10 Things You Can Do For Your Baby Now.

So you’re pregnant. Or you might be. Or you’re TTC and getting way ahead of yourself. And you really want to give your baby the best imaginable start in life. What can you get started on right here and now that will give your baby a better start in life?

Here are ten things I am doing to ensure my baby has the best start I can give it.

1: Eat well.

A good diet for your baby starts well before weaning, before breastfeeding, before even conception.

Your baby’s intra-womb nutrition is very heavily based on digesting the fatty tissue around your hips, upper thighs and buttocks. This is why a low waist to hip ratio and a wide, round bum is appealing to the vastest majority of men: it signals “I have abundant baby food!” Before conception, this fat is very hard for your body to digest short of actually starving yourself. This is why it was so hard to lose your “fat bum” when you hit puberty. Your body wants a fat bum.

So what goes into growing a fat bum, full of healthy baby nutrition, without getting fat everywhere else? Your body shoves a series of types of lipid and nutrient into this fat:

  • omega oils
  • calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc
  • fat soluble vitamins

Make sure to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, to grow wide hips to feed many babies with. Just keep your portions under control to not grow much wider everywhere else!

2: Get husband to eat well.

His diet matters as much of yours, but mostly it matters before conception. After that it’s a bit easier on him.

The average man needs to follow these guidelines to produce numerous, strong, genetically balanced sperm cells:

  • extra zinc, magnesium and selenium
  • more green veggies
  • more protein
  • some alcohol, less frequently
  • fewer sugars

3: Work.

Whether you are an employee, self employed or a housewife, do as much as you can to make and save money as the baby is on its way. You will likely have nowhere near enough time to make or save money once baby is here, and you will probably be hit by the nesting bug and want to buy more things for the baby very soon.

So make a point of making extra money, saving more, and setting a lot to one side, for peace of mind.

4: Stockpile.

Set aside a small corner. Start collecting baby basics, like wash cloths, weaning spoons, bibs, burping cloths, bra and nipple pads, vitamins… anything you will need during pregnancy and the first few months. Whenever you see something at a good price, snap it up and save it. This will save a lot of panicked, expensive last minute shopping.

5: Take notes.

Go and see the doctor.

Join a baby group, online or in person.

Research.

Ask friends and family.

Find out everything you could possibly want to know about making a baby and take note of anything useful, interesting or unusual.

Not only will it help you feel a bit more prepared and avoid big mistakes, but it will bring some comfort, relief and happiness.

6: Stay fit.

Having healthy hip fat is only part of the battle. If you want a strong and healthy baby, you need to be strong and healthy yourself.

Keep your weight down. Don’t diet, but try and not put on too much fat before or during the pregnancy. Some very overweight and obese women can even healthily lose body fat during pregnancy. Remember: the fat your body feeds the baby is almost a completely different pool to the fat you burn when you diet. Baby will be fine.

Stay active. Go for walks, lift weights, play with the dog. Don’t overexert yourself, but it’s absolutely fine to exercise until you’re a bit out of breath or tired. As long as you aren’t sweating or massively straining your abs, you are doing well.

Get outside. Get in the sunshine, breath some fresh air, experience the calming effects of nature. Not only will you get some vitamin D (crucial for bone development of the baby and healthy bones in yourself) and cleanse your lungs, but being in nature is good for mental health as well.

Keep your immune system strong. Don’t expose yourself to multiple people with the same bugs. Don’t overwash or underwash your hands. Eat well-cooked or very fresh foods. Listen to your sickness. Your body doesn’t need to be overburdened.

7: Meditate.

Sit down and take some time to relax, think about the baby and just enjoy your body.

8: Nurture love.

The baby may come before other people, but it should not push them out. Show affection and kindness to friends and family. Make a place for your partner as the parent of your child. Make sure everyone feels loved and a part of this.

9: Plan loosely.

Start making some plans.

Think about the money you want to have saved by the time the baby is born.

Think about how you will manage finances and work and maternity leave, check what government grants are available.

Think about what names you want to go for.

Think about how you could adapt if your baby is born disabled.

Think about what your partner will help you with.

Plan, but don’t plan too much.

10: Don’t stress.

Chances are everything will be fine. And even if things don’t go according to plan, you will definitely be fine.

And that’s what I’m doing to try and give my baby the best start possible. What would more experienced mamas and papas suggest I start doing to get ready?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

5 Things Women Get Easy (that men would love).

In every society there are things that come easier to some people than to others and gender is one of those divides. Even in a primitive society, women often miss out on adventure and meat for being at home, whilst men miss out on safety and fruit for being away. In today’s society we’re told time and time again about the cultural and legal privileges that men have over women and we’re only just starting to acknowledge the many advantages that women have legally and in education. However we don’t really touch on the cultural advantages women have that men have to work incredibly hard to get.

