Mama Speaks... by Laura Swann & Natalie Mcilveen

It’s done… the 31 days of January that felt like 74 are OVER and so is our #mamasunplugged project.

If you missed it, you can read our New Year blog here but to recap – after a crazy 12 weeks at the end of 2017 we felt like we were becoming slaves to our phones, we were keen to get some balance back into our lives and pledged to do the following for the month of Jan;

  • Ban phones from the bedroom and buy an alarm clock

  • Put phones away at 8pm

  • Switch off Sunday – to spend slow, quality time with our families – phones away, so no distractions!

  • Unfollow social media accounts that make us feel rubbish

So how did we get on?

Well we’d be lying if we said it was easy…

Being completely honest switching off at 8pm was HARD, especially when we felt like we should really do some more work! We also noticed that we automatically reached for our phones (to start scrolling) every ad break and missed not being able to google stuff immediately.

However, after a few nights of switching off we found the twitch to pick up our phone reduced, FOMO lessened and we actually enjoyed not double screening. We caught up on our favourite box sets, went to pilates and stretched and even went to bed early and read two WHOLE books throughout the month!

Our sleep definitely improved (as much as it can with small people in your house/bed) and we’re certain it was because we had a few hours of wind down time, away from the constant stimulation in the form of apps on our phone and away from the white light of a phone screen.

The bedroom phone ban meant that we couldn’t check emails just before going to bed or first thing in the morning, which took away a lot of stress and do you know what – those emails could wait until 9am and nothing bad happened!!

Switch off Sunday has been a revelation – we’ve started buying and reading the papers again, on consecutive Sunday’s my daughter and I baked cupcakes and we had lots of family gatherings and walks where we felt completely present – the phone on mute in our handbags. Don’t get us wrong – we still watched TV as a family but we didn’t feel the to need to be checking our phone all day and that was the balance we were looking for.

What’s next?

We thought our #mamasunplugged project would just be for January but actually we’ve really reaped the benefits of switching off more last month and WANT to carry it on.

So the phone will stay out of the bedroom, we will aim to switch off the computer/phone at 8pm every evening (we may have to be flexible during busy times/evening events) and Switch off Sundays will definitely stay a thing.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Meet Ups around self-care, mental health and slowing down in 2018 as we feel it is such an important topic for the digital age we live in.

Our Top Tips for unplugging…

  • Embrace the non-digital – buy an alarm clock, a paper diary, a proper camera, a wrist watch so that you reduce the opportunities to reach for your phone

  • Download the Moment app to record how long you spend on your phone (you might be shocked) – don’t get us wrong we love scrolling social media as much as the next person but you can have too much of a good thing!

  • Put some boundaries in place – we bet you have boundaries on screen time for your children, why not put some in place for yourself? These might not be the same as ours but it’s all about regaining that balance

  • Enjoy some SLOW, quality family time away from devices at least one day a week and make that day EXTRA special

Books to read…

  • Off - Your Digital Detox for a better life by Tanya Goodin

  • Self-care for the Real World by Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Philips

  • How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price (available to buy on Friday)



Mums The Word by Rose Bainbridge Photography-1445-2.jpg

Mama Hattie Harrison

Swimming lessons

Recently I had a moment of weakness. I got gym membership. 


I literally cannot tell you how many gyms I have been a member of. Process is as follows - I get all excited and bouncy. I do about 37 classes the first week - a cheeky little hour of ‘bums, hips and pouty lips’ followed by ‘body smash’ the next day and then an early morning ‘disco-ercise' or something. I buy the kit, the sweatbands, the glow sticks (no, seriously) and then I remember that exercising that often is not actually maintainable and/or realistic and I get distracted by something - (normally the sofa and a pack of digestive biscuits) and I settle down for a boxset and forget all about my intense but brief relationship with Jean from aqua aerobics (Thursday at 10). 

