Homemade Children’s Toothpaste

I’ve been battling with myself on this for so long. You see, I make so many of my own products (surface sprays, perfumes, face serum, body cream – the list goes on) that I really wanted to draw the line at toothpaste. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t be bothered, it bothered me more that it wouldn’t be in a tube and toothpaste that isn’t in a tube just isn’t as convenient.

But then I realised, as with everything else, that it’s only more convenient because that’s my perception, because I know no different; like how I thought using a menstrual cup was weird because it wasn’t something I’d grown up knowing about (read my post on that here).

But actually using a jar is fine; you just dip your toothbrush in and you’re ready to go. And the great thing about making your own is that you can do as many different flavours as you like, so it doesn’t get boring!

So why did I want to make my own toothpaste? Well, I’ve been using fluoride free toothpaste for a long time now, ever since I learnt about the awful effects fluoride has on our health. It’s so toxic, in fact, that the FDA has ruled that poison warnings must be visible on all fluoride-containing toothpastes in the US. Oh, but it’s OK to put in our drinking water and give to our children. *sense the sarcasm*.

The health risks involved with daily use of fluoride range from bone disorders, thyroid disease, low intelligence, dementia and diabetes to arthritis. It also lowers vitamin B12 levels and prevents the body from absorbing B12 properly. So you can imagine how I felt when I found this out and stopped using it, then started taking B12 in the form of methylcobalamin (a form that my body could absorb), and all of a sudden the arthritis pain in my jaw went away. The reason for this was that the jaw pain was largely nerve-related and fluoride affects the nerve endings. Madness that it’s in all our toothpastes and drinking water and we take it and give it to our children every single day and no one ever tells us how dangerous it is.

From then on I’ve stayed away from tap water and fluoride-containing toothpastes and have only bought fluoride-free toothpastes for Braxton since his teeth started popping through. But as is always the case when you research everything you do relentlessly, I found out that the glycerin that is contained in most fluoride-free toothpastes, though not necessarily bad for health, stops the teeth remineralising, which is not a good thing.

Like I said, I was so against making my own toothpaste so I set about finding a child-friendly toothpaste that was fluoride AND glycerin free but could not find one. I have been using one by Georganics, made with charcoal and clay, which are both brilliant for the teeth, and I still use it as I love it, but Braxton will hate it, so in the end I had to give in.

It was so easy that I really don’t know why I made such a fuss for so long! I got a lot of my info from Meagan at Growing Up Herbal and you can see references for health issues through fluoride here.

Ingredients

3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground Xylitol
6-8 drops essential oils – I only use DoTerra due to their high quality and used lemon and wild orange for Brax, and lemon and peppermint for me and Daniel.

Method

Just mix all the ingredients in a small glass jar and dip your toothbrush into it!

Love & health,
Lauren

 

Natural Parenting? You Need Like-Minded Friends…

Your vibe attracts your tribe, that is for sure. But it also means you will lose people along the way. You will lose them because they cannot cope with how different you are, how differently you do things to them, and how that makes them feel. You will lose them because even though you don’t judge anyone, they will feel you judge them just because of how militant you are with your lifestyle. You will lose them simply because they don’t ‘get’ you, because it’s hard to get you, because you are complex and intense and full of passion and constantly striving to improve yourself and not everyone can handle all that intensity in one person. You will lose them, but you will gain so much more in the process. You will gain the understanding that you never really lost them; if they can’t accept you for who you were meant to be, you never really had them in the first place. You will gain the knowledge that the ones who do get you, are the ones you should hold onto forever. And you will, if you are lucky, gain some amazing new people in your life who do things just like you and with whom you will build incredibly special friendships.

Above is a picture of me and Braxton with our friends Deepa & Arjun. Deepa and I may have come from totally different backgrounds, but there is a common thread that binds us, and that’s the great thing about growing up in a place like London.

Our beautiful boys are 2 weeks apart in age and I cannot express enough just how important it has been for me, and just how much I need – crave – to have a friend who parents in the exact same way as I do. From the food we eat, how we prepare it, where it comes from, to the births we strived for, the determination to continue breastfeeding no matter how hard it got, to healthcare, and of course, our gentle parenting methods; we are pretty much identical in our approach.

