Mother’s Day for Modern Mothers

As a stay-at-home dad, married to a working wife, it’s clear to me that Mother’s Day is not all things to all mothers. In the past, it’s been seen as a ‘day off for mums’. This break is also reflected in the way many businesses theme their Mother’s Day offerings – meals out, spa days – even ready meal supermarket deals!

In rather old fashioned thinking, it’s still assumed mums need time off from their normal domestic routine traditionally associated with mothers – childcare, cooking, cleaning, and general household admin. Well, seeing as I am a stay-at-home dad, those are the things that I usually do!

This is not to say that I feel like a day off from the family, or am even trying to co-opt the day itself. The simple fact that my wife was the one who pushed out a small human (probably not small enough for my wife’s liking) is clearly worth celebrating from both my daughter and I. So she definitely gets her day.

What do modern mothers want for mother’s day?

My wife likes it to be about being indulged, but that takes many forms. She is of course inset expected to do any household chores, but there is also no expectation for the responsibilities of being a parent – such as bath & bedtime, which are her activities as default. My wife likes to have a meal of her choice, whether at home or out – but this could even include a meal made by her, as she loves cooking but rarely gets the chance to do so as I tend to do that while she is taking care of bedtime.

Beyond home responsibilities, my wife would also prefer to not have to work on that weekend. It’s her job that supports us, and she works very hard at it. However, that can often mean her workload spilling over into evenings and weekends – hopefully not on Mother’s Day weekend though. But at its heart, for my wife it’s a day about her being a mother, and that means spending time with her daughter and the other person who did his part to help make her a mother (me!).

In terms of gifts, this can make things trickier than in the past. What do modern mothers really want for mother’s day? Paperchase invited me to check out their range. My wife’s love of cooking could certainly be encouraged with one of their special recipe journals. I know she treasures the time she spends doing crafts with our daughter, and Paperchase have a great range of art & craft supplies. And the right card is important – they have a diverse range to choose from, spanning the traditional to the irreverent.

As it is, we are kind of missing Mother’s Day this year, as we will be in New Zealand on the actual day – for some inexplicable reason their Mother’s (and Father’s) Day fall on a different date than ours. I have already said that she will have her very own Mother’s Day when we return to the UK – just for her. On the actual UK date while we are NZ, we already have arranged to spend tine with old Kiwi friends, so at least that’s a day of fun for her.

And I shall also make sure her day is free of chores, work, and the childcare aspects of parenting – apart from what she wants to do.

====

This is a collaborative post with Paperchase. To see their suggested range of Mother’s Day gifts, please check out the selection on their website.

Baking Biscuits for Mother’s Day with Dr. Oetker

While our family may confound a number of gender stereotypes (breadwinning mum, at home dad, girl who loves lightsaber fights – oh hang on…), some remain – such as my wife being the baker of the house.

A regular weekend activity she shares with our daughter is baking biscuits and cupcakes. So it was rather apt that Dr. Oetker asked my daughter and I to try out a recipe from their Bake Mum’s Day recipe booklet, so we could bake some biscuits for the mother of the house.

The recipe provided was for GBBO finalist Ian Cumming’s Decorated Biscuits. It’s simple and easy to follow, which was great because a) I am a novice biscuit baker, b) There were plenty of opportunities for my daughter to help with the process – especially useful as she is less of a novice baker than I am.

My daughter is increasingly keen to help out in the kitchen. If you’re trying to get something done quickly/efficiently, I won’t deny it can be a pain – I can’t even make a cup of tea without her wanting to ‘help out’ (“Can I put the teabag in?”, “Can I put the sugar in?”, “Can I stir?”, etc.).

But if I treat it like a joint activity, rather than ticking off one of a long list of things to do during the day, making things in the kitchen can be fun – and not too messy either.

I involved her as much as I could. Certain elements such as zesting a lemon are tricky enough for me, let alone a 4-year-old. But all the measuring, sifting and mixing were part of the process she was eager to help with.
Daughter mixing Mother's Day biscuits in kitchen

Out of the kitchen, it turned into more of a child led craft activity. As a Playdough fan, rolling the dough and cutting the shapes was second nature for her.

Daughter rolling and cutting Mother's Day biscuits

Then we moved onto the decoration. I admit I took a controlling hand in this part – however, she was directing me about what designs she wanted. I was more like a sous chef. But she did have a go…
Decorating Mother's Day biscuits

And we finished up with a pretty looking collection of biscuits.

Finished and decorated Mother's Day biscuits I’m not usually a fan of icing on biscuits, but in this case it really complemented the lemony flavour nicely.

