Monday 7 January 2019

January and self care - new socks anyone?

I recently shared on my Facebook page an article by Brianna West about self care - it shouldn't be a one off spa day or the odd yoga class to help you momentarily escape from your exhausting, overwhelming life, it should be about changing your life in small, or maybe big, ways to make it satisfying and constructive for you.

As a single mum of 3 kids, this really struck a chord with me. It's amazing how the "just keep swimming" mantra, in the words of a certain little blue fish called Dory, becomes all consuming, just keep going through the relentless demands of everyday life, hoping that a glass of wine, a hot bath or booking a massage will somehow make it all bearable again...

But actually, what are the really annoying everyday things that if you could get round to changing would make a big difference?

Tuesday 23 October 2018

The holy grail of being "useful"

How many of us in our life goals wanted to do something useful? Not just for ego or for profit. Something that genuinely benefits others, addresses inequality in our society or specifically aims to assist the disempowered and the vulnerable? Of course, many of us working in a whole range of occupations do - human rights campaigners, environmental activists, journalists, nurses, lawyers, teachers, social workers, carers, youth workers, therapists, counsellors, charity workers, community organisers, MPs, doctors, vets and all the others I haven't mentioned.

I was recently reading a Facebook post by a very talented artist (@GillGamble), who it turns out spent a difficult year in medical school before realising that this evidently was not her vocation in life. Now as an artist and storyteller, she feels that finally she has found a role which is important and plays to her talents but which doesn't play to those conventional ideas of useful occupations.

I realised how much I had struggled with this notion of finding yourself a "useful" occupation and how, in fact, it is OK to sometimes let it go. Not because helping others isn't important. But sometimes, something you think of as "useful", an idea that you imposed on yourself at some point or was imposed upon you, isn't actually where your individual strengths lie.

Friday 2 February 2018

Travelling kids!

On New Year's Day, I flew with my three kids under 8 into the polar night to discover Tromsø in Northern Norway. Yes, it was a feat of organisational skill, patience, and determination that got us on that holiday but I'm so glad I did it. 

There were obviously moments that weren't on my list of holiday highlights. The little one kicking the aeroplane seat in front for hours as the poor girl tried to study for an exam. The little one jumping the queue at Norwegian passport control, bypassing the desk and disappearing through the doors! The little one clambering onto the baggage check in and heading up the baggage transport system (weight: 15kg, label: missing). The older two weren't saints either, but at least they can be reasoned with/bribed....

Kids' TV and the token female

In 2014, during what could be called a "gender balance uproar", the BBC had to confess that maybe all male panel shows were not all that great in the 21st century. Y'know from a diversity perspective. So we saw Sue Perkins, Jo Brand or Sarah Millican appear suddenly on every single show from QI to Have I got News for You?, their wit and truisms reduced to a tick next to "woman" on some BBC official's clipboard. Or maybe "comedienne".

Sunday 25 June 2017

Thumbs up for the new Wonder Woman movie!

I've seen a few of these Marvel Comic Hero films, not really my first choice (!) and have always been left a bit cold. Sure, there's iconic characters, full-blown action, team work, the odd moment of self deprecating humour but in general, totally forgettable. But there seemed a bit of a buzz about this new Wonder Woman flick, I think I even heard the word "feminist" so I thought, I'm getting a babysitter, I need to see this for myself!

Monday 24 April 2017

Finding your happy place

Now my kids are getting older and we're starting to get to know them better, we've realised that each child has something that they not only love to do, something they need to do. Something that if they don't do it for some reason, like we're too busy or they're ill or something, really impacts on their mood and well being. Cue grumpy, irritable children and the parental lament "what's wrong with you!?"

Friday 10 March 2017

10 reasons I quit online shopping!

