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The millennials’ conflict: Marriage, motherhood & careers

perfect happy family with woman doing and having it all

We want it all. In fact, some of us are encouraged to go for it all. Why not aim high? Aim for the husband, the babies and the top position in that company and all before you’re 35. There are women out there doing it. Why can’t you?

Can we all do it all?

It would seem that more and more, Western millenials want to know that we’re financially secure before we settle down and therefore also before we have children. Chasing the money tends to affect when and if we settle down unless we decide to aim instead to find life partners who are financially secure enough to take care of us so that money is never a worry. Interestingly, millenial men are also looking for women who can do it all – make money to help support the family and have as many children to carry on their legacy as they’d like.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

We know women do manage to do this but are all women capable of it? Might it be asking too much of some women? Despite battling with these questions, the majority of women largely still see marriage as a goal to be attained. It’s funny then that even if we do aim for marriage, a lot of females would choose to remain single and take care of themselves if we are wealthy enough to do so.

We’re all narcissists

Studies are blaming narcissism for this. We’re apparently the “GenMe” bunch. That’s difficult to argue with. In these social media’d out times, where you’re made to feel like your brand is more important than your soul, it’s hard for us to dedicate ourselves to anything that won’t bring us some form of instant gratification. You might have heard that marriage is hard work. Well, it’s true. It’s about two people and the average millennial may be too wrapped up in themselves to do the hard work that’s required to keep a marriage together. Narcissism could be to blame for the rate of divorce appearing to increase globally each year amongst us millennials. I don’t know about that explanation though. It might be a bit too simplistic.

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

It can be a lot

Before you have children, you can think you have a concept of just how tough it can be; but you don’t. To mother and partner at the same time isn’t easy especially in the earlier years but throw in managing a career as well and it can start to feel like too much. Being a mummy on social media myself, I would say that a more honest narrative about motherhood is being pushed lately because I see more photos on IG, for example, of mothers in real life – bed hair all day, vomit on clothes and a less-than-tidy home are all being shown online. I appreciate photos like those because it’s important for younger females to see that #momlife can’t always be glamorous. Most of it isn’t.

Sometimes though, I’m not sure if I’m seeing these realistic images because I go looking for them. Maybe young women are still being presented with an effortless looking, picture perfect version in squares (IG) of successful women with their husbands and children. It’s concerning to think that any younger women are basing their decisions about when or if to settle down on the images that are pushed at them online. We should never be fooled into thinking it’s easy to “have it all”.

I know the fight is conventionally for women to have it all but apart from wondering whether we can do it all, I sometimes think, do we still really want to have it all?

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My baby’s 6 staple bath time products

Disclaimer: I may get a small commission for purchases made through links within this page.

We’ve come such a long way since my little girl’s first bath. She’s not as tiny and fragile as she used to be, thank God. She’s a lot bigger and can sit and stand without support. She’s still SUPER wriggly when she wants to be though, especially during shampoo time, which she hates. Over the nine months since she’s been born, we’ve figured out what products work best for her. Or at least which products don’t irritate her skin and are as natural as possible. She’s got parents who are both allergic to a wide variety of things and while I’m trusting that she’s managed to skip the allergy gene somehow, I’m not willing to test that just yet! A few of the products have changed since she was born but these have stayed the same:

Oilatum bath

She started out with the usual Johnson’s top to toe wash but a few weeks after, we switched to this. I’m not sure we had a specific reason why but she’s 9 months old now and we’re still using it! We’ve never had any problems.

baby bath product

HiPP Sensitiv Shampoo

We happened to be in Germany when she was five months old and I was excited to see the range of baby products on the shop shelves that would be different from what’s in the UK (I love doing that when I’m outside the country…pretty sure other people do that too! lol). I noticed the majority of their baby bath products were HiPP.

Vita Coco Coconut oil

I like the cute ones in the little tubs. 250ml. I get them at my local Holland & Barretts. I use them as a mini pre-poo for her hair. Mini because I’ll leave it in her hair for about an hour or less while she eats and before her bath. It just makes for an easier comb-through during the shampoo process.

Virgin olive oil

As far as I know, any old brand of virgin olive oil will do. I literally use a few drops of whichever brand happens to be in my kitchen at the time!

Child’s Farm baby moisturiser

This has a very light refreshing smell which I appreciate as strong smells irritate me. It’s also suitable for sensitive & eczema-prone skin so is unlikely to irritate yourself or your baby.

bepanthen and child's farm baby creams

Bepanthen

Honestly, I’d say this is the real star of the show. I’ve used it for since the day she was born not only as a nappy cream but also around her neck where she’s got so many folds and she’s never had a diaper rash. I really do think it’s the best nappy cream out there.

I do have one struggle that’s developed lately. She hates having any water in her face which makes shampooing (rinsing out) so difficult! No technique I’ve tried so far seems to work with her – I did say she’s very wriggly! Any tips on that? Has anything made shampooing an easier process with your baby?

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Guest post: The Ambiguity of the Last Child

I’m a normal mom. At least, I like to think I’m a normal mom. I put my mom jeans on one leg at a time all while stepping over the Legos that I told my kids to pick up ten million times the night before. But when thinking about having another child, I have to wonder if there’s a switch that flips that tells you to stop, or if there’s no switch and I’m destined to turn into Michelle Duggar with 19 kids.

