Do you sometimes feel a bit stuck in a rut? Does the juggling of everyone else’s needs mean you get neglected? Would you like life to change and are you staring to realise only you can take charge of that?

In September, I set up an initiative where women who felt like the above could support each other and share how they were getting on. It is called #groovingmums and we have a lovely badge.

Every Tuesday, I post some challenges and I have decided to list them all here in the hope they might act as a catalyst for change both for myself and other mums out there. Will you try any of them? Will you share how you got on? Come back on Monday if you have posted about your experiences and link up.

Challenges

1. Pamper your body in a new way

2. Play a song that helps you feel like you can conquer the world.

3. Have a special breakfast

4. Be your own spin doctor and blog about how wonderful you really are

5. Buy some new underwear and if you are really brave post a pic on your blog

6. Visit your local library, look at posters and leaflets. See what you can get involved in.

7. Volunteer for a good cause. Check out the Do-It website for ideas in your area.

8. Talk to someone new

9. Post a photograph of yourself on your blog. If you already do so, do it in a different way.

10. Take part in a blog hop

11. Write the blog post you have thought about but held back on publishing

12. Embrace the spirit whatever that means to you

13. Think of a personal challenge and take baby steps towards achieving it

14. Investigate poetry and share one you like and tell us why

15. Dance even if it is in private in your lounge.

Which ones appeal to you?

If you want to check out other mums making positive changes proactively in their lives, revisit here on Monday where I will share the stories.

If you want to find some very lovely grooving mums on Twitter, just search using #groovingmums where we offer giggles, support, a listening ear and back up on the dark days.

I hope you join us and in the meantime, it is time I got my act together and started working through the challenges.

Are women asking for trouble?

There is a weird concept in itself before we get into the detail. Who would anyone ask for trouble? Trouble might be defined as difficulty or a problem. Most of spend out time avoiding such things because they are inconvenient at best and distressing at worst.

I have just watched a debate on ITV This Morning and thought I would have my say. It was the standard set up for putting up two women to argue differing viewpoints.

Angela Epstein said that “Nobody is entitled to rape” – glad we got that one sorted then! She also stated the nobody invites rape – shock horror! Who knew?

Her point was the women increase their vulnerability when they drink to excess or wear short skirts.

I agree women and men increase their vulnerability to all sorts of things when they drink to excess including health issues, death, involvement in things they would not do when sober and physical or sexual assault. That does not however justify any assault of any kind.

On the analogy of leaving the back door open and you might be burgled. Whilst this is true we could also try and develop a culture of respect for people first and then property.

Whilst this debate ensued on the telly, my 11 year old boy pointed out before I said anything that rape happens to people wearing all sorts of things so “that is like saying any type of clothing is sexually provocative. Rape is never right no matter what the circumstances”. You see if you instil good values in boys, they are an absolute delight.

I was reassured to hear Angela Phillips pointing out that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. If we want to warn women, let’s be realistic about where the threats lie often amongst relatives, friends, colleagues and in their own home.

Of course Angela pointed out that a TV studio is a benign place – tell that to the victims of Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris!

Have I wore sexually provocative clothing? Yes and once drunkenly staggered through the streets of Glasgow after a wedding on my own and not quite sure of where I was going. Was that wise? No! Did I come to any harm? No! Presumably I just came across good people on my route that night.

Have I experienced sexual assault. Yes! On the street where I lived whilst I was dressed in winter woollies and jeans.

When will folks remember that rape is about woman hatred and violence and not about sexual desire.

Tell your girls and boys to look after themselves for sure but also instil great values in them too so that they look after others whatever their gender and whatever the length of their skirt.

It saddens me that we still have not got these things sussed after all these years. Women asking for trouble! Why would they do that with everything else they have to contend with?

It is the perpetrators who cause trouble not the victims.

Or are women asking for trouble? What do you think?

http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/2017/01/fawcett-society-report-reveals-hostility-complacency-and-a-blame-culture-against-women/

3 Little Buttons
Pink Pear Bear

There are many problems and issues that can be a problem during pregnancy. Some require medical help and treatment, but the more common issues are uncomfortable and frustrating. Here are five common pregnancy issues and what you can do about them.

pregnancy

#1 Bladder and bowel issues

As well as the weight of a growing baby, your body during pregnancy will be gripped by a surge of hormones. Both combine to cause problems relating to bladder-control and bowel issues.

For example, some women find they need to urinate more frequently, whilst other women find getting to the toilet on time is almost impossible. Constipation is also common amongst pregnant women.

There are solutions;

• Using high quality incontinence products for women can help manage accidental leaks of urine
• Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles that control the bladder and the bowel, helping you to ‘hold on’ to urine as you make your way to the bathroom
• Constipation is helped by eating more soluble fibre and increasing water intake; sip water through the day rather than drink a glass all in one go

#2 Morning Sickness

Severe morning sickness can result in hospital treatment, something we are all more aware of since Kate, Duchess of Cambridge suffered crippling morning sickness during both her pregnancies.
Although called ‘morning sickness’, the feeling of needing to be sick or actually being sick can last all day or occur at any time of day. You can feel very uncomfortable but the good news is that morning sickness does not place you baby in danger.

Caused by the surge in hormones in early pregnancy, finding what works for you can make those early few weeks a little more bearable;

• Eat smaller meals and more often – not eating can make nausea worse
• The same goes for drinking – sip drinks, rather than have a large drink in one go
• Limit fatty and spicy foods
• Some women find cooking intensifies morning sickness – try and prepare food when you don’t feel nauseous
• Eating a dry biscuit before you get out of bed in a morning can help

#3 Backache

Being pregnant places a strain on muscles and ligaments, with some women finding that they back aches from early on in pregnancy right through to full term. This dull ache can make standing, walking, sitting and lying down uncomfortable and this lack of relief can quickly tire you.