I gave up online shopping as my New Year's resolution. It was a kickback against the boxes, the stuff, the hours sucked up browsing for essentials...oh and non-essentials. It's been liberating! Good for me, good for the local economy, good for the environment. Here's why:

Monday 5 December 2016

Women to women: my first visit to a refugee camp

Whether you have entered into debates about refugees versus migrants and the role of European countries to welcome or bar the movement of people from areas of war, persecution and extreme poverty, we are all now aware that we are living in a time of huge upheaval, with desperate men, women and children living in squalor only a few miles away on the French coast. The closure of the infamous Calais jungle by the French government has not made these people magically disappear or stemmed the flow.

Many of us in the UK have been sending donations to the camps in France and Greece over the past two years, old clothes, shoes, nappies, milk, medicines and vitamins via grassroots organisations and committed individuals who have stored, packaged and sent our offerings. In the town where I live in Kent, the people I know who put out the call for donations all happen to be mothers with young children, travelling to the camps on a regular basis, volunteering their time, money and energy to go and be with people in need.

Friday 29 July 2016

10 things you should know if you're thinking about baby number 3...

So we've recently added to our brood with baby number 3. He is a joy and a curly, tottering bundle of delight. He's also a lot of work. Whether to have a third can be a preoccupation for couples of the blessed duo. Just when you are coming put of the woods and have a pair of nearly rational beings, you wonder whether you're quite done with the baby cuddles, the babbling, the first steps... Rather like birth, you tend to remember the better bits! It's a big decision and there is even a website dedicated to the question, Having Three Kids. Having a third does have a big impact on your life in ways that maybe I hadn't fully thought through. In fact, having three or more children can sabotage the feminist dream of equal parenting in some unexpected ways.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

The legacy of Jo Cox MP: feminist role model?

I had no idea who Jo Cox was, until the news of her brutal murder last Thursday. Since that moment, fellow MPs, constituents, colleagues have come forward to tell us what a remarkable women she was, as a politician, a campaigner, a mother. A tiny, dynamic figure with a kind smile and dimples. It is rare to see such a force for good, such an inspirational figure, juggling issues on the national and international stage, the public and the domestic front.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

A Room of One's Own

You may have noticed that keeping this blog afloat lately has been a struggle. Take three young children, a small business venture and life, and there seems little time for ruminating on anything, let alone inspiration and creativity. It is so easy to become bogged down in the minutiae, the everyday decisions that have to be made, the spellings, the swimming lessons, the tax return. Not even having little ones who reliably sleep during the evening, makes it feel that there is no time, no proper, guaranteed, no interruptions time when the baby definitely won't stir for a feed or the 3 year old definitely won't awake, stricken with night terrors, wide eyed and tragic.

The experience of mentally drowning in to do lists and appointments and pick ups and drop offs and being needed, is reflected in the physical. Our house is littered with shoes and tiny plastic toys and cat biscuits and rice cakes and things the baby has strewn about after a morning emptying cupboards. Upstairs piles of towels, clothes small children have grown out of, books not yet read. Not only is mental space at a premium, grown up physical space has all but disappeared.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

The Maternity Services Review: will women have genuine "choice"?

The long awaited Maternity Services Review has been published today! There is lots to welcome in the proposals. A much needed focus on perinatal and postnatal mental health. A recognition of the importance of continuity of care. Appropriate payments for service providers. Better collaborative working between health professionals.

Plans also include a £3000 personal birth budget allocated per woman to spend as she "chooses", be it on midwife care in the community, a home birth or hospital birth and complementary therapies such as hypnobirthing. This figure apparently reflects the average cost of a straightforward pregnancy and birth. But is this genuine choice?

Friday 29 January 2016

Barbie's new body types! Good news?

So we only have two toys outlawed in our house,  Barbie and toy guns. Based on the design for a German erotic doll, Barbie's unattainable physique designed to titillate adult men was not, in our opinion, the ideal toy for our young children. When Great Granny give our 3 year old daughter one for Christmas, we promptly disappeared it to the shed and said no more about it!

