What being a feminist means to me

I still remember the day I first learnt what feminism was. I was in my first week of my first year at uni, sat in a large lecture hall. “Hands up if you consider yourself to be a feminist” came the call from the lecturer. Only a few hands went up, not including mine (shout out to Callum if you’re reading this cos you did put your hand up!). The lecturer wasn’t surprised and went on to tell us the dictionary definition of feminism.

“The advocacy of women’s rights to create equality of the sexes”

She asked us again to put our hands up if we considered ourselves to be feminists and every single hand went up.

You see, up until this point I’d believed that feminism was all about thinking women were better than men. Women should rule, be in charge, take over. In my mind I was thinking “well I’m all for girl power but feminism isn’t for me”. So many people say that they agree with gender equality, but not feminism. They are the same. damn. thing. Feminism is about women, yes. But it’s about promoting women’s rights to create equality. Nothing more than that. For years women have been downtrodden. It’s an uncomfortable reality for people to face but it’s true. For years a woman wasn’t allowed to work, then she could work but only until she got married. Then after that she could work but only until she had children. Women used to be used as property to be bought and sold. Gradually we have progressed and society has evolved, we are starting to make real head way but there is still so much sexism that goes on in daily life and the sad fact is we barely even notice it. What’s more, many countries are nowhere near as progressive as us and girls all over the world are being pushed down and overlooked on a good day, objectified or raped on a bad day.

That’s not to say it’s all great for men. Awful stuff also happens to men every single day… but a pursuit of gender equality means that the stigma surrounding male rape, male domestic abuse victims and male suicide is shifting. So men and women both benefit from feminism and gender equality.

Of course, there are people who “give feminism a bad name” there are women out there who hate men and call themselves feminist. But the dictionary definition focuses on equality of the sexes, those people are not true feminists. Just like terrorists are not true Muslims and murderers of innocent school children are not true Christians.

With all that being said, what does feminism mean for me?

First of all, freedom. Being a stay at home mum, I once thought I was “un-feminist” but I have since realised that gender equality gives us the freedom to work or not. It also gives dads the opportunity to stay home if that’s what they want. Being a stay at home mum isn’t weak, it’s strong because it means I am prepared to sacrifice to do the best for my family. But feminism also means that more and more women who have amazing careers are able to go back to work thanks to maternity pay etc.

Secondly, feminism is opportunity. It means that there is a world of options open to my daughters regardless of their gender. I did a quick search for “girls toys” on toys r us. The first categories that came up were dolls, arts and crafts, beauty accessories and make believe toys featuring a picture of a microwave. Do you know what came up for boys? Building sets, action figures and LEARNING. Yes, that’s right, companies think beauty accessories are a higher priority for young girls than LEARNING. I don’t want my daughters to grow up thinking that their outward beauty is all they are which is why I actively try to compliment them on their intelligence, strength and bravery every single day rather than just how pretty they are. I want them to have the opportunity to play with toys that will challenge their mind and grow their skills. I personally don’t think there is any need to label toys “boys” or “girls”. I want my girls to have opportunity to play rugby, do ballet, play video games, programme computers, cook and so much more.

Finally I think for me feminism is about safety. We’ve all heard the stories; woman rejects man in a club and gets punched. Male domestic abuse victim is not taken seriously. These kind of stories show how dangerous life can be for men and women. Particularly women in other countries where laws aren’t so strict/ well enforced and women regularly get bought and sold or given away as property. Rape is a weapon of war. It’s not ok and it isn’t the type of world I want to live in. Once we start to see the sexes as equal it starts to become less ok to do these things.

As a Christian I believe we are all made equal by God. When Jesus was alive, he cared for women and treated them as human beings which is something that was seldom done in those days. He would have been seen as radical on his approach to women.

I want my girls to grow up with every opportunity that their male peers have. I want them to know that they can be strong and sensitive. They can be a stay at home mum or prime minister of the UK. Equally, if I ever have a son I wish the same for him. I want him to know it’s ok to cry and not like football.

So there you have it.

I’m a feminist. I believe in equality.

Thanks for reading.

Photo shoot with Melanie Grace Photography

A couple of months a go the lovely Melanie from Melanie Grace Photography came over to my house to photograph us for her “Motherhood in my words” series. I have only just got round to posting the photos on my blog because my internet is really bad at the moment and I can’t upload such large files. Anyway, I will link to the blog post on her website here.

Melanie asked me to choose the location of the shoot and I chose my own home. We always take photos when we’re out and about (although not to this standard) but I wanted to capture the memories of the every day, homey moments with my girls that I want to treasure forever.

Melanie asked me to write a few words for her blog about my experience of motherhood, here’s what I wrote:

Motherhood In My Words

At first, my confidence was rock bottom because I didn’t know what I was doing as a first time mum, I was constantly second guessing myself and worrying about whether I was doing the wrong thing.

