you’re going to get through it is with fierce discipline and blinkered vision.

Keep going mamma, you’re a winner, every day. Oh, and you did awesome Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Enjoy basking in your glory. You deserve it. 

Lemme at it!
And the gold pot goes to….

I get by with a little help from my mum friends

Having a baby changes everything, including your most important relationships. Such a seismic event will make many of those relationships stronger, and sometimes, weaker. Yes, becoming a mum can be a really lonely, isolating time but if you have a supportive, loving tribe around you, you will flourish. 

Being a mother is so overwhelming. Other mums understand the daily struggle. You don’t have to put on a front. Your mum friends won’t judge you if you haven’t managed to shower that day, brush your hair, or your house is upside down. Your mum friends are the first people you’ll turn to with feverish questions about any strange spots on your baby’s skin, the non-stop wailing, weird coloured poop. It’s a massive comfort to know that your best friends have your back when you’re feeling crap. 

This September, I’ve been championing Mummy Social, an app that supports and encourages mums to be brave and get social with other local mums. Sadly, maternal loneliness takes a lot of us by surprise and Mummy Social wants all mums to know they are not alone. It can do you and your little one(s) – or not so little one(s) the world of good to get outside into the daylight and meet other mums who are on the motherhood journey too. Coffee is the holy grail when you’re a sleep-deprived mum. 

I’m very lucky to have close friends who are also amazing mums. It does feel like you’re on this incredible, crazy journey together. I recently had a cinema date with a close mummy friend, minus the cinema. We ended up chatting for hours over wine and it was brilliant fun. It’s so important to feel that connection with another human being and sharing motherhood makes it all the more special. It’s quite surreal to watch your mini-me playing with your good friend’s mini-me.

2019-09-17 09.08.31 1.jpg

Mummy time!

It might be the end of September but it is definitely not the end of getting social! Mums supporting mums make the journey of motherhood a happier, healthier, easier and less lonely one. Maternal loneliness is real, it is all too common and we need to keep talking about it and do our bit to help.

As author Douglas Pagels says: “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the nicest things you can be.” Amen to that.

Download the Mummy Social app and if it’s something you’d like to get involved with, drop them a DM!

Visit mummysocial.com

 

Kate & Moon reach for the stars with their joyful children’s decor brand

I’m very passionate about shining a light on the wonderful homegrown entrepreneurs and creatives we have in Northern Ireland. This week, I’m featuring Kate & Moon, a unique children & nursery decor brand run by talented Belfast-based couple Sarah Wright (32) and Paul Anthony (36). I recently ordered a Humpback Whale Plush Toy (below) which has taken pride of place in Sonny’s nursery. I was so pleased with the quality and thrilled to be able to find somewhere local that I can buy adorable toys, cushions, shelves, and blankets. Needless to say, Mr Whale is incredibly soft and cuddly and will be Sonny’s BFF for a very long time – and mine.

Having a whale of a time…

A one-stop shop for all things nursery.

Sarah is a teacher by trade, and Paul is a computer programmer. Paul looks after the website and the technical side of things while Sarah, in her own words “takes care of pretty much everything else”. She says: “We decided to set up an online business in May this year. Paul has always been a whizz kid on the computer while I love finding beautiful products and of course, shopping! So, we decided to join forces and build something online together. We aim to build a brand that focuses on curating beautiful products for new and existing mums, and make Kate & Moon a one-stop-shop for all things nursery decor.

The importance of the personal touch.

“As we are based in Northern Ireland we can get goods quicker to local customers than online retailers. Plus, we find, when you order online, you often have no idea of who the seller is, or what the quality of the product is going to be like. We pride ourselves on ensuring that when you receive your purchase, it is beautifully packaged. We want our customers to relish the experience of ordering right through to receiving. We think a personal touch is so important. Knowing who is behind a business always helps too.”

It’s our aim to build a brand that focuses on curating beautiful products for new and existing mums, and make Kate & Moon a one-stop shop for all things nursery decor. 

Sarah

Kate & Moon is enjoying an influx of customers through social media and visual platforms such as Instagram. Sarah says: “We have a loyal network of local women who also helped us get started. The Mummy & Me Market were so helpful. The business community in Northern Ireland for women is wonderful, and we couldn’t be more grateful to those people who have helped us get things off the ground. In the run-up to Christmas and the new year, we also plan on doing a few other local markets.”

Black Tee-Pee Shelves.

The business community in Northern Ireland for women is wonderful.

Sarah

You can follow Kate & Moon’s journey on Instagram (@kateandmoon) and see when wonderful new items are added. So, what are you waiting for? Show some love and give Kate & Moon a visit and support our amazing local entrepreneurs. This business is set to soar.

Bunny Baby Plat Mat.

Visit: www.kateandmoon.com

Contact: hello@kateandmoon.com

Happy birthday mumofsonny!