But after 57 years, the toy manufacturer Mattel has finally caught up with the 21st century and recognised that women come in different shapes, sizes and skin tones. Their new range includes "curvy", "petite" and "tall". Do I welcome this? Absolutely. It's a long overdue step in the right direction. Now when kids go to toy shops, they don't see a single size zero blonde presented as the ideal woman but an array of dolls which are more reflective of the society we live in.

Friday 18 December 2015

Happy things

Wow, it's been a long time since I wrote a post! WHY? Because baby number 3 came along. Work got in the way. The normal reasons why people don't get to indulge in creative pastimes. In fact, a brilliant piece by Kate Baer sums it up right here. Sometimes you are too tightly wound up by everything there is to do to even calm down before passing out at night. Too exhausted by the overwhelming nature of everyday life to focus your energies on such an indulgent thing as writing.

Of course, a lot has happened in the last 5 months. Stuff too big to cover absent mindedly while feeding a newborn in the dark. Syria. The refugee crisis. Paris. Tragedy after tragedy. Burdened by negativity, paralysed by the sheer scale of bad news on TV, on the radio, on Facebook and Twitter feeds.

But now it's Christmas time. So worrying about the world has to take a back seat for a while. Being grateful for who and what we have comes first. Light in the darkness and all that.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Thinking positive: 5 good news stories that you might have forgotten!

On the 10th anniversary of the July bombings in London, it may seem odd to talk about positive news. This morning I turned on the radio to graphic descriptions of injured people being rescued from the awful events of 7th July 2005 and dire warnings about the severe terror threat we continue to live with. This week we are also regaled with details of the Chancellor's budget, called the first true blue budget in decades, in which politicians with trust funds cut welfare to families on the poverty line.

But before I plummet into depression, I remind myself that there has been some good news lately. News that I want to highlight and celebrate.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

The Hironimus-Nebus case - time we started defending our boy children too?

CC license Brad Kebodeaux
If you have been following the Hironimus-Nebus case in the US, you will know that an American mother has been forced, while handcuffed, to sign court forms consenting to her 4 year old son's circumcision, a procedure requested by the father with no medical grounds.

Judge Jeffery Dana Gillen stated “She is going to sign the paperwork authorizing Chase’s circumcision or she’s going to sit behind bars until she does.” (Philly Voice)

Tuesday 12 May 2015

CHARITY POST: New Save the Children Club!

Last Saturday, I was delighted to take my daughter along to have a cheeky "first look" at the new Save the Children Club being launched by the international charity, Save the Children, this summer. The aim of the new "club" is to help children in the UK learn about the lives of children just like them around the world and understand a bit more about how natural disasters might affect their families. Children will receive a booklet in the post addressed to them several times a year, packed with facts, stickers, recipes, activites and the story of a real child's daily life in an area where Save the Children work.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Feminist Mum appearing at Whitlit, May 16th 2015

So I am set to make my first public appearance as "Feminist Mum" next weekend at Whitlit, Whitstable's one and only literary festival! Making Trouble: Feminism Now and Then will present a panel discussion considering what feminism means to us today, especially in the light of the recent revival in the movement's popularity. It is great to have Sue O'Sullivan and Lynne Segal, both feminist activists since the 1970s, alongside newer identifiers with feminism, myself and student, Greta Gilham Wright.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Who are you voting for? #generalelection2015

The general election is tomorrow. TOMORROW. Finally, at last, after all the chat and debates and claims and counter-claims, we all get the hard-won opportunity to put a cross next to the party of our choice. The closer we get, the less certain I am about who to vote for! I've been to local hustings, watched the TV debates, had a look at policy. And usually I am clearer on who NOT to vote for, leaving me with picking the least worst option...

Sunday 26 April 2015

Who wins the moral highground: child-focused or child-free?

A rare child-free moment

A recent article in the New York Times, "No kids for me, thanks" has sparked a lot of debate around the changing demographics of essentially industrialised societies. No longer following the traditional "marriage then 2.4 kids" scenario, more adults are exercising the choice that comes with improved birth control. The decision not to have children at all. Gone is the rather sad phrase "childless" to be replaced with the more positive "child-free".

