Anna Whitehouse is also known as Mother Pukka, and she's bringing her motherhood experience for everyone with her new book: Parenting The St Out Of Life! She co-wrote it with her husband of seven years Matt Farquharson. “I started writing a blog after Mae was born," says the 36-year-old mother. “I had a bit of baby blues and was knackered but, somehow, capturing how I was feeling and the reality of being a mum made me feel better. It forced me to see the light and funny side of what can be a pretty dark time for lots of women.“I now have a second daughter but it can be tough. Yesterday I was trying to eat lunch in a busy café. I dropped my food all over Eve before knocking a Diet Coke over Mae. Obviously they both started screaming and everyone was staring," shares Mrs. Pukka. "But a nice old lady helped me clean and cheer the girls up. Sharing moments like this turns them into something I can laugh about later, rather than making me feel like I can never leave the house again.”
Her blog helps parents feel OK in a world where social media celebrates perfect parents: "Early on, I worked on a campaign called #ParentFail, asking other parents to share their worst or funniest moments since having kids to raise money for a charity called Right To Play. The response was massive. Two years and a massive blog!" She says: “When it comes to parenting, you have to remember that as hard as it can be, everything is normal. But most importantly, you have to laugh more than you cry.”
Mother Pukka’s tips
There is talk of this pregnancy “glow” but for me it was an acne-riddled face and feeling as though I had an endless hangover. Plus what was described as a very “rotund” bump. Everyone’s experience of pregnancy is different so try your best not to compare yourself to anyone else – especially those girls with annoyingly perfect basketball bumps.
Sod the birth plan! With Eve, I went into labour a day before a planned C-section. Like everything else in life birth just doesn’t go to plan so never feel you’ve let yourself (or anyone else) down if things change. Just get the tiny human out safe and alive.
Unfollow all of those picture-perfect girls on Instagram NOW. They’re the last thing you’ll need to see when you’re scrolling on your phone in the middle of the night as you feed the new baby and your body is feeling weird. And shop around for a few flattering post-pregnancy dresses (cheap high-street store Monki has some great ones) which will help you get out of your PJs and on to the streets.
ONE TO TWO
If you want to survive a toddler plus newborn, my top tip would be to get a clip-on buggy board rather than face the logistical horror of a double buggy. Child number one will be transported while also being entertained on a little platform at the back of your pram. Plus, always remember that as long as everyone is fed, clean and watered, you’re basically winning at life.
Papa Pukka’s tips
When Mae hit two it became very clear that I was the second-favourite parent because only Anna could soothe her tantrums. So I tried and tested a few calming techniques. I’ve found the FBI’s Behavioural Influence Stairway Model, which it uses for negotiating with terrorists in hostage situations, works best. Here’s my adaptation.
The first stage in gaining a perpetrator’s trust. Ask what’s up, nod a little and paraphrase what they’ve said.Toddlers work at speed so you might get away with: “You don’t want to wear shoes today?” (sad face).
While you might just want to Sellotape the shoes to your tiny tyrant and leave the house, the FBI would advise “emotional labelling” at this point, which is showing empathy to the perp. Try: “Sometimes it does feel unfair that we have to wear shoes.”
Once you’ve established a common ground (ambivalence to shoes) you can establish a common goal (not getting wet feet). If you’ve gone with: “I also didn’t like wearing shoes”, you might follow up with a tale of how you once caught a cold because of the time you went out, without your shoes, and got wet feet.
With trust established, you can move the conversation on to achieving your shared goal, such as getting to nursery to play. You will then all skip gaily outside, your nipper suitably wrapped up against the elements. Hostage situation over.