When your lifestyle is so different to the mainstream, it filters down into every single thing you do. To the point that even a play date with friends holds a little bit of stress…

When she doesn’t bat at eyelid when I whip out a mung daal for his lunch, or a homemade sweet potato brownie for snack; When it’s not weird that I only give him filtered water and she has a filter tap in her house like we do; When we don’t see each other as voodoo witches for not vaccinating; When we choose homeopathy over Calpol and she has a homeopathic kit in her house in case I need it; When either of us whip a boob out and that’s ok; When either one of the children ‘play up’ by being physical, and we are both of the view that it is simply an expression of frustration and no shouting will take place, and when it’s your child who does it and she doesn’t ask you why you’re not ‘disciplining your child’.

I love and appreciate all of my friends equally, regardless of how we decide to parent our children, because they’re all amazing mums, but it’s really nice to have made a friend along the way who just ‘gets it’. I hope Braxton and Arjun will grow up to be proper buddies just like their mummies 💜

She also makes INCREDIBLY HILARIOUS vlogs about parenting so please follow Deepa and her page GirlBoyFoodBaby here.

Your vibe attracts your tribe, so make your vibe a good one!

Love & health,
Lauren

P.s. this is what it really looks like, minus the Instagram-perfect smiles and poses!

 

Menstrual Cups – They’re A Thing!

Menstruation. Periods. Blood. There, I’ve said it. Now let’s all get over ourselves and acknowledge that the blood that is released every month from a woman’s ovaries is what enables her to have children; it is what has kept our species alive. So why are we all so grossed out by periods?

Perhaps it is to do with times gone by when women were not to talk of such things, when women were supposed to be seen not heard, all in an attempt by men to control women; the same reason that birth started being portrayed as a punishment and thereby inflicting upon women the notion and belief that their bodies couldn’t do what they were intended for – because it was easier for men to control women if they were scared and thought they were disgusting.

Some Christian denominations advise women not to receive communion during their menstrual period. The traditional Islamic interpretation of the Qur’an forbids intercourse, but not physical intimacy, during a woman’s menstrual period. Judaism likewise forbids intercourse, but also forbids physical intimacy.

But before the Abrahamic religions, menstruating women were seen as goddesses. ‘Menstruation’ is etymologically related to ‘moon’. The fact that in humans, the menstrual cycle quite closely approximates the moon’s 29.5-day synodic cycle, suggested to ancient cultures that women were more deeply connected to the cosmos, making them higher beings. Greek mythology suggests that on the day of the new moon, the women of Olympia walked together to the river Eleutherion – the Water of Freedom. They bathed and then gathered branches from the lygos bushes, which they laid in a circle. With the blessing of the Goddess Hera, the lygos encouraged the flow of their menstrual blood that would complete the cleansing. As evening approached, they called upon the Goddess in Her appearance as the Moon. Or as Carl Kerényi has called Her “the spellbinding moonlight of Greece”, the “origin of all things”. Gradually Hera drew forth the blood of purification and renewed fertility.

In some historic cultures, a menstruating woman was considered sacred and powerful, with increased psychic abilities, and strong enough to heal the sick. According to the Cherokee, menstrual blood was a source of feminine strength and had the power to destroy enemies. In Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote that a menstruating woman who uncovers her body can scare away hailstorms, whirlwinds and lightning. If she strips naked and walks around the field, caterpillars, worms and beetles fall off the ears of corn. Menstrual blood is viewed as especially dangerous to men’s power. Which seems to be where it all went wrong…

And here we are in 2017, mostly ashamed of our periods and mostly trying to hide it and grossed out by anything relating to the blood that flows from our bodies every month. Which is exactly why I want to talk about menstrual cups.

Before coming round to a more holistic way of life, I was on the contraceptive pill for 12 years, mainly because no doctor ever thought to mention that it was a pretty stupid idea and that actually, it is not safe to take for so long. It controlled my periods; I could skip one if I went on holiday (or if I just didn’t fancy having a period that month), and it made my periods lighter and easier to time.