I have four children ranging from 1-19. They’re all great, well behaved kids, but I’m done. I think. Before I got pregnant I thought I wanted at least two more children. Then the pregnancy happened, and I thought, “now I remember why I didn’t want anymore.” My husband and I talked about not having anymore kids, especially once the terrible back pain started. After the baby came, then came that high you get when you smell a newborn. Someone once equated it to a hit of heroin. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, as I’m not an avid illicit drug user, but I can definitely tell you there was a high. That new baby smell went straight through my olfactory into my brain and I swear to you it lit up like a Christmas tree. Right then, I told my husband I wanted to do it again.

Here I was, still healing from my C-section. I wasn’t even completely upright yet. My boobs were huge, and painful. My hair was an absolute mess, and I hadn’t showered in at least 4 days. There I was in all of my stinky glory, holding my two week old dose of mommy crack saying I just couldn’t wait to do it all over again. This is insanity. I think back to this moment and plead temporary insanity. I was not having rational thoughts as I sniffed my newborns head. I just wasn’t. Thankfully, within a couple of months I snapped out of it. I’m assuming this likely had something to do with the many sleepless nights, and having my offspring literally sucking the life out of my body every two hours.

This was it. I knew for sure I was absolutely done. Four children is enough. My house is organized chaos seven days a week, we simply cannot add another child to the mix. My kids moved to the next grade in school, birthdays passed, and the baby started to move through stages quickly. Before I knew it he was moving on to solid foods, sitting up unassisted, and starting to pull up and “cruise” around furniture. Then it happened again. That familiar pull. The conversation of “maybe baby” started happening. Thankfully, most men seem to be immune to this drug like chemical that babies exude that make a good portion of women contract baby rabies. He continued to be my anchor.

We decided the best way to handle this situation was for him to “handle the situation” at the local urologist. I paid the deposit for the consultation, and left the scheduling to him as he is the one that has to answer all the questions and go through with the procedure. A few weeks went by, and nothing. No appointment was scheduled. No questions were answered. The not so baby, baby started walking, signing a few words, and saying a few words. My anchor cracked. My senses have gone all swimmy again. I say, “you know, if we do the baby dance at the beginning of my fertile window we are more likely to have a girl.” His ears perked up, “really?” He said. “It’s what I read.” I replied. He just responded with a “umhum.”

That was it. We are here. Three months later. No vasectomy. No birth control. Just the rhythm method and our ambiguity. Will we have another baby? No. Well, I don’t think so. Probably, definitely not, but I don’t think either of us are truly ready to close the door. The last baby is so final. It’s your last everything for parenthood. Last time seeing your baby for the first time. Last time finding out what you’re having. Last time sorting tiny baby clothes. Last time looking at your newborn trying to figure out who’s nose or eyes they have. It’s the last of everything new parent related when you say done deal on children, and I think until we can say for certain we are comfortable closing the door, we will welcome the ambiguity.

By Jacalyn of stopyellingplease.com

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6 Things that can put a mum down

  1. Being questioned constantly on why you’re still breastfeeding your 4 month old when formula exists.
  2. Baby screaming every time you dare to take anymore than two steps away.
  3. Amidst the chaos and stress of caring for baby, being expected to also keep an immaculate home with small items like remote controls perfectly arranged perpendicular to the edge of the table. Many other mums do it. Why not you?
  4. Being called an overprotective mother when you show any hint of concern for the safety of your child. Let her chew on that plastic bag with her sharp little teeth! Who cares that she might swallow bits of it? That’s a sharp table corner that he could bang his head on? So what? Babies bang their heads all the time. Let’s watch him head straight for it. You do too much.
  5. Being made to feel like a smothering mother when you show any amount of affection to your children.
  6. Baby has hit one year old and still waking up a couple of times or more per night.

You know this is all meant very much in a tongue-in-cheek way, of course but when you’re in the throes of depression, it doesn’t take much to push you over the edge. It takes even less if you’re unfortunate enough to be around people who know how fragile you are but choose to try to break you anyway.

It’s maternal mental health awareness week. Mental health is a topic that’s close to my heart and I do believe that it should be close to everyone’s heart. If you feel like you may be close to some sort of a breaking point, you need to talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. Ideally a professional. Look up free resources close to you. You owe it to yourself and to everyone who loves you.

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11 Vital topics of discussion before you have a baby with your husband

From first and second hand experience, I can say that not talking about certain things before you go ahead and bring another life into this world can make for a stressful and/or miserable pregnancy and first few years with your baby.

Indeed, even if you’ve known your partner for many years, it doesn’t guarantee that you know the answer to these questions. Your partner may not have considered some of these before and may realise that they need to think about the answers longer than you expect.

It’s true that there’s very little you can do to emotionally prepare yourself for a baby but there are other ways to prepare. After speaking with some friends, I found that the main points of conflict arose from partners not helping out enough, in-laws/extended family butting in where they were not wanted and financial restrictions. Somehow though, husbands not wanting to help out with the baby seemed to be fairly easily forgiven compared to the other points! I wonder why.

I’ve come up with a list of issues that do need to be discussed and I suspect that it will grow in the future as I have more conversations with people and experience more of life as a mummy myself. If you’re about to become a mother for the first time, I promise that these questions will save you an invaluable amount of time and heartache. Ideally, they’re questions you should ask before you even conceive, in my view, but chances are, if you are reading this, you’re either already pregnant or already set on getting pregnant no matter what. These will be useful to you either way.

Enter your email below to get instant access to the list and if you do use it and it changes your perception of whether you really are ready for a baby, do let me know in the comments or by email: engenderedconversations@gmail.com.

Happy contemplating!