10 Things Student Parents Are Sick Of Hearing

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  1. “Raise your own children”. Childcare snobbery is just plain grim. Really, if you’d rather I was stuck at home claiming benefits and alternating between Jeremy Kyle and Cbeebies, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
  2. “It must be nice to come to university and have a break”. No, on both counts. I really enjoyed studying, but it was still just as difficult as it was for everyone else – hardly a nice relaxing “break”! Also, I missed my baby like mad when I was in uni and she was in nursery – I didn’t want a break from my child.
  3. “No-one wants to hear about your kid”. So we have to hear about how many people you got off with in Liquid on Saturday night, but I’m not allowed to talk about my child’s first words?
  4. “You never come out anymore”. Priorities do shift, and often student parents do feel very guilty for cancelling plans with friends – but trust me, we don’t need reminding about it.
  5. “I don’t want kids, they’re gross”. Not wanting kids is none of my business. Saying you don’t want kids is absolutely fine. Calling all kids “gross” or “awful” with parents in earshot? It’s rude, and don’t be surprised if they call you out on it.
  6. “You’re supposed to be a mother!”. Wait, hold up. You criticise us for not coming out and getting drunk… and then when we do, you act like we’ve committed treason?! I’ve spent all day changing nappies and writing essays; I don’t need your judgment when I buy a round of shots.
  7. “You always get special treatment!”. There’s a definite attitude that student parents can’t succeed without endless extensions and applications for special consideration. I didn’t apply for an extension or special consideration once, and the one time I almost did was two weeks after I’d given birth. Not that it matters even if I had – people request extensions for being hungover; I think student parents can be forgiven for wanting extra time.
  8. “We all have personal issues!”. Student parents are not allowed to say that they’re finding something difficult without being reminded that everyone has tough times. Because apparently, we didn’t already know that.
  9. “You get so much more money than us!”. And, of course, we don’t have to spend any of it on housing suitable for a child, petrol, bills, childcare, food, milk, nappies and all the other things children need. Some people forget that we’re not spending it on two weeks all-inclusive in Mykonos.
  10. “Parents shouldn’t be allowed to study at the taxpayer’s expense”. This is a ‘nice’ way of calling student parents scroungers, and it’s a worryingly common point of view. All I’ll say is that I could have dropped out of uni when I got pregnant and never gone back, and then I’d more than likely have spent the rest of my life on benefits – or I could have stayed at university, cost a little bit more in student finance, but graduated and improved my job prospects massively. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I made the right choice.

EasyMat Review & Discount Code: No More Mealtime Madness!

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Ahh, dinnertime. Doesn’t it conjure up images of a very civilised affair; the whole family sitting around the table, tidily eating a nourishing meal with immaculate table manners?

If it does, you clearly don’t have a toddler.

On the other hand, I do have a toddler, and I know that mealtimes are anything but the idyllic scenes of serenity i once envisioned.

It’s more like “being constantly on edge because at any second that plate is going to end up on the floor”.

That’s been a general theme since SB started eating, really. She takes after me in not being the most attentive person in the world – as I write this, she’s wandering around, blatantly ingoring Daf as he tells her to sit down and eat – which results in a fair few mealtime mishaps and messy carpets.

We’ve tried a few different things – turning the TV off, moving her table around – but apparently the world is just far too interesting to waste time focusing on your food, so we’ve had to resort to more practical measures. The suction mats we’ve tried in the past have ranged from terrible to “meh”, nothing ever really doing the job it claimed to on the box.

Enter the EasyMat, a product from Tots R Us designed to make mealtimes less of a panic-inducing stress fest and more of the civilised family affair it’s supposed to be. Available in three colours, the EasyMat is suitable from weaning age upwards and comes with a soft plastic spoon that somehow feels flexible and sturdy at the same time.

Obviously we’ve missed the boat with weaning, and our carpet has paid the price, but I was still keen to see how good the EasyMat is for toddlers, who have a habit of being unstoppable in their quest to have you on your hands and knees, scrubbing the floor for hours after the plates have been cleared away.