I breastfed the girls, which meant for the first four months there was pretty much always a baby with me. With that I started to feel like I lost my identity and with it my confidence. I didn’t know who I was without the girls and it actually got to the point where I didn’t like going anywhere without them. I became a bit of a social recluse because I felt like I had nothing in common with anyone and other mums wouldn’t like me because I was only 22 when I had the girls and as such I was a lot younger than most mums I met!

But as the girls got older I began to regain my confidence and I actually felt like I started to learn more about myself and aspects of my character that I hadn’t noticed before. I started to find a lot about myself that I liked, such as strength, determination and unbelievable love which gave me more confidence and made me feel proud of myself.

As the girls became more independent and we settled in to a better routine I found myself finding more enjoyment in going out with them and also meeting other mums and became happy and confident in myself instead of constantly worrying about what people thought of me.

The best advice I could give to a new mum would be to remember that nothing is forever. The really difficult times won’t last forever but neither will the good times so make sure you treasure all the good moments and that will help you through the bad ones! You can never take too many photos and videos and you’ll always look back and wish you had more! Especially in the first few weeks, make sure you are in lots of pictures despite how bad you think you look because you’ll regret it if you don’t! You don’t have to show anyone else anyway!

I would also say try to be relaxed and go with the flow, we all have ideals of how things will be, we won’t use dummies and we’ll be in a routine from six weeks but if you aren’t pragmatic you end up stressing yourself out!

Sometimes it’s ok to throw the advice and the rules out the window and do it your way – parental instinct is a real thing!

I absolutely adore all the photos that Mel took. We started off in the living room, playing and reading books. I must admit the girls weren’t very good at pretending the camera wasn’t there!

We then got our wellies on and headed outside. Playing in the garden is such a huge part of our life here and I’m so glad we captured it.

Then we headed back in and the girls had their lunch.

I then got the girls ready for their nap!

I could not be more thrilled with the photographs and I would recommend a session with Mel to anyone.

How to boss being a stay at home mum

Being a stay at home mum is hard and sometimes a bit monotonous. I’ve always aspired to have a career rather than a family so being a full time mum has been a definite learning curve for me! So, with that in mind I thought I’d write a blog post all about how I get the most fulfilment out of being a stay at home mum and what little things I’ve changed to make sure I really enjoy my time with the girls! It isn’t just for people who are full time mums, though! Whether you work part-time, or just have weekends with your babas I hope this helps you!

1. Be present

Now that the girls are older they often are quite content and happy to play on their own. Sometimes, it might be easier for me to just let them get on with it and of course sometimes I do. Sometimes, I clean up after their meals and get on with stuff  whilst they play but I also make sure I take the time for a good hour or so to put my phone out of reach and just enjoy playing with them. Granted, it can be very tempting to give them half my attention whilst checking my emails or watching a YouTube video, but the thing is I can do that whilst they nap or in the evening. Of course it’s good for kids to be able to play on their own but it’s also really important to enjoy your precious moments with your kiddos!

 

 

2. Screen time

Of course, at the moment my girls are too young for pretty much any other screen than that of the television so I can’t comment too much on tablets and phones and stuff. HOWEVER, we all know that ‘studies show screen time is crap for your kid’ or words to that effect. For the most part, I agree – there’s nothing worse than having kids tv blaring in the background all day long and now that the girls are more perceptive I won’t watch anything too ‘adult’ around them. Watching too much tv can affect their concentration as they grow up and other things. That being said, I do let the girls watch television – especially if they’re tired or I just need to distract them whilst I make their tea or get ready in the morning. A big tip for watching television with your children though is to actually watch it WITH them from time to time, rather than just using it as a distraction as I said before. Every now and then I put something on that I’ll also enjoy (Disney movie, Shrek or that kind of thing) and sit and watch it with them. It may only last twenty minutes but it is so lovely to have snuggly quality time with them!

3. Get out and about

I know this one is probably said to you ALL the time but it actually is so so helpful. It is so difficult to get out of the house especially with twins so its definitely important to find a time that works for you – I personally prefer to go out either all morning or all afternoon so the girls still get one of their naps at home. Obviously sometimes we go out all day but week to week I prefer to have time at home each day – the girls never nap enough when we’re out and about! Baby/toddler groups are an amazing way to give your child a change of scenery and a few new toys to play with as well as social interaction with other children (learning to share etc.) but it also helps us mums get to know other mums and have a bit of adult chat ourselves. Not every play group is going to work for you so it might take some time to find one that’s at the right time and distance from where you live. Also, sometimes other mums aren’t going to talk to you and you either have to really make the effort to push yourself in to conversations or give up and try a different group. Of course you’re not going to gel with every group of mums but don’t let it put you off trying again! I currently go to three baby groups a week and it really saves my sanity! Play groups aren’t the only way to get out of the house, of course. Just heading down to the park or for a stroll round the shops can be fab and give your child a bit of fresh air. I love taking my girls for walks and getting out in the sunshine (or sometimes rain!). If you just can’t face going out, get out in the garden! We have some mud suits for the girls so that they can crawl around in the garden and not worry about getting mucky and we have a slide and a seesaw for them in the garden that were pretty cheap. In your garden you can wear your pjs if you wish but at least your child is burning off some of that energy! Finally, don’t be afraid to go for adventures with your kids during the week! Normally, we wait for the weekend to have our big days out as that is when daddy is home and it gets expensive doing it regularly, however I’ve realised that this puts a lot of pressure on us to do lots at the weekend and make it memorable. Sometimes if my husband has had a tiring week at work he just wants to chill at home for most of the day and that’s fine especially if I know that we have got out and about and stimulated the girls a lot through the week! It can be daunting going out all day alone with your kids but it won’t be as bad as you think!

