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.