When I started learning more about the body and about natural health, I was dismayed at how bad the contraceptive pill actually is for us, and I came off it straight away. Of course my periods got heavier. I used Tampons and thick pads and just tried to wish away that week as fast as possible.

Eventually I started realising that if I was changing my face creams, my shower gels, my kitchen surface sprays, to natural products, surely I should look into whether the Tampons I was using were toxic. Guess what? THEY ARE.

Aside from the fact that all non-organic cotton contains glyphosate – which the World Health Organisation recently ruled as “probably carcinogenic” – non-organic feminine products also contain plastic chemicals BPA and BPS which disrupt embryonic development, and Dioxin which is a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process which pads and tampons go through to get them looking white. Dioxin is listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency as THE most toxic of ALL cancer causing chemicals and is a known carcinogen. It has possible links to:

  • breast cancer 
  • ovarian cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • Immune system suppression 
  • reproductive and developmental problems
  • organ failure
  • Endometriosis 
  • Infertility 

The vagina is a highly permeable space: anything we put inside can easily be absorbed through the mucus membrane and then into our bloodstream where it presents a toxic burden to the body. Chronic exposure increases our risk of cancer, causes oxidative stress and metabolic changes, and disrupts our endocrine system. This can contribute to adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immunological effects. Conditions such as infertility, endometriosis, and thyroid disorders are all on the rise, for example, and are affected by exposures to chemicals and toxins in our environment. When we wonder why so many of us have fertility issues these days, this is just one of the many problems contributing.

So to get to the point… after much research I discovered the menstrual cup. And yes, I thought it was weird at the beginning. Only because we only think that things we are used to are ‘normal’, everything else is weird. But once I got over my fear of my own blood, the menstrual cup honestly, genuinely changed my life.

I watched some YouTube videos by an amazing girl called Bryony of Precious Stars Pads who teaches people all about reusable menstrual products and how to use them. It took about 3 months to fully get used to it but I couldn’t imagine my life without my cup now. Most of them are made from healthy, high quality and sustainable Medical Grade Silicone that can be re-used for up to 10 years. They also have a large capacity which means you don’t have to get up in the night to change (the bane of my life during period week). When I went away and I was on my period (worst thing ever), I was actually able to sit by the pool in a bikini which I never would have done with tampons, because you just don’t leak through the cup and it keeps everything in AND it’s so comfortable and snug you don’t even know it’s there. Once it’s in, you genuinely don’t feel it AT ALL.

Aside from all the benefits using a menstrual cup over tampons has for my body, I am also very happy to be doing my small bit for the environment by not contributing to the 20 billion plastic-containing pads that are put into landfill every year and are unable to be broken down.

I still use a small pad on my heavy days. The pads I use are from a company called Natracare (they also do tampons) and I get them on my Ocado shop (easy peasy). The menstrual cups I read about and bought from Precious Stars. If you go on her website she will explain which one you need (different sizes and shapes for different women).

I really hope this post helps you change your stance on toxic feminine products and that you switch to the cup; for yourself, for the environment and for your poor, sweet little vagina who is dying for a break from all the toxins!

Sorry it was a long one, hopefully worth it!

Love & health,
Lauren

 

 

How The Media Are Gearing Us Up For Traumatic Birth Experiences

I happen to be one of the five people left in the UK who still watches Home & Away (what can I say, guilty pleasure), and whilst watching an episode last week where one of the characters goes into labour, I got really angry.

During the hypnobirthing course my husband and I did before having our baby, we learnt a lot about the history of the fear of childbirth and although there are other contributing factors to this, much of it comes from the media. If you really think about it, where does your perception of birth come from, apart from your mother and close friends? When was the last time you watched a program, even something as inoffensive as a sitcom, where a woman in labour didn’t scream her way through it as if she was being ripped open by a demon child?

If labour ever is shown to be a non-traumatic experience that the woman breathes through, she is made out to be a crazy, unhinged hippy.