• Avoiding lifting heavy thing but if it cannot be avoided, bend your knees and keep your back straight
• Move you whole body when you need to turn, rather than twisting at the back
• Wear flat shoes as this will help to distribute your weight evenly
• Sit with your back straight and well-supported
• Get plenty of rest, especially in late pregnancy

As women’s incontinence pads can help to manage bladder weakness, exercise can help to manage an aching back. Gentle exercise, such as swimming and gentle walks, can help to strengthen muscles and ligaments.

#4 Headaches

Some women find that they suffer from more frequent headaches during pregnancy. In most cases, it is caused by a surge in hormones which may explain why some women when not pregnant suffer headaches around their period.
Headaches can be worse in the first few weeks of pregnancy and steadily improve as the pregnancy progresses. Although uncomfortable for you, they are not affecting your baby.
If you develop headaches in the second half of your pregnancy which are at the front of your head, it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia, pregnancy induced high blood pressure. It is important you discuss headaches with your doctor or midwife.

#5 Vaginal Discharge

During pregnancy, your body undergoes a whole raft of changes. A common pregnancy issue is vaginal discharge and although unpleasant, it is normal.

It happens for a few reasons;
• The cervix, the neck of the womb and vaginal walls are softening ready for the birth and this causes discharge
• This discharge is also nature’s way of preventing infections from travelling up into the womb
• Towards the end of pregnancy, this discharge can increase and be confused with urine; if this is happening, women’s incontinence pads can be a useful means of managing it.

In late pregnancy, you may have a discharge known as a ‘show’. This is a thicker mucus and may contain blood. This is the plug of mucus that is in the cervix coming away, ready for labour and birth.

If you are concerned about any issues or problems, talk to your GP or midwife.

HARTMANN Direct have a range of women’s incontinence pads, ideal for use during pregnancy and after birth too.

It’s a week where I am pleased with myself for standing up for other people.

Earlier in the week, I was in a charity shop when I noticed a board game with convicted paedophile Stuart Hall on the front of the box grinning. This was placed on the shelf highlighted as potential Christmas gifts. I did not like the idea of it being there at all. I am very much of the view that it can’t help victims of child abuse to keep seeing images of those that abuse in the media and so on.

However, we are too often encouraged not to make a fuss so I walked out of the shop but remained troubled. The next time I was in there, I bought some Christmas decorations and Stuart Hall was still there. Suddenly, I found myself stumbling through words trying to highlight the issue with the two women behind the counter. One seemed a little aggressive and as if she could not see what i was getting at. The other starting googling Stuart Hall and then went into the back presumably to find the manager or something.

At this point, I was embarrassed and flustered. Imagine my surprise when the woman who had being off with me suddenly disclosed to me that a family member had abused her as a child. So as well as apologising for making a fuss I was now saying sorry to the woman for bringing back unpleasant memories. She said I had no need to say sorry and I left the shop.

I went in again today and noticed that Stuart Hall was missing. As I was browsing the bric-a-brac, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It made me jump. It was the woman again saying they had got rid of the game. I felt a bond, two women one a victim and one not united against child abuse.

I am not naming the town I was in or the charity shop brand as it is not necessary.

What I will say is that perhaps charity shops should be issuing their staff and volunteers with guidance on products that have a connection with child abusers.

On reflection, I am proud of myself for having my say, blushing, stumbling but raising my voice all the same. The more we do this, the less power abusers have whatever game they think they are playing.

Dear Jo Cox

When you were killed someone contacted me as they thought I might know you. I didn’t and as far as I know was never in the same room as you. You were clearly an incredible woman and you should still be here.

Jo Cox

I wish I had met you. I think we would have got on and perhaps more importantly got each other.

I was raised in the same area as you. That place has so many problems including generations of poverty and what Theresa May can write off so lightly as “just about managing”. Adversity creates strong communities at best and a pride in your roots.

I was surprised to hear you were shy, something I have suffered with all my life. I too get people to make phone calls for me when I bottle it. And like you, somehow against all the odds, I found myself at Cambridge University and was the first graduate in the family.

Cambridge just made me even more left-wing as I saw how easily you can be written off for having gone to the wrong school or not having the right accent. I have always worried about my Yorkshire accent and yet listening to you speak in the House of Commons, you used your voice with its beautiful accent not trying to pretend you were anyone but you.

You were a few years younger than me so our paths did not cross in the beautiful city of Cambridge.

How brave you were to go off to live in another country working in Brussels. Another beautiful city. Your family must have been so proud of you.

Then to Oxford and Oxfam where I worked for a period too. No wonder I was asked if I knew you. You and I have shared pavements.

How you juggled all the amazing feats with having a young family I do not know.

Yesterday I read your husband’s description of you life and how you put your children first. It made me make changes to my day to ensure I was doing the same with mine. Too often I put other responsibilities first when what matters is making memories with the children.

I have often wondered about returning to West Yorkshire. Should I return whatever skills I have to the town that welcomed me into their community and funded my through university. People who never left probably think I have had an exciting life and that is true. But how I miss the familiar structures of home. That place has a great way of instilling the right values and perhaps particularly in its women. Now I am wondering if I should leave the country altogether as it has not served me and my family well. I wonder what you would make of that.

You were killed and that can never be put right. But so many things can be and I hope all of us are moved by your story and your strength of character and take baby steps to be better mums, to think globally and to do out bit.

Rest peacefully.

The Pramshed
Diary of an imperfect mum