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Confused by the new Shared Parental Leave legislation?

This infographic from GotoMeeting might help! If you would like to learn more about what shared parental leave means for your family and your relationship, check out this Guest Post from a Norwegian mum on what it's really like sharing your maternity leave with your partner.

Monday 20 April 2015

GUEST POST: Celebrating pregnancy and motherhood in The Gambia

In this guest post, Charlotte Kanyi explores how her husband's Gambian culture influenced her own experience of motherhood in the UK.

My marriage was an epic multi day, multi location event. Meeting my husband's family and country for the first time I was showered with warm words of blessing and delightful smiles wherever I went. At 29 weeks pregnant I was also the subject of much teasing and admiration. The continued jokes were not of the shotgun variety, more an amused appreciation that went along the lines of 'Oh you couldn't wait because she is so irresistible.' People called me powerful and looked impressed. I was touched and felt myself soften and open at this unexpected source of approval.

Sunday 22 March 2015

"Disconnect Sunday" and space to breathe

Last weekend, we started a thing in our house called "Disconnect Sunday". It was Mother's Day so as all normal rules were suspended anyway, it could hardly be called a launch. Doing it again today, till 6pm as agreed with my other half, actually means it could turn into a thing we do. Every week. On a normal Sunday.

This is not a religious thing. Sunday was the day of choice as naturally it is a family day when we probably wouldn't miss much in the virtual world. It basically means phones off, tablets off, PCs off, no Wifi, no mobile internet. Yes it is old-school. It is how we, the pre-"digital natives" generation, used to live. 

Friday 6 March 2015

Mummy start ups: Empowerment or last resort?

Women with children appear to be starting up businesses left right and centre. These include a huge array of options such as small cottage industry type start ups (crafts and baking on the kitchen table after bedtime), re-training in massage, nutrition or hypnobirthing, joining franchises such as La Jolie Ronde and Monkey Music, freelance copy writing, PR or graphic design and also starting up retail empires such as Not on the High Street and JoJoMamanBebe.

Sunday 22 February 2015

The 7 items I wouldn't be without! Forget glamour, hello Sudocrem face mask...

This is not an advertising feature, I have received no free samples. These are basically things that occured to me in the last few days as stuff that really does make life easier when parenting small children. They ain't glamorous but they are multifunctional, practical, cheap! A few of my friends have become parents for the first time recently. I dedicate this post to you...

Sunday 8 February 2015

Would you send your daughter to a girls' school?

So, this is quite a premature question for me as my daughter is only 4 years old and in her first year of school. There are some single sex private schools which segregate from a very young age, but in the state sector, it is common from age 11 when children join the big, bad world of secondary school! Having sorted out primary, inevitably my mind turns to the next educational quandary, where next?

Sunday 25 January 2015

What does success mean to you?

There was a fascinating article this week by Alison Wolf in the Guardian. She argued that feminists today are too obsessed with climbing ladders, achieving high salaries and entering the circles of power and influence. Quotas on company boards, all female shortlists for parliament and achieving professional success. While this may make highly educated, elite women more visible, it does nothing to improve representation for women of all backgrounds and classes. Rather than the traditional image of the woman behind the man, we now have the team of cleaners and nannies behind the elite women; breaking glass ceilings while leaving the rest behind. As Wolf puts it,
"Class trumps gender. And inequality among women is rising much faster than inequality among men."

Thursday 1 January 2015

What I have learnt about SLEEP...

My son is finally starting to sleep through. In his own bed. HURRAY. HALLELUJAH. AND THANK GOD (and I'm not even religious). I am allowing myself to be smug about this. He is not 6 weeks old. I am not looking around at other parents of newborns with a self-satisfied air that my tiny infant has somehow defied the laws of nature and has taken to 12 hours straight as though they were born to it. No, my son is two and half. Yep, YEARS, not months.

Sunday 23 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK: The things that make a difference...