So here are five privileges our culture bestows on women that men rarely receive, but absolutely love receiving.

1: Physical touch and sex.

Women benefit from all sorts of physical interactions. I’ll focus on two extremes: basic touch and sex.

Basic touch is when a friend hugs you, or a coworker rests a hand on your shoulder to reassure you. Women are more likely to be offered this touch and, with new concerns about harassment, less likely to receive it when we don’t want it.

Sex has always been easier for women to get than for men, as humans are social animals and for society to thrive, all women must be offered a chance to reproduce. However men are becoming increasingly stigmatized for their sexual urges and natural desires on top of this, which means men have a much harder time getting sex.

However men enjoy all sorts of physical contact and are just as de-stressed by a hug as a woman is.

2: Help.

Women are more likely to be offered a helping hand with something difficult and less likely to be stigmatized for asking for help. This means that in every case where a woman finds herself in trouble she is more likely to be helped on her way by a friend or stranger than a man is.

This is even reflected by our social aid projects. Although by far more men are homeless than women, more women receive homelessness support. Although men suffer domestic violence and especially physical abuse as much as women, almost all DV shelters assume that the woman was the victim and most are women-only.

We are a society unwilling to help men even when they need it.

3: Common courtesy.

When you’re exiting a supermarket and someone lets you out before they enter, when a parking spot is given to you, when a door is held open for you or helps you pick up something you dropped, that is actually a form of common courtesy, a way of being gentle and polite to everyone around you.

But, again, women are on the receiving end more often than men. Try watching a doorway from a waiting room or a cafe for a few hours. Most of the people having a door held for them will be women, even if it’s also a woman holding the door. Yet sometimes even when their arms are full, men don’t get that same bit of help. But it’s beyond assistance. If someone is stood by a door, struggling with a pile of boxes and nobody opens it or held it open for them, they are practically invisible. Nobody sees them, so nobody extends that politeness to them.

But apparently most men are invisible in that regard.

4: Assumption of parental instinct.

When a woman moves to collect a child at the park, nobody questions it. When a female teacher sees a young boy after school, nobody questions it. When a mother is involved in a case of domestic violence against her child, nobody believes for a second that she was a willing and sane participant. This is the assumption of parental instinct: the assumption that a mother is a parent first and a human later. And it definitely has its downsides, as all the aforementioned scenarios have played out before and the ending has been child abuse.

But men face the opposite. The assumption they have no parental instinct. If a father takes a picture of his own child at the park he is attacked. When a male teacher sees a young girl after school she is questioned as to what he did to her. When a father is involved in a case of domestic violence against his child he is assumed to be the instigator. Whilst nobody should carry the assumption of parental instinct the way mothers do, nobody should be assumed to entirely lack parental instinct the way fathers are. The choice between a good father and a drug addicted mother should be obvious and his relationship status shouldn’t be the pivot point for the entire custody case.

In these cases, ultimately the children are the ones who suffer.

5: A break or a free pass.

Women get this and we sometimes don’t even realize it. It ranges from women (in general) receiving shorter sentences for the exact same crimes as men (in general), to girls being more likely to get a hall pass or extra mock time in school, to women being able to smile their way out of a parking ticket. In short, because women look more childlike and frail than men and because women are attractive to men, men and women alike are more likely to give a woman a free pass if she acts out, commits a crime or lies.

Men don’t get this pass unless they are under serious duress or look particularly infantile and sweet. Even when they are literally children, boys are more likely to be tried as adults in serious criminal cases than girls. And men of certain socioeconomic, cultural or racial backgrounds in certain countries may be treated more harshly than the law requires. The assumption seems to be that men “can take it”. A man “can take” being forced to the ground and having a rib broken during arrest. A boy “can take” waiting for half an hour for the toilet. A man “can take” paying his parking ticket. A boy “can take” being tried as an adult for arson. Girls are sweet and innocent, women are childlike and nice, but males need to own their actions and then some.

But men aren’t machines. Yes, men are more designed for hardship than women. This much is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of years men have spent hunting and warring as women stayed home and faced relatively little danger. But what is natural isn’t necessarily fair and in a world where everyone abides by the law as best they can and everyone pays for their actions, it is genuine injustice to make men pay more unnecessarily.