RECIPE TIPS:

– If the dough is a little soft after rolling out, give it a blast in the freezer. Anywhere between 5-10 mins should firm it up for using cookie cutters.
 
– The biscuits can be cooled overnight to be iced the next day. This is especially useful if you’re baking in the afternoon, and don’t want your little helper to have one of these sweet biscuits too late in the day when finished.
=====

Mother’s Day – for working mums and stay-at-home dads

Mother’s Day, and how it is framed for consumers, is an interesting one. Although about two thirds of mothers are employed, with a third being the main breadwinner – the offerings around Mother’s Day still tend to be about giving mum a break from family life.

For working mothers such as my wife – especially ones with a stay-at-home partner as I am – ensuring she spends time WITH her daughter is the main point of the day, in a manner of her choosing.

So while making her some biscuits would be a lovely Mother’s Day gesture, making sure they have the chance to spend the day together – possibly even baking more biscuits – would be an even bigger one.

To download the Bake Mum’s Day recipe book for free, go to www.oetker.co.uk/mothersday . To keep up with the latest baking tips, recipes, competitions and news, follow @DrOetkerBakes or https://www.facebook.com/DrOetkerBaking.

=====

This is a sponsored post.

====

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.comBrilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Mother’s Day Family Feast: Sweet Spiced Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

Cooking up a Mother’s Day family feast for the mum in your life is easy with this delicious slow cooked pulled pork recipe.

I don’t cook pork that often. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of cooked pig in my diet – it’s just usually in ham, bacon, or sausage form. And I don’t know why I don’t as I quite like pork. So I was glad when I was asked to make a special roast pork Mother’s Day feast.

We were sent a lovely hamper of ingredients – amusingly presented to me as a ‘Mums Day Off’ pack. My wife is the breadwinner of the house, and is more likely to spend a day off in the kitchen, while I – a stay-at-home parent – am the one who wouldn’t mind a ‘day off’ from normal cooking and other domestic/family duties.

But engaging with the spirit of the task, I happily set about creating a Pulled Pork Mother’s Day family feast. If you’re hipster parents (or children) this dish is perfect – slow cooked pulled pork is seemingly the only way trendy youngsters eat pork these days. So given I don’t know how to cook pulled pork, I was glad of the challenge.

I was pretty happy with my first attempt at making slow cooked pulled pork. The prep was pretty minimal, the cooking a suitably laid back affair, and while the final timings took a little mental arithmetic to get right, it was no big deal to do so.

While my wife liked it, my daughter was the biggest fan. As well as the spicy pulled pork, my daughter loved the griddled plums, couldn’t get enough of the fruit compote (with everything), and most miraculously of all these potatoes broke her lifelong disgust of them (at age 4).

We’ve come back for leftovers on subsequent days, and I also found myself picking at the pork (and the crackling) throughout the next few days. We also made pulled pork sandwiches, refried with rice, and even with beans on toast!

The joint really went a long way, so it is great for a family meal.

=====

Sweet Spiced Slow Cooked Pulled Pork, with Plum Compote

Mother’s Day Meal Idea, Sweet Spiced Perfect Pulled Pork, Plum Compote, griddled plums
Don’t know how to cook pulled pork? Read on…

Serves 6, with leftovers

Cooking time: 6+ hours

Ingredients

1.6kg (3lb 4oz) shoulder of pork (remove the rind and set aside)

2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger

11/2 tbsp dark brown sugar

 

For the compote:

175g plums, stoned and chopped

175g cooking apples, cored, peeled and chopped

25g (1oz) butter

25g (1oz) light brown sugar

 

To serve:

1kg (2lb 4oz) new potatoes

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

12 plums, halved

500g (1lb 2 oz) purple sprouting broccoli

A knob of butter

 

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C (fan 200°C), Gas Mark 7. Line a roasting tin with foil, large enough to cover the pork later. Remove the string from the pork, and carefully trim the rind from the joint (*see crackling tip, below). Set aside. Unroll the pork joint and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place in the roasting tin.

2. Mix the salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and sugar together in a bowl. Rub all over the pork and put it in the oven for 30 minutes so the pork brown beautifully. Reduce the oven to 150°C (fan 130°C), Gas Mark 2. Pour 300ml (1/2 pint) hot water into the foil, then wrap the foil around the joint and seal tightly.

NB: Instead of wrapping in foil, I used a cast iron dish with a lid – I covered the pork with foil, then more foil on the top of the pan placing the lid on top of that to seal it in.