Whether you have a home birth, hospital birth, natural labour or c-section, there are no guarantees that it will all go along as you expect or hope. Labour, birth and the postpartum period can be a nerve-wracking, vulnerable time. The kindness, compassion and support you receive really can go a long way and will never be forgotten.

Here is a collection of contributions from mothers about the things that made a positive difference to their birth experience. This could read as a tribute to all the wonderful people out there who have made a difference to pregnant women, be it supporting their partner or their patient. In a way it is also a manifesto – this is what women want. It is not about a medical versus a natural model of care, it is about showing women respect, compassion and support when it really matters most.

Most of all, for me this is an emotional read. I feel so angry and frustrated when women and babies are not treated as they should be but these stories show such lovely, beautiful moments that it makes me feel almost teary. Thank you so much to all the women who contributed. Enjoy!

Saturday 22 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK: What if it's more than one baby!?

Multiple births account for 1 in 62 births in the UK, with the rising use of fertility treatments and women having children later in life increasing the likelihood of twin pregnancies. Experiences of pregnancy and birth with twins can vary substantially, twins who share a placenta for example are perceived as higher risk than twins who have a placenta each. In this piece, we hear from Mars Lord, who is a mum of five, including one set of twins, and works as a doula in London specialising in twin births.

Friday 21 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK: Across the 'ole fish pond: What's it like having a baby in the US of A?

So according to the movies, sitcoms and HBO box sets, life for mums in the US is good. They seem to have a pretty decent healthcare system. How many times have you heard American women refer to having their own gynaecologist or dermatologist, as though they have expensive specialists at their beck and call to do their smears or check their wrinkles. Similarly, American parenting books often advise you to take your child to your paediatrician to check minor symptoms, as opposed to the long drawn out process in the UK involving begging your GP for a referral. And what about maternity rights? Well, it’s a modern, liberal democracy, mothers probably have pretty decent access to rights and services, right?

Thursday 20 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK GUEST POST: "An environment conducive for birthing"

In this guest post, Clare Thomas, a mum of two and veteran of both a hospital birth and a home birth, considers the NICE guidance that women having their second child should be supported to have their child at home.   
In May 2014, NICE began a consultation on new guidelines for birthing, which propose that women with straightforward pregnancies, and especially those having second or subsequent babies, should be supported to birth their babies at home or in midwife led units. Evidence shows that for second timers it is as safe for mother and baby to give birth at home as in hospital, with there being very similar outcomes at home for first time mums, with an increased risk of one percent, often attributed to the element of the unknown in a woman giving birth for the first time. Having experienced giving birth with lots of intervention in hospital and with none at home,  I wholeheartedly welcome the proposals.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK: "Work out what a positive experience means to you" Rebecca Schiller, Doula

In this Q&A Rebecca Schiller, doula and co-chair & campaigner for Birthrights, tells us about the role of the doula and how they can support women before, during and after birth.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK: "It's totally OK to say you will see how you feel!" Dr Ruth MacQueen

In this post we hear from Obstetrics & Gyaecology Registrar and mum of two, Dr Ruth-Anna Macqueen. While we all hope for a straightforward birth, our NHS doctors work incredibly hard to help women and babies get through difficult and complicated labours. Here Dr Macqueen tells us why it's good to be prepared but we also need to be able to go with flow if things don't pan out as we expect.

Monday 17 November 2014

BIRTH WEEK: Childbirth is a "social, not a medical, event" Sheena Byrom OBE, Midwife

In the first instalment of BIRTH WEEK, we hear from inspirational midwife, Sheena Byrom OBE, on her role as a midwife, supporting women in childbirth and the current state of maternity services in the UK.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Introducing BIRTH WEEK...

As Christmas beckons (don't panic, we have a few weeks left!), what better time to talk about birth? While many women are unlikely to face the straw, manger, stable scenario, across the world women's experiences are hugely different, some women giving birth in truly adverse circumstances, others' surrounded by love and support.

