Duties of a Modern Butler

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What comes to mind when you think of a butler? Is it the formal, British domestic service staff from Downton Abbey? Or do you think of Alfred’s stoic and tech-savvy service to Batman and Wayne Manor?

If you are looking to hire a butler for your home, it is important to understand the modern butler’s duties and how one may support your unique household.

A butler is usually a valet or major domo for the gentleman of the house or the entire household. He or she will hold a certification from a Butler school, often from England or the Netherlands and will be well-versed in wines and may hold a culinary degree.

In the late twentieth century, the number of homes employing butlers decreased dramatically. In response, the role evolved to extend beyond valeting and serving and began to take on more managerial responsibilities. Due to this change and a boom in household income, especially in countries like China, hiring a butler has once again become a common solution to household staffing.

Modern Butler Duties

Regardless of how the role of the butler has changed over time, the position is dedicated to discreet and competent service. General duties may include:

  • managerial responsibilities

  • keeping accounts

  • marketing

  • maintaining wardrobe

  • responsible for family and staff schedule

  • household finances

  • contact for vendors

  • supervising household staff

  • hiring and training household staff

  • compiling and organizing the household manual

  • seeing to maintenance and repairs

  • planning events and menus

See the full post for more details on how the butler’s role has changed over time or contact our office and begin the process of hiring a butler.

Popular Sleep Training Methods

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There is no one right way to sleep train. Every baby and family is different and should adhere to the method that works best for their unique lifestyle. Some common sleep training methods outlined by The Bump explain the range of approaches.

Popular Sleep Training Methods 

No Tears Method - Also known as the no-cry method, this technique involves subtle shifts in the child’s sleeping habits. For example, if baby is always rocked to sleep, the parent would shorten the time rocking little by little until baby can be put down without it.

 

Cry It Out (CIO) Method - This method is based on the belief that baby can learn to soothe herself if left alone. Baby is closely monitored to ensure that no physical need (feeding, changing, etc.) is present, but not interfered with while she’s learning to fall asleep.

 

Weissbluth Method - Similar to the CIO method, the Weissbluth method recommends using a structured bedtime routine (bath, rocking, lullaby) before putting the baby to sleep. Then parents leave the room and do not re-enter until the next morning.

From The Bump:

 “I tried this, and the first night was awful,” says Jen, a mom of one, who did the Weissbluth method at 4 months. “I turned on the shower and sat in the bathroom so I wouldn’t hear my son cry. But I was watching the baby monitor and saw that after an hour, he found his thumb and fell asleep. The next night was maybe 40 minutes of crying, then 20 minutes the night after that. He’s always happy in the morning, and I feel this was the right choice.”

 

Ferber Method - Also known as timed-interval sleep training, modified sleep training or graduated extinction sleep training. This method involves putting baby down and returning to check on him at different intervals. Begin with 5-10 minutes checks, verbally soothing but not picking up, then gradually move to longer intervals of time between checks until baby is sleeping through the night.

 

Chair Method - This method can be useful for older babies who may suffer from separation anxiety. It involves sitting in a chair next to baby’s crib until she falls asleep. Each following night, the chair is moved farther away from the crib until parent is no longer in the room.

 

Pick-Up-Put-Down Method - This sleep training method is essentially the Ferber method of checking on baby at gradually longer intervals. Unlike the Ferber method, you can pick up baby to comfort him for a few minutes before putting him back down.

 

Find more information on these sleep training methods at The Bump.

 

Is it better to hire a professional to help with sleep training?

There are many different options for sleep training and the best option for you is as unique as your family. Deciding on and implementing the right sleep training method for you and your baby can seem like a daunting task. For first time parents, or those with busy lifestyles, we recommend working with a qualified newborn care specialist from birth.

Learn more about hiring a newborn care specialist or baby nurse.

British Nannies and Governesses

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A nanny or governess is a trained professional childcare specialist with a substantial amount of childcare experience and will sometimes hold a degree related to childhood education, such as Early Childhood Development. In England many qualified nannies or governesses will hold an NNEB certificate which involves training on all forms of childcare from infant to special needs and placed an emphasis on fieldwork. The Norland Nanny School also offers excellent training in the UK.