I’m on the red-eye shift as I cradle my nine-week-old son with one arm as he sleepily gulps his warm milk, pausing at times to make appreciative sighs before hungrily going back for more. With his ravenous appetite sated (for at least two hours I hope), he melts back into my now aching arm, drifting off to a satisfying slumber. I gaze in a trance-like state at his pink, perfect face, happy that he’s content before realising that I need to burp him. I gently sit my squirming baby on my lap with his back as straight as he’ll allow and proceed to rub and pat until I hear the glorious sound of a burp. He grimaces and squeals, deeply irritated at not being able to allowed to remain asleep. But he’s totally reliant on me to help him with his bodily functions until he’s old enough to burp and fart for himself.

I wrote this almost a year to the day ago. It seems crazy, starting a blog when your baby is just nine-weeks-old and yet, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I spent most of my twenties and thirties aimless, wanting more but not doing more. It’s the definition of madness to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Life gets in the way, you think, you get a job that pays the bills but it’s soul-destroying. You’re terrified of change. I’ve always wanted to start a blog and a long time ago I did. I published my first blog, excited to put my voice out there. I’ve always loved writing and I knew I was good at it. I got a horrible message straight away. I have my suspicions who it was but it was enough to knock me off course. Why would anyone want to read about what I had to say? I had no self- belief, my self-esteem had been battered by jobs, by men. I kept getting the same results.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s beautifully simple. Life is simple, it is us that makes it complicated. Losing my job earlier this year has been the best thing to ever happen me. Once I got over the initial terror of not having a monthly income, I quite liked having days to myself – especially as a first-time mum – and no, they’re not really days to yourself. Getting to grips with being a new parent is tough. Your life is flipped upside down. You are exhausted, thrilled, frustrated, hopeless, happy, sad. It’s utterly life-changing and you know your life has changed for the better. Becoming a mum has changed me, from my core. I don’t sweat the small stuff, I hate drama and negativity. I spend my days enjoying life, enjoying Sonny’s many expressions, his funny sounds, holding him tight, kissing his soft pink cheek (that smells so good). Yes, he is annoying too. My living room constantly looks like I’ve been ransacked. Sonny delights in emptying drawers, cupboards, the bins. He screams and cries and it’s so, so hard. But there are also moments when you think your heart will burst.

Blogging for me is therapy. It’s a chance to sit down when Sonny is in bed and write about how I’m feeling. It has also opened up my world so much. I’ve been so lucky to meet some incredible, energetic and positive people. I’ve met blogger, author of Mumboss and beautiful mamma of two boys, Vicki Psarias aka Honest Mum. I’ve worked with some amazing baby brands such as Baby & More, Babease, Beaux Baby Boutique, and Kate & Moon. I got to experience the new Center Parcs in Longford with my family. I’ve blogged about first aid, sleep training and lately, meditation and self-care. So many opportunities are still coming my way and it’s all thanks to my blog.

Becoming a mum is undoubtedly the best thing to ever happen me. It’s so fulfilling, shaping a new life. It’s so joyful, seeing your son collapse in giggles because of you. If you are still reading, I am so happy for your company and I hope you will continue to follow my journey as my baby becomes a little boy. Maybe I can even inspire you to start writing or to think outside the box that you have created. Life is short, why would you want to spend it pleasing people, or working for the cash machine? I’m so grateful and lucky that I’m where I’m at. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. No, life is not perfect, I am not perfect – I’m human after all. But, it’s pretty close.

My beautiful boy dressed by Beaux Baby Boutique

I’m gonna shake it off – my experience of a mindful self-compassion workshop

If you had three minutes to talk about how you were going to look after yourself for the next few weeks, what would you say? Would you run over the three minutes or would you run out of things to say after 30 seconds – as I did? When it comes to showing kindness, we rarely offer it to ourselves. We should talk to ourselves like a best friend, because, you are your best friend.

There are three steps to self-compassion. The first is to acknowledge your suffering – it’s what unites us the most. The second is to know that you are not alone, it’s known as our ‘common humanity’. There are 8 billion people in the world and just 15 emotions – an incredible statistic, isn’t it? The third is to give kindness. It is, as enthusiastic teacher Bridgeen Rea-Kaya of Immeasurable Minds, Belfast says, “always the appropriate response”.

Self-compassion is the first step toward compassion for others.

Dalai Lama

As well as a range of yoga classes for all ages and levels, Namaste Yoga Centre offers mindfulness meditation and workshops like the one I attended. I wasn’t dressed for yoga, I had been stuffing my face at a bloggers buffet beforehand so was bursting out of my skinny jeans. I slipped off my ankle boots, picked up a yoga mat and sat cross-legged on the floor. This wasn’t the most comfortable position, and we were invited to get chairs by Bridgeen Rea-Kaya, who is the perfect advertisement for mindfulness. She glows and has a warm, bright smile that puts you at instant ease. To begin, everyone had to introduce themselves and give a reason for why they were attending. Many of the answers were similar to mine, with some quite new to meditation and others wanting to deepen their practice.

Kindness is always the appropriate response.