I honestly get offended when people tell me how ‘lucky’ I am that I had a good birth. It wasn’t luck. I was in active labour for twenty-four hours with no pain relief. I had a choice on how I wanted that to affect me. I could have screamed my way through it, causing my body to tense and my labour to regress and therefore end up needing intervention, or I could stay at home for as long as possible, breathe through each contraction (and not call them contractions), have my husband with me performing all the techniques we learnt on our course, have calming music on in the background, eat and drink enough, have no negative influences anywhere near and make a conscious effort to make it a positive birth experience for me and my baby.

I really hope at this point that the women who ended up having emergency interventions don’t get upset. This isn’t about that. I am aware that anything can happen at any moment. This is not about who gave birth how, this is about how everything we’ve ever seen and heard has set us up to fear childbirth, to expect to need interventions including drugs (when in fact our bodies were made to do this naturally) leading it to therefore be a torturous experience, because how could it be anything but torturous if that is what we are expecting? Like with anything, half the battle begins in our mind. If we expect something to be a certain way before we begin, we are setting ourselves up for that expectation.

During the Home & Away episode, Billie’s water breaks before she’s even felt any signs of labour (not really realistic) to which her boyfriend says ‘quick! We must get to hospital!’ They then head to hospital and she screams and wails in pain throughout the entire car journey.

I then turn on my TV yesterday while giving my son lunch and the ladies of Loose Women are talking about ‘is it really that bad to have an elective caesarean?’ Every woman on the panel spoke of at least one traumatic birth experience and none of them spoke about how birth could be an enjoyable experience, or about the risks and long-term damage that could be associated with caesarean-sections. It may not be their fault that they didn’t have good experiences, but there should have been someone there showing the other side.

It’s one thing if you don’t have a choice but women thinking of elective caesarean-sections should be made aware of the possible link between the procedure and lowered immunity in the baby. No one on the panel even seemed to know about it, so how can it be right that the viewing public are only exposed to this side of it?

Remember the episode of Friends where Rachel is in labour? She is in labour for three days and every part of it was traumatic. Or when Carol gave birth to Ben? Remember how much she screamed? Even something as tame as Friends can influence our thinking.

I’m guessing most people didn’t even register that that was how it was portrayed until now and perhaps you’re having an ‘Aha!’ moment, but now that you can see how harrowing birth is made out to be in just about any programme or film you’ve ever watched, surely we can all agree on one thing: how are women who are yet to give birth supposed to have a positive experience when everything around them tells them it will be anything but? How are women ever supposed to believe that their birth experience could be one that they look back on with happiness not fear? And what about the men? They matter here! Their perception is just as important because if they are stressed and worried during labour, it will affect the woman, and that will affect the birth.

Don’t get me wrong, my labour was long and it was hard work, that’s why it’s called labour. But it was the most incredible experience of my life and I’m so glad I did the research beforehand to enable me to re-evaluate everything I’d ever been told about birth and to therefore switch off from the negativity surrounding the subject and be able to believe that it could be a positive experience.

What we need now is for journalists, script-writers and other influential decision-makers in the media to change their own approach by educating themselves on the realities of birth. Perhaps these writers could take hypnobirthing courses themselves or read up on the history of the fear of childbirth… and perhaps if birth was portrayed differently at this level, then the impressionable women paying attention would change their own perceptions and approach to childbirth. Imagine how many births could be less traumatic and more of the enjoyable, wondrous experiences that they’re meant to be simply because we change our perceptions on it.

By Removing Sugary Drinks From Hospital Shops We Are Simply Masking A Bigger Problem

Here they are again, this government of ours, rambling on about increasing tax on sugary drinks and removing them from hospital shops. Don’t they realise they’ve missed the point?

When Jamie Oliver set about to change our diets for the better, he started in schools. Why? Because quite frankly, it’s no good aiming this information at sixty-year-olds who have created lifetime habits and most likely won’t want to change them.