And those are five things that come very easily to women that men would love to have. Use this information as you will. Maybe you will give your husband or brother some more hugs, or your son a free pass when your daughter would get one in the same situation. Maybe you’ll think more about parenting and the assumption of parenthood before siding with mothers against fathers. Maybe you’ll even consider men’s human rights a cause you are willing to support and actively fight for them. Whatever you do to give men a little taste of female privileges, however small, remember this: it doesn’t hurt women, it doesn’t hurt society and it makes the world a better and fairer place.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

The Chains We Tie About Our Necks.

Chains1

I’ve seen this quote a thousand times and often thought upon it. You see, the idea is inspirational. We, like birds, have a million places or more we could be if we wanted to, if we really wanted to, yet we don’t go there. We dream of having the money, the freedom, the means to travel to distant places, or live somewhere better. Yet we’re apparently already free to go there. However, when I thought about it some more, I realized the modern Western human does not have the freedom of movement that Harun Yahya implied we do. In fact, we are firmly anchored, chained to one spot. And really, we have nothing and nobody to blame but ourselves.

Of course, we start out free enough. And, in the beginning, we are locked down by others, innocent in our own imprisonment. As infants, children  and often as teens we need our parents for sustenance, safety, education and comfort. Where they go, we go, and unless they fail to provision us one of our four main needs, we will be tied to them for many years. Even if we were to be separated from our parents, a new set would take us on, or we’d be cared for by an institution or another relative. Many of us, myself included, have been taken to new countries, quite against our own desires, thanks to our bond with our parents. Finally, being yet unformed, unwise and uneducated, children need guidance. A child that is free and wild is usually a child that is dead, so even if we were to secure freedom at a young age we would promptly die, implying that said freedom truly is unattainable to a child.

Fortunately, whilst we are bound to our parents, they at least normally act in our personal, individual best interests. Where they will guide us to becoming a more adjusted individual that fits well into society, they would never actually cause us harm so as to bring good to society as a whole. Having children is a selfish act and thus, so is raising them. Most parents want their children fighting fit, educated and free to fly the nest whenever they need to.  The same can’t be said for what is often our primary caregiver in terms of time invested: the educational system. Don’t believe me? A child can spend 8 hours at school (8 til 4, as it was in one of my past schools), one hour traveling to school and one back, plus at least one hour, if not two or three of homework every school day. That’s around 55 hours a week, not counting any weekend work, that a child dedicates to education over term-time. Meanwhile, a primary caregiver parent may spend two hours helping them get up in the morning, then two hours at the end of the day before it’s the child’s bed-time or TV or computer time. If we include after-school activities, a parent’s time with their children on some days could merely consist of getting them up in the morning, a few hours of driving them around followed by dinner. At the weekends the parents take control, but if a child lies in until 10am, spends 6 hours playing with friends or having fun on their own, one hour on homework and then goes to bed or back to their gadgets at 7 or 8pm, that gives the parent an opportunity to get in a whopping eight hours per weekend with their kids. So the time a child invests into parent-child time could be as low as 28 hours for primary caregivers, or even just 7 hours a week for working parents, a far cry from the 55 hours that education seizes.

Yet our new primary caregiver doesn’t particularly care. Children are kept sat still at a desk, in a small room, for between five and ten hours a day, either paying attention in class, doing extra work, having lunch indoors, doing their homework, etc. This is far from a healthy start and promotes inactivity and restlessness, contrary to the Victorian beliefs that came up with these schooling systems. Children are given large amounts of homework they are expected to complete to reach their target grades and not given any idea how much or how little this homework will help them. [Confession: as a teacher you sometimes have to hand out homework but don’t have the time to make some, or don’t see any way it would help. So you give the kids sheets that don’t help at all and will take half an hour to complete.]

And, of course, children are encouraged to be uniform in appearance, sometimes even having to wear little, expensive suits and ties to class; are educated and directed in matters of their social life, morality and individual purpose. They are tailor-made to slot into any available job or university degree around, to seamlessly fit in and start turning their little gear of society. They learn to fear nonconformism, adventure, alien beliefs and moralities. They learn that their purpose, their life, is designed for them, so they don’t need to work. Just fill in the multiple-choice test, get on the conveyor-belt and start turning your gear.

And when they reach higher education they stumble on another stone in the path, one that peddles the complete opposite message: “You can do whatever you want! Follow your dreams!”

Coincidentally, Aaron Clarey went into this a short while ago, which means I don’t have to. But the short form is: if you dream is to be a rainbow unicorn, then good luck there.