Bridgeen Rea-Kaya

Next, we lay on our mats for a body scan. We were invited to use pillows or blankets – which I made a beeline for. The point of a body scan is for you to focus on different parts of your body and develop a mindful awareness of your bodily sensations and thus relieve tension. She told us to watch out for sensations such as tingling and tightness. I know I carry all of my tension around my neck and shoulders. A body scan trains you to ‘just be’ with pleasant and unpleasant sensations. I didn’t feel anything too out of the ordinary but it was really nice to lie back, listen to a soothing voice and not be disturbed by a screeching one-year-old who is having a face-off with the cat.

In between mindful breathing and a few activities, Bridgeen read poems, one by Mary Oliver called Grasshopper was particularly special. I love poetry and studied English at university. I wrote a poem when I was 15 which won an award. I’ve always been a thinker, not the academic type, but someone consumed by thoughts, largely negative. That is changing.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

The best thing for tension is moving about. You know the Taylor Swift song ‘Shake it Off’, well, it’s the perfect example of a mindfulness song. So, we all started, quite literally, shaking it off, although sadly not to the pop princess. Usually, I’d need a few glasses of wine before considering dancing, so I went for it, secretly hoping not to bump into anyone in the class ever again. The next thing I knew, we were running around the room giving each other high fives. It was a bit awkward and strange, I’ll admit, but it certainly got us all giggling, albeit nervous ones.

The final exercise was picking a partner and sitting on the floor shoulder to shoulder. We were instructed to tell the stranger next to us things we were going to do to look after ourselves for the next month. Three minutes is a long time. I rattled on about stuff like going for walks, meditating, having lunch with friends, doing yoga (a white lie), but I ran out of things to say. My female partner sat and listened, as she was instructed to. I felt my cheeks burn, I didn’t know what else to say. Still, she remained silent which unnerved me all the more. Eventually, sensing my awkwardness, she said that she wanted to give me as much time as possible to just talk about how I was going to look after myself. How little time we spend thinking about ourselves. When it was her turn, she spoke at ease about all the wonderful things she was going to do. My job was just to listen but I found myself biting my tongue when I felt compelled to interject with “oh, that sounds nice”, or “I’d love to do that”. The exercise taught me about the magic of listening, of making a person feel important, and of being, truly in the moment.

To be happy, we must practice gratitude. The brain has a built-in negativity bias that causes us to focus on bad things. This may have helped our ancestors avoid being eaten by a mammoth, but in this modern age, it isn’t helpful. We need to rewire our brains to focus on the positive. Yes, life is busy and stressful but, with mindful practice, you can change it. Of course you will feel fed up from time to time but the important thing is to respond with kindness. I’d absolutely recommend this workshop, it’s so important to love yourself – and shake it off.

For more information: https://www.namasteyogacentre.co.uk/ and https://www.immeasurableminds.co.uk/

Is your body a house or a home mama?

Are you done? Are you done building your house? It’s been around for a while, it may have a little structural damage, some rooms a little shabby, perhaps some furniture that’s no longer used, but it’s still standing. You live in it, it’s home but you feel sometimes you need to shake things up, rewire, redecorate, renovate, make it a place that makes you happy and fulfilled. I’m talking about houses in a metaphorical sense of course. I’m talking about the house that takes us through life – our skeleton, skin, and bones. Mine is probably more than halfway through its lifetime. I’ve not been kind to it. It’s been filled with mental litter, some spaces are in desperate need of a makeover, others are dark and dusty with no natural light. I’ve welcomed in strangers but didn’t have the strength to make them leave. Others have left their footprint, and I’m happy to call them life long friends. But, I’ve certainly not used my house to its fullest potential, it has weathered a lot of storms, dramatically affecting its worth. I’ve spent too long feeling sorry for it, its value never recognised.

So, in the interests of increasing its value, I’ve started meditating. I have over the years tried it and gave up, not able to quiet my busy, hamster on a wheel mind. A very good friend has suggested more than once that I should try it. I’ve found a meditation I like and it’s having quite a profound effect. I’m less anxious, less irritable, more relaxed, more in the moment. A family member has said that since having Sonny, I’m more present. I’m done living in the past, I’ve made peace with it. I’m so excited about the future, I feel like a new day is dawning. It’s all down to my son, everything I do is because of him, and for him. The world owes me nothing, I owe the world.

As I continue to work on my house, make it a calm, happy place, make it a place I want to live in, I have begun building another. I want that house to be structurally sound, to be wired correctly, to be a place of sanctuary. I want my darling son to know that even when there are storms, he can weather them because he is resilient, like his mum. Building a house is not easy, it’s stressful, it’s expensive, it’s frustrating and sometimes you want to give up. But, you know that eventually, you can look at your house in admiration, proud of what you have achieved and content that you’ve done everything in your power to make it a happy home. I will learn from the mistakes I’ve made in my own house. We are architects of our own fate.

They say life begins at 40. Now I know the true meaning of that. Am I done? I’m just getting started.

My latest tenant…