If there are parents out there still giving their children Fruit Shoots and other (for lack of a better word) ‘drinks’ filled with sugar and artificial rubbish, despite the panoply of information so readily available, it is them we need to be targeting. Why are these parents still under the impression that these drinks are okay to give their children, even if it is just as a rare ‘treat’? Why are parents not waking up to the fact that if you give your child nothing but water from the offset, they will not want anything but water because we wouldn’t have created within them an unyielding addiction that leads to ‘cravings’ for sweet drinks to quench their thirst instead of water which they may then describe as ‘boring’? The human body can last up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. Every living cell in the body needs it to function. It is essentially our life-source, so I’d say it’s anything but boring, and this is what we need to be teaching our children.

We can remove these drinks from hospital shops but the person in question can simply go and find the nearest shop or petrol station and buy their drink of choice there.

What we need to be doing is educating, on a mass level, the population of Britain about nutrition, by giving them a comprehensive understanding of nutrition and how the body responds to it, and not just by telling them to eat their five a day and cut out sugar. Because what happens when people become obsessed with one diet fad, such as removing sugar from the diet, is that they look for substitutes because they have not learnt about nutrition or the body; they have simply learnt what helps them lose weight, and at what price are we losing weight?

Weekly meet-up diet-plan groups that started popping up in the ‘80s and ‘90s are perhaps the worst thing that has happened to our collective health since cigarettes; most of them recommend substituting anything sugary with artificial sweeteners, chemicals that are (if we had to choose) worse for our health than refined sugar. The advice from these organisations to cut out fat and sugar is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that we are seeing a huge increase in early onset dementia. The brain needs fat. It cannot function or grow without it and many adults who began following this fat-free craze thirty-odd years ago are now in their middle ages being diagnosed with early onset dementia, among other things.

The ironic thing is that most of these ‘fat-free’ foods have increased amounts of sugar, which is a lot worse for the heart than healthy fats. A fruit flavoured yogurt, for example, contains about 12 grams of added sugar. This equates to eating a small cup of yogurt with a bowl of frosted corn flakes. We need to forget about all these fads, stop buying convenience food and eat fresh, whole foods that we (heaven forbid) prepare ourselves.

Studies on Aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke) have shown a range of adverse effects, from nausea and dizziness to birth defects and multiple sclerosis. People substituting Coke with Diet Coke should not be under any illusion that this is better for anything other than their waistlines. MS is essentially nerve damage on the brain and the spinal cord, most likely caused by the immune system attacking the fatty myelin sheath around the brain. If we are reducing the one thing that the brain needs to function, and substituting it with a magnitude of toxins known to harm the immune system and the nervous system, we are essentially begging for multiple sclerosis.

What the government should actually be doing is making these drinks illegal, because they have a responsibility to us, the people, not to the pockets of the manufacturers and these drinks are in fact poisonous. These items need to be removed from our country altogether, and money needs to be put into education, at a grassroots level.

If midwives, ante-natal instructors and even general practitioners, most of whom have not had sufficient training in nutrition, were provided with the proper education, and this information was filtered down to new parents, we would see an entire new generation more healthy and health-conscious than ever before, and not just a generation obsessed with weight loss.

Nutrition classes could also be held in schools. Imagine the changes we would see in our society if all aspects of diet were taught to children, including reducing intake of refined sugars and not replacing them with artificial sweeteners or fat-free products, and encouraging people to understand that natural sugar like that found in fruit, in moderation—like everything—is healthy.

Despite the government’s miseducation, we are fortunate enough to live in an age where information is available wherever we are on the planet, at the touch of a button. We are hearing about the dangers of increased sugar consumption everywhere, so why are people choosing to give refined sugar to their children, especially when there are so many alternatives? There really is no excuse anymore to be shovelling this rubbish into our children.

However, the mass population will, as a general rule, do what they are told, therefore it is up to the government to take control when it comes to the health of our children and do a hell of a lot more than just removing sugary drinks from hospital shops.

 

To view this article on Huffington Post, click here

Why It’s Okay For Mums To Ask For Help

tired-mom

Why It’s OK For Mums To Ask For Help

 

I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by women I would describe as ‘copers’. As mothers, most of my closest friends fall into this category; they don’t complain, they get on with whatever parenthood throws at them, they don’t feel the need for domestic help or night-nurses and they cope pretty well with sleepless nights. My own mother somehow managed to juggle fulltime work and two children (one of whom was sick), with not much help from my dad (as was the way with dads then), and still clean the house and cook everything herself to the point that we’d never even seen a fish finger.