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I am telling you now; it’s a revelation. The material is lightweight and easy to clean – a godsend for us – and, most importantly, IT STICKS! So many suction mats claim to stick and then whoosh, there’s a bowl of beans on the floor, but not the EasyMat. We can let SB feed herself without worrying about spills.

Even I struggle to get the EasyMat off the table without some force. That sounds like a criticism, but it really isn’t – it’s exactly what you want from this kind of product! The product description states that it may struggle to stick to wood, but SB’s toddler table is wooden, and it sticks perfectly, so even that shouldn’t deter you from getting one of these.

The spoon is great – as I said before, it’s flexible and sturdy at the same time, with a lovely chunky handle and soft-touch grip that is perfect for even the tiniest of hands!

The compartments makes it ideal for baby-led weaning (or children who don’t like their food touching), the design is soft and attractive to children and, as you can see from the photograph, SB is giving it a big thumbs up!

One of my stipulations for reviewing products is that it must be affordable. At £14.99, I’d go one step further and say that the EasyMat is an absolute bargain for any parent starting weaning, or at the end of their tether with endless toddler spills and countless mutterings of “for the love of all that is holy, would it kill you to keep your plate on the table?!”.

You can buy the EasyMat on Amazon here. What’s more, The Speed Bump readers get 20% off the EasyMat on Amazon with this discount code:

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And while I’m sure you’ll have just as great an experience with the EasyMat as we’ve had, if you do need anything, Tots R Us are super easy to get hold of and really helpful over on their Facebook page. Happy days!

So that’s what we make of the Tots R Us EasyMat – I have no doubt we’ll continue using SB for a long time to come (at least until she gets out of this “some kids just want to watch the world burn” stage – and when baby #2 is on the horizon, we’ll be investing in another one, ready for a (hopefully!) much tidier weaning experience.

Still not convinced? Let me put it this way. If you’re in the process of weaning, or ever will be in the process of weaning, or have a toddler-sized Picasso whose idea of art is smearing passata all over your lovely walls/carpet/rug/floor, you need the EasyMat. It is a life-saver.

Disclosure: Sponsored post. We were sent a free EasyMat to use for the purpose of this review. All views expressed in this post are our honest views on the product we were sent. 

Social Media For Bloggers: My Top Picks

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I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a social media addict (if Daf is reading this, he’ll be nodding along wearily). I love keeping up to date with my friends, and I think social media is such a useful tool for maintaining friendships, finding out what’s happening in the world and promoting your business, product or service.

Facebook is my particular favourite for personal social media – no word limits on statuses, private groups, options for messaging, the ability to use pages, storage of pictures – the possibilities are endless, and businesses are really harnessing the power of Facebook to connect with their target audiences. If you’re trying to engage younger audiences, Facebook is especially effective.

That’s why it may surprise you to know that Facebook isn’t first or second on my list of favourite social media platforms when it comes to blogging. It’s in third place, behind Twitter and Instagram – and here’s why.

 

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Twitter

When I first read about Twitter, it seemed like an absolute nightmare. Who wants to be limited to 140 characters; especially when you’ve got so much to say?! The newsfeed moved too quickly, the hashtag system was confusing and – at the time – it was seen as Facebook for intellectuals, with a definite air of “if your face doesn’t fit, you don’t belong here”.

Thankfully, Twitter is now much friendlier (at times), and it’s great for bloggers. I’d say the majority of my blog viewers are referred by Twitter, and with platforms like HootSuite allowing you to schedule your Twitter posts, it’s a great way to promote your blog posts. It’s a fine line between tweeting too much and annoying people, and not tweeting enough so your posts get lost in busier newsfeeds, but if you can strike the balance, it’s a great social media platform for bloggers.

 

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Instagram

When bloggers first started raving about Instagram, I just didn’t get it. There were too many pictures and not enough words. The commenting system puzzled me and I didn’t want to see what celebrities were eating for breakfast (always something with chia seeds, weirdly).