 

High quality nannies will be equipped with knowledge of first aid and CPR, cooking, organization, and some teaching skills. A professional governesses will have teaching credentials and experience in a classroom or as a tutor.

 

Beyond taking care of children’s basic physical needs like feeding, napping, and safety, a nanny will be able to plan outings and activities for the children; creating and implementing educational activities based on each child’s level of development. Some nannies or governesses will speak a second language such as French, Spanish, Greek, German and be able to teach children this language.

 

Career nannies and governesses have the training and expertise to provide high quality care for your child, but most importantly, they will know to follow the parent’s lead and prioritize open communication to ensure they are carrying out what is best for the family.

 

Why Hire Your Nanny or Governess with British American Household Staffing?

Having the right nanny or governess in your home is a helpful asset to any family and can be a substantial advantage to the child’s development. Making the decision to work with a nanny agency will eliminate the stress out of searching for and hiring the perfect nanny for your family.

 

Save Time

At BAHS, our expert team sources qualified candidates and conducts a rigorous screening and interviewing process. Through our vetting process, you won’t waste time meeting nannies that are not a good fit for your family. Reference screening and background checks are also handled by our team to ensure only the highest quality candidates meet with our families.

 

Expert Attention to Details

A nanny placement agency acts as an HR department dedicated to the success of your home. BAHS’s expert placement specialists will be able to understand your needs and help identify the traits to look for in a nanny. You will be supported through the entire hiring process; including advisement on salaries, benefits, schedule and any relevant tax information in your state.

 

Third Party Perspective and Personalized Care

BAHS’s belief in matchmaking sets us apart from other nanny agencies. Our recruiters will work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with a nanny that can provide high quality service and care. For us, success is a placement that results in a contented family and a nanny who enjoys long-term job fulfillment.

 

Regardless of what your family is looking for, it is our utmost goal to provide you exactly what you need. As an added service, our UK families have access to our nanny consultant Katherine Patterson. Katherine's background in education, as well as her work as a highly sought-after career nanny in high profile homes, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer, makes her especially skilled in understanding your family's very specific needs when it comes to hiring a nanny, and most importantly, understanding the needs of your children.

 

More About Katherine

Katherine is our multilingual British childcare specialist, with over 10 years of hands-on experience working with children in both classrooms and private homes worldwide, as well as 4 years of general domestic household recruitment experience prior to moving to BAHS.

 

Born and raised in the South West of England, Katherine has a First Class BA Hons Degree in French, Spanish and European Studies. Her career in childcare is underpinned by years of teaching experience, predominantly comprising Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and EFL, but also Cambridge English, French, Spanish and entrance exam guidance for Collège du Léman, Institut Le Rosey and Institut auf dem Rosenberg.

 

Katherine has devoted the majority of her career to working as a Governess for high profile families the world over, in particular; Europe, Russia and Asia. Her extensive experience of working with children in both a caregiving and pedagogical capacity means she is well versed in Child Development, Early Childhood Education (ECE) and managing transitions.

 

Having worked on both sides of the industry, Katherine is able to provide informed and invaluable insight and guidance to both her clients and candidates alike. She prides herself on establishing and nurturing authentic, long-term relationships and thoroughly enjoys the challenge that comes with playing such a pivotal role in the match making process. Katherine strives to manifest lasting placements, and always goes the extra mile to ensure everyone’s expectations are met.


Learn more about our services or contact our office today to begin your search.

 

what is a Maternity Nurse?

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A maternity nurse, also known as a baby nurse or newborn care specialist, is trained in infant and newborn care. They typically work either 24-hour or 12-hour shifts for the first 4-6 weeks of a child’s life. The maternity nurse’s main responsibility is care for the infant, and a high-quality maternity nurse will be able to care for the mother during the recuperation process as well.

 

Your maternity nurse can assist with the full spectrum of newborn care and may be certified in areas including but not limited to: breastfeeding, exploring alternate feeding methods, sleep training, bonding, lactation, psychological development, and more. More often than not, they are experts with concentrated populations such as twins and triplets, premature infants, newborns with special needs, families interested in surrogate pregnancy options, and any other newborns who might need extra attention. They range greatly in their education levels and skill sets. Some have worked in a hospital’s newborn care unit, as a midwife, as a doula, in an alternative birthing center, or as a baby nurse in a private home.