Having these sorts of influences around you tends to make you stronger and more resilient to the hardships of parenthood because you realise that everyone is going through it, not just you, and if my social circle consisted of women who hired people to help them with all aspects of running a family home, I may have felt from early on that I ‘needed’ that too, that it was just the done thing.

But hold on a second. What if I do need it?? What if by believing for so long that I am a coper and that I can ‘just deal with’ having a child who hasn’t slept for 15 months, I’ve exhausted myself even more?

You see, I do see myself as a coper and on the whole, I have been to an extent. Although I crave time on my own to do the things I love, I also genuinely enjoy the kind of chaos that a house full of kids brings with it and I look forward to the day when my kids are older and all their friends want to come to our house because it’s so warm and inviting and there is always food on offer, just like it was at my mum’s house.

In wanting to be ‘that’ mum, my ego has prevented me from admitting when I need help, or admitting to how hard it is to survive on 4 hours sleep and be on the go all day, instead of answering with ‘it is what it is’ – which is what I do (with a smile on my face) when people ask how I cope – or admitting that I’m not as much of a coper as my buddies.

My baby is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I prayed so hard for him and I thank God for his existence every day. But I shouldn’t need to justify that I feel like that in order to be able to talk openly about how hard it is to be a mother in 2017.

You see, humans are pack animals. Going back to when we lived in caves, right up to not very long ago, humans lived in extended families and children would have the advantage of being surrounded by many different mother figures (mothers, grandmothers, aunts) who all had a role to play in their upbringing, while the men went to hunt / work. This is where the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ comes from. It does take a village, but the village has ceased to exist.

Nowadays, the men still go to work, but hey, so do the women. In these foregone days of extended families, the women would all chip in to do the cooking and cleaning and raising of the children, not just one woman on her own. But now, we’re expected to do all of that ON OUR OWN, regardless of how many children we have, and still go to work…

In our age of information, we also have a huge responsibility to not only protect our children from the dangers that lurk in cyber-world and out, but also to nurture our children in a way that our parents were never able to do. With access to information about child psychology at our fingertips, we have no excuse to stand back while our children suffer; we can use the information so readily available to us to work harder to be better, more conscious parents than previous generations were given the chance to be. But that, too, takes work, commitment and sacrifice, and those things take up even more time in a day that already has too few hours. And of course, all these things have to be done regardless of how little sleep we have had and, to add to that, we have to do it all with a smile on our face in case, heaven forbid, someone gets annoyed with our moaning.

Today I’m changing that. Not just for me but for any mum who is reading this and is wanting to tear her hair out from exhaustion, or whose head is about to spontaneously combust from the deluge of mental lists of all the things she needs to do but will still dutifully answer any questions of ‘how are you’ with ‘yes, great!’

I’m changing that because, mummies, it IS okay to ask for help. It is okay to voice your struggles. I’m listening.

I believe that we were created to work together, to NOT do it all on our own. And if the extended family isn’t an option anymore, then we need to be okay – finances allowing – with bringing someone in to help out.

I congratulate my ‘coper-friends’ on being able to do the awesome job they do, but I have decided, for my own sanity, to throw my ego out the window and be okay with asking for help and most importantly for my ego, not feeling embarrassed about it.

 

You can see this article on my author profile on The Huffington Post

 

You can follow Lauren Vaknine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurenvaknine

Lauren blogs at Organic Spoon which you can find here
Her Facebook page: Facebook
Her Instagram page: Instagram theorganicspoon

Her autobiography, ‘My Enemy, My Friend’, can be found here

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children? My First Huffington Post-Featured Article

 

Family cuddling

Super excited to let you all now that I am now a regular contributor for the Huffington Post in their lifestyle and parenting section. This is a massive deal for my writing and I’d love you to follow me there and keep an eye on all my articles. My first one, posted below, is up there now and you can see it here 

 

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children?

