Monday, 11 March 2013

The Perfect Book?

It has struck me that I no longer read the type of novels I did before having babies. Pre-babies, I loved reading novels set in foreign countries (Orhan Pamuk, Umberto Eco etc) or novels that somehow related to my research. And my big treat was to spend all Saturday morning lazily reading the Guardian with a mug of coffee.

Now, with a 2 year old and a babba, I rarely have time for reading. We still have the Guardian delivered each weekend but I’m not sure I actually ‘read’ it, except for picking up the shreds after my toddler has finished playing with it. The books I now read are all mummy-type books, usually survival guides/advice books for mums. I also rely a lot on online forums but it’s much more relaxing to read without having my head stuck in the computer.

The huge selection of books that I bought before having children is still sitting on my shelf, waiting for when I have more time on my hands again.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sneak Peak: Class Matters in the Interview Setting

Our article has been published finally! 


When I started the Paired Peers research, interviewing middle-class and working-class students, I was struck that I wasn’t experiencing the kind of guilt or angst that I had done when conducting my PhD research with Muslim women of British-Pakistani origin. There was something about being an ‘outsider’ that made my PhD research somehow much more difficult to conduct. I was surprised that with the Paired Peers students, it was much easier to gain trust and create a strong rapport. So with colleagues I was excited to write about the interviewer-participant relationship and in doing so, we realised that there was very little literature on social class and rapport in the interview setting.  

Friday, 1 March 2013

Friday Feeling

I have to admit, Fridays are my favourite day, as both kiddoes go to nursery, which gives me a bit of time to myself. I usually do some academic reading or writing, catch up on the housework or – best of all – go out for lunch! But today I had to take babba to hospital for an appointment so I lost my ‘day off’. Anyway, I got to have some uninterrupted cuddles with the babba and a nice cheap lunch at the hospital canteen.

Roll on next Friday!

Friday, 22 February 2013

My Reading List

I’m afraid the books on my bedside cabinet aren’t academic books. But I’m just happy to get the opportunity to do some reading. I manage a few pages a night, when I’m feeding babba, and sometimes I can read a bit during lunch time nap times when I have half an hour to myself.

I’ve just finished skim-reading ‘Life on the Reflux Roller Coaster’, a book charting the experiences of a baby with severe reflux. Tonight I will soon start reading ‘George and Sam’, another book written by a mother (this time of two Autistic sons).

The two children’s books are my daughter’s. She loves having a story before bed but is getting tired of the books we already have so courtesy of Amazon, I’ve just bought two new books for her to try: ‘Shark in the Park’ and ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus’.

We have given up borrowing children’s books from the library as these seem to get lost. Instead, I buy from Amazon, the Book People or RedHouse (the latter two do very cheap deals, especially on bulk buys).

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Express yourself at work

Many women, particularly those who work in shared offices, experience practical difficulties with continuing to breast feed and expressing breast milk on their return to work.
When I returned to work when my daughter was 7 months old, we had already moved on to formula milk. Part of the reason for early weaning was to avoid having to pump at work, which would have been very difficult:

  • The whole ‘kit’ would have included breast pump; extra batteries; bottles and cool bag in addition to my laptop and books
  • My job involves conducting fieldwork which is not conducive to discretely pumping and refrigerating breast milk
  • I work several hours from home and the milk would probably have gone off during the long journey home
The only time I pumped at work was during a conference that I had organised along with a colleague, when my daughter was 8 weeks old. I took along a Medela Swing pump (a hand-held, motorised little number), rather than my normal super-dupa industrial-sized, double pump (a rather large Aveda Elite, which I borrowed for several months). During the afternoon session, I sat in the disabled toilet for 45 minutes to express. I had to miss some of the papers and the coffee break – and if there was one thing I needed it was a strong coffee.
Yet there was no way I could have expressed in public – I would have been mortified (along with the delegates no doubt!). Like most mums, I would quite happily breastfeed anywhere, but expressing is quite a different matter. I have only once before 'done it' in public (well, at a baby group surrounded by other new mums) but there is something quite horrifying about others watching this process. Pumps are noisy but the weirdest thing is seeing the milk squirt into the bottle. It feels highly personal and something I am only happy doing at home. I have not worked out why expressing breast milk is much more taboo than breastfeeding in public. It’s the same action. If expressing were to become more accepted in the work place, women would be better able to continue breast feeding for longer.

Monday, 4 February 2013

A full maternity wardrobe for £77?

Is it possible to buy the essential maternity clothing items for under £100? According to Bounty, a pregnant woman can get a full maternity wardrobe for a mere £77.
To be presentable at work I bought some black trousers, a dress and long jumpers for my biggest months. I preferred wearing jogging bottoms, trainers and hoodies at home but I never seemed to be able to find suitable trousers that were quite smart. The most annoying thing was finding trousers that would neither fall down nor be so tight as to cut off my circulation. I seemed to spend all my time pulling the trousers up and adjusting them as I walked. When I found some that fitted, they soon became uncomfortable as my belly grew. My saviour was a belly belt but even this was outgrown in the sixth month!

I ummed and arred about buying a warm maternity coat. Could I make do with a cardigan? But as I do not have a car and walk most places, I decided to splash out once winter arrived. I often find myself on a freezing platform waiting for the delayed train at 6 in the morning and without a warm coat that commute to work would have been even more miserable. And I am proud (and astonished) to say that at one stage I was going swimming three or four times a week, so I also bought a maternity swimming costume (I might have just squeezed into my regular one but it looked obscene and I would probably have been asked to leave the swimming pool!). My other essential buy was a maternity summer dress from Jojo maman bebe (which I actually used for my wedding during my first pregnancy) which I wore everyday for the last few weeks of my pregnancy during the heat wave:

So whilst most of my maternity clothes came from ebay I still managed to spend about £200, including

  • Coat, £60
  • Two pairs of jeans, £30 each
  • Wedding dress, £20 (!)
  • Swimming costume, £15
I think it would be possible for a pregnant woman to spend a much smaller amount if she 1) had friends to borrow from, 2) didn’t need any specific clothes for work or for a wedding and 3) didn’t buy special clothes for discrete breastfeeding. Still, these have seen me through two pregnancies and I re-sold a bundle of my maternity clothes on ebay for the grand total of £15.  

Friday, 1 February 2013

Time to wake up and smell the coffee

It’s time for me to accept I can no longer expect to work at home at this moment. I am far too distracted by the mess. Before starting, I have to tidy up to make a space for my laptop and books, then the inevitable happens and I get side-tracked. Before I know it my time has gone.

Now that both kiddies are in nursery for one day a week, things are much easier. So after the nursery drop-off, I go opposite to the café, plug in my laptop and away I go. I pop back into the nursery to do baby’s feeds every three hours. Not that I can get much done in this time, of course, but I’m at least making some progress. And there is no internet connection at the café but actually the isolation encourages me to write rather than spending time checking emails. The best thing is, I get to have a lovely hot coffee while I’m typing away.