Cook for at least 5 hours or until tender. (Your cooked pork joint will eventually be sitting in a vat of liquid – mostly fat!)

3. Increase the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C), Gas Mark 7. Uncover the pork then put it back in the oven to crisp for 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and rest for 30 minutes. Then shred with two forks.

NB: There are a lot of timings to get right for serving the finished meal. Read through the below, and work back from your intended serving time.

4. At least 40 minutes before the pork is ready, parboil the potatoes. Drain well. Drizzle the olive oil into a roasting tin, then add the potatoes and season well. Roast for the remaining time the pork is in the oven, first on the low temperature then on the high temperature until they’re golden.

5. For the compote, put all the ingredients into a pan with 25ml (1oz) water, cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down low and cook for around 5 minutes until the fruit has cooked down and softened. Season with a pinch of salt and give everything a good stir.

6. Brush the plum halves with oil and griddle the cut-side only.

7. Steam the broccoli until just tender, drain then toss with butter and season.

8. Serve the pork, potatoes, griddled plums, buttered broccoli with the compote.

*For the crackling

Place the rind in a shallow roasting tin and pour over boiling water. Leave for a few minutes, then pour off the water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub with a little oil and salt. Cook in a hot oven for 30 or so minutes until crackled. Roughly chop the crackling into small pieces to serve.

=====

For this and more slow cooked pulled pork recipes, please head to the Love Pork websiteThis is a sponsored post.

Is Father’s Day for all dads, or just the ones with jobs?

Our playgroups put on new kiddy crafts each week. When a specific celebration comes around, they will usually revolve around that. So this week it was making Father’s Day cards.

Unlike the mums who were helping/directing their children to create them, I just let my daughter do her thing – it seemed odd commissioning one from her.

A 'shirt & tie' Father's Day card is still a thing
A ‘shirt & tie’ Father’s Day card is still a thing

What was also odd were the actual cards they were supposed to end up with. Two playgroups opted for the same concept – the front of the card had been cut and folded down to look like a shirt collar, and there was a cutout tie to glue into place. The inference was clear (despite the fact I have only ever worn a shirt & tie for weddings and funerals): A father’s role in the family revolves around having a job. This is also the role that retailers like to cast us in.

Gendered marketing to children is an issue I take great interest in, unhappy as I am about commercial interests defining, from even before birth, what they think a boy or girl should be. But what about gendered marketing to adults? How does that affect us?

I adore my current role in life as one of the growing army of stay-at-home dads. It has come about mostly from my long-held desire to do this, with financial circumstances supporting that choice (ie. My wife earning more than me). Frankly, it’s been a blast.

Out & about doing baby & toddler things with my daughter, I’ve gotten to know some dads, but mostly mums – and the fact is that in terms of being a parent I have far more in common with the at-home mums I meet than most working dads.

The offering around Mother’s Day tends to be all about ‘giving mum a break’ – from cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc. Brunches and pampering packages abound. What about Father’s Day? Traditional gifts revolve around either ‘work’ related gifts like smart socks, shirts, and ties, or ‘play’, things that are thought to keep men sane during the 9 to 5 – booze, sports, and gadgets. But there’s no sense that fathers like me – stay-at-home dads – also need a break from their routine and responsibilities.

By packaging the days in this way, retailers are reinforcing the idea that being the homemaker is a mother’s role, while that of breadwinner is still the father’s. I think these marketing driven definitions contribute to the guilt that many mothers feel about wanting to return to work, and lessen the chances of men admitting they would dearly love to be stay-at-home dads. Society follows suit – while we have the term ‘working mother’, the male equivalent would be recognised as ‘father’.  I’m a ‘stay-at-home dad’, but for female counterparts ‘mum’ seems to suffice as a label.

I have generally felt ambivalent about Father’s Day since childhood, and I continue to do so as a father. Perhaps because my birthday is also only a few days away, and it seems greedy to have 2 ‘special’ days in one week. My cynical side also tends to judge Father’s Day as a way to package and sell more stuff, much like Halloween.

We have no out of the ordinary plans for the day – I will spend it with my wife and daughter, like most other ideal Sundays.

Then again, perhaps there is a purpose to ‘Father’s Day’? It has serendipitously coincided with the start of the 2014 Football World Cup. I could cynically take advantage of it to watch a couple of back-to-back games? Reverting to stereotype, I am a dad that likes watching football.

And having a break from my routine and responsibilities.

Father's Day, stay at home dads, stay home dad, being a stay at home dad,
Another playgroup card. Clichéd perhaps, but…