During one of my son’s infamous sleep strikes, I posed the question to my husband, ‘Why do people have children?’ It wasn’t a sarcastic, rhetorical question in the midst of a third consecutive all-nighter. I genuinely started wondering why people inflict such stress on their lives when they have the option not to. Children do, after all, hinder our lives in a way we never understood before having them.

My husband’s answer was a typically male pragmatic one: ‘Because we have an innate need to procreate.’

Although I don’t disagree with my husband that there probably is within us a subconscious, animalistic desire to procreate, I think there is much more to it than that, and only after having a baby myself and going through that first tumultuous year of parenthood can I understand the real driving force behind why we choose to have children.

Quite simply, it must come down to love. But why is that different to anything you’ve heard before? Well, because what I don’t think we’ve realised is that it’s not our need to be loved, but our need to love.

If we look at parenthood without love and simply gather all the other facets of it, this is what a typical day looks like: you are awoken around 5am, after having three to four hours broken sleep, and you have no choice but to muster the strength to smile and coo at your kids, get them dressed, get yourself washed and dressed and make them breakfast and packed lunches. They get impatient while you’re preparing everything so you distract them with TV, iPads and anything else that before becoming a parent you swore you’d never do. Then, if your children are like mine, the breakfast will probably end up on the floor being eaten by the dog.

You attempt to clean the kitchen as best you can before heading off to the school run then taking the younger one to playgroup, where all you want to do is talk to other human beings over the age of 18 but when you do, finally, sink into the comfort of a good old chat with another mum, your child has wondered off to hug another child whose mother ‘doesn’t like it’, so you have to release yourself from the only conversation you’ll be having that day that doesn’t involve singing your words, to tear your child away from the child whose mum doesn’t like him being touched.

Lunchtime no doubt ends up the same way as breakfast but… the hour of salvation has arrived: lunchtime nap time. But no, he decides that four hours broken sleep through the night, are, in fact, quite sufficient and you most certainly do not deserve any time to yourself so he thinks he’ll stay up, actually. You attempt to do the chores with him fluttering around, pulling pans out of cupboards and moaning because he is tired (!) then you get him in the car to pick up the older ones from school. Lo and behold, he falls asleep in the car. You curse to yourself but you let him sleep, because it won’t be worth your while later if he doesn’t, and you arrive at school… late.

Help the kids with homework, drink cold tea, and once again, mealtime. They might eat a bit, they might moan that they want something else, they might throw it on the floor. After a bit of play time (for them, not you – you are cleaning the kitchen for the fifty-third time that day), it’s bath time. They drench you in bath water then take every set of pyjamas out the cupboard until they decide that the very last one is the winner, and you have to refold the rest.

By the time husband walks through the door, kids are in bed reading, baby is fresh as a daisy, house is clean as a whistle but you look like Keith Richards on a bad day and you know you have to go through the whole rigmarole the following day, and the one after that, and so on…

Sound fun?

Now let’s take ‘love’ off the bench and put her back in the picture.

With love, he may have been screaming in your face for three hours before falling asleep but when he does finally fall asleep, you ‘waste’ precious minutes you could be sleeping just staring at the perfect form that you still cannot believe came from you.

With love, you may be exhausted beyond belief when she wakes at 5am but the minute you see her smiling face and smell the top of her head as she nestles into the crook of your neck, you forget you are tired and want to bottle that hug forever.

With love, you may crave the adult interaction but you know how utterly fortunate you are to be able to call yourself a mother, and how you’d give up adult conversation forever to hold onto these precious early days.

With love, you may look like Keith Richards after a two week bender, but you know that you have spent the day raising children, sustaining the lives of other human beings who love you and trust you and fall asleep in your arms because they know it’s the safest place in the world and that thought fills you with a warmth that will return to your heart every time you think about it.

The rewards of parenthood are not too dissimilar from the act of giving and receiving presents; we like to receive gifts but giving a gift stirs up a totally different sort of happiness in us.

Being able to love a person to the point where your fragile heart breaks into a million tiny shards if they so much as graze their knee, changes us as humans. It completes us, even more so than being loved. Being loved back by them is just the super sweet icing on the cake.

Love & health,
Lauren ❤