It’s taken a while, but I’ve fallen in love with Instagram, and upload a picture pretty much every day. Mostly they’re pictures of SB, but sometimes there will be photographs I’ve taken while out and about, what I’m eating for lunch (yes, I’ve become one of those Instagrammers) and – as you can see above – a picture of me when I was SB’s age.

If you’re using Instagram to promote your parenting blog, the key is to know your hashtags. While Twitter brought the hashtag to public attention, Instagram is really where it comes into its own. Hashtags are used to find people with similar interests and tastes; to create communities; to enter competitions.

Here’s a few of my favourite Instagram hashtags to use if you’re a parent blogger…

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What are your favourite hashtags? And what’s your favourite social media platform to use with your blog? Let me know in the comments!

You can find me on Twitter at @maddyleigh1994 and on Instagram at @thespeedbumpblog. Although I mostly use Facebook for ignoring messages that start with “Only 3% of people will share this” and looking at pictures of cute dogs/pandas/babies, I do use it for my blog too – my page is The Speed Bump.

Will You Still Need Us?

You’re growing up so quickly.

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We’ve tried to deny it. We’ve tried to ignore it. We’ve tried to insist that you’ll be our baby girl forever.

Sitting in the park, watching you scale the steps and whoosh down the slide all by yourself, and suddenly it’s very hard to deny that you’re growing up.

“How old is she?”, people ask us. When I reply “two and a bit”, my voice catches in my chest. Sometimes I feel a little tearful.

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Watching you grow up is an absolute privilege, but it’s also so painful. Every day, you do something to remind us that you’re gaining independence. Taking on the slide. Putting your shoes on. Not asking daddy for help to get your t-shirt on this morning. More and more, you’re showing us that you’re not a baby anymore.

There are two gifts we should give our children. One is roots, and the other is wings. 

I didn’t realise that while we were so busy trying to give you the roots, you were already trying to spread your wings.

Even as I’m writing this, I know it sounds like I’m upset. It’s as though I resent you growing up – I’m grieving, in a way.

I’m not. There’s no grief or sadness, and certainly no resentment. I couldn’t be prouder of your independence. You have a thirst for adventure and a fearless heart; those qualities will see you go so very far in your life.

I just worry; will you still need us?

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Watching you scale those steps like they’re nothing.

“Do you want me to help, baby?”.

“No, mommy. I do it”.

You’re supposed to need our help climbing steps, and getting down the slide safely, and putting your clothes on in the morning.

Aren’t you?

Our job as parents is to help you learn to do those things. The fact that you’re doing them already means it’s mission accomplished, I guess. And there are so many more things we still need to teach you. So many things you can’t do yet, that you still need us for.

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You still need us to brush and braid your hair. You need us to choose your clothes in the mornings; to help you brush your teeth; to read you stories and teach you how to count. You need us to sing the Goodnight Song to you, and tuck you in, and kiss you goodnight.

One day, you won’t need us to do those things either, and that will be okay. We will have done our job as parents; to teach you all of these things while filling your life with love and security. It reminds me of another phrase about childhood.

It is not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves, that will make them successful adults.

Every now and then, I still need my mum. I need her hugs, her jokes, her reassurance that everything will be okay. I hope that one day, we have the same relationship that I have with my own mum.

For now, I’ll celebrate your achievements – every ladder you climb, every slide you zoom down, every time you get your shoes on the right feet – and I’ll cherish the moments you need my help. I’ll make the most of braiding your hair and brushing your teeth and tucking you in at night.

The moment when you realise your child can do things without your help is a moment no parenting manual can prepare you for. The sadness of seeing how quickly time passes and feeling slightly more obsolete in your child’s life is hugely outweighed by the pride of seeing them achieve, and knowing that you have done right as a parent.

In giving them the comfort and security of roots, not only do we give them wings, but we give them the courage to take flight.