 

Maternity nurses are often hired to help teach the parents about infant-care and child development while guiding them on taking charge of the infant’s schedule, safety and well-being. They usually stay with one family 4-6 weeks but may extend up to 6 months or 1 year.

Maternity nurses can assist with the full spectrum of newborn care and may be certified in areas including but not limited to:

  • Breastfeeding

  • Alternate Feeding Methods

  • Sleep Training

  • Bonding

  • Lactation

  • Psychological Development

Finding Your Maternity Nurse with British American Household Staffing

British American Household Staffing provides experienced, qualified maternity nurses, baby nurses, newborn care specialists, and nannies. We are known for representing only the best domestic staff in childcare. Our maternity nurses work in the UK as well as in regions including Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, The UAE, and more.

Contact our office to speak with a recruiter about your needs and ideal schedule.

Looking to set up your residence with the right domestic staff? Start by hiring an Estate Manager.

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Benefits of Hiring an Estate Manager

Are you upgrading your home? Relocating? Restructuring? Here are some simple guidelines to help you see that your residence runs as smoothly as possible. 

Running a home is like setting up a small business. The same structure, hiring, and operational complexities are involved when it comes to domestic staffing. As a business needs its CEO, the first thing your household needs is the Estate Manager.

The right one will depend on the size of your home and the number of homes you need managed. An Estate Manager works on setting up a solid daily structure for your home and also implements hiring practices for all other staff. The Estate Manager will assess your staffing needs and desires, outlining the positions you need filled, such as Nannies, Housekeepers, Chefs, House Managers, personal assistants, etc. The manager will know how to screen and hire the ideal staff for the schedule and size of the home. 

The Process of Staffing Your Home

The best Executive Housekeepers tend to work eight hour days, five days a week and slot in with each other. To attract the best Housekeepers, you want to pay market rate or above and ensure you hire Housekeepers on a live-out schedule, as those are the best candidates (good candidates have more options and will choose the job position that appeals to them the most). Market rate for a good Executive Housekeeper is $35 an hour, eight hours a day, and health insurance after three months of employment. 

The Estate Manager will understand how to structure your home with the ideal schedules and number of Housekeepers, so the cleaning is done correctly and all shifts are covered. An Estate Manager will use a top-tier domestic staffing agency to send the best candidates. They will understand how to screen several Housekeepers, ensuring they work well together and understand how to manage laundry, organizing, serving, art and antique care, and deep cleaning.

Once the Housekeepers are set up, if needed, the Estate Managers will work on childcare.  This is a more complex hire, as the parents are usually more heavily involved. Career Nannies have experience working in larger residences. They understand childhood development and will ensure the right Nannies are hired for the principal’s needs, ranging from specific language proficiency, special needs experience, twin experience, infant expertise, or school age and tutoring experience. 

Nannies are hired with expertise in the age group of the children in the home. These Nannies will commonly have experience working with families who fly privately and often last minute, so organizing the children and packing correctly is something these Nannies do well. 

Yacht travel experience is also something career Nannies will have experience with. They are expert swimmers and understand how to act and dress appropriately on a yacht. They are able to manage children safely on the water and help with sleep schedule issues that typically occur when traveling across time zones.

The best Nannies are found by appealing to their desired schedules and salaries. The ideal setup is live-out during the regular week and live-in while traveling. Depending on the number of children, the ideal Nanny arrangement is one career Nanny, Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm, one Nanny-Housekeeper from 7am to 3pm, and another career Nanny to work on weekends, if needed.

It is best to pay a weekend Nanny very well, as good Nannies don’t like giving up their weekends. However, the weekend schedule could be ideal for a Nanny working as a teacher or completing her PhD or Master’s degree.

A full-time career Nanny salary ranges from $80,000 to $150,000 a year, depending on their experience and skill-set. A French speaking career Nanny is always heavily in demand, so offering them a competitive salary and schedule is the wisest approach. Sometimes an evening backup babysitter is a good option to slot in, as well. An Estate Manager will understand how to hire the ideal Nannies, specific to the family and children’s needs. 