But this idea has become so prevalent that a lot of modern youth then proceed to get a degree, any degree, without considering employment prospects, time and money invested or even whether they actually want it. I’ll go into this in a little more detail in another post, so just take home that many Western graduates come out of university in debt, having lost anywhere upwards of three years of their lives, with no employment prospects in anything other than menial work. Which leads us on to the next stage: work.

The modern work system is a thing of genius. You have already skimmed the cream off the milk by filtering it through higher quality universities. Sure, a few drops remain, but all you have left is the more watery portion. They have spent almost the entirety of their formative years in a system, sometimes in daycare from age 1 until graduating at around 25, the age when your brain ceases to drastically change. You have created an adult in the system. They have little to no knowledge that would burden them with an awareness of their own state. They know nothing else but uniformity, sedentary life, conformism and slaving away. They have only just been severed from their parents and they already have debt, which means they need to work and work hard. Of course, this system is now failing due to the burden of caring for so many uneducated, weak-willed, dependent creatures. But for companies they’re still a goldmine. They can turn out a problematic worker at the drop of a hat and swap a more compliant one into their place. They have an infinite supply of a workforce.

And the workforce plays along. After all, they need the money to pay off their debt. And, even though their degree didn’t give them the rainbow unicorn job they’d dreamed of, any money is good money when you’re broke and in debt. This is often a little easier for British graduates, as we get a break when it comes to tuition fee loans. However many UK students also end up with private debt and the free access to education encourages us to fritter away three or four years of our lives even moreso. The end problem is the same, just with differing levels of hardship.

And all the while the graduate is convinced they’ll finally get their rainbow unicorn job, if only. If only they save up and specialize more in their dead-end. If only they get the work experience they need to get the job where they will get work experience. If only they pay of the debt, then they’ll be able to move somewhere there’s a demand for rainbow unicorns. They cling onto these hopes, knuckle down and continue to dedicate their lives to coffee, mops and chips. And they spend a lot of time on this coffee, mops and chips. Sometimes 40-60 hours a week. Which leaves them drained and with little time for self-improvement. Most have a day that looks like this:

6.00: Get up, dressed.

6.10: Eat something. Get ready for work. Mess around on your phone or computer.

6.30: Go to work.

7.30: Sign in.

11.00: Snack break.

11.15: Back to work.

13.00: Lunch break. Eat food and mess around on your phone or computer.

14.00: Back to work.

17.30: Finish work. Tidy up, get changed.

17.45: Head home.

18.45: Get home and sorted. Get food.

19.30: Eat food.

20.00: Mess around on your phone or computer, watch TV.

20.30: Tidy up a little, maybe do the dishes or laundry.

21.00: Get ready for the next day.

21.15: Mess around on your phone or computer, play games, read gossip or watch TV.

22.00-1.00: Go to bed and go to sleep.

Sometimes going out drinking or for dinner is inserted, or an exception is made and something worthwhile is done, like reading, properly socializing, going to the gym, studying or practising a skill. And, of course, some people made wise decisions and are in far better places than that well before they’re 25. But generally, that is a day in the life of a graduate.

But what happens if you swap out the phone, computer, games, gossip and TV? Swap in some valuable habits? Well, then we see people getting run down. A minimum-wage, full-time job is designed in the assumption that self-improvement is not your goal. Many full-time workers in jobs they don’t like find themselves becoming tired, frustrated and depressed when they curb their idle pleasures. You need these things to keep you sane. You live in a small, unnatural environment, your spare time is restricted, you are easily replaceable, eveyone around you is tense, angry or depressed, your hopes are being shattered, debt looms over you and everything is generally rubbish. Without escapism many graduates wouldn’t be here today. Financially, many end up losing out or breaking even. They may pay back their loans and finally make enough money so they feel their time was well-dedicated. But they may also end up forever burdened by the loan and their job, never quite paying everything off, going from university debt, to personal debt, to a mortgage, to the grave in debt. And any financial support that would help keep them out of the red is often more debt or charity. Basically, unless you’re truly destitute, you can’t even buy yourself time without borrowing money to buy it with.And, finally, there are the continual, gnawing, low-level expenses. I will challenge you here and now to keep a diary for 6-12 months. Every time you spend over £100 on something that isn’t groceries or rent, every time you pay more than usual on your groceries or bills, every time you have an accident and need more money, note it down. Then divide it by the month. Most people will spot anywhere from £100-300 of entirely unaccounted money leaving their accounts every month. It may be new tyres for the car. Or a more expensive phone-bill. Or new clothes. Or an upgraded games console. Or a leak in the kitchen. Or a night out. Or an ill pet. It won’t be a consistent thing. Every time you’ll just tell yourself how its “a one off”, how it “won’t happen again for a while”. But the money going out is consistent.  And oftentimes when you add the low-level expenses to your rent, debt, bills, groceries, transport expenses, hobbies and the likes, you’re breaking even or in the red. So even saving has become difficult.