4. Find a hobby

I know, I know this feels like one of those things you always hear but bear with me! It can be tempting to just slump on the sofa during nap times and evenings or get on with the long to do list or house work and of course some days that does have to be done. However, its also important to take time for yourself and do something that you enjoy, whether that’s sitting reading a book, baking a cake or sewing some clothes. I enjoy baking but I also enjoy writing my blog and editing videos so that is something I do to just feel like ‘me’ rather than ‘mummy’. It doesn’t have to be anything hard work or taxing – maybe pick up your hubby’s play station controller and give that a go! You might surprise yourself.

5. Prioritise

This one is absolutely key. Yes, house work is important and its good for your child to have clean clothes BUT ask yourself, can this wait til tomorrow or when my child is asleep? It might not seem like it now when they days sometimes drag by but these are the times we are going to miss SO much when they grow up! Prioritise each day what chores and house work you want to get done on that particular day and leave it to that. It can be hard to let things go but you also need time to rest and enjoy yourself without feeling frazzled and stressed. Have a calm conversation with your partner about how they can help you with housework rather than having a go at them/nagging!

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post – I don’t have it all figured out but these are some changes I have made recently to try and help my time with the girls go more smoothly and be more enjoyable.

Kate-Sig-1

Hi I’m Kate, and I’m a stay at home mum.

“So what are your plans about going back to work?”

I hear this a lot. People don’t think anything of it and nor should they. But for me it’s actually not that simple. For me there’s no “going back” to work because I never actually started working! I mean, I’ve obviously had jobs before when I was at college and uni but as I finished my degree I got pregnant and by the time I’d finished I was already heavily pregnant and had no hope of gaining employment!

So in August the girls were born and the last 10 months have been unbelievably intense. Yes, they would have been sweeter with a bit of maternity pay but I wouldn’t swap our time together for anything. Now the girls are coming up for a year, this would be the time to start looking to go back to work.

I’ve barely left the girls up to now. Other breastfeeding mums out there can vouch for the fact that when you’re breastfeeding, leaving your baby is way more trouble than it’s worth usually (hello lots of pumping, engorgement and leaky boobs!). The thought of putting them in to nursery scares me as they still feel so young to me. However I know they’d thrive with it deep down but the simple fact is I’d have to earn a heck of a lot to even make it worth putting them in childcare. Furthermore, I’d probably want to go back to work part time so I still got lots of time with the girls. I guess flexible hours are a lot easier to negotiate when you’re already employed rather than seeking new employment.

I want to have a career. In fact I never dreamed of having children but I always dreamed of having a career. But I don’t want to put my career above the girls. Right now, though it may seem self involved, I know the girls need me more than anyone. When they’re three years old they’ll go in to funded nursery and when they’re 4 they’ll be in school. I can’t bear to be parted with them so it seems when I add all these factors together that there’s only one option. Being a stay at home mum. 

If I’m honest I used to kinda look down on stay at home mums. That was before I found out just how hard being a parent actually is. Doing it all day every day with no break is relentless, frustrating and monotonous. But it also unbelievably rewarding, enjoyable and fun. The hard times are really, really hard but there are also the really good times of being able to just go out for coffees with people or take your kids for a picnic. The kind of thing you’d miss if you were working. I’m sure if you’re reading this and you’re not a parent you probably think “what is so hard about being a mum?!” Lol, well you just wait! I used to feel the same as you! I used to think being a stay at home mum was such an unfeminist option, so many women fought for the right to work and not have to give it up when they had children. But I see now that feminism is all about having the option to go back to work if you want to, and not if you don’t.

The way I see it is that this time with the girls is so unbelievably precious. It comes around once in a lifetime. Because the girls are twins I already kind of feel like I have half the time with them as it is and I want to treasure the time with them so much! 

I am still only 23, even if I wait 4 years to start working I’ll still be pretty young starting out in my career. I want a proper career that I love and not just settle for something because it’s what fits around nursery schedules! At least this way I haven’t had to have a career break, instead I can start my career in a really good position, knowing my girls are happy and settled!

In the future I may have to miss out on school trips, sports days or class assemblies and that’s why I’ve resolved to drink in these moments with my babies because they won’t last forever.

So no, I’m not going “back to work”. At the moment it’s not what works for our family. But I’ll keep on making my girls’ worlds go round and leave changing the rest of it for a few more years!