Friday 7 November 2014

What I learnt at the Feminism in London Conference


So I attended the Feminism in London Conference for the first time 2 weeks ago. Slightly apprehensive about dry academic debates, exclusive women only zones or maybe hardline activists, my fears were put to rest when I found a buzzing crowd of women and men of all ages, creeds and professions there to engage with important issues of our time. All the campaigns of the moment had a stall: the 50:50 Parliament Campaign, Everyday Sexism, No More Page 3, Fawcett Society, Mothers at Home Matter. Comedians. Academics. Health Professionals. Women's Advocates.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Is feminism the new COOL?

BrittRenee Photography (edited, Creative Commons Licence)

So feminists have complained for a long time that feminism is ignored by the mainstream, derided by the media and is generally under-valued as a movement to tackle social injustice and improve the rights of women. A few older women in the public eye have been vocal about their support for feminism including Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Kristen Wiig and Emma Thompson.

Friday 17 October 2014

To Be A Woman

This is a piece I wrote six years ago in a creative writing workshop. 

To be a woman is to be everything and nothing, Woman is nurturer, healer, spiritual guardian, provider of life, the all-seeing and all-doing. Women are essential to the flow of life - the cycles, the actualities, the happenings, they make the social, the civilised, the cultural possible.

Sunday 5 October 2014

How to update your autumn wardrobe GUILT-FREE!

So it's that time of year when you start rummaging around the drawers under your bed looking for a chunky knit cardigan, a stylish snood or some cosy pyjamas and come up for air with frankly, bits of boring/zany knitwear that you cannot believe you ever bought, let alone wore every day last winter. Can you really justify buying anything new? After all, money is tight these days and the message is "waste not, want not"!

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Stories for girls, stories for boys? We all like dinosaurs and tutus in our house!

It all seems so simple. Wander into your local bookshop or library, find something for your little one that is bright, colourful, interesting. It attracts their attention and they wave it aloft, crawling into your lap so you will read them a story. The problem is, more and more often, books are displayed in rows with titles like “Girls’ favourite princess stories” or “Adventure tales for boys”. You would think that was something out of the 1950s, wouldn’t you? Oh no. Campaigns across the country such as Let Books Be Books, are demanding that publishers withdraw books that specify gender in the title and assume a very narrow range of interests based purely on the sex of the child. And, of course, this debate has been going on much longer in the world of toys.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Brand "family": how we never seem to get that amazing holiday snap

So it's been holiday time recently and whether it be vacations or staycations, no one goes anywhere without a camera or camera-phone these days, so you probably have some photos to trawl through. Rather than like in the olden days when you had a couple of films of dodgy pics to print off (blurred, red-eye, of nothing...), you now have hundreds, possibly a thousand photos of your gang on holiday.

Sunday 31 August 2014

In defence of the anti-feminists...

Over the summer there has been an outcry amongst feminist commentators and left-wing columnists about the website Women Against Feminism. This website allows individuals from across the globe, mainly young women, to post a photo of themselves holding a placard with an explanation of why they are opposed to feminism. Some of these statements are expressing traditional, conservative, right wing views as you might expect. On August 28th, a woman states “I don’t need feminism because I want to promise my man to love him, honour him and obey him”.

Friday 25 July 2014

CAREERS WEEK: Getting to grips with childcare!

For working families in the UK, childcare is probably the biggest headache. Choosing the right setting for your child/children, how to make it work with drop offs and pick ups, full-time or part-time, making the sums add up. Women often seem to feel that it all falls on their shoulders; making the decisions, working out whether their salary will cover the childcare costs for 1, 2 or 3 kids. In this rather epic review, I take childcare by the horns; examining the UK childcare situation now and the changes that are coming up.

Thursday 24 July 2014

CAREERS WEEK GUEST POST: Want to climb the career ladder? What's stopping you?

By Liz Rouse OBE

Where next?  Been doing the same old job or wanting to get back into work? Thinking about stepping on to the management ladder?   