Hiring culinary staff can also be challenging, but, as with Nannies, the Estate Manager will hire Chefs who specialize in the dietary needs of the family, such as Paleo, Vegan, low calorie, pure foods, French, Italian, Austrian, etc. The Estate Manager will hire the Chefs once they have done a trial tasting for the family, ensuring the food is top-notch, and will also see that the Chef is flexible and easy to work with. This goes for not only Chefs, but all staff types. A good Estate Manager will always take soft skills, such as personality and demeanor, into consideration upon hiring. Many homes are unhappy homes due to one or two difficult personalities on staff. The Estate Manager ensures this doesn’t happen. 

After setting up the home with the correct staff, the Estate Manager will do the same for other residences you may own. The Estate Manager will oversee current staff, deal with any gripes, and fire and rehire as necessary. It is important you listen to the Estate Manager because he or she will be able to identify problematic staff members or subtle inefficiencies that you would otherwise miss. The Estate Manager will have an open dialogue with all the domestic staff and know where the issues lie.

Lastly, the Estate Manager will hire a House Manager for the larger residence(s) to oversee schedules and daily issues concerning vendors, parties, Housekeepers, Nannies, and all other daily staff. The House Manager’s job is to report back to the Estate Manager, who will ensure the problems are solved. The Estate Manager then oversees all homes, the payroll, legal issues and financial concerns outside of the family office and accountants. He or she will create, implement, and continuously update processes and operations. The household manuals for each home will be in place and updated accordingly. The Estate Manager also manages private planes, yachts, and car collections to ensure all these are up to date, safe, and well maintained. 

Begin Your Search to Hire a Quality Estate Manager

If you want a smooth-running home, start by hiring a top-quality Estate Manager, as this set up will ensure you don’t feel or hear of any problems. The secret to a happy home is having the right person in the Estate Manager seat to oversee hiring, training, implementation of processes, and legal compliance. Estate Manager salaries range from $150,000 to 400,000 a year.

If you want to hire the best domestic staff, contact British American Household Staffing. We can fix any issues and begin optimizing your home management.

What To Do in London for Some Much Needed TLC

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By Alice for More Than Toast

 

London is such a great place to visit  – for days with friends or family days out – that you really shouldn’t wait for an excuse. Sure, it’s nice to head to the capital for a birthday, hen party or anniversary, but you don’t need an occasion such as this to justify a trip. In fact, it’s great to head to London if you’re due some much-needed TLC.

Here are some top tips to help you treat yourself in London:

Shops

What better therapy than some retail therapy? Oxford Street has more than 300 shops including pretty much every chain you could care to list, as well as Selfridges. Regent Street is slightly more upmarket – and home to London classics such as Hamleys, Liberty (just off on Great Marlborough Street) – and Bond Street and Mayfair sit at the top of the pecking order, offering designer boutiques for the luxury shopper. Don’t forget Harrods in Knightsbridge or the unique chic offerings of King’s Road in Chelsea – while Carnaby Street has retained the spirit it first became famed for in the swinging 60s. And that’s just for starters, there’s plenty more to explore if that hasn’t fed your shopping urge. Tatty Devine in Brick Lane and Alice Through the Looking Glass near Charing Cross should also be on your hit list.

Afternoon tea

Once you’ve shopped til you’ve dropped, it’s time for some refreshment. If you’re trying to treat yourself then nothing quite beats afternoon tea. Tea at The Ritz is, if your budget allows, a the ultimate experience – with sandwiches, scones and cake in fine surroundings (you need to dress for the occasion) all accompanied by an opera singer and pianist. Still, you don’t have to pay Ritz prices to be royally treated. German Gymnasium in King’s Cross was recently voted the most beautiful restaurant in the world and for £18.50 you can opt for ‘The German’ or ‘The Austrian’ afternoon tea. Black Forest ham, celeriac remoulade mini rolls, nussecken (German nut shortbread) and apple strudel, as Stylist notes, justify giving a European twist to this British classic.