Yet we can’t entirely avoid these expenses. Some happen due to pure chance. And those that don’t are almost a responsibility. Why? Well, being social animals, humans respond to other people. Whether it’s someone pressuring you into going to their cousin’s birthday party, the desire to own a new bag to fit in with your friends or being guilted into helping someone out with an expense, we all end up spending on our social lives, often more than we’d like to or are able to. Because we just can’t break those ties. And the more ties your form, or the longer you hold them, or the more you give in, the more you’re expected to spend.

But other people add more than financial ties to your life. Above we addressed our first chain: a dependence on our parents. Well, now we are choosing our social chains and I’ll suggest that parents are also tied by their children. Children depend on you. They need sustenance, shelter, protection and affection. They must be educated, raised in a stable environment. And in order to provide for a child, get them educated and keep them safe and happy, we must stay put, at least most of the time. Same goes for any dependent. When we take on the role of a carer, we sacrifice a certain amount of freedom.

However people who aren’t dependent on you will also act as a chain. If you have a partner, not only do you have your work, debt, dependence or dependents, but you take on theirs as well. As long as you are a unit with someone, you embrace their restrictions and problems and welcome them into your life. The same often goes for close friends.

Finally, on the matter of social life, we have influence. As most people lead unhealthy, unfulfilling, consumerist lives, then chances are that most of our family, friends and acquaintances will also lead such lives. And if most people around you live a certain way, then you are more likely to be drawn towards it also. If your friends want to go out and get drunk, you either go with them or miss out. If your partner doesn’t want to go to the gym, you either stay home or go on your own. The fewer people that surround you when you step outside your comfort zone, the more likely you are to return to that comfort zone. And most people’s comfort zones are the same. We seek light, easy, unfulfilling entertainment. Stuff that numbs the pain and boredom of everyday life, even if we need a continual supply of it. Humans being neophiles, we become almost instantly addicted to these new streams of bland entertainment. And even if you don’t succumb, the majority do, which means the majority of your social circle does, which means you also may eventually slip.

And what are the consequences of the way we live our lives? Well, besides the limitations I have already mentioned, we see plain, run-of-the-mill ill health. As I have already said, the average person has little time to exercise or little time they are willing or able to dedicate to exercise. Most people you know will either drink, smoke or take drugs, if not all three. Most people you know won’t work out regularly. Most people you know watch 2-4 hours of TV a day. Most people you know eat a rubbish diet at least half the time.
Our workplaces keep us out of sunlight and away from nature. The modern recommended diet, with it’s high-carb, junk-friendly bias is similar to those diets imposed by cult leaders to promote passive, weak, sheep-like followers. We are surrounded by pollution of all varieties. And our doctors are so used to just being asked for a pill that many prefer to recommend medication over lifestyle changes, even where medication is the least effective option. Our environment and our social circles conspire together to keep us overweight, undermuscled, lethargic, passive, ill, drugged-up. And when you are weak in body and mind, your will to escape comes only second to your will to survive.We are bound by debt, work, children, friends, obesity, peer pressure and ignorance.

However, ultimately, we only stay in these bonds because we want to. Not because we want the bonds. No. We hang these chains around our necks because we dislike the alternatives. Sometimes we’re afraid. We go through education because we’re scared of not having a degree, of not getting work. We go to work because we’re scared of not having money. We tie ourselves to people because we’re scared of being alone. However sometimes we’re not even afraid, sometimes we’re just too comfortable, it’s just too easy. We do what everyone else does, we refuse to change, because this takes effort. We’re led into these chains and willingly, out of pure ignorance hang them around our own necks. Eventually we reach a point where we can only stay chained through our own faults, yet our faults are the only reason we needed the chains to begin with. We’ve created characters out of ourselves. Characters that are idle, ignorant, weak, debt-ridden, consumerist, hopeless, peer-pressured, obese, neophiles, hen-pecked, infinitely replaceable people. Characters that have debt gnawing on their skulls, people depending on them, a contract. Characters who have already dug themselves in so deep, they may as well keep digging. There’s no way out for them either way. We depend on the chains to excuse and support us, because, like an arm in a cast, we have become dependent on our limitations to support us.  And keeping these comfortable chains is easier than the pain of ripping them off and standing on your own.