For most of us, the way to progress within an organisation and indeed earn a bigger salary is to take on management responsibilities. If the case studies of "superwomen" profiled in the press are correct, some women can't wait to be managers - to be in charge. Not only do they run highly successful businesses or rise to the top of their profession, they also seem to have wonderful partners and children, and great childcare! But when faced with an opportunity to go into management or take the next step up the ladder, many of us are more ambivalent. Perhaps we are not so eager to take on extra responsibilities, worrying how this will affect our families and how we will manage childcare. Anyway we don't necessarily see ourselves as "managers", part of the hierarchy. Would we have to change, can we be true to ourselves and our values? 

Wednesday 23 July 2014

CAREERS WEEK GUEST POST: Same World... different planet... What do you want now?

By Kerry Hales
Motherhood is a strange, yet wonderful place and the extra earth shattering news is that now your values have changed too.  You don’t want the same ‘anything’ that you did before – how could you?  So who are you now, and what do you really want?  Here are five exercises on ‘Finding what you want’:

Tuesday 22 July 2014

CAREERS WEEK GUEST POST: On why motherhood and entrepreneurship can be the perfect fit

Emily Guille-Marrett is a mother of two young boys and founder of new company Here she talks about how having a baby changed her life and gave her the flexibility, creative space and confidence to set up her own business.

Monday 21 July 2014

CAREERS WEEK: Q&A with Karen Mattison MBE, Co-founder of Timewise

Karen Mattison MBE

Multi award-winning Karen Mattison MBE is the co-founder and director of Timewise, along with business-partner Emma Stewart MBE. Karen was initially motivated by the skilled and experienced women she’d meet at the school gates, who wanted work to fit with family, and is now passionate about the gains for business of taking a more flexible approach.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Introducing CAREERS WEEK on Feminist Mum

Credit/Howard R. Hollem - Own photograph of original

For women with children, careers can be a tricky topic. Something to steer clear of during parent & baby coffee mornings. The sighs....stressed about going back to work, can't find the right job, stuck in a rut, the childcare problem. The word "career" itself can be pretty intimidating, maybe you don't imagine yourself with a career at all. Maybe you have simply hopped from job to job or juggled several jobs simultaneously to pay the bills. On the other hand, you might be in the career you always wanted but finding juggling family needs with professional demands an unexpected headache. You might be having an identity crisis about opting out for a while (forever???) to spend more time with the kids, or contemplating setting up your own business so you can be the boss for a change.

Friday 18 July 2014

JOINT POST: On “free birth”. Tempted? Not tempted?

A woman gives birth unassisted at home. 
LaVergerrayCherie-birth, credit Lisa J. Patton, available by Creative Commons license

"Free birth”, or “unassisted birth”, can be defined as the decision by a pregnant mother to give birth unattended by medical or health professionals. This isn’t the stories we all know of babies arriving in hospital car parks or in the lift. It’s not a planned home birth when the midwives get stuck in traffic and the father ends up having to catch the baby. This is a decision to give birth in a place of your choosing with the people you want to be there. Maybe even alone.  A birth without medical supervision or intervention but not without a certain level of risk. In this joint post, Chrissy from AttachmentFeminism and Francesca from FeministMum tell us their opposing views: “tempted” and “not tempted”!

Monday 7 July 2014

What's in a name?

Edmund Blair Leighton "Signing the register"

So recently there was an article in the Guardian by Lauren Apfel about how she wished she had given her daughter her surname. It sparked quite a lot of interest - what women decide to do with their names when they co-habit, get married or have children is tricky. All, yes ALL, my married friends, many of whom I think of as having feminist leanings, simply switched to their husband's surname. No debate, no inner turmoil. Just the simple, straightforward route. What was the reason? Mainly because they wanted a "family name"; something that would unite the couple and their children, creating a sense of identity and belonging. One friend said she just "sleepwalked" into it.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Mothers who have abortions - the last taboo

Abortion is a scary topic. It is an extremely powerful and emotive issue with complex arguments over details - number of weeks of pregnancy, how it is performed, who should sign the form, when it is or is not justified. When does life begin?