A Show

Shopping? Done. Food? Sorted. Now it’s time for some entertainment on your TLC trip. The West End is home to some of the best live theatre in the world and is a great way to escape from the real world for a few hours. If you fancy some serious drama or a laugh-along comedy, there’ll be a show for you, but since you’re treating yourself, why not opt for the visual spectacle of a Disney classic such as Aladdin? You know you’d love it.

Where to stay

Once you’re done with that, why not book yourself into to stay somewhere nice? There’s nothing worse than having to rush home after your show – much better than you can relax in a comfortable bed at a luxurious hotel and feel truly pampered. Did you know, for example, that you can look out over the city while staying in The Shard for the night? The Shangri-La has opened a hotel on floors 34 to 52 of the iconic landmark and it won’t disappoint. Sir Terence Conran’s Boundary in Shoreditch is a design-lover’s dream, as is the Kit Kemp-inspired Covent Garden Hotel, while the Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross dates back to the golden age of the railways and has benefitted from a great revamp in recent times. Its couchette rooms include beds snugly fitted into the window in the style of sleeper carriages. Each floor of the hotel also has a pantry stocked with vintage sweets, fresh cakes, tea and coffee, newspapers and books. Very TLC.

So, what are you waiting for? You don’t need an excuse – head to London and give yourself a treat.

A Home Has to be ‘Future-Proof,’ Explains London Real Estate Broker

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By Lucy Cohen Blatter for Mansion Global

 

Caroline Takla is a London-based buying agent, and the founder and managing partner of London boutique property consultancy The Collection LLP, based in the upscale central London neighborhood of Mayfair. 

She’s also co-founder and director of One Point Six, a luxury London development company.

Ms. Takla has worked in the London property market since 2002 and founded The Collection in 2009. We caught up with her to discuss the something-for-everyone nature of London real estate, the charm—and financial appeal—of a prime resale property and more.

Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.

Caroline Takla: I don’t think it actually exists. It would be in the middle of London, with beachfront views.

But my ideal home would be somewhere really comfortable, where I don’t feel like I’m scared to touch anything, somewhere where I can come home and unwind. 

My favorite homes have always been the ones that are comfy and cozy.

MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?

CT:  There have been two—a very large apartment in West London that was dirt cheap because it was probate. At the time we couldn’t afford to do it and do the renovations. I still think about that apartment, actually. To get from my house to my mum’s place, I have to pass that apartment building every day. So there’s extra salt rubbed in the wounds.

The other one was a townhouse with a self-contained flat on the first floor, and that was handy because I could have a live-in nanny live there. The sellers chose not to sell, but I think in retrospect, the house we got was better.

MG: What does luxury mean to you?

CT: If it’s not comfortable, it’s not luxurious. Spaces in London are smaller than other places in the world, so comfort is very important here. 

It’s about a balance between comfort, functionality and great materials that are used. People sometimes mistakenly correlate it with having to spend lots and lots of money.

MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?

CT: Mayfair, actually. For a long time, Mayfair was really overlooked as the poorer cousin of Belgravia or Knightsbridge, and it’s not as lively as Marylebone. Because of office blocks, it had a cold and transient feel, but in the last few years it’s seen regeneration. There are three high-end developments happening there.

You can buy for £2,000 to £3,000 (US$2,779 to US$4,168) per square foot in Mayfair, and in new developments, it’s more like £5,000 to £6,000 (US$6,947 to US$8,336) per square foot.

MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?

CT: The biggest surprise is that buyers of multi-million-pound properties still go without a buying agent and without advice. In no other scenario when you’re looking to make a substantial purchase would you try and do it without an agent.

In the states, they’ve nailed it. Here, there’s too much reliance on an estate agent who’s working on behalf of the seller.

It’s changing, but it’s slow, and because they’re not represented by someone, the buyer ends up paying a lot more. 

The London property market is quite opaque … There are nuances you may not understand as the buyer.

MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?

CT: London. Miami gives us a run for our money, though. And Miami’s interiors have come a long way.

The reason London is so great, in my humble opinion, is because we have some of the world’s best designers here. “Made in Britain” has cachet. There’s also a variety of different types of property—it’s not a homogeneous landscape at all. If you want to go ultra modern you can, if you want to go traditional you can too. The only thing we can’t offer is great weather. But we can cater to anything else. You’re also buying into heritage, schooling—all the amenities that London has to offer.

MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?

CT: My daughter’s nursery. We used a beautiful chinoiserie wallpaper. It’s a good marriage between being a fun space but also a calming space.

The rest of it is, unfortunately, a work in progress.

MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?

CT: Work in progress. The thing I loved about it when we bought it is it’s an old house, built in 1888, and it still retains original period features. Fireplaces were in place, the servant’s calling bell was even intact. I love those surprises that the house has. 

And our front door is a beautiful blue, with some stained glass. It has survived over 130 years. We want to enhance those features. 

MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?

CT: At the moment, the most value is the kitchen. It’s a handmade, wooden kitchen that was handmade in England. I imagine it cost the then-owners a lot of money.

MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?

CT: Flexibility and how you utilize the space. To be future-proof is super important. Having foresight to understand how the space needs to adapt when you live and grow into it—that’s the most important thing.

But more specifically, utility rooms are making a big comeback in the U.K. Traditionally you’d put your washer and dryer in the kitchen. But people are now wanting to migrate away from that. 

Office sheds are popular, too. They can be used as an office, playroom, or workout studio.

MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?

CT: People tend to economize where they can, and often that comes to their property lawyers. But you shouldn’t scrimp on those—they’re looking out for you, checking out that titles are right. 

And buying a home is not just an emotional decision, it also has to be a robust financial decision. Is there a profit possible there? Is it future-proof? Buy with your head rather than your heart.

MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?

CT: Undoubtedly the single biggest thing is Brexit. But there are other things going on that counteract Brexit. For example, we’re seeing a lot of Saudi money coming our way. London still has a cachet, and it’s seen as a safe haven, somewhere that you can park your money— and bricks and mortar is the safest asset class.

Since the 2016 Brexit vote, 2017 saw uptick, and that’s because there had been a significant amount of pent-up demand from 2015 (when there was a general election). And then there was the build-up to the referendum, and the referendum. It’s been a good three years of significant pent-up demand. Those buyers who’ve been waiting on the sidelines will transact for the right opportunity.

MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?

CT: Anything that will experience a significant infrastructural change. The Elizabeth Line, or Crossrail line, is a well-documented story. One needs to examine those points, and pinpoint areas that have other good infrastructure—good schooling, good parks.

Crossrail 2 is under consultation. Those routes have to be examined carefully.

MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?

CT: I personally wouldn’t choose to live in a new build. I know that they’re nice and shiny and they come with lots of great amenities. But the more unique your property, the more likely someone will pay you more money, and maybe buy with their heart not their head.

When you sell, you’re not necessarily going to have a strong pull or stand out from the others in a new property.

Resales are charming, too. Of course they’re not without their pains. But London is about history and heritage, and if you buy something like that, you have a slice of that. The key is to marry the historical elements with something more 2018—that’s the perfect marriage.

MG: What area currently has the best resale value?

CT: Chelsea—Sloane Square, Eaton Square, Cadogan Square. Those are certainly the most desirable. For every one client who doesn’t want to live there, there are five or six buyers who do. 

It’s a finite number of homes, and they hold their value.

Thoughts on Positive Body Image, Post Birth

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By Katrina for Cool Bananas

 

There’s been a wave of ‘positive body image’ messages flooding my Instagram feed over the last week. And I love it. This sense of encouragement and support amongst women (many being mothers), towards shape and size; the fundamental message about learning to truly love yourself, is long overdue, especially in the media spotlight, where we’re constantly bombarded with unrealistic expectations of the female body.

Although my post here isn’t directly related to ‘accepting your body’ per say (as the movement on insta reflects), it felt apt to put it out there now (after 4 weeks of sitting as a draft) as it’s pertinent to positive body image: Philosophically, I want to reevaluate the language used in an often very flippant manner, towards our bodies, which can then, in turn, change our mindset, into a positive thought process. In all honestly, fully embracing my body shape/ size post pregnancy, will take a little me longer, and that’s perfectly ok. After all, it needs time to settle into its new form. For me, at 6 months postpartum, it’s about striking a balance between accepting my body, whilst it still adjusts.