But a few weeks ago I took out gym membership once again but for a different reason. I have no desire to attend any of the classes (sorry Jean) but I was told at this particular gym that if I had family membership I could sign each of my children up for swimming classes. This massively appealed to me because for some reason I feel that mum’s who have their shit together are the sort of mums who take their children to swimming classes. Now, I wish I could explain this logic to you but I’m afraid I’m not sure there is any logic behind it. In my head a ‘proper’ mum is wielding a towel, some Johnson’s baby shampoo and a post swim snack. She bustles through changing rooms efficiently with her brood hot on her heels like baby ducklings ready for the pond. She can blow up two armbands in one puff (one in each nostril) and has locker keys wrapped around both wrists and both ankles. Sure, she’s a bit weird but she is EQUIPPED and she has this shit down.

I want in.

Plus none of my kids can swim a stroke.

So I merrily sign all three kids up to swimming classes. And I am now the proud owner of my 14th gym membership. Unbelievably, my 13th was also at the same gym (true story). 

Welcome back me.

Things I did not take into consideration:

1. I have 3 children of different ages, that means 3 different swimming classes on 3 different days (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday if you’re interested). This means spending 3 days at the swimming pool on the trot. It also means 3 lots of swimming stuff to wash and dry (4, including mine) and 3 lots of mouths to feed IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY HAVE SWUM OR THEY MIGHT, IN ACTUAL FACT, COLLAPSE (4, including mine - why does it make me so hungry? I barely move).

2. You always need a pound for the locker. I have never knowingly had a pound in my possession. Particularly when I need one for a trolley, a locker or a poppy donation.

3. I have to take children to the swimming pool on the days when it is not their lesson. This is not proving popular. The 20 month old shouts ‘SWIMMING MUMMY’ as soon as we pull into the car park on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Her swimming lesson is on Friday

I effectively have 72 hours of her shouting ‘SWIMMING MUMMY' until it is indeed time for her 30 minute slot. After which she won’t get out of the swimming pool. And after I wrestle her to the changing rooms like a slippery, grumpy, baby otter she then won’t get out of the shower. 

4.  I do NOT like the swimming aftermath. Last week the 20 month old screamed like a banshee, then 30 school children entered the changing rooms and in my flustered state I managed to accidentally expose myself to them. We were NOT very surreptitious. Looking on the bright side I feel I have helped with their PSE/sex ed; both because of my feral child and the state of my ‘I’ve fed 3 kids with these bad boys’ boobs. I’m basically a public service.

5. I have to go swimming. I wouldn’t say I hate swimming but it’d literally be the last activity I’d ever choose to do in my spare time, ever.

6. I hate wearing a swimming costume in a public pool. On holiday - fine - I have a slutty number which does just the job. After debating whether I could wear it to a swimming lesson (a resounding NO from the family as probably violates a few leisure centre guidelines) I had to pull out the only other costume I had - a maternity one. Let’s just say the slutty number probably would have been more decent after adding water. Last week I decided that the mum I was aspiring to be would probably not be wading around in a flappy maternity costume and purchased a proper costume that is meant for non pregnant people who actually get in the pool (I’ve never actually swum in the slutty one).

7. Swimming is prep heavy. For Football/netball/knitting/board game clubs (delete as appropriate) you just rock up, as you are. There is SO much to remember for swimming - shampoo, talc for strange hats, towels, pants if you are turning up in your cozzie (forgot last week). Not to mention the extra personal prep that I now have to factor into my week - oh sorry, can’t come out Tuesday eve - HAVE to remember to trim my bush for the myriad of upcoming swimming lessons. NO OTHER child’s clubs involve me having to shave my legs/armpits/lady garden. Bring on the board games I say (yep - it’s an actual club and you can take your child and your hairy bush along with ZERO personal prep).

But despite the above 7 points that I had scant regard to when I excitedly signed on the dotted line the kids bloody love swimming and everything about it. The six year old loves the colour of her swimming hat, the 3 year old loves his ‘gobbles’ (goggles) and the 20 month old loves having the chance to demonstrate her stamina to scream at inopportune moments (both tits out people, BOTH).

So wish me luck as for the foreseeable future I will be sporting eau de chlorine with wrinkled fingertips and standing shivering in the changing rooms whilst negotiating with irrational humans (not you Jean). 

See you at the swimming pool. 

Hattie x