 Let’s cut the ‘getting back into shape’ crap, post birth.

Hey! You’ve had a baby, so now you want to ‘get back into shape’?. * Enter serious eye roll here*

We’ve got this idea all wrong. I found myself using this phrase just the other day, and the more reflection I gave it, I became increasingly troubled with such a negative approach and thought. What irks me about the ‘getting back into shape’ notion post birth, in particular, is the implication that you want something to return to a condition it was in before. And the idea of ‘returning to’, suggests you have lost something. Also, ‘Getting back’ inherently means you’ve lost something too, and you want to either have or receive this again after a time when it was taken or lost (I’ve looked it up in the dictionary, can you tell?)

Whilst I do not disagree that you may loose definition to your abs (or for me currently, halloo jelly belly!) and your actual bodily shape is more than likely going to be different- your hips slightly wider, and, Hey there! Bigger feet (seriously, no one told me about this weird side effect of pregnancy?). The idea that you’ve lost something, or that your body beforegrowing and birthing a child is somehow better than what you have now. It’s just not the case. The way we should view our current body is far from having lost anything, it is quite the opposite- what we have gained (aside from a few extra kilos, and curves; these are inevitably part of the parcel when you sign up for pregnancy).

I’ve gained so much. A whole new level of respect, it’s incredible what the human body is capable of. The pure miracle of incubating another life, for your skin to stretch in ways you’d never have thought imaginable! To have shared your body, with another being inside- who has been relying solely on you for everything. Whichever way you delivered a baby earthside, YOU, YOUR body DID THAT (naturally, with all the drugs or with a medical intervention, it’s irrelevant). What immense respect and awe we deserve to credit our body with. I’ve gained stretch marks: far from feeling insecure about these, I should be proud; they, like scars that we accumulate over time, are placed there to be a constant reminded of the story, a narrative to my life.

This body of mine, even though I admit to holding onto some resentment because I feel like it failed me when I couldn’t conceive without intervention from modern day science. Despite feeling angry that my autoimmune system decides to go batshit crazy now and then, dishes out pain, which on days of late has been unbearable; This physical structure of mine, it has made me a mother. And with that, I’ve gained a whole new perspective on life, it’s changed my attitude and beliefs, transforming the essence of ‘me’ entirely. It’s helped me learn the true meaning of patience (*whispers quietly, ‘thank you, body’*).

Now, I am not saying that at 6 months post birth I feel happy with my current size and shape, or that I’m particularly confident in my skin. I’m not. It isn’t because of outside influence, the media, celebrities, or scrolling through those ‘picture perfect’ mamas on Instagram- I’m not naïve, I don’t buy into any of that jazz. We are all very unique, we must not forget that, all of us with our own struggles and priorities. We all respond differently after birth; some will fit into a pre-pregnancy wardrobe within weeks. Others will look slightly pregnant months down the line. I do! BOTH are ok. Be fearless to walk your own path, and don’t compare you beginning to anyone else’s middle. I’ve got at least 8 kilos to shed: This is the weight my frame is suited to, that my joints find comfortable to sustain me. Shape wise? Well, I look forward to seeing that. Because I don’t for one minute think, or want, it to ‘get back in shape’. Back in shape? Why would you want to move backwards? That is something belonging in the past. It’s about moving forwards, carrying a new found appreciation for your body and self as a person, and mother.

Setting goals are important, and again very subjective to each of us. Without them, how can we objectively achieve any results? Personally, I liked my pre-preggo-belly wardrobe, a lot, and with little money for new clothes, my target is to fit comfortably into those outfits again. It goes without saying first and foremost, I want to encourage my body to be strong and healthy. But feeling comfortable in ma threads is a very valid, practical, emotive and economical reason too

When it comes to finding my new shape, size and weight, my ultimate goal is to be kind to myself, both in a psychological and physiological way. Finally, there was nothing wrong with the ‘old me’, in fact, I was happy with my shape and size. I’m simply moving forward now to a more ‘improved’ version of me and bringing a whole lotta new perspective along for the ride. In the interim, you’ll still find that Ima rock a bikini, not because I’m confident but because I’m brave enough to feel the